The End of the Year is Here! 3 Fun Ways to Celebrate

This post originally appeared on VibrantHomeschooling.com. Click here to read the original post.

The end of the school year is upon us!

The calendar reads June, and the last projects are being turned in.

Are you as ready for summer vacation as our family is?! Phew!

So the big question is: How are you celebrating the end of the school year?

The end of the school year is a time to celebrate!  Here are three fun ways to celebrate! Vibrant Homeschooling

How are you celebrating all of the awesome things that happened this school year? How are you celebrating all the great growth and change (in your kids, and, yes, even in you!)?

Taking Time to Celebrate Growth

Even if it’s been an especially hard year, I promise you that there was growth. There was progress made, and lives were changed.

This is the time of year when we start torturing ourselves with the “did I do enough?” thoughts. We begin to play Monday-morning quarterback and say, “If we’d only… “ or “I should have…” or (insert your form of self-torture here).

It sure is easy to be on this end of all the enormous amount of work that goes into a school year and pass judgement on ourselves.

OK, maybe your year didn’t work out the way you’d designed in your lovely homeschooling planner.

Mine didn’t either (buying and selling a home, moving, and completely switching curriculum halfway through was not on my radar last August).

But what if what happened was even more glorious, more wonderful and more exciting than anything we’d planned? I truly believe it was.

I believe all those great plans were just what got us to the starting gate, and here—at what we’ve deemed the “imperfect” finish line—is where we can step back and recognize the real victories.

And, oh my goodness… it’s critical that we celebrate those victories (even the small ones) to first, encourage our kids to keep giving their best; and second, to remind us that yes, all of this hard, hard work is worth it and is making a difference!

Here are some small-but-big things that we’re celebrating at the end of the school year:

The Innovator (11):

—He finally embraced writing this year! And math! And science! And… (notice a theme here?). Yes, this was the year that he (finally) realized that I hadn’t invented school just to torture him, but that there was a method behind this madness. Oh, we still have our days where we have the “but why…?” questions; but they are getting fewer in number, and I’m seeing them replaced with a heart eager to learn. Phew. Finally!

—He began to take more responsibility with managing his own time, and with pacing himself through assignments. Another big victory! Now (most days) I can leave him alone for an hour or more and know that he is moving through his assignments without my prompting. Huge!

—He has made great strides in overcoming his fear of speaking in front of a group. We owe a lot of this to our Classical Conversations group since the kids had to do a mini-presentation each week at our class day. This was a really good stretching for him.

—He’s grown deeply in his faith. I’ve noticed that he’s quicker to repent, and that his repentance is deep and genuine. Just last week, He and I had an amazing experience of sharing encouraging verses with one another around the topic of forgiveness.

Renaissance Man (9):

—He too has become much more self-reliant and responsible, both in his schoolwork and in his chores. He’s really loving working outside with my husband doing yard projects or other around-the-house maintenance. He’s quick to help out, and excited to learn. What a wonderful husband he will be someday!

—I’ve seen Renaissance Man mature greatly this year. There were a few instances where I saw him step up and take leadership in team projects, making plans and delegating tasks.

—He basically taught himself cursive writing this year (he was very motivated to learn), and his handwriting is beautiful!

He blew us all away with his memorization skills this year! He was always the first to memorize our weekly Classical Conversations memory work, and he’s remembered it week after week. He’s also become excellent at Bible memory work. So proud of him!

Princessa (6):

—School became a lot more formal for her this year, and she handled it beautifully. I was proud to see her jump right into the CC work and how she did a great job memorizing!

—Princessa learned how to read this year! She completed All About Reading Level 1 this year and while she still has room to grow here, I’ve seen her reading confidence level grow immeasurably.

—Her desire to serve and love Christ became more evident this year. She has a sweet and special relationship with Jesus and it was wonderful to watch her beautiful connection with God grow. I love how she is quick to pray for others, and that (even at her young age) she is not afraid to come to me with her tough questions about God.

