Essentials for a Homeschooler’s Day Outside

Essentials for a Homeschooler’s Day Outside

Although homeschooling enables personalized learning wherein parents adapt to their children’s abilities, it does leave much to be desired in terms of outdoor experiences. Homeschool children need to spend time outside. Outdoor environments promote healthy emotional, physical, and social development. In a study on the importance of outdoor activities, Janet Loebach suggests that being outdoors creates diverse opportunities for unstructured play as well, which stimulates a kid’s creativity and problem-solving skills.

Outdoor environments encourage exploration and independence in children. From equipment for park strolls to museum dates, here are essentials you should pack for your homeschooler’s day outside:

1. Spare clothes

Indoors, you don’t have to worry as much about soiled clothes, especially not when your child’s closet is only a few steps away. However, unforeseen weather conditions or accidents can result in messy clothing when you’re taking your homeschooler outside. Before heading out, pack a change of clothes with you. We also recommend checking the weather forecast for rain later in the day. This way, you can come prepared and bring a raincoat or a warmer jacket to prevent your kid from getting sick. After all, catching a cold can put a damper on your fun learning trip outside.

2. Stroller

With young homeschoolers, carrying a stroller is best if you plan on taking them to sprawling places such as parks or planetariums. As the iCandy strollers prove, they allow you to stay mobile for a day of play and learning. If you’re worried about transporting the stroller, don’t be. Today, strollers come with car seat adaptors and seamlessly convert to a complete travel system, allowing you to use them with your car seat rig. If you have a packed itinerary that entails flitting from one museum to another, rest assured a stroller’s your best bet in ensuring a smooth trip.

3. Picnic Necessities

Taking your kids out for a picnic is a novel experience, especially when their lunch breaks are regularly taken inside the house. Eating outdoors can provide a much-needed break and change of scenery to your homeschool day. We recommend making an event out of the picnic, even if you only head out to your backyard or nearby park. Pack paper plates and plastic utensils, paper towels, and a picnic blanket alongside an insulated picnic bag and your kid’s favorite snacks. You can get all these from REI, a brand that offers an assortment of picnic tools, such as lightweight blankets that are resistant to the elements. All that’s left is to relax with your curious student as you help them identify different cloud formations in the sky.

4. Art Supplies

In our previous post ‘Summer Activities Your Kids Will Love’, we shared how kids enjoy using paint brushes to create different shapes on the sidewalk (yes, even with just water). Although art activities are easy to implement into your homeschool day, being outdoors exposes your children to new sights. To nurture their creativity, equip them with a small sketchbook and a set of colored pencils the next time you visit a park. It’ll be interesting to see them sketch several bird species or various colored flowers on paper. While these are objects you can show through books or on a screen, nothing beats seeing and capturing them in the flesh.

5. Game Equipment

A day out can be an opportunity for active play. When you take your kids outside, bring game equipment, such as jump ropes, hula hoops, or balls, with you. Ball play, for example, would entail bouncing, catching, dribbling, and throwing items. In an article on motor performance, Bouwien Smits-Engelsman explains how ball skills help build balance, problem-solving skills, and spatial awareness skills in children. To maximize your homeschooler’s day out, have exciting and educational game equipment on hand. This way, they can stretch their limbs as they learn a thing or two about hand-eye coordination.

Social Emotional Learning with LuvBug Learning

Social Emotional Learning with LuvBug Learning

Social emotional learning is such a buzz word these days, especially in the education community. But what is it exactly? Social emotional learning is simply the process of developing self awareness, self control, and intrapersonal skills. That’s it. Social emotional learning occurs is all sorts of situations, like in the home, play dates, co-ops, sports teams, and so on.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free, and I was compensated for my time for this post. As always, my opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with these productand services.

Sometimes, however, we want a more focused learning environment for our kids with regards to social emotional learning. This is why I was thrilled when I was introduced to LuvBug Learning! LuvBug Learning is an online play-based SEL curriculum that is perfect for your elementary aged child. Keep reading because I have a DISCOUNT code for you!

Teaching Feelings with LuvBug Learning

LuvBug Learning is the leading gaming platform for social emotional learning. Children do not even realize they are learning important life skills as they interact with Pixar quality characters and games. These characters exist in various worlds where you child will engage critical thinking skills while learning all about feelings and good character qualities.

