8 Places to Serve by Reading Aloud

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8 Places to Serve by Reading Aloud

We’ve all had those days. Dragging ourselves out of bed on too little sleep, only to find spit up on the floor, lukewarm coffee, and a laundry pile that has transformed into Mount Everest overnight. Oh, this is the glamorous life of a homeschool mom!

This was my morning.

Do you want to know what saved me? The servant heart of my six year old daughter. She sat down and started reading aloud to the younger kids. “Mom, I’ll read this morning,” she said.

Folks, I ugly cried right there in my kitchen. My daughter is not big on reading aloud. When given the chance, she’d much rather listen to an audio book or have one of us read to her. That crummy morning, she did much more than just read a book. She served her family. She knew the calm and comfort reading aloud can offer. She knew because thanks to Sonlight she's growing up on a steady diet of character building Read-Alouds and a heart for the world.

This day marked a change in our homeschool routine. No longer is reading aloud seen as just a chore or one more thing to mark off a homeschool to do list. Reading aloud is powerful—so powerful that it can be used in places beyond our homeschools. Reading aloud can be a service in our homes, in our churches, and in our community.  

Here are a few places where the gift of reading aloud can be of service to others.

1. Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Consider calling your local elderly care facility and offering to read aloud to some of the seniors. There are many studies showing the advantages of interactions between the young and the elderly. Perhaps you could adopt an individual who doesn’t get many visitors or who is without family. A weekly or even monthly appointment to read together may become a highlight for everyone. Staff can often point you in the right direction.

2. Day Cares, Elementary Schools, and Afterschool Programs

Preschools and daycare programs are often looking for volunteers to read to the children. Having another child who is slightly older come in and read can be inspiring and fun.

3. Hospitals

Look for opportunities to read aloud at local hospital and rehabilitation facilities. Children’s hospitals are often looking for volunteers to read aloud to the kids. The stories can help distract from pain and discomfort and give patients an enjoyable experience during a difficult time. Some neonatal intensive care units will permit older children to read aloud to babies since voice and touch are both comforting.

4. Animal Shelters

Getting adopted can be challenging for animals that are shy or overcoming adverse events. Positive exposure to children helps smooth this difficulty and increases chances that a pet gets adopted. A chance to listen to a human voice, while being calmly petted is soothing to both dogs and cats.

5. Mother’s Helper

Think for a minute about a mom of young children who seems overwhelmed and tired. Gift her with a few minutes of peace by offering her a read aloud playdate. Is the overwhelmed mom you? Ask your child to read to his or her siblings when you need a break.

6. Church Opportunities

If your church or parish has a children’s service, encourage your child to volunteer for a speaking role. Look for opportunities to read or participate in choir. One of our local parishes has a kid’s book club, where they share moral stories once a month and have children volunteers read the books to the younger kids.

7. Library Events

In addition to librarian led storytimes, many libraries offer summer programs or after school events that accept volunteers. Some smaller or more rural libraries, like ours, may be open to families sponsoring read aloud events or themed storytimes.

8. Audio Books Recordings

Chances are if you enjoy audio books with your family, you’ve come across a system or two that has volunteers record those books. This service benefits those who are unable to read or are visually impaired. Encourage community service and reading aloud in our children by taking part in one of these programs and taking them along.

Kids are much more likely to read when they realize it serves a real purpose and fulfills a true need. Reading aloud empowers our kids to do good for others.

Sonlight's literature-based curriculum is everything you need to succeed.

Guaranteed.

Learn how here.

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Salvaging Your Homeschool Day in Twenty Minute Increments

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Do you or your children ever find yourselves completely lacking motivation to work on school assignments or feeling so discouraged by all that needs to be done that you don’t even know where to begin? It certainly happens in our family, and I know we’re not alone in the experience. One of my favorite solutions to the problem of struggling to get school work accomplished is one I originally used for tackling neglected housework. I set a timer.

Focused Work for 20 Minutes

How long you set your timer doesn’t really matter, but our family always goes for twenty minutes of uninterrupted work. It never ceases to amaze me how much can be accomplished in that amount of time. It’s long enough to make significant progress on something, but short enough to not be overwhelming.

  • Feeling apathetic about school or simply don’t like what the Instructor's Guide is telling you to do? Anyone can manage to devote just twenty minutes of their attention to a task.
  • Got a little behind and are drowning in a list of boxes to check? Twenty minutes won’t get you caught up, but it will definitely get you started in the right direction.

