What I learned from summer camp

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

Our family has been in survival mode for a year. We managed to continue with schooling, but we didn’t get out much.

When we finally came up for air, my husband and I wanted to give our kids some bonus fun, a chance to get out of the house and be around other kids.

Fortunately, summer was on the horizon and there was a plethora of summer camp options to choose from.

Learning AND socialization? SIGN. US. UP. [Read more...]

Building global awareness in stay-at-home kids

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of VitaFamiliae

In a time where the world seems to be shrinking smaller, it’s important that we encourage global awareness and compassion in our children.

Kids need to be familiar not just with their own backyard, but the people and the cultures that exist all over the globe.

So how do we do this when, most days, we may not exit the front door?
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Buffet-Style Homeschooling (2012 Curriculum Fair)

One of the most common complaints I hear from new-to-homeschooling moms is, “There are so many choices! I just need somebody to tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Well, I’ve got news for you, Mamas. Choosing a curriculum is just the beginning.

Several curricula actually offer choices within their content. They provide a myriad of activities, books, and assignments on a topic and allow you, the teacher, to choose what works best for your kids.

It’s a veritable smorgasbord of learning! With these “buffet-style” curricula homeschooling is like a “choose your own adventure” novel in living color!

In preparation for using a buffet-style curriculum when my children got older, I used Before Five In A Row for preschool. Each week we read one book and then had several different activities to choose from that related to that book.  This gave me a chance to practice picking and choosing before I felt all the stress of “What if I pick wrong and they never learn the date of the Battle of Hastings and I ruin them forever????”

I loved the flexibility this type of curriculum offered. I’d read all of the options and decide what we were in the mood for that week. If I thought I could handle a craft without my head or the glitter exploding, we’d do that. If the science option looked more fun, we’d choose that. Anything I chose centered around our book of the week so it all tied together for my kids. I couldn’t make a WRONG choice.
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Mommy’s Unexcused Absence: A Day In The Life of a Bed Resting Mama

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

My family, with our seven kids ages 7, 7, 6, 5, 3, 1, and Not-Quite-Here-Yet are currently in a season of Not Normal Life.

For the last 14 weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve been on various levels of bed rest and high levels of medication. This means that I have about an hour and a half of teaching and talking time in the morning before I head to the couch or my bed with a whimper.

We have just enough time to do our reading aloud for history and literature, a quick grammar and spelling lesson, and maybe some phonics with my early readers. Or, if it’s a math day of the week, I teach the new math lesson. My older kids do their book work in the afternoons while my little people nap.

Our situation is certainly unique, but it’s not unthinkable that homeschooling families will have Mom/Teacher sidelined on a long-term basis at some point. And when the children/students are home all day every day, this has an even greater impact on the family.

Here are a few tips for when Mom takes a long, unexcused absence:
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Creating a Candlelight Christmas

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

One of the most important locations in our home at Christmastime is the dining room. This is where our real Christmas celebration occurs throughout the month. I make sure that even if I don’t hang an ornament in any other room, the dining room gets special treatment.

Back when my oldest children were babies, I read about a family who eats by candlelight every night in December. It made the whole month feel special, even if they were just scarfing down pizza. Candlelight makes everything more elegant, right?

We began that tradition in our own home with just big thick candles in the middle of the table. I’ve added a few candlesticks and hurricane lamps over the years. I’m always on the hunt for the “perfect” Christmas candelabras, although my crew is content with pillar candles and votives for now.

I’ve found that, in the hustle of the season, this was a great time to slow down, look our loved ones in the eye, and let them know we think they’re worthy of a candlelight supper. Turning off the lights also seemed to quiet the noise, allowing us to focus on the people in front of us, the magic of the moment.
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