These include things such as:

  • Gratitude
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • The Golden Rule
  • Honesty
  • And so much more!
Scavenger Hunt Extravaganza

The graphics on LuvBug Learning are one of my favorite key features. I have shared before how a couple of my children, as well as myself, are neurodivergent. The animation on LuvBug Learning is so engaging and captivating for my children. They already love games like Roblox. However, with LuvBug Learning they are getting filled up on that dopamine, all the while learning skills they will utilize in every day life. In my opinion, it is vital for neurodivergent kids to have a focused SEL curriculum, because it is easy for them to miss certain social cues or rules of ettiequte in every day life.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Emily Sewell (@intentionally_well_blog)

What is Included with LuvBug Learning

LuvBug Learning has a variety of subscription options, with the best price per month option being the annual subscription. Furthermore, I have an additional discount code just for you! Use code: LUVBUG5 for your annual subscription to only cost $5/month! Although LuvBug Learning offers deals throughout the year, this is the best you’re going to see. This offer EXPIRES October 15, 2022, so don’t wait! This price gets you one child account and one parent account, but you can easily add additional users for a small fee.

Furthermore, each child on your account will have their own dashboard. What I love about LuvBug Learning’s platform is how customizable it is. Parents have the ability to filter and tailor their child’s experience based on their individual wants and needs. Parents also can also track their child’s learning progress in a very easy and concise way with the Social Emotional Pillars tracker in their dashboard.

Join LuvBug Learning today!

With beautiful and FUN graphics, characters, and games, LuvBug Learning is an obvious choice for social emotional learning for you elementary aged child. Join today and grab your discount with code: LUVBUG5, and let the fun and learning begin!

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Learn about Christian Missions in Your Homeschool

Learn about Christian Missions in Your Homeschool

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Modern Day Missionaries

I was thrilled to discover Growing Up Wild by Wild Brothers Productions. This Christian missions focused curriculum shows the daily life of the Wild family. Mom, Dad, and four brothers (Morgan, Hudson, Kian, and Asher) live in the remote jungle of Papua, Indonesia with the hope of spreading the Gospel. We spend a lot of time learning about different counties and cultures around the world in our homeschool. I want my children to have a vast knowledge of God’s creation. You can read more about our goal of having a world view in our homeschool here.

The Curriculum

Growing Up Wild consists on five DVDs and Activity CDs. Each DVD contains 3 episodes of various aspects of daily life living deep in the jungle of Papua. We learned how the Wild family built their circular home, gather water, harness solar energy, and so much more! The narrator then offers several activity suggestions to connect your learner to the life of a missionary living in a remote area. Each episode speaks to the wonder of God and encourages learners to go out an explore God’s creation for themselves. I really appreciated all the activity suggestions to connect the life of the Wild family to our family living here in America. Sometimes it is hard for children to visualize people living differently from themselves. Growing Up Wild does a great job to overcoming this challenge. Also, my own children really enjoyed seeing the life of another homeschool family.

Mama Wild holding baby in Papua

Why Learn About Christian Missions

I fundamentally believe it is of utmost importance to expose children to people and places that are different than their every day norm. Furthermore, when we are exposed to people and places whom we consider “other,” we automatically fall in love with the entirety of God’s creation. Both people and places. Therefore, we can’t help but become Kingdom focused when we take this approach. I love how the Growing Up Wild curriculum brings these morals right into my own living room. Furthermore, children seeing others actively spreading the Gospel empowers them to do the same. This curriculum does a wonderful job of showing day to day life of being involved with christian missions. However, I do with the family went into even more detail on the specifics of their work.

Wild family engaged in a family Bible reading in their circular home.

Seeing Christian missions through the work of the Wild family has blessed and enriched our family and homeschool. Additionally, I hope their story encourages you and your children as well. Please click on any link in this post to learn more about Growing Up Wild and the Wild Brothers Productions.

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

I am no longer a first year homeschooler! Our first year is in the books. I have the attendance records to prove it, and it feels like such an accomplishment. My school aged children completed second grade and kindergarten at home. You can read more about our decision to become a homeschool family here, but our decision was not related to the pandemic like so many others. The pandemic just confirmed to us that we made the right choice for our family. We are at the end, and I have thoughts.

What We Liked About Homeschooling

I think my favorite thing about homeschooling was the freedom we experienced in our daily schedule and routine. If something came up, or if we were just bored with what we were doing, we just changed it. I even switched our language arts curriculum mid-year. You just don’t have that flexibility with traditional public school. My favorite part of our day was cuddling up on the couch and reading to my girls. We entered and explored so many wonderful stories and worlds together this year. I watched their love for books and reading blossom from the front row. We traveled the world together through our social studies curriculum and learned how not every one lives, looks, speaks, or believes the way we do, and that is what makes every one unique and special.