The key is simply to not allow yourself to be distracted by anything else during that time. Instead, put all your attention toward school while the timer is ticking.

Choosing the Task for the Countdown

How do you or your child decide what to focus on during your twenty (or ten or thirty) minutes? The answer depends on the greatest need. Here are a few possibilities I've chosen:

  • Opt for the biggest job because it’s the most overwhelming.
  • Choose the thing I like least to remove the dread of having it waiting to be done.
  • Do a few quick tasks for the satisfaction of accomplishing multiple things.
  • Pick the oldest assignment for the sake of getting caught up.
  • Select the easiest work to boost a kid’s morale.

At times it will be best to let your children choose the task so they’ll have more motivation to work hard during the allotted time. In other situations, you, having a better grasp of the big picture, will want to pull rank and make the call yourself. Choose whatever seems best for the situation, but know there isn’t a wrong option because the end result will be completed work whichever route you take.

When the Timer Goes Off

Twenty minutes of focused work has happened, and you hear the timer ding. Now what? Our response varies, depending on the circumstances of the day.

  • The sense of accomplishment that comes with productivity increases our motivation and we immediately set the timer for another twenty minutes of work.
  • We set the timer for a five or ten minute break of exercise, relaxation, or unrelated tasks, then do another twenty minutes of school work.
  • Something else becomes a higher priority, so we set school aside with assurance the day wasn’t a total academic waste.

The next time you sense the school day slipping away possibly before it’s even started, go set a timer and see what you and your children can accomplish in just twenty minutes.

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7 Ways to Enjoy Spring While Still Getting Homeschool Done

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7 Ways to Enjoy Spring While Still Getting Homeschool Done

As winter (mostly) loosens its grip, and the spring colors and spring weather emerge, it is the perfect time to celebrate being a homeschooler

While public school children have to take snow days, homeschoolers can school through most of the cold and the ice and celebrate with sun days, when the weather turns nice.

So if your children are dealing with spring fever . . . embrace the season! Celebrate the glorious weather!

But if you don’t want to fall behind in your school year, here are suggestions for tucking schoolwork into your day while still making time to relish spring.

1. Use Outdoor Time as a Motivator

Require the less-pleasant subjects to be finished as a requirement to heading outside. A motivated student can rise and be at work before breakfast, and finished with the less pleasant subjects before the morning chill burns off. This can be a helpful enticement.

2. Shift Your School Hours for Spring

Do all yourHistory / Bible / Literature (HBL) reading either in the afternoon, if children are worn out from playing outside, or in the evening. Spring evenings last so long, and often the HBL readings don’t take too long. And there’s no rule that says you have to read in the daytime! If you want to be outside in the sun, simply shift your school schedule to the evening.

3.Work During Meals or on the Go

See how much you can get done either at meals or in the car. If your children don’t bolt their lunch in under two minutes, you can get through a bit during a meal. And in the car? Maybe you can read while your spouse drives, or maybe there’s an excellent audio recording you can enjoy as a family.

4. Batch Science for Rainy Spring Days

Batch your science on a rainy day. Or join the ranks of Home Educators Neglecting Science Experiments (HENSE), and watch the Discover and Do movies in a down moment, and call it good.

5. Make the Most of Spring Weekends

Don’t forget the weekend! Out of the 168 hours in every week, a full 60 of those hours fall from 6 p.m. on Friday evening to 6 a.m. on Monday morning. The weekend is more than a third of your week! If you’ve had a delightful school week outdoors, feel free to use some weekend hours to homeschool.

6. Change Your Expectations for Spring

Release the idea that you have to get everything done. No school teacher ever finishes an entire book. The math students advance to the next class, even though part of the book goes unfinished. This is a benefit of homeschooling: you get to work at your children’s pace. So if a math book doesn’t quite get done, you can carry on with the same book during the next school year, or see if the next book begins with enough review that you’ll be okay leaving this year's book undone.

7. Let School Extend into Summer

Plan to have a bit of school happen over the summer. In Caddie Woodlawn, Caddie's school opened only in summer and winter, while the teacher headed to a neighboring community to teach those children in spring and fall. Caddie preferred her schedule—outdoors in the glorious seasons, and indoors when it was extra hot and extra cold. It’s okay to soak up the goodness, then enjoy the air conditioning later, if you so choose.

Homeschooling in the spring is one of the unique pleasures of homeschooling. Happy April to you!

