Originally Sent: 6/5/2014
June 5, 2014
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Making the Most of Your Summer
Humorist James Dent said, “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.” We agree!
For those homeschool parents who throw in the towel (oops, we mean throw in the books) and take an extended break from schooling during the summer months, we encourage you to rest, recharge, and relax. Our goal in this newsletter is not to stress you out by implying that you must do anything. Instead, we’d like to offer several ideas that may spark a desire or ignite your imagination. Remember that one person’s fun may be a chore to someone else, so enjoy or dismiss these suggestions as you see fit.
Let’s Chill Out!
Although you may spend some time during the summer planning for the next school year, be sure to balance out these times with fun activities. Many communities offer free concert or movie series during the summer months that you can enjoy with your teens, your entire family, or just your spouse.
As simple as it is, there’s something invigorating about watching the sun rise or set! Take time to absorb the breathtaking colors, the serenity, and the faithfulness of God Who reigns over all and tells the moon, sun, and stars when to shine. These sights are especially glorious at the beach or in the mountains, but there may be a special spot near your home to take in the resplendence.
Reading simply for pleasure (apart from coursework, lesson planning, and research) may be a forgotten indulgence. Sit on your porch, enjoy an iced tea, and lose yourself in historical fiction, a missionary biography, or a sci-fi thriller. Test your mental instincts by reading a detective mystery, or enlarge your horizons by scanning travel magazines. Reading together with your teen will promote opportunities for discussion and communication.
Enjoy the company of a friend and meet for coffee or lunch. In our busy world, unless these times are purposefully set aside, they rarely happen. Perhaps there is a new family in your neighborhood—bake a batch of cookies and knock on the door. Or visit a shut-in, an elderly relative, or a single mom who would love the companionship of another adult for a few hours.
You may want to encourage several people by writing them notes, thanking them for their care and prayers or for being an example to you. Handwritten notes are so seldom sent today that yours may be treasured for years.
Let’s Learn Something New!
The summer months may be your chance to take lessons in an area of interest or to start a new hobby. You and your teen may find it enjoyable to take some cooking classes together, learn to paint with watercolor, handcraft pottery, discover a new exercise program, design handmade cards, or decorate cakes. Some of these skills might just translate into a small business providing convenient hours to work while homeschooling your children.
If your home can use a facelift, check out home remodeling or decorating tips. Re-doing a room inexpensively by adding a new coat of paint (this skill is an excellent one to teach your teens) and de-cluttering adds a sparkle that could bring a much needed pick-me-up.
And while you are de-cluttering, think about helping your teens organize a garage sale, giving them some incentive by allowing them to keep a percentage of the sales. (Garage sale tips can be found on the internet.) Your teens can exercise good writing skills as they promote and advertise the event. Organizational skills will be handy as they sort and categorize items, and marketing skills will be honed as they price items and negotiate with customers. You provide supervision and suggestions, and then sit back watching your teens gain valuable management skills.
Do you have a yard that could use some tender loving care? Involve your teens in sketching out and implementing a new landscape design. The skills they’ll utilize will prepare them well for when they are on their own. To fire up your imagination and enthusiasm, visit nurseries and botanical gardens in your area, or simply walk through your neighborhood noting landscapes that are attractive and well kept.
Downtime during the summer may be a wonderful occasion to check out the history of your town with your teen. When was your town established? By whom? What local culture and ethnic groups make your town unique? What are the major industries? Are tours available? Does your town have any examples of distinctive architecture? Are there local historians who can bring your town’s story to life and motivate you and your teens to dig deeper and ask questions relating to your area? Many towns have a historical society that you can tap into for interesting revelations about your vicinity. Some historical societies sponsor regular events with guest speakers who may also be enjoyed throughout the year. Maybe your teen would enjoy an internship with the historical society to collect oral stories, old photographs, and family histories.
Don’t just think of expensive or exhausting jaunts. One-day excursions can be wonderful outings that require little in the way of planning. Get out a map and draw a 120-mile radius from your home. Then do a little research on your city, county, or state’s tourism website. It’s amazing to discover what gems of interest may be close by. Spend a day exploring a local museum, scream your lungs out at an amusement park, take a hike in a state park, or visit an art gallery and chat with a local artist. Some towns may sponsor festivals highlighting local cuisine and culture, music festivals, or industries that offer demonstrations.
Take advantage of tours that are given in certain areas covering battle re-enactments. Local recreation centers may sponsor group tours where all the work is done for you such as purchasing necessary tickets, setting the agenda, and managing the itinerary. You sign on for the tour, pay the fee, and enjoy!
Let’s Keep It Simple!
If coming up with ideas is the hardest part for you, there are websites that offer many suggestions. About.com recommends 12 weeks of summer fun activities in four areas specifically designed for teens: Make This (Recipe), Craft This, Learn How, and Get Out and Go! Additional ideas can be found at realsimple.com. (Use discernment with the list as several suggestions may not be appropriate.)
See the summer as a rich opportunity to unwind. Each of us has different stores of energy, so don’t be overwhelmed by the suggestions we’ve made. But, if one or two ideas sound interesting, grab your teen, and enjoy an adventure together!
Join us next month as Will Estrada, HSLDA’s director of Federal Relations, updates us on the status of the Common Core and how its implementation affects your homeschooling.
Wading into summer with you,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
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