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Sneaky Summer Learning Library

Could you ever just lose yourself in the children’s section of our library or bookstore?

I believe the sheer amount of beauty and possibility contained on the shelves is the attraction for me. As mothers and teachers of our children we know the immense power of literature. Well chosen books (whether they be picture or chapter books) can provide an education in and of themselves.

Summer is the perfect time to sneak in loads of learning with our kids.

Hit the library. Load up your Amazon cart. Ask friends to have a book swap. Strew literature around the house and stock your book baskets and shelves.

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
— Jane Austen

Over the last week some I’ve been participating in a Sneaky Summer Learning book recommendation event on Instagram. Each day of the week I chose five books from five different subject areas to share.

These books represent just a smattering of what I COULD recommend - but I had to practice restraint and limit myself to five.

I tried to include selections for all ages, from preschoolers to high schoolers. I’ve taught all of those ages, and at each stage my children have the most from simply READING.

On to the recommendation…

Math

From basic counting books to a book about female mathematicians that helped us get to the moon, these books represent a fascination with numbers.

Don’t forget that math is everywhere - encourage even your youngest ones to count any and everything.

Sing counting rhymes and times tables. Point out the use of Roman Numerals in everyday life.

These are just five of my favorites for encouraging a love of math.


Science/Nature Study

Summer is the perfect time to go outside.

Keep a basic spiral notebook and some nature study books with you in the car. Go on a tree walk. Pick flowers and see if you can identify them.

Bird watch.

And, don’t forget that the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20. Sneak in some books about that, too.


History/Geography

If you are traveling this summer, find books about specific cities and/or geographic regions. Watch the lightbulbs go off when you visit a place you’ve read about!

You can sneak in learning about big events in history - like the Yellow Fever in 1793 and the Siege of Leningrad. Reach farther back and spend some time as a Viking with Leif Erikson.

There are also so many beautiful picture books that follow characters around the world, as they age and face challenges and experience successes.


Fine Arts (Music!)

I could recommend a million books about music (it’s kind of my thing).

Any time we learn about a composer I start with Opal Wheeler biographies by Zeezok Press. These books explores the childhoods of musicians and are beautifully written.

We’ve also learned about instruments from faraway places and also about composers and musicians from America that every child should know.

And, music can also play a vital role in history - books share those stories for us.


Character/Religion

Some of our most touching moments have been reading books that deeply speak to my children about family, friendship, and personal challenges.

Sometimes there is just no other way to communicate a feeling other than through a story.

Studying heroes of our faith - reading their biographies - has also inspired us and broadened our world.

These books are just a few that my children have enjoyed.

I hope these recommendations have given you a start for your own summer of sneaky learning with books!

Do you have a favorite book for sneaky learning?

Share it with me in the comments below!

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What We've Been Up To Lately: Literature, Logic, and Learning Experiences

Life is rich, full, and BUSY when you have teenagers in the house.

I thought life with toddlers was tiring and mentally draining, but life with teenagers is a different kind of busy. (God bless the families that have toddlers AND teenagers.)

We’re tackling some BIG ideas - both emotionally and academically.

I can see, however, how much homeschooling our children has equipped all of us for this point in our children’s lives. The relationships we have created and the habits we have developed over the past several years are equipping us to tackle high school and college.

By God’s grace everything ahead of us seems GOOD - even if it is hard. Usually a chai latte, a good book, and some quiet time for prayer have been helping me put everything into proper perspective.

Literature, Logic, and Learning Experiences - What We’ve Been Up To Lately in Our #homeschool @ Homegrown Learners

Literature

Books really do help us escape to other worlds. Finishing a book also gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose - not to mention learning loads of interesting things while I’m reading.

Some really cool things have happened recently in our house with literature.

  • My son is reading a new collector’s set of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. He is suddenly intensely interested in reading Tolkien - and his friends from his homeschool group are all spurring each other on with what they are reading. One of my prayers for my son has been for his love of reading to continue as we make our way through the Challenge years.

  • My daughter is tackling a part of Le Mis in her 12th grade World Literature class. (Have you seen how BIG the book is? I bought it a few weeks ago and it scares me!) The two of us enjoyed seeing the Broadway production of Le Mis a couple weeks ago - it was spectacular! We had a great discussion about the themes of justice and mercy surrounding the story.

  • I am making a lot of wonderful history connections in my 2019 . My first big book of the year was One Summer: America, 1927. Now, I’m almost finished with The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Interestingly enough, the historical fiction I chose to go along with these was Next Year in Havana. I learned so much about the history of Cuba through this book. All three books together have given me a deeper perspective on life in America in the 1900s.

