Read For the Win!

rftwIt is that time of year once again. Between all the activities planned for our summer of fun and jumping from pool to pool, time needs to be made for this very important summer tradition… The Summer Reading Program! This year’s theme: Read For the Win!

Our local library started sign-ups for the reading program this past Friday. After a brief search on the internet, I found the California Library Association‘s outline for this summer’s reading program. Wow! There are some awesome links and downloads available!

Some suggested activities are local sport events and stuffed animal midnight feasts. There are story time models and age appropriate reading lists available as well. It seems the focus this year is not only on reading some great books, but on keeping our bodies healthy as well. A few activities will base their lessons on sports and games.

Not one to be left out, I too plan to participate in this summer’s reading program (as I usually do). So, as the kiddos are busy filling out their own registration cards, mommy is filling out one of her own. This has become a healthy competition between my kids and myself; we challenge each other to read more and a larger variety of literature. We fill out raffle tickets side-by-side, and support one another in our reading goals.

Last summer I came away with a few fun prizes, a classic read included. Who knows what this summer might bring; free ice cream, pizza, or books to keep? No matter the prize, this summer is sure to be awesome… books and all!

📢 Chime In!: Are you signed up for the summer reading program?

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The High School Handbook

Our oldest daughter is in sixth grade this coming August. Not one to wait until the last-minute, I wanted to spend some time this summer reading up on Junior and Senior High. I want to be fully prepared for what lies ahead. I want to know what I need now so that I am not panicking at the last-minute, worrying if I am doing something correctly or not.

To this end, our ISP principal highly recommended The High School Handbook by Mary Schofield. In The High School Handbook, Ms. Schofield does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for Jr. and Sr. High. She provides a helpful, step-by-step process to organizing your students workload, as well as ideas on how each can be implemented to their fullest. She explains, with clear reasoning, why each step is taken and how it benefits both your student and yourself. To further assist you with each step, Ms. Schofield has graciously placed helpful sample forms throughout the book, showing how her family has organized each area. She has also included blank forms for you to copy and use at your own disposal, making your job even easier. 

Ms. Schofield covers every area of Jr. and Sr. High that you could possibly imagine. If you are unsure of how to organize your classes, this book will help. If you are unsure which classes are needed to attend a university, this book will help. Need tips on grading, courses standards, transcripts, and college? This book is definitely the one for you. From Language Arts and Arithmetic, to Driver’s Ed and Work Permits, this book has something for everyone.

On a personal level, I am extremely grateful that I chose to read the book this summer. Our daughter is still in elementary school (being that we are not including sixth grade as part of “middle school”); had I waited until the summer before junior high, I might have stressed myself out with the amount of paperwork and organizing that needs to be done. However, having read the book a full year in advance, I have plenty of time to prepare whatever forms might be necessary. I have the time to systematically lay out classes and to talk with my daughter about where she feels the Lord is leading her. I very much appreciated the sections on Missionary Opportunities, Apprenticeship, and College at Home, as each of these areas are of particular interest to our family.

Our HS Outline

The High School Handbook is highly recommended for everyone with a child going into Jr. and/or Sr. High. Even if you don’t homeschool, it will help you to better understand what classes your child should be taking in their studies. It will help you prepare them for ACT and SAT exams, College Applications, and other areas common to all students. I highly recommend this book. Don’t wait until your child is about to start their higher education, help them now. You won’t regret it!

For those of you with children already in Junior or Senior High, was there a particular book(s) that you found helpful in organizing the chaos? I would love to delve into a few more books. The more ideas, the better!

And Their “Off”…

Learning about lightbulbs

Literally!… We had no electricity from 9am till 3pm this afternoon, due to the fact that someone was working on something in our neighborhood. One day without power doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you consider that we live in Southern California, home of eternal sunshine and temperatures of 100˚ or more, and we work from home.


We weren’t sure what do with a whole day lacking electricity, but it turns out the Lord did! It seems we needed to learn appreciation for and the importance of electricity!

I got up a little earlier than the kiddos and made sure to pack our cooler with water bottles, a little milk, eggs, and some sandwich makings. I loaded it with ice and then (because kids tend to forget) snagged a couple of my husband’s zip ties and “locked” the fridge.