—This little one is bold, daring and not afraid to try new things! She has proven over and over this year that, when she puts her mind to something, she can accomplish big things!

Three Ways You Can Celebrate the End of the School Year:

End-Of-The-Year Dates.

This is a really great tradition that the kids and I look forward to each year!

I take each child to a location that they would enjoy (a frozen yogurt place, coffeehouse, cupcake store, etc) and while we’re indulging in a fun treat, we talk about what the year was like. I lead the conversation with casual questions like “What was your favorite thing that we did this year?” or “Tell me something that you’d like to learn more about?” You can download my list of questions here. We also talk about what they’re most looking forward to this summer; and I help them identify what specific things they’d like to learn either this summer or next year.

If I have time, I also gather up their portfolio of work from the year (art projects, workbooks, notebooks, other projects) and we look at them again and recall learning about the material and doing the project.

Overall, I keep the conversation really positive and focus on the wonderful growth I’ve seen.

I also take notes on what they share because: one, I want to make sure I remember it; and two, I want them to know that their comments are important enough for me to write them down.

This time together is just precious because the kids feel special, honored and listened to; and I really do get some great feedback on what worked this past year, and what they’d like to change! Plan to Be Flexible talks more about these End-Of-The-Year Dates (as does this post) and gives ideas of how to incorporate these suggestions into next year’s teaching materials.

Celebration Day and Dinner.

This is something new we’re trying this year!

The End-Of-The-Year-Dates are great, but we also really wanted to have a time where my husband and I could stand up and publicly affirm each of our kids. We want this time to be about sharing the great character traits we see them developing; the ways they are a blessing to our family; and how much we love each of them for their individual talents and personalities.

We’re taking a two-part approach: first, we’re going to have a morning of pure fun (we’re taking them to a local indoor trampoline park!) and then we’re having a special dinner where they’ve chosen the menu (each one of them told me their favorite appetizer, dinner or dessert and I’ve combined them into one meal for all of us to share).

During or after dinner is when my husband and I will share our praises and pray for each of our kids individually. I also plan to put together a very simple slideshow of photos/videos from our field trips and projects.

Special Treat for Mom!

Oh yes. This is something that we must do, moms!

We think about doing end-of-the-year stuff for our kids, but we can’t forget to take the time to reward ourselves for all the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve invested in this school year! At first this may feel selfish, but it’s more than alright to give ourselves a pat on the back for the sometimes-really-difficult work of homeschooling!

This “special treat” will mean something different to all of us. Maybe for you it’s a pedicure, or a day off shopping by yourself. Maybe you decide to get together for dinner with several other homeschool moms and go to that great new restaurant that just opened nearby. Maybe you can even do a fun weekend away with some girlfriends. Or it might just be a great new pair of shoes!

To be honest, this is my first year of doing something specific for myself like this to celebrate school. I didn’t expect to do something this extravagant, but later this summer I have the opportunity to tag along on a 5-day business trip with my husband! So this is my way of celebrating!

Do what would feel rewarding and relaxing to you (and what fits in the budget)!

It doesn’t have to be a two-week-long trip to Tahiti (even though that’s probably what we all could really use right now). See what small thing you can come up with to tell yourself, “I worked super hard this year, and yes, it was enough.”

Your Turn!

Tell us about your plans! How are you going to celebrate the end of the school year? Will you try any of these ideas, or do you have other ways that your family will celebrate?


About the author:

Alicia Kazsuk writes about living the beautifully imperfect homeschooling journey at VibrantHomeschooling.com. She has been married to her best friend for 14 years and together they spend their days lovingly guiding their four passionate and creative kids.

Alicia is also the author of Plan to Be Flexible and the creator/producer of Vibrant Homeschooling’s online video courses “bloom: A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms” and “rhythm: Guiding Your Family to Their Ideal Learning Flow.”

She believes each day offers new opportunities to grow in grace and to trust God in unexpected ways; and that “acceptance with joy” is one of the hidden secrets to a full, contented Christian life.

