Gearing up for a month overseas

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Something exciting is happening in our family tomorrow. We leave on a trip we’ve been planning for years –a month in England.

Why England? Well, my husband Steve is British. All of his family (my children’s grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles) still live there. Before having kids we visited frequently, and we took our firstborn, Jonathan, when he was nine months old to meet the British side of the family.

We’ve always had a dream to travel the world with our children. But then one child turned into two, and two turned into three. The idea of journeys overseas with toddlers and preschoolers in tow didn’t appeal to me, so we decided to wait until everyone grew up a bit to venture across the ocean together.

With my youngest having just turned seven, that time of life (that once seemed as if it would never arrive) is suddenly upon us! As a homeschooling family, we thank our lucky stars that we can nip off in the middle of the “school” year to let our kids encounter some real-life learning.

Here’s what we’ve been doing to prepare and make the most of our learning during the trip ahead. You could of course apply the same principles to anywhere you may be visiting or to just create a unit study about an area of interest.
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Don’t Know Much About History Resources (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by Simple Homeschool contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

Ages of my children: 12, 9, 4, and 5 months
Educational Philosophies I Pull From: Unschooling, Eclectic

History was never my strong point. I blame it on all the instructors who pretty much killed the subject for me, like elementary school teachers who had us read and respond to the social studies textbook questions without a single explanation on how it related to the rest of world chronology.

Plus the grad-school student-teacher who had us studying Machiavelli’s The Prince for a whole semester in high school because that was her dissertation work. And although she was totally enamored with the subject, it just didn’t rub off on me.

Thankfully, there were two teachers who did bring some light into those Dark Ages, and both had one thing in common — they told stories and they told them with enthusiasm.

On days when we probably should have been reviewing declensions, our Latin teacher, egged on by students who knew his weakness, would spend the entire period telling us stories from Roman history.

Another instructor acted as our tour guide to all the must see Wonders of the World — from Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, he shared with us the stories behind all these architectural marvels as we zipped through different time periods in history.
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Educational Philosophies Defined, Part I

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

A note from Jamie: This month on Simple Homeschool, one of our themes is educational philosophy. So it seems like a good time to revisit this post, originally published on February 15, 2010. You can also check out the second part of the post for further reading.

When I first started to research homeschooling, I didn’t even realize there was more than one way to “do” education. Growing up in the traditional system, like most of us, I assumed that homeschooling meant duplicating the system at home.

Imagine my surprise (& joy) as I discovered the plethora of educational methods and philosophies out there. That’s when I realized how amazing a home education could be–so many possibilities and options existed that could be tailored for each child!

The downside of having so many choices is wading your way through all the information. If you’ve recently felt overwhelmed by all that’s out there, today’s post is just what you need.

Here’s an overview of four educational philosophies to get you started.
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Art and Creativity in the Great Outdoors

Written by Heidi Scovel of Mt. Hope Chronicles.

Summer. There is something delicious about that word, especially for a mother of three young boys after an even-rainier-than-normal Pacific Northwest spring.

Children need to stretch their lungs, their legs, and their imaginations. The great outdoors are calling.

We may be inclined to set down our formal spelling and grammar programs, but summer is a great opportunity to sneak in some of the fun extras we might have trouble finding time to share with our children during a traditional school year.

Time spent outdoors lends itself to creativity and an appreciation for the art of nature. Many famous artists have been inspired by nature, and it is a joy to learn from the masters.

“Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Here are a few ideas to spark a summer study of art and nature.

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Five in a Row: Enlarge your Preschooler’s World with Books

I love the eagerness, innocence, and curiosity of preschoolers. They have so many questions about the world, and their genuine interest in finding out the answers make them ideal candidates as natural learners.

Add to this my own daughter’s precociousness and voracious interest in learning to read, and I knew I needed to add a bit more to our day than my own ideas to satisfy her thirst (and my sanity).

So this past “school year,” my daughter and I learned together via Five in a Row. As a four and five-year-old who loves to read, this was an ideal format for her to explore the world in a sort of big picture way, covering a wide variety of topics while still living a super flexible lifestyle.

Five in a Row isn’t just for preschoolers — it can be done through high school, in fact. But I found it an ideal curriculum and learning style for our family’s lifestyle and my child’s temperament.

Here are some of my favorite things about FIAR.

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