Electricity, E-lectricity
(School House Rock)

When our babies got up, the lessons began. We learned that you can’t open the fridge… no electricity! We learned you can’t use your appliances (other than our stove)… no electricity! When we finally decided we could eat potatoes and the eggs mommy put in the cooler, along with some fresh fruit, we learned that you can’t start the stove like usual. You have to light the pilot yourself, because without electricity, the mechanism won’t work. There were no lights to use the restroom… electricity! No fans to cool the house… electricity! Worst of all, no air-conditioning… electricity!

When my hubby woke up (he tends to sleep in late as he works until the wee hours of the morning), we all decided it was too hot to stay in the house. It was time to find something else to do. We decided to head over to the library, as it was our usual day, and were given a wonderful surprise. As a treat for finishing the summer reading program, the kids all received free ice cream from Cold Stone! Oh, yeah; we needed that! In addition to the ice cream, they all received a free video rental and a book to keep. We grabbed our ice cream, headed out to the splash pad, and spent the afternoon enjoying being cool.

What we resort to when we have no electricity!

Before we knew it, it was 3 o’clock and we were ready to head back home. The kids were excited to watch their rentals and the hubby and I needed to get some work done. Walking into our air-conditioned, electricity filled home was such a blessing.

Today we learned some valuable lessons. Our kids were able to see how much electricity affects our lives. They learned how to function in an electricity free environment. Most of all, we learned to appreciate a blessing we often take for granted.


Summer School: Fair Fun

There is nothing quite like the fair; the sights, the smells, the sounds. For schools, this is a time of discovery and learning. A time to get good and dirty. A time to step outside the classroom and have some real fun.

As in most counties and states, the L.A. County Fair comes every fall. Each year our kids eagerly await the opening week and highly anticipate all the fun to be had. For educators though, the fun can start much sooner!

Did you know that as an educator (and yes, homeschoolers are included) you can sign up for the Fair as early as April? There is a vast selection of educational experiences to explore, with curriculum to help your students get the most out of their day. Bonus: it’s free! Educators and their students enter the fair a few hours earlier than the public and the entire event is free. At our fair, they offer free milk and a Read-to-Ride program (free carnival rides for six books read). Not a bad deal!

So what does a fair in the fall have to do with our summer school? Competitions! While the fair isn’t until August, the children’s competition entry forms are due by June 28th. The entries themselves are due by July 21. So, now is the time to get busy and get things done! For a full list of L.A. County Fair competitions, check HERE.

Once our family has signed up for the Fair, we make sure to  take a look at the competitions available. How many do we want to work on? Which are feasible for the kids to do themselves (the work has to entirely be done by the students)?

We work on one project a week, making sure that we put them in a nice, safe place until they are ready to be delivered. Through working on their projects, my kids have learned diligence, orderliness, cleanliness, creativity, and much more. They have also learned the value of friendly competition.

Come fall, our family has the opportunity to spend the day taking in the sights, enjoying some good food, and the excitement of seeing how well they did in their competitions. All together, the Fair has been a wonderful family experience; one that our kiddos will hopefully look back on with much fondness.

Summer School: Workbook Fun

Normally we would not associate workbooks with fun. There is probably an image forming in your head right now; I am dragging my kids to the table, threatening them with various punishments, or cajoling them with promises of something nice. I am very thankful to say that I have not had to resort to any such things. When mommy announces it is time to do workbooks, my kiddos jump up and run to the table. What is the secret? Picking a workbook that makes learning fun!

There is a vast supply of learning materials on the market; some of which happen to offer summer vacation workbooks. Deciding which ones to use can be a bit tricky and mind boggling. You never know which ones will work for your kids. While I highly recommend looking through the books yourself and deciding which works best for your child’s learning style; here are a couple that we have found to be particularly fun and educational.

When my children were in preschool I used The Complete Book of Numbers and Counting by Carson-Dellosa Publishing. I found them to be very thorough and fun. The Complete Book of the Alphabet corresponds and is equally as good.