P.S. Wanting to insert just a little culture into your homeschool? One of the best spring poems is the one below—Loveliest of Trees by A. E. Housman. To paraphrase the poem: “The cherry tree is in bloom in the woods, in this Easter period. I’m already twenty, and if I live to be seventy, I only have fifty more springs coming. And fifty springs is hardly enough time to look at the beauty of things in bloom, so I’m heading out to the woods to see the cherry trees in bloom.” It’s a very homeschool-friendly poem, with a sense of, “My priority is to celebrate today.”

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.


Loveliest of Trees by A. E. Housman
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Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

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Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

An observational approach is terrific for nature study, but doesn’t quite do the trick when it comes to anatomy, does it? It can be challenging to adequately teach about muscles and bones, when all the moving parts all hidden away inside our bodies. We simply can’t see under our skin!

But exciting hands-on activities—like building this set of faux muscles and bones—are an effective way to transform the study of anatomy into something students can actually see and touch.

In addition to the wide array of science and health books included in Science F: Health, Medicine and Human Anatomy, there are also a plethora of hands-on activities, scheduled at regular intervals throughout the year. Linda Allison’s Blood and Guts: A Working Guide to Your Own Insides is particularly full of terrific project ideas (and, yes, animal organ dissection tips, too!) This simple science demonstration adapted from the book shows how skeletal muscles work in pairs.

Create a Model Arm to See Muscles at Work

On an average day, you might not give your elbows more than a passing thought, but have you ever tried to

  • write a letter,
  • brush your teeth, or
  • eat a meal

without bending your elbows at all? You quickly realize how important they are! Of course, even an elbow joint wouldn’t do you much good, if you didn’t also have bones, muscles, and tendons working together to help the elbow bend.

Are you ready to see how these all work together? Let’s build a model of the human arm, using a few items you might even have around the house already.


Materials Needed

  • Poster board
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Scissor
  • Masking tape
  • Straight pin
  • Large paperclip
  • Long balloons
  • Optional: Crayon or paint

Instructions

You may choose to color the poster board a bone-like shade, as we did, or you may opt to leave it white.

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial Step 1

Cut two 8”x11” pieces from your posterboard. These will become the radius and ulna.

Roll each of these 8”x11” sections and secure with masking tape, creating two eight-inch-long arm bones (the radius and ulna).

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial Step 2

Return to the remainder of your poster board. Cut a section that’s 12”x11” .

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial Step 3

Roll this section. Secure with tape to create a twelve-inch-long humerus.

Label each of the three bones. The two 8" bones are the radius and ulna. The one 12" long bone is the humerus.

Step 4 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Use a long straight pin to pierce a hole through the humerus, about a half-inch from the right end. Pierce a hole through the ends of the radius and ulna, too, about a half-inch from the left end.

Step 5 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Straighten a paperclip to create a long flexible wire. Bend a hook at the bottom end.

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial Step 5

Place bones on the table. You’ll want the humerus on the left, the radius on the upper right, and the ulna on the bottom right, as shown. Line up the pierced holes, then thread paperclip wire through the holes to create a joint.

Step 5 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Make sure the wire is bent at each end, to keep the wire from pulling out.

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial Step 5

You’ll also want to tape over the sharp ends, to keep the wire from popping the balloons.

Step 5 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Partially inflate two long balloons, leaving a tail at both ends. These are your bicep and tricep muscles.

step 6 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Tie the right end of the bicep balloon to the radius and ulna. (You might want to tie it a little closer to the elbow joint than we originally did.)

Step 7 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Tie the left end of the bicep balloon to the top of the humerus.

Step 7 Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial

Now using the triceps balloon, tie the right end to the right side of the elbow joint.

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial Sept 8

Bring the balloon around the back of the elbow, and tie the remaining loose end of the tricep to the top of the humerus.

Build a Working Arm Muscle: A Science Activity Tutorial COMPLETE

You’ve created a faux, movable arm!


Science F Health, Medicine, and Human Anatomy

This activity is from
Science F: Health, Medicine, and Human Anatomy for ages 10-13

What Are We Observing as the Model Moves?

Because our model is simplified, we’ve attached the faux balloon muscles directly to the cardboard bones, leaving out tendons, ligaments, nerves, joint cartilage and fluid, blood vessels. (In fact, we’ve even left out the rest of the arm muscles.) The positioning of the muscles and bones here isn’t precisely anatomically correct; your real flesh-and-blood arm is a lot more complicated. But let’s test our model, discuss the results, and see what we can observe about muscle action.

