Hello and welcome to Episode 7 of the Homeschooling and Loving it podcast!
Organizing for Summer Learning! (kinda like putting learning on auto-pilot!)
We’re gonna chat about organizing for summer learning! Awesome right?
Much of our homeschool learning takes place in our homes… so it makes sense that we would organize to make that learning as seamless as possible. We don’t always have to be the imparter of knowledge… our kids learn through so many ways… and in my opinion the best learning comes through independent discovery. So think of this type of organization as a way to set your child up for discovery learning!
Let’s start with organizing some activity centers. When I was a classroom teacher, I loved creating centers in my classroom. It was a great way to extend their learning with very little effort on my part. So, creating activity centers in your home is a perfect way to give your child a way to explore creative pursuits and hidden talents!
I love setting up art centers, music centers, and even nature exploration centers. If you’re wondering how you’d even start… just choose an area in your home and set out a small table add all the elements that your child will need to dive in. For example, an art center might include a roll or stack of paper, colored pencils, markers, water color paints, pastels (for the brave – they get messy), clay and other mediums that you’re child might want to creatively explore!
A music center might consist of several instruments for them to explore. Or if you want to be slightly more directed, you can include a simple instrument and some index cards with “how to” steps to learn how to play. An easy one to do that with is the recorder… an instrument that a child could learn to play well during the course of a summer. We’ve shared an awesome totally free recorder class in our freebies section on homeschool.com. Once children learn the basics of playing a recorder, they can easily move into a simple flute which has such a lovely “Lord of the RIngs” sound to it!
It’s always fun to leave out a microscope with some interesting slides. Kids love to see the micro world! And as we take walks or explore the woods around our home we pick up interesting things like turtle shells, bird feathers, and odd stones. All the things that we can return home and dig deeper to find out more!
When you set up an activity center be sure to work through the process you envision your child accomplishing while at that center. Make sure that every needed supply is readily accessible. And that any additional information for extended study can be easily found.
Use Your Kitchen as an Activity Center
Summer is the perfect time to develop kitchen skills in our kiddos! I know sometimes it’s difficult to relinquish our kitchen to the messiness that seem to accompany our youngsters when they try to cook – but just remember you are encouraging creativity and building life skills… and one day they may just cook for you! Hang on to that while you clean up the mess together!
There are some really great kid cookbooks that simplify the cooking process and make it easy to accomplish great things!
Ok, this is where the organization really kicks in… take the kid chaos cluttered spaces of your home and turn them on their head. Yep – so we all know our kids usually have way too many toys. They often play with just a few favorites and the rest are left in the bottom of the toy box or under the bed. Take this clutter and use it to your advantage!
To create weekly activity bags, have several large plastic totes enough for a month or so and big enough to hold playthings for a week. Select a variety of items for inclusion into each week’s tote. Making sure that you include toys that foster creativity, fine motor, imaginative and sensory games. Put all the other totes up and only bring out one per week. As time rolls on your child will actually miss some of those forgotten toys and when the new tote is brought out each week it will be awesome! The amazing thing is that with less distractions a child’s ability to focus deepens and play can become more imaginative!
Create outdoor learning spaces
If you have space for this, it’s an amazing way to get your kids outside and using their imagination. I know sometimes that is difficult, especially if you live in the deep south like us. Outside play during the middle of the summer is like visiting Satan’s front porch. For us, though we have some deep woods and it tends to be cool. We’ll often play out there, if we spray thoroughly with insect repellant or my kids adventure may end with Lymes Disease.
Anyhow, organizing for outdoor imaginative play is so fun. Set up an area with bug catching tools like nets and containers magnifying glasses, and gardening tools. The best bugs are often found under stuff! Also giving the kids wood scraps and hammer and nails is an amazing way to foster creativity. I mean who didn’t love building their own fort when they were growing up?? Just Don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellant.
And Finally – – let’s organize our vehicles for learning adventures!
You know so many of us travel during the summer that this just makes sense. It’s fun to put together our own Roadschooling Activity Kits. We all know that long trips can really try our patience. But putting together learning activities will help with keeping the kids engaged and provide some independent summer learning. A win on both counts.
Think about your vehicle as an extension of your home… and then envision ways that you can maximize on that space for learning. One of the best tools for this is the backseat organizer. You can pick this up everywhere but I’m adding a link in the show notes for one of my favorite back seat organizers on Amazon.
Take time to fill the backseat organizer with a roadschooling kit full of a variety of visual, auditory, and tactile items. Some of our favorites include activity books, manipulatives like a Rubik’s cube, small action figures, flashcards, reading materials, and snacks. Just like we did with the clutter boxes… make a few roadschooling kits and change them out each week. The kids won’t get tired of them and you may find more peace in the car than you ever imagined!
Well, that wraps up our podcast for this week… I hope you found these tips to be helpful! If you’ve been able to incorporate any of these into your summer routine – let me know! You can always email me at [email protected] or message me on any of our social channels!
As always I’ve enjoyed sharing this time with you and hope that you have a wonderful and blessed week – – with grace and joy – – Jamie
Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]