You can find her at Vibrant Homeschooling (http://vibranthomeschooling.com), as well as on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VibrantHomeschooling), Twitter (https://twitter.com/VibrantHmschool) and Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/VibrantHmschool/).

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5 Ideas for Gardening Fun with Kids

 

Guest post by Wren from finchnwren.com.

Have you ever considered that gardening is a wondrous way to introduce your children to the miracles of God’s creation—and family fun?

5 Ideas for Gardening Fun with Kids @hsbapost

We’ve been a gardening family for 4 years, when a friend gifted us with a small raised garden bed and soil. We purchased zucchini and yellow squash seeds, and were astonished at the harvest! Since then, our garden has expanded every year, with great rewards. And involving your kids in gardening is amazing on so many levels. Here are 5 of my favorite ways…and don’t forget, you can create unit studies out of all of these!

1. Choosing Seeds

Taking your children to the garden center to choose the season’s seeds is the perfect way to start. Seeing the seeds and the potential through their eyes can help us step way out of our comfort zones.

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Choosing Seeds

This is a moment where your vision and dreams for your summer garden can run wild. This year, we picked old favorites and brand new ones, like the mouthwatering mini-watermelon seeds! Of course, you’ve got to keep in mind the length of your growing season, but if you watch the planting dates for your region and stick to that, you can still reap a great and varied harvest.

We’re starting most of our garden from seed this year, and we’re planting beets, basil, zucchini; summer squash, sugar snap peas, and carrots; garlic, watermelon, cucumbers. We’ll be buying tomatoes to put in later once the freeze warnings are over.

2. Creating a Garden Plan

This year, we’re trying square foot gardening. We have 3 raised beds, plus two large containers to work with. I discovered that with square foot gardening, I can plant a LOT, simply by dividing our beds into 12” squares. For example, did you know that you can plant 16 radish plants in one square foot? Or 16 carrots? Or, 8 sugar snap pea plants? My son made a planting guide for our large raised bed in Paint. Great way to combine art and gardening!

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Make a Garden Plan

Your raised bed can yield so much more than you’ve ever imagined, if square foot gardening is new to you. You just need a bed plus wooden slats to place across it in grids, to segment all your square foot spaces. It is fun AND exciting!

3. Birds & Bees

There are some insects whose presence is integral to a garden’s success. And others which might not be as necessary, but will still add value and health. Bees, of course, are vital for pollination. I have several beds which run along our fences that are planted with bee-friendly plants. What’s even better is that they bloom over the course of the summer, so that the bees always have flowers to visit.

Russian sage is super-low maintenance, and bees swarm ours every summer. Our peonies don’t last quite as long, but their sticky nectar and heavy fragrance draw the bees beautifully. Last summer, I needed a little extra on one side of our garden, so I planted catmint. It’s very pleasing to the little pollinators as well. You can also try bee balm, lavender, basil, mint….just Google “plants bees love” and see what will work in your area!

One of our summer joys is watching the hummingbirds in our backyard. Did you know that hummingbirds also do some pollination? I was pretty surprised at this, but I know they love the Russian sage and find our tomato cages a wonderful perch. You can find inexpensive hummingbird feeders at your local discount stores, and make your own nectar at home. (Just heat 1 part granulated sugar with 4 parts water over medium heat til sugar dissolves. Let cool, then pour into feeder.)

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Hummingbird

 

4. Creating and Cooking

We know that kids who grow their own vegetables are much more likely to eat vegetables than those who don’t. I don’t know if your children are veggie-lovers or not, but how cool would it be to create and cook recipes with your kiddos, right out of your garden? We’ve made zucchini pizza rounds, zucchini-tomato gratin, zucchini breads and cakes, squash casserole, stir-fried beef with sugar snap peas…the list is endless! And that’s not including just eating veggies out of hand. My son even created a pasta and squash recipe several years ago that we still eat, which you can find here:  “Jackson’s Amazing Fettucine with Sauteed Squash and Parmesan

 

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Cooking

5. Sprouting

This is more of an indoor activity than an outdoor, but our family loves growing sprouts. This time, not to plant…but just to eat! Sprouts are a wonderful snack, and make a lively addition to sandwiches and salads as well. We have a kitchen seed sprouter, but you can sprout with just a mason jar! My son loves these and I love the fabulous antioxidants and fiber they provide. We’re currently sprouting alfalfa, radish and clover.