In addition, I loved how our days look on a leisure quality. We were not rushed nor over scheduled. One of the things I disliked the most about my children’s time in traditional school was the long day. They were gone so much of the day. My oldest came home exhausted around four o’clock each day. She came home so late in the day and so tired, that we often had to complete homework in the mornings before the bus came. I did not like feeling like I got the leftovers of my children. I felt I was missing too much. They missed each other as well. This past year my children had so much time together, and it grew their sibling relationships in the best ways. I often say to my children that their siblings are their forever best friends, and I saw that come to pass this year.

What We Did Not Like About Homeschooling

Don’t get me wrong, being a first year homeschooler was not sunshine and roses all the time. However, I think the things we found to be the most challenging were things that were amplified by the pandemic. When we made the decision to become a homeschool family, we knew our children would have to make new friends. ~Sigh~ new friends, again. I say again because, remember, our family moved across the country in 2018. Our kids had already been through the difficult process of meeting and making friends after our move, and they had to do it again.

Our community has a strong homeschool presence. However, everything was closed for so long because of the pandemic. I had a really difficult time connecting with other homeschooling families. This was our biggest struggle by far. My oldest told me she loved doing school at home, but she missed the kids from her old school. We tried play dates when we could, but a world wide pandemic really puts a damper things. Every family has different comfort levels with precautions to COVID, including us. It was difficult for them to establish meaningful connections. One of our biggest changes we will be implementing next year is enrolling them into a co-op. They will do classes with other kids one day a week. Everyone is excited about this!

Another thing I found challenging was adjusting to having my kids around me all day long, every single day. I love my children with every part of my being, but my introverted self needs time alone to decompress and recharge. COVID amplified this because my long haul symptoms from having the virus were so pervasive. I spent much of the year in recovery. I often had to take naps in the middle of our schooling, because the fatigue was so intense. Many of our days were spent doing only the essential subjects. I am really excited about adding more extracurriculars next year, now that much of my energy has returned.

Final First Year Homeschooler Thoughts

I don’t believe homeschooling is the right decision for every family, and that is okay. Homeschooling is not one size fits all, and you absolutely need to feel called to do it. It’s a hard work, but it is definitely a worthy work. I am so glad we finally made the leap, after we considered it for so many years. As of now, our plan is to continue homeschooling through at least elementary school, and everyone is excited about this. I looked at this year as a learning year, and I experienced so many lessons as a first year homeschooler that stretched and grew me. Lessons I am forever grateful for. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us next year!


Menu Planning Made Simple

Menu Planning Made Simple

Menu planning is one of those things you know you should be doing. It’s good for your health, finances, and family bonding around the kitchen table. But it can also be overwhelming and feel complicated. Here are my steps for straight forward menu planning that will make things simple, effective, and easy to stick to.

Pick a Day to Menu Plan

If you haven’t pick up on my style yet, or if you’re new around Intentionally Well (welcome!), know that I like a good routine. Therefore, my first tip is to pick a day of the week to plan meals for the following week. I prefer weekly meal planning, but you can also tailor these tips towards menu planning once a month. The day you choose should be the day before you would typically grocery shop. This allows you to take advantage of any sales going on at your store (full disclosure – I’m not a coupon clipping person). Weekly menu planning also allows you to incorporate lots of fresh produce into your meals, which has a shorter shelf life.

Check Your Weekly Schedule

Knowing your weekly schedule is so important. If your kids have sports or other activities two afternoons a week, then you might not want to plan a full made from scratch meal that night (our go to quick meal is breakfast for dinner). This is why having a planner where you can keep everything in one place is so essential to keeping things intentional in your life. I use this one. Flying by the seat of your pants is overrated, am I right?

Shop Your Pantry

This was a tip a friend shared with me years ago, and it is a game changer when trying to stick to a budget. Look at what’s in your pantry and refrigerator first. Can you make any meals with what you already have? Likely, the answer is yes. Shopping your pantry first will enable you to cycle through pantry staples on a consistent basis as well as cut down on food waste.

Check the Weather

I know. This step is kind of out of left field for you. Checking the weather for the week is a great way to bring just a touch more intentionality to your meals. For example, if it’s chilly outside, then it might be more appropriate to have a cozy soup for dinner instead of salads. You also don’t want to plan to grill hamburgers outside, only to be caught in a down pour.

