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When the Weather Turns Nice, It is Gut Check-Time for the {Catholic} Homeschool

So what exactly do I mean when I say, “When the Weather Turns Nice, It is Gut Check-Time for the {Catholic} Homeschool?” When the weathers turns bad, it is easy to hunker down and do school.  When the weather turns nice, the children want to play and it turns into gut check time where you have to adjust your schedule and persevere in finishing out your core schoolwork.

Well, see I live in Pennsylvania, and this past winter was out of control.  I know, I know, it comes with living in PA but it was just too much.  At its first arrival we were so excited!  It was so pretty so sparkly, but then it just kept on coming,  unannounced and never leaving, it was like that relative that just shows up and never leaves…well just take a look for your self:

This was our house on February 5th

This was our house on February 5th

 

and so these were my children then:

They love playing in the snow!

They love playing in the snow!

 

It was great, lots of fun to go out there.  It snowed and it snowed. and it snowed, and it snowed to the point that I had to check my address because I thought we had moved to Alaska and I did not realize it.  Then it warmed up and then it came back ONE. LAST. TIME.  Here’s the proof:

 

Yes, this was on March 30th...a whole 9 days into "Spring"

Yes, this was on March 30th…a whole 9 days into “Spring”

 

At this point the children no longer wanted to go outside.  Honestly, I got tired of drying, and washing, and cleaning wet Winter coats, mittens, and digging through the snow to find the missing boot!  Yes, our four year old managed to loose his boot (just one) and we could not find it (Thank God for hand-me-downs we had another size 12 in a bin!).  It got difficult to be outdoors at all and being indoors was all we could do.  So we hit the books HARD and being raised in Florida, this is all I could think about:

To FL

 

During this time, we got a lot of schooling done after all we were “stuck” indoors.  Our only diversion were electronic devises and board games.  We worked through our books and enjoyed bringing piles and piles of books from the library but I could see the way my children stared out the window, yearning for the warmth of the sun, the beautiful colors that Spring brings.  It took a while but it finally arrived!  Spring had FINALLY sprung and the children were excited to ditch their snow boots and coat for rain boots and light jackets.  The warmth of the sun on our skin felt fantastic!  It brought us such incredibly joy to see the first Robin arrive in our yard.  Our five year old saw it first and started jumping for joy welcoming it like the long lost relative we had not seen in years.  Winter felt like it lasted eons…and Spring was finally here!

With the weather turning to nice, it was gut check-time for our home school.  The children quickly ate their breakfast with the hopes that we could just jump outside to feel the coolness of the mud between their toes, to make mud pies, and to gather wild flowers for our kitchen table.  It is also a great time for outside learning but the books sat on their shelves undone.  This is the time of year when we all want to go outside, it is the perfect outdoor weather.  But reality hit and I kept looking at the calendar counting my 180 days and we were 33 days short!  So now comes the time to be ultra creative in the homeschool.  I quickly changed our routine ever so slightly and started working with the children in different ways.

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  • First off, with our tenth grader we started block scheduling and taking two subjects at time.  Quickly he was able to complete all but two subjects and he had more time to go outside and play football or compose his next greatest masterpiece.
  • With our second and third graders it meant waking up a little earlier and getting things done by 11AM or before lunch.  Oh how quickly did they finish their work!

So we adjusted the day to push them to finish their subjects in less time (tests, textbooks, etc.,)  Then it was time to supplement outdoor “play” to a more education experience.  At first, I worried that their grades would suffer but the joy of seeing them enjoying the outdoors and continue learning from life itself was much more important to me.  To my surprise, grades did not suffer and they were retaining material though it was being done in a much quicker fashion. Once lunch and our chores were done by noon (well my chores continued but you know what I mean) they were outside until the sun went down. Soon enough we began evolving our days by moving our school room outdoors.  Since life was moving super fast right in front of our eyes, we just had to take advantage of this beautiful weather!  Their first couple of times out in the woods were marvelous and full of discoveries.  Although some the plants continue sleeping due to the very cool nights, there was much to explore and the anticipation of seeing life in full bloom was as exciting as awaiting a child’s birthday.  When our classroom moved outdoors, the children were at the rawest level of learning because they were stripped of the many modern day conveniences (good bye electronics!).  Our children became aware of the beautiful world God had created for them. It also an excellent time to feel the freedom (and responsibility) that comes with outdoor play and exploration. Outdoor education also helps instill the basic elements of teamwork because the children need to work together in problem solving, creating, and many times have to rely on each other. In addition, it forces children out of their comfort zone and challenges them to do more and be more creative.  This challenging of oneself on a mental level is wonderful for children.  Many times children will ask how things happen and why, and many times my answer is: “because God created perfectly this way according to His natural law.”

Outdoor Writing

You would be surprised to find that your children will have so much more to write about when they are outdoors.

Outdoor Math

A simple game of Hop Scotch could easily be turned into a Math lesson.

Outside Science

Give your children magnifying glasses to explore the outdoors and bring Science to life!

 

Outdoor Art activity

Outdoor Art activity

When the seasons are extreme it is easier to hunker down and keep the moving forward in the school year.  But when the weather turns nice, it is gut check-time and you have to remain focused and make adjustments.  What do you do when the weather turns nice?  Do you change your schedule or move things outdoors?

Here is a wonderful list of ideas on how to make an outdoor learning environment:

About RaisingSaints

RaisingSaints is a group of Catholic Mothers throughout the United States that chose to bring their children home to educate them. "Catholic homeschooling is the planned and organized teaching and training of children at home, for their peaceful and effective life in this world, and for their eternal salvation in the world to come." ~Father John Hardon

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