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Sprouts

There’s so much to love about backyard gardening. You can do it even if you have a teeny tiny space. And involving your family in it…priceless!
How do you involve your family in your gardening? This summer, Kemi from Homemaking Organized http://www.homemakingorganized.com/ and I are hosting a garden linky! Come and link up at Garden Party!

 

Finch n Wren

Wren blogs with her sister Finch at finchnwren.com. She and her husband met on the mission field and still love hearing about God’s work around the world. Wren has homeschooled their only son since the beginning. They love family fun, the beach and great comic book heroes.

 
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A Day In the Life of a Homeschooler: Myth…Or Reality

If you aren’t a homeschooler, you may wonder what, exactly, goes on in the life of a homeschooler all day. If you are a homeschooler, you may worry that every other homeschooler has it all together when you are barely hanging on. But, I’m here to share an honest day in our homeschool family’s life.

daymyth

Myth: We rise at the break of day, and the children begin chores while I begin preparing a made from scratch breakfast.

Reality: I get up around 8:30am. My younger girls are up and usually playing Minecraft or watching Netflix. My oldest gets up at 8 and is getting out of the shower when I get up. My son is still asleep, and I wake him to take his shower. Breakfast usually consists of cold cereal or frozen waffles.

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Myth: The house is, of course, always clean and straightened. All of us are faithful to put things away. And I never have dirty dishes in the sink.

Reality: When I head into the kitchen in the morning, I usually find the dirty dishes from the night before. I load the dishwasher and start it as well as starting the laundry before we head into our school work.

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Myth: We head into our school work every morning in a structured and orderly way. Of course the kids sit in desks and learn to sit quietly as we do school work.

Reality: The younger girls and I head into the “schoolroom” (dining room). Although we call it that, it’s not a very structured schoolroom. The girls have a small table that serves as their desks. But, often the small table is a little too messy. So they spread out on our big table as well. In fact, we pretty much do school anywhere- the table, the floor, the desks. School happens wherever we are.

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Myth: The older kids work in their rooms, and they are so enthusiastic each day to get moving and learn.

Reality: They are sometimes less than enthusiastic to actually get going. Charles likes to hang around and stir up the younger girls, distracting them from working. It usually takes a while of wrangling to get him headed in the right direction.

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Myth: When we break for lunch, I prepare another healthy, nutritious meal. We only eat all natural and organic foods. Our bread is made from wheat I grind myself, and our yogurt is also homemade. Of course I had time to do this as well as teach my kids and clean my house.

Reality: Although we do try to eat healthy foods and all natural foods as much as possible, I’m not a great cook. There are often convenience foods on our menu. We have a food rotation for lunch each day of the week. Wednesdays are frozen pizza. Yep, I admit it.

Myth: We keep a strict schedule. The kids are diligent to stay focused on their work throughout the day.

Reality: There are quite a few distractions around our house. Blondie, the dog, is often a big one. None of us can resist petting the puppy, who just happens to need petting right when one of the kids is headed off to work.

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The truth is…we’re just a normal, ordinary family. We aren’t super structured or super clean or super healthy eaters. We’re pretty laid back, and we’re pretty flexible. And it works for us. For almost twelve years we’ve been homeschooling, through the birth of more kids, through hard times in our family, through seasons of rejoicing. The kids are learning and they’re maturing. Day in and day out we live together, work together and learn together. And that’s the reality of our days.

 

 

Leah (7 Posts)

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.


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