[Q] Would the model arm work properly with only one balloon muscle?

[A] No. This is because skeletal muscles—like the ones in your arms—must work together in pairs. We call these pairs the flexor and the extensor. In this model (and in your own arms) the bicep is the flexor and the tricep is the extensor.

[Q] Straighten your model arm. What happens to the tricep (extensor) muscle?

[A] Because we used the word extensor to describe the tricep in this muscle pair, you might have expected the tricep to extend. But it contracts, doesn’t it? Extensor muscles must contract in order to straighten a limb.

Arm Muscle Model in Action

[Q] Bend your faux elbow joint. What happens to the bicep (flexor) muscle?

[A] It contracts! Just as extensors contract to straighten a limb, flexors contract to bend the limb (at the attached joint, of course. Otherwise, things would get weird.)

[Q] Bend your model arm back and forth several times. Observe the changes that happens to the bicep (flexor) and tricep (extensor) as you bend and straighten, bend and straighten.

[A] That’s a lot of contracting and extending, extending and contracting! Both flexor and extensor need to be able to extend and contract in order to for your elbow to bend back and forth, don’t they? Flexed biceps might get all the attention, but a perpetually contracted flexor muscle would mean a perpetually bent arm. When you need to straighten your arm, the extensor tricep contracts and pulls on your bones via tendons, and your arm stretches out. Ready to bend your arm again? The flexor bicep pulls instead, and the elbow joint bends.

Arm Muscle Model in Action

[Q] Is the arm the only place we see a muscle pair act like this?

[A] No. Striated skeletal muscles—those are the long muscles which attach to your bones—work the same way. You probably sat down to read this, right? As you did, your hamstrings contracted to allow your knees to bend. When you stand up again, your quadriceps will contract and pull, your hamstrings will extend, and your legs will straighten.

The human body is a complex and wonderful machine, isn’t it? There are hundreds of joint and muscles in our body, each one expertly designed with myriad interconnected parts.

Sonlight Science

Sonlight guides students through a fascinating and marvelous exploration of the human body and nutrition with Science F: Health, Medicine and Human Anatomy, a rich literature-based program infused with lots of robust hands-on projects. See it and other Science programs here.

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3 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Homeschool as You Celebrate Spring

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3 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Homeschool as You Celebrate Spring

When the first day of spring is right around the corner, there’s a good chance your homeschool family—like mine—is feeling a bit of spring fever. My yard may still have puddles and leafless trees, and we have several weeks left before we can pack away our Instructor's Guides for summer break, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pause to enjoy the changing of the seasons.

In fact, a short break from our regular routine to focus on a season that’s all about life, growth, and renewal may be the perfect way to rest and rejuvenate before tackling the end of our school year.

Whether we scatter a few activities over the course of a couple weeks or dedicate one whole day to seasonal fun, the following ideas are a starting point for my family as we decide how we want to mark the first day of spring.   

1. Get Outside to Enjoy Spring Nature

The best way to see how nature is changing is to be in it, so we’ll definitely be walking out the front door. Weather and schedules will dictate what we end up doing, but here are some options we’ll consider:

  • Walk through our neighborhood or go on a hike. Pay attention to bulbs in bloom, blossoms on trees, and nests in trees.
  • Visit a farm to see the baby animals.
  • Plant some seeds or flowers. If the weather is uncooperative, make a plan for what we’ll plant and where it will go.

2. Savor Books About Spring or Poetry

Whether we want to read something overtly educational or choose something more for pleasure, there’s no shortage of ways that reading can be part of our celebration.

3. Create Beautiful Things

I’m definitely not the kind of mom who does arts and crafts, but that doesn’t mean my family can’t make things to celebrate the season. Whether we choose things that are to be enjoyed purely for their beauty, serve a more practical purpose, or are a combination of those goals, we’ll find something to create.

  • Dry and press flowers from our walk or hike. Then use them for making bookmarks with contact paper or for adorning blank cards which we can mail out to friends.
  • Prepare a meal that highlights spring produce or bake some distinctly spring-themed desserts. Then invite friends or family over to eat with us or deliver the food to homes or workplaces.
  • Let each person select the artistic method they prefer—writing a poem, painting a picture, or carving a wood figurine—to create something that represents spring to them.

Whether you get outside, open books, create things, or do something entirely different, I hope you’ll join me in taking some time to savor the beginning of spring before we move forward to complete our school year.