  • Several of you have been joining me for the Beauty in the Word book club study. I highly recommend reading this book when you have dedicated time to truly dig into deep ideas about your children’s education.

  • Reading aloud is also a staple in our homeschool - and yes, even big kids like to be read to! We just finished Homeless Bird (beautiful) and are in the middle of Nowhere Boy. Both of these books are turning the kids’ attention to issues in other parts of the world - through stories of children their own age.

  • Finally, I love to use our time in the car for listening to audiobooks. Grant and I have been listening to Bold & Broken by the Benham brothers. The theme of being broken is surfacing a lot in my life, and I am finding great power in admitting my own brokenness - and how sharing that brokenness can be a bridge for others to Christ. This book is humorous but also poignant - it’s just the right mix for a teenage boy. Because the Benham brothers were pro baseball players my son relates to them quite well.


Logic

Logic studies this year have been difficult. My son is a bright boy and this is one of the first times he is encountering true difficulty with a subject.

My mantra has been “process over product”.

So much can be learned from struggling through this logic curriculum - and I hope I’m freeing him up to struggle by letting him know it IS difficult and I’m not expecting perfection, just his very best effort.

I can see great value in studying logic, but I will tell you it isn’t something I would have selected for him on my own. This is a part of his Challenge B curriculum.

And let’s pause for a minute to talk about grades. This is one of those subjects where I’m not strictly keeping “grades”… after all, I don’t want him to get a C on a test and leave it at that. If he gets a C on a Logic test then we will struggle through the answers until we come to understanding. After working towards mastery with his best effort that seems like an A to me.

I’m setting up children for lifelong learning, not learning to regurgitate on a test.


Learning Experiences

The middle and high school years are bringing huge learning experiences for my kids.

We’ve always required our children to take piano lessons.

When March rolls around it is time for the Federation festival. This year Grant memorized two pieces and played them for a judge. I’m proud of him for receiving a Superior rating.

Anna did this festival for nine years in a row, and this was Grant’s sixth year. It teaches them perseverance, patience, and valuable performance/presentation skills.

This year Grant’s pieces seemed to kind of fall apart in the week leading up to the festival. I assured him it was a normal part of the preparation process, and he managed to pull out a Superior at the festival.

A little bit of nervousness, facing our fears - and then performing well - is such a great learning experience!

grantpiano.png

Meanwhile, on the same day, Anna drove to Spring Fest at the college she is attending next year. She did this on her own! The drive is two hours - which made this mom just a little nervous.

She learned a lot more about the college and came home with all kinds of details about their Special Education cohort program. The students move through their last two years of school together, student teaching throughout. They also offer a study abroad program focusing on special education in other cultures.

I could have gone with her, but she wanted to do this herself. She has always been my strong willed child (a challenge for this homeschool mom!), but I can clearly see that strong will working for good as she gets older.

Moms, if you have a strong-willed child just stay the course. Be firm, loving, and allow them plenty of opportunities to be independent. Let them take control of their education. I’ve learned my daughter needs to own her successes and failures, and the entire college application and selection process has been no different.

She’s also had a setback with a roommate situation. She thought she was all set with a roommate who is a friend of hers now, but the roommate has decided to attend another school. I must admit, my heart broke a little for her because having this one thing settled was making Anna feel so much more confident about school. This setback, though, has been a good opportunity to stress God’s hand in the process, and it is the first of many obstacles that Anna will have to overcome in her college career.

Another learning experience. You cannot control a situation, but you CAN control your reaction to the situation. (a good reminder for all of us!)


As we’re preparing for the change of transitioning to high school for my youngest and college for my oldest, we’re still in the process of settling my father-in-law’s estate.

Yesterday was the first time to go to his house after the estate sale. The house was totally empty. Talk about a sucker punch to the gut.

I think is one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through.

(At that same time we received news that my niece had a new baby - a precious little girl. The cycle of life is one thing we can be sure of, isn’t it?)

The theme of our lives this year is CHANGE. So much change. Even through all the changes and hard times we are OK — we are blessed in so many ways.


He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4


Now I will be turning my attention to planning a graduation celebration for Anna and a Confirmation celebration for Grant - two big events coming this spring!


I’d love to know what you’ve been up to in your homeschool lately!

Leave a comment below to share with us…


Literature, Logic & Learning Experiences - #homeschool encouragement to stay the course