Make It Themed

Assigning each day of the week a meal theme can make choosing recipes less overwhelming. For example, Monday: vegetarian, Tuesday: tacos, Wednesday: Pasta, and so on. I find using this loose schedule makes menu more streamlined and less mentally taxing. I know, in theory, menu planning shouldn’t be mentally taxing. But, you know it can be. Sometimes it’s just plain annoying to be in charge of what all your people are going to eat.

Developing a menu planning habit can be a game changer for you and your family. I hope these tips and tricks help you to start and keep at it. What are some of your favorite family meals? Let me know in the comments below. As always, share this post with your friends if you enjoyed it!

Self Care is Basic

Self Care is Basic

It is time that we stop apologizing for being actual humans. We are not machines, people! We need rest. We need a break. When I say self care is basic, I mean self care is a basic human need. It is not indulgent. It is not spoiling yourself. It is taking time for your mental, physical, and spiritual health intentionally. Of course, anything can be twisted and warped into something its not supposed to be, and self care isn’t any different. But I am not talking about that here. I am talking about intentionally taking time for yourself, so you can be the best you.

Perspective

I remember when I first became a stay at home mom. I had visions of a 1950’s housewife, who spent her days cooking three meals a day for her family in her always immaculate house. You know what those moms did? They put their babies either in a play pin, propped in front of the TV, or being watched by hired help. When I realized my vision was a fallacy, I realized what undue pressure I was putting on myself. I drove myself mad trying to live up to these lofty expectations that were completely self imposed. Hear me, sweet friend. It is not a thing to have a perfect house and perfect peaceful children all the time. It’s just not. And that is okay! It’s time that we look at our selves and our lives through a realistic lens.

Healthy Expectations

What am I reasonably capable of in a given day? What would be nice to accomplish but isn’t a necessity? What do I need to do to take care of myself today, so I am starting with a full cup tomorrow. There is nothing worse than feeling like we are running on empty. I see this all the time, especially with new moms. We have visions of what we will be like as mothers, and sometimes reality doesn’t match. For example, I did not know that I get overstimulated by noise until I had my own children. When I am overstimulated, I get short tempered and shouty (I may have just made up that word). I know that is something I need to mitigate. If my kids are being loud, I might need to take a few minutes and go upstairs where it’s quiet. I might (*gasp*) even need to scroll on my phone for a few minutes to feel like I’ve separated a little. Then, I am better able to come back to reality and not be frustrated and shouty with my kids.

Prevent the Burn Out

Here me, mama. Taking time for yourself is not detracting something from you family. It is investing in them. A better you is a better wife and a better mother. If you’re looking for permission to take that break, I am giving it to you. If you are needing someone to tell you to let the laundry sit there this time, so you can take a much needed nap, I’m telling you. There will ALWAYS be something that needs to be done. Our lists are never completely checked off. There will always be something else to do. But that doesn’t mean you have to give in to this pressure of getting it all done perfectly. Take a beat. Take a breath. Take a nap. And if you are looking for some extra pampering, check out these products. Also, here are my best tips and tricks on incorporating a self care routine into your day.

Nurturing Sibling Relationships

Nurturing Sibling Relationships

Nurturing sibling relationships is an aspect to parenting I want to thrive in. I want to preface this post with love. I know we, as mothers, are doing the very best we can. Mothering and parenthood is legit hard. It’s a high and holy calling on us. My heart is to share a few things that have helped our family. And my hope is that maybe something shared can bring a little more peace to your home where there might be chaos. My heart is not boastful. I do not get it right every time, and I definitely do not know all the things. We struggle and have hard days and weeks just like every one. Also, my children are young. I know that things will change as they get older, and we will have to mold and adjust our strategies as our children grow. My husband and I are continually having conversations about what each of our children need and how we can best meet those needs. I am not an expert, and I believe a lot of sibling dynamics come from individual personalities. However, there have been a few things that we have purposely implemented in our family culture to nurture the relationships among our children.

Valuing Sibling Relationships

First and most importantly, we view siblings as a gift in our family. My husband and I don’t take for granted the value of this special bond among our 3 kids. I grew up as an only child, and my husband has one younger brother. We are not experts by our own account, but we have a deep desire for our kids to have a special, close, and unbreakable bond. For much of my childhood, I longed for that “best” friend who would be present in my life for years and years. That deep connection when you can read each other’s thoughts without saying a word. Childhood friendships can graze the surface of this, but those relationships tend to be fluid and temporary. They depend on where you live, what school you go to, etc, and those things can change often for kids. But siblings are with you forever. They’re stuck with you, ha! So, I think for us, that is the biggest motivator for for how our kids view each other. They are a gift. It all starts with your heart and how you as the parent view sibling relationships.

