Friday, August 6, 2010

Finding the Fun in August

Can you believe it? I posted this blog in the wrong blog (my Christmas one), and even though people looked at it, not one said anything! I'm red-faced ...

 Here we are, enjoying (or not) the dog days of August. Here in the sunny South, it’s hot and humid. My favorite place to be is indoors enjoying some chilly A/C! It just doesn’t seem right to start back to school in August while summer is still here, but many of us are mindful of Christmas break (maybe taking the whole month of December off) and need to start school now in order to put in the required 180 days of schooling without having to work into the following June or July! So, can you find the fun in a hot, humid return-to-homeschooling month? Have you asked the Lord to give you some teachable moments in August? The most memorable lessons are often linked to fun, so if you’ve put off making some educational fun this summer, make an effort to include some before the chance is gone.

If you’re looking for ways to beat the heat, one idea is to visit a pet store or animal shelter to pet the animals. Some shelters want volunteers who can come and socialize the animals, walk the dogs, and wash and groom those that need it. Find out if there is such a volunteer program in your area. Pet shops have A/C, making that a good place to be on a hot summer day, and your children will learn about proper care and handling of small animals.

August is a great time to show your children how homemade ice cream is made, especially if you haven’t done this before. One year I borrowed an ice cream maker from a friend. My kids were so surprised at the ingredients that went into the ice cream. The texture and coldness were also a surprise. If you don’t have access to an ice cream maker, you might visit an ice cream parlor or get a carton of ice cream from the store – something with unusual ingredients. Make it a chilly, try-a-new-flavor lesson!

Have your children learned self-defense strategies for avoiding trouble? If not, there’s no time like the present. For the budget-conscious, there are DVDs available for children at the library that teach how to avoid strangers and abductions (in a format that won’t cause children to have nightmares). The lesson can even be fun! My children enjoyed coming up with a secret code any adult should use when sent to pick them up in my place. They had fun practicing escape tactics that were taught in the videos. Self-defense is an important lesson that children should learn as soon as possible, and it can be taught in the comfort of home. If your budget allows for it, you may find a martial arts studio that offers such classes as well.

If you can stand the heat, head on out and visit a produce stand; a delightful variety of fruits and vegetables are in season now! Chances are that you have been shopping at a produce stand already, but have you looked for lessons there? Buy a variety of things and cut them up. Study the seeds. Taste new and unusual produce. Figure out why eggplant is called eggplant. You might want to go to the grocery store for exotic fruits. Buy a coconut, a star fruit, an ugli fruit and share them with your family. Share ideas about why God made fruits and veggies in so many bright colors and interesting shapes.

Take these last few weeks of “freedom” to learn something new: how to play disc golf is one idea; another is geocaching, a pastime that is growing in popularity. You could also choose videos or DVDs from the library and learn about origami, photography, or something else that interests you and your children. There are even DVDs that teach children how to cook easy foods!

If you start homeschooling in August, gather goodies for a back-to-school goodie bag! Think school supplies combined with art supplies, quirky erasers, and a reading for pleasure book or two. Some states have a tax-free weekend in August, so take advantage of that. My kids loved the first day of homeschool – receiving a gift bag of surprises, fresh pencils and erasers, and getting their photos taken. It gave them something special to look forward to.

Throw a back-to-school kickoff party. Some coops and homeschool support groups do this, but even if you have that option, why not throw one too? If those options aren’t available to you, that’s all the more reason to have a party yourself. Kids LOVE a party. It doesn’t have to be pricey. Plan some fun outdoor games and simple refreshments. You might have a make-your-own-sundae party. For older children, maybe you could plan a pool party – but be aware, drowning happens quietly, not with a lot of splashing, flailing, and calling for help. You’ll want plenty of safeguards in place to prevent something tragic from happening. Your kids will love the memories made in their backyard.

Whatever your budget, you can put some fun in your August. Your kids will love the memories, and so will you! Happy homeschooling!

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