One of my children is currently prepping for kindergarten this fall. We have found that Big Kindergarten Workbook keeps his attention and is preparing him very well.

For my children in grades 1st-6th, I highly recommend Summer Vacation by Entertainment Publications, Inc. Their curriculum is thorough and interactive. Be prepared though! This curriculum is preparing children for the next grade level. They will be slightly challenged and made to think. Most of the learning is done through story reading or fun puzzles that they have to work out. The curriculum will also include science projects, craft projects, and drawing exercises. Like I said; very thorough! The best I have seen so far.

For my oldest girl, we are trying Summer Bridge Middle School and finding it to be very similar to Summer Vacation, with perhaps a little less activity.

With these helpful books to keep us up to par, we are breezing through summer and getting a quick look at what to expect in the fall. Now that workbooks are in place, let’s see how much fun we can plan with Geography! Stay tuned until tomorrow!

Summer School: Scheduling Fun

School has ended; the books are put away, the paperwork is filed, and the heat has begun to hit. With twelve weeks of summer ahead of us; what do we plan to do with our free time? … Summer School!

Learning about sea creatures in Monterey Bay

(Gasp) Summer School? I can hear the groans of children all over America and imagine the questioning looks from parents. Why on earth would I want to do summer school voluntarily? My kids must really be behind, right? (Come on, I know that’s what you are thinking. Be honest.) In all seriousness though, there are several great reasons why we do summer school and none of them have to do with my kids’ lack of education. In fact, just the opposite!


Learning about Germany

There are three basic reasons why we do summer school. 

  • My kids and I get to have some great fun together! We enjoy each other’s company and learning becomes a family event that everyone enjoys!
  • My kids don’t lose any of their skills. Studies show that children will lose about twenty-five percent of their skills over a summer vacation. The beginning of a school year can be challenging enough without the kids getting frustrated at their lack of memory. We make sure we work in a small amount of workbook time everyweek. Nothing stressful and nothing too complicated. Just something to keep them “up to par” and prep them for their next grade level.
  • My kids never have an opportunity to get bored. I make sure that I keep our summer activities very hands on and fun! The kids look forward to each new learning day, knowing that Mommy has something fun for them to do. Once we are done with the activities, they know they have the remainder of the day to play and do whatever else they might have planned.

Like all other activities I plan, I try to be very organized about our summers. In order to do this, I create a routine for myself. This helps me to know on which days we are doing things and which events I am going to prep for. Here is our basic routine for summer:

  • Monday-Summer Vacation Workbooks/Hands on Geography
  • Tuesday-Science Experiments
  • Wednesday-Summer Vacation Workbooks/Fair Projects
  • Thursday-Field Trip (if available)/Library Journals for Summer Reading Program
  • Friday-Library/Park Day or Friend Visit

Now that I have our routine in place, I will start plugging in the details. Interested? Come back tomorrow for our list of summer workbook suggestions!

Reading is Key

My husband and I have always enjoyed reading. Even before having our kids, we each had a vast collection of children’s literature. He tended to choose books based on their artistic appeal (being an artist) and I on the whimsical story lines.
It seemed only natural for us that as we began having kids, they also be exposed to the wonderful world of the printed word. From the minute they were born, they became used to watching me read while nursing. As they grew older they would sit on our laps and listen to us read for hours on end. Now it is a pleasure to watch them eagerly search our home and local library, scouring the shelves for books they have yet to explore.
Today as we signed up for yet another Summer Reading Program, it was a joy to see my babies’ eyes light up and anticipate what the summer holds. I cherish these moments with my little ones and hope that they look back on their youthful reading with fondness, as my husband and I do.
If you have yet to share the wonderful world of books with your children, you don’t know what you are missing. It is never to late to start. Find your local library and sign up for their Summer Reading Program. Grab a cart full of books and begin a journey you will not regret. The time you spend reading both on your own and with your child will not be wasted or forgotten; your children will grow in wisdom, imagination, and in heart. You will see your relationships bloom and grow while you talk about all the amazing things you read.
Reading is a key element in life. So, pick up a good book and see where it takes you!