Request a Sonlight curriculum catalog

Spring is also a perfect time for considering your curriculum for the fall. Request a Sonlight catalog and start planning your programs.

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The Grade Level Dilemma for Gifted Kids Just Starting School

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The Grade Level Dilemma for Gifted Kids Just Starting School

Parents of young, gifted children frequently wonder about grade level when it comes time to start schooling—"What grade is my child?" This question seems all-important because grade level is often used to determine when to start formal schooling, what types of educational options to pursue, what curriculum to purchase, daily workload schedules, and academic expectations.

It’s very tempting to push a child ahead a grade level or two. Your precocious four- or five-year old might be reading at a first or second grade level and be doing simple mental math. This child would be bored in a traditional school, so it’s easy to assume they should be placed in first or second grade instead.

But when you homeschool with Sonlight, moving a young child up a grade or two is not necessary and often not even advisable.

Getting Started Early

I knew my oldest was gifted from birth. So it was no surprise when she started walking and talking early, knew her shapes and colors long before her second birthday, or started reading before age 3. By three-and-a-half, I couldn’t wait to jump-start the whole school process! I took her to a kindergarten screening so the school would let her in early. They insisted she was just too young and too immature to do well in kindergarten, no matter what her ability was. Try again at age five, they suggested. The local private school agreed.

Homeschooling as a Last Resort

Frustrated, I decided to try homeschooling for a year. I ordered every catalog I could get my hands on that spring. By summer, I couldn't stop reading the Sonlight catalog; I knew it was the curriculum for us!

Over and over I heard the same advice from experienced moms on various help groups.

  • “Start one year below your child’s grade level.”
  • “Don’t push things. Start off a little lower, because Sonlight is already advanced.”
  • “The PreK level is perfect for kindergarten. It’s more than most children get in kindergarten.”

Later, I would look back upon this advice as my first sign that grade levels are only one aspect to learning.

Still, I had a child who would be 4 in the fall but was doing first and second grade level work already at home. I decided to go with the Sonlight Kindergarten program, figuring it would be too easy and at least one level below where she “really” was. (It was called Core K at the time, but now it’s called HBL A World Cultures.)

A Temporary Fix for the Gifted 4-year-old

We dived in immediately after Box Day, not waiting for the school year to officially start. She was just shy of 4 and an eager learner. We read through dozens of great books.

But something wasn’t quite right. She sat through the books—tolerated them even—but she didn’t love them. She wasn’t engaged. I thought I must be doing something wrong.

However, at the very end of the year, I saw her light up and start truly enjoying the books. It was like a switch turned on.

I realized what I had done wrong was just working at a level too high, too early.

I repeated the entire level again with her at age 4.75 at a faster pace, and it went so much better. This was when I realized interest level doesn’t always equal grade level.

I had always planned to put my child into kindergarten at public school at the end of the year. But when fall came around again, I realized even though we hadn’t had the best year, my daughter was still advanced and would be bored in kindergarten. I realized that homeschooling was the better option.

Falling in Love and Going Beyond

That following year, I fell in love with Sonlight. Each book was so interesting and engaging, even my young son, who was 2 at that time, was enjoying some of the easier books.

When my younger son turned 4, I started him in the PreK program, even though he was showing signs of being more gifted than his sister. Truthfully, it was a bit easy, but so perfect for him in many ways:

  • He was asking questions about things like quarks and atoms.
  • He was building levers.
  • He wanted to know more about other countries.

He was able to go so far beyond the simple reading, writing, and math I had expected preschool to be about, and was learning about science and nature, cultures and the world—things most kindergartners know nothing about.

And he was loving every minute of it. This was when I realized we didn’t have to limit our children to grade level materials for them to thrive.

What About Grade Levels?

When I first started homeschooling, grade levels seemed so important. Getting my daughter into that kindergarten class at age 4 seemed vital. Now, 14 years later, I can’t even remember which grade level any of my children are in without stopping to count.

Sonlight doesn’t require your child to be in a single grade level at all. With Sonlight, your children progress by ability level, and what the grade levels say on the website might not line up with where your child is ability-wise.

For example, I have a 6-year-old doing

She is enjoying every minute of this mix of materials, ranging from kindergarten to third grade.

Sonlight’s website makes it easy to build a program using exactly the right levels for each child. Children don’t need to be in a grade to get a good education.

So, what grade level is my daughter today? Well, as an answer, I’d like to quote a passage from the book Understood Betsy.

