Six Ways to Enjoy Spring Without Skipping SchoolApril Elstrom
The first flowers are starting to peek out of the ground in our part of the country. The sun is shining, and spring fever has hit. My kids are trying to get away with wearing shorts too early and are spending hours outside every afternoon. Thus the house is much more quiet after months of everyone cooped up inside. It also means that schoolwork is getting sloppier as the children rush through their math so they can get outside.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of sunshine, fresh air, and the beauty of nature, but school still has to happen. So what can you do when the sun is calling your name but the books are holding you hostage? Take school outside in one of these six ways.
Pack It Up
Throw your school books in a backpack, grab a picnic blanket, and head outside. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to try something new. If your own backyard is too noisy to focus, jump in the car and head to a quiet park instead. Find a spot in the sunshine, spread the blanket, and dive into your math lessons, handwriting, or history. (This option may not work as well for easily distracted students, in windy states, or with highly-allergic families.)
Take Science Outside
So, maybe it isn’t the textbook you ordered, but it’s still educational. Print out a nature scavenger hunt list and head outside to see how many items you can find. Grab a classification book so you can observe and identify trees, flowers, bugs, and birds. Better yet, have a backpack stocked with several classification books, a magnifying glass, and a notebook. Once a week, you can take a nature walk and record everything you identify in the notebook. You don’t have to be an artist or a Charlotte Mason enthusiast with a complex nature journal. A cell phone camera and a spiral notebook to write down the date and what you found is simple but effective.
Grab a Book and Find a Sunny Spot
The easiest way to take your English lesson outside, is to read your literature books aloud under a tree. But you could also take a poetry lesson outdoors. Your library probably has the Poetry For Young People series. You can check out a few of those and enjoy poetry outside together. Another fun idea is to learn about haiku poems and use haiku to describe the things you see, feel, and hear outside. Haiku is a simple form of poetry that lends itself well to describing nature.
Take a Field Trip
What’s in your area? Is there a historical landmark or nature preserve you can visit? Are there botanical gardens, a farm, a geological landmark, or a zoo? There has to be something you can explore outdoors that is educational. It may take a little extra planning, but it is a fun surprise for the end of the week to reward your children for their hard work. In our home, we’d have to use it as a reward to encourage my children to stay focused rather than as a surprise.
Don’t Forget P.E.
Physical education is important, right? It can be tricky to get outside time when you live in a neighborhood where most of the kids attend public schools. You don’t want to be reported for kids’ riding bikes outside during school hours, but if you join them in a game of soccer in the backyard, it’s much less likely to happen. So pull out the jump ropes, the soccer balls or basketballs, the baseball — anything that you can enjoy with your children on a sunny day. Getting some exercise between subjects helps them focus, and it will improve everyone’s mood.
Try Your Hand at Map Making
Make a map of your back yard or neighborhood with your kids. Turn it into a treasure hunt by hiding something and writing instructions (using your map) to find the item. This activity can teach measuring skills, directions, cartography, and drawing from an aerial view. It’s also fun!
There isn’t any rule that says school has to happen inside. Homeschooling gives us freedom to think outside the box. These are just a few ideas for enjoying spring on a school day. What other ideas can you think of to expand the schoolroom into the great outdoors? Leave a comment and share with the rest of us, so we can all be inspired!