As we continue in our series of posts using the word HOMESCHOOL as an acronym, we come to the letter O. I hope these ideas will be an encouragement to you and help you brainstorm about options available to you.
What I've Learned About HOMESCHOOLing:
One of the concerns someone who is thinking of homeschooling might have is concerning extra-curricular activities or areas where they are not knowledgeable. Over the years, I have discovered that there are so many resources and opportunities available for our children—many of which are very low cost or even free. You can pursue the opportunities that are a good fit for your family!
Some ideas to get you started:
Your public library—Not only can you access many more books than your own bookshelves can hold, the public library can be an amazing resource for educational classes, interactive play, and exciting learning experiences. Our small town library is not very big, but I have been amazed at how much they offer! This past year my children learned how to use Ozobots, Snap Circuits, Lego Education sets, and played with Imagination Playground blocks—all things that we do not have at home. We have also participated in a variety of classes offered at the library, including art, science, reading, music, as well as special programs and live concerts. (The steel drum performance was amazing!) Check out what your local library has to offer you.
Your town—Our town has an art gallery and a craft store (both of which offer classes for children), a city band, sports teams, youth field day events, and a city pool. What is in your town? Have you visited your local historical society? What about local festivals and city-wide events? We have thoroughly enjoyed Art Walk on the Block and attending the annual Chalk Walk, where amateur and professional chalk artists participated. Explore your home town and see what delightful things your family can enjoy.
Friends & family members—The people you know can be a great resource! Our family and church is full of very crafty and skilled individuals. We have carpenters, knitters, painters, musicians…the list is endless. My children are currently building a tree fort with their papa, uncle and dad. My son took piano lessons from an older gentleman at our church. Grammy taught them how to crochet. An aunt has encouraged their art interests by teaching them new skills. One of our friends ran a baseball clinic; there was children’s choir at our church; we visited family friends who own a working farm…. Think about the skills and talents of those around you and connect your children with people that have similar interests.
Online resources—The opportunities for learning online are so diverse. From online classes, learning games, educational videos, craft activities…resources abound for both the teacher and the student. Pinterest is a great starting point for searching out educational sources. (Check out our Pinterest page for some great ideas.)
Local colleges—This is an often-overlooked treasure trove of opportunity! Colleges regularly offer fine arts performances, sporting events, classes, public lectures and seminars. Many of these activities are free or are donation-based, and can help you expose your child to a vast world of knowledge.
Parks and nature centers—One of our favorite family activities is to explore new parks: local, state and even national ones. We have been blessed to live near some amazing parks with very interesting and informative nature centers. These unassuming places can hold wonderful exhibits of wildlife, teach about the ecosystems and habitats found in your area, and encourage a love of nature within your child. The miles of trails, waterways, and playgrounds can add a richness to your physical science studies, as well. For a list of state parks near you, click here.
Nearby tourist attractions—We recently moved back to the town where I grew up. Now that I have children of my own, I see this area in a whole new way. I had no idea there was so much here! Who knew that Revolutionary War soldiers were buried in the town cemetery? That there is a herd of 900 wild elk living forty-five minutes north of here? That there is a train car downtown that actually carried President Theodore Roosevelt? Even in small towns, and their surrounding areas, there are often places that you never thought to visit. Get creative and see what you have been missing.