“Why—why,” said Elizabeth Ann, “I don't know what I am at all. If I'm second-grade arithmetic and seventh-grade reading and third-grade spelling, what grade am I?”

The teacher laughed at the turn of her phrase. “You aren't any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You're just yourself, aren't you? What difference does it make what grade you're in! And what's the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don't know your multiplication table?”

Understood Betsy in History / Bible / Literature B

If you aren't sure what levels to purchase or how to customize your package, we have homeschool consultants available to help. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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8 Low Budget Ways to Add Performing Arts to Your Homeschool

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8 Low Budget Ways to Add Performing Arts to Your Homeschool

I own it: ours is a family that values the arts. As such, our homeschool is one where we prioritize immersion and exposure to all forms of creative expression. Fellow homeschoolers often lament that while they find it easy to give their children a steady diet of fabulous literature (hint: every level of Sonlight!), they just don’t have the budget to pursue much in the way of the performing arts.

Guess what? We don’t either! Despite a bare bones level of spending, however, we regularly attend plays, attend concerts, and even see dance performances.

The Arts Matter

The current STEM focus of education is well deserved; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are vital to a vibrant education. But the lesser-applauded STEAM acronym sneaks in the element that ties all of those areas together—Art.

It’s through art that we develop empathy, experience compassion, and learn to communicate our own passions. In a pinch, we can find a Netflix video to experience Shakespeare or use Spotify to bring Vivaldi’s music to life. But nothing replicates the depth of a real, lived-in moment where we encounter fellow human beings engaged in the acts of creativity, skill, and art.

Finding Low-Cost Resources

We all know that a Broadway production can run in the hundreds of dollars for a single ticket. How does a homeschooling family afford to experience performing arts on one income? Here's how we find low-cost, budget-friendly ways to add performing arts into our homeschool culture.

1. Shakespeare in the Park

Nearly every community has some form of this summer stand-by. Google Shakespeare and your town’s name (or the name of the nearest mid-sized town) and see what option pop up. Call and ask if there are bargain performances on certain days of the week.

2. Youth Symphony Performances

While tickets to the professional symphony may be out of reach, most organizations host a variety of youth ensembles led by experienced conductors. Concerts by these orchestras are often $5 or less and feature the works of well-known composers as well as newer compositions.

3. Community Colleges

The Arts Department of your local community college likely hosts multiple performances each year at little to no cost. Drama, music, dance, and even opera are staged through community colleges! You get low cost performing arts all while supporting your local aspiring artists!

4. Church Events

Larger churches might have their own dance and music groups, and even smaller churches have drama teams and even lesser-known performance forms like handbells. At Christmas, free community events like presentations of Handel’s Messiah are easy to find with a little digging.

5. Library Events

Your local library may host outreach and education events for a variety of local resources, like thespian groups and musical ensembles. For example, our library has a quarterly Instrument Petting Zoo with musicians from our city’s symphony orchestra. We’ve also enjoyed several events where actors staged scenes from plays that were being performed locally at the time.

6. Local Schools

Events at your local public schools are usually open to the public. Plays, concerts by bands and orchestras, and any other performing arts offerings are usually just a few dollars per person. We were delighted to find that a local high school has one of the top strings sections in the region— and their performances at the end of each semester are under $15 for our whole family to attend!

7. Small, Local Theatres

While you probably have one or two central, well-known theatres in your town, a little digging will give you the names of a few smaller venues. Their offerings may not be as splashy—often this is where you’ll find your Children’s Theatre groups setting up shop— but they will have diverse and inexpensive performing arts options. This is, in my opinion, the best way to start a tradition of seeing The Nutcracker each year. Spring for the all-out, big deal performance once… then support a smaller ballet studio with your $5 per person on the other years!

8. Look For Special Events

Subscribe to mailing lists and keep an eye on homeschool group pages to get advance notice of upcoming free special events in your area. While some may be recurring and seasonal (like Christmas concerts) others may be one-offs that you won’t want to miss!

Support Your Community, Enrich Your Homeschool

Through our local resources, we’ve been able to meet and interact with passionate artists right here in our own community and stay afloat financially! Pursuing the performing arts as part of our homeschool culture has brought to life the subjects my children study every day and given them new outlets of creative expression.

While we can't provide theater productions or opera performances, or we can enrich your homeschool with engaging electives such as art, music, foreign language, coding, and more. See our carefully curated elective choices here.

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