Teaching Conflict Resolution

Secondly, I have basically been a helicopter parent when it comes to conflict resolution among our children. In the toddler years, this meant me having them repeat what I say when resolving a conflict. I intentionally taught them the words and tone of voice to use with the goal of nurturing their sibling relationship. I took the time to explain to one child why the other child was feeling a certain way. If one child did something hurtful, I would tell them to look at their sibling, and I would say calmly, “Look at their face. They are sad. It made them sad when you did xyz. You need to say sorry and make it right.” I start this around age two. I believe it helps them to develop an awareness and empathy for others. I have only just recently started letting my 5 and 7 year old work out conflict on their own. And it has, honestly, been a joy to hear them both state their opinions on a situation and come to their own compromises. It really makes all that hard work I did when they were younger worth it. I also really take the time to explain to the older kids that those younger than them are still learning. That we have to be patient and teach them. This is especially poignant, as I call my now 2 year old the toddleriest toddler I ever had. He is in his learning stage, and my older two often have to give him grace when they don’t initially feel like it. That is also a good life lesson.

Nurturing the Heart

Thirdly, to the best of our ability, we parent the hearts of our children and not just their behavior. If one child is going through a phase where they’re repeatedly getting frustrated and yelling at another child, we not only address the behavior but also get to the reason as to why said child is frustrated and yelling. We actually dealt with this recently. The frustrated child was yelling because they felt like their sibling wasn’t listening. After talking about appropriate ways to express frustration (yelling at people not being one of them), we followed through and talked to the sibling about the importance of active listening and how it hurts people’s feelings when they don’t feel heard. This is only the most recent example. It takes a lot more work on the front end. It would be so much less effort for me to just separate the two kids and have a blanket “no yelling” statement and then move on. But if we had only responded to the behavior of the first child, we would have missed a teaching moment for the second child. We always try to keep the goal of nurturing sibling relationships in mind during conflict resolution.

Family Culture

Lastly, we do our best to instill a team spirit into our family culture. I really credit my husband with this one. He loves being part of a team. Therefore, we don’t allow our kids to compete against each other. We tell our kids to use team work to complete a task, whether it’s chores or just playing a game. When calling my kids collectively, I will say “team Sewell, it’s time to go (or what ever).” This, I hope, just gives them the little reminder that we are all on the same team. Always. We don’t pit them against each other – ever. Even when playing games.

I think the big take away in nurturing sibling relationships is that we have decided that this is a priority in our family. We put a lot of our parenting energy into this. We tell our kids that they are “forever best friends,” and we mean that with our whole heart.

I would love LOVE to hear how you nurture sibling relationships with you kids. Share what has worked in your family, so we can learn from each other.

Alabama to Indiana

building door entrance exit
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Home: (noun) the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

     Four months ago, my husband and I moved our family from Alabama to Indiana so that he could begin vocational ministry. It all came so fast. Once he officially accepted the new job, my to do lists became so long that I was barely able to scratch the surface of processing what this move meant for me. We had to get our house ready to be put on the market, find a place to rent, figure out which schools to send our kids to, and all.the.things. It was one of the most hectic and stressful times of my life. Now that we are here and settled, I am starting to feel my feelings. It’s not easy to move across the country, to move so far away from everything you’ve ever known.

     Moving from Alabama to Indiana has been of transition has been one of the hardest in my life. I think the hardest thing is how sneaky my feelings can be. Being a mom to 3 kids, my days are busy. There’s just a lot to get done on a daily basis to keep up with the family’s needs. So, it’s easy to just get in the groove of chores, errands, and school runs. It’s not until I get a moment of stillness that those other feelings creep up. You know the ones…loneliness, confusion, being overwhelmed, mourning the loss of my comfort zone and community. Simply missing familiarity. These feelings are hard. There’s no sugar coating that. But, my precious heavenly Father reminds me that He has called us here for a reason. It’s not by accident that we ended up here, in Indianapolis of all places. A new familiarity will come. A new community will come. A new sense of belonging will come. Learning to drive on icy roads will come. It will all come. While I wait, I am lead to create this space. I want to share what I have learned in life. I want to share it with you. I am so glad you’re here. I would love for you read more about me here and sign up for my email list on the side bar.