“Summer does not go on forever. I feel a bit of pressure to take the summer seriously, at this point, and get in some of those things I really want to do with my family.” ~ Heidi Higgins
(Transcript available below)
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Heidi Higgins: Hi there. I'm Heidi Higgins and you are listening to K12 On Learning. We are ringing in the last of the summer days. It's always such a sobering time for me. It hits me about the Fourth of July when, right after the fireworks, those school sale signs pop up. It's then that I'm reminded of the reality of the calendar. Summer does not go on forever. I feel a bit of pressure to take the summer seriously at this point and get in some of those things I really want to do with my family.
Many successful families focus on three things this time of year. First, plans for fall. Second, making memories as a family and third, developing rocking routines. A favorite quote from Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families says, "Good families, even great families, are off track 90% of the time. The key is that they have a sense of destination. They know what the track looks like and they keep coming back to it time and time again."
Summer can be so distracting. It can be tempting to let all routines go and just worry about pulling it together later. But revisiting the track that Stephen Covey mentions is helpful during this stage of the summer. There are needs that if we take care of now, we'll have the confidence going forward and be prepared for what comes next. First, ensure that school plans and childrens' activity schedules are in place. This is the time when those fall sports sign ups and activities begin to fill, and no matter where or how you choose to educate your child, calendar the start dates, complete the enrollments and any paperwork as soon as you can. You want to make sure that there's room. Know registration deadlines and complete those enrollments. Put orientation dates on the calendar. School websites and online parent support communities are also a great resource to check weekly.
These online resources will keep you informed and offer opportunities to get involved so your child will have the best possible experience in school in the fall. If you are enrolling or returning to one of the schools powered by K12, I could not emphasize the importance of utilizing the K12 app. This app keeps you in the loop, starting with your online school search to completing the enrollment process up to the last day of the school year, and even beyond. With the app, you have the power to start and complete enrollment, track your student's progress, view schedule, log in daily attendance, receive notifications, communicate plans for your future years, and maybe the best part is the all new community feature that allows you to join a virtual village of learning coaches just like yourself right on your mobile device.
There, get helpful answers, connect with other learning coaches, and you might even find some sanity saving advice. I've already mentioned back to school sales that kick off long before the classes do. If you know what you need in advance, you'll be able to save significantly by stocking up on the basics. Most schools supply long lists. It can be confusing that there's not a big supply list that is required for an online school. That's because many of the items already come to you, but it's a good idea while the sales are going on to stock up on some basics.
The top school supplies needed for nearly every grade include number two pencils, crayons, markers and highlighters, paper. Consider the grade of the student. All grades will need a packet or two of printer paper, spiral notebooks for each course or loose leaf paper in the width according to the child's grade. A rule of thumb here is usually a wide rule up to grade four and college ruled after that.
If you have a middle or high school student, it's always wise to get some graphing paper while you're at it. I found that sometimes that graphing paper's hard to find in the middle of the year. Don't forget erasers, sharpeners, a protractor and a ruler, glue sticks, scissors. Pens in the variety tip size you like and color are never more prevalent than right now, and they're at good prices. You might consider folders or binders for each subject to keep things organized. And if I may, add an alarm clock. Teaching the child to get up on their own is a great way to recognize that they're growing up and can take charge of a part of their own life. It can be empowering for the child and, if presented like a privilege, it's a way to take that wake up task off your list.
The second thing that a highly effective family might do during this time of year is to savor the last summer days by trying to make memories with the children. In an article on Learning Liftoff, Brittany Marklin offered simple ways to help build memories. She began by suggesting to freeze time. Make ice cream. Catch up with an ice cream truck. Enjoy a root beer float while watching fireflies, or grab a block of ice and a towel and go ice blocking down a hill at your neighborhood park. Brittany's article included recipes for ice cream and popsicles that I'm going to include in our notes today.
And while the weather is still warm, you might consider jamming out and attending a music festival, an indoor or outdoor concert. Even a dance party in the driveway or playing music while picking up toys around the yard can bring fun to mundane tasks. Be on the watch. Grab a bowl of popcorn and watch an old movie together. A family recently suggested that they drive out into the woods, lower the car windows and watch a movie in the car, drive-in style, with a computer or iPad placed on the dashboard.
You can use learnwithmovies.com to find a family movie, chock full of lessons and information, or simply pick one of your favorites and enjoy. Now it's not too late to take advantage of all that your local library has to offer. Reading rooms to crafts are usually on the schedule weekly. A way to handle the heat of the afternoon is also to take an hour at the peak of the temperatures and read to the family or listen to an audio book. In this way, I introduced my children to Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlotte's Web and Harry Potter.
And when we finished each book, we watched the movie together and discussed what was different between the book and the movie. This week, my young grandson made a comment I really found interesting. I had mentioned that I wished my blue car could fly sometimes like on one of his favorite TV shows. And he said, "There's lots of flying vehicles out there, Grandma." If you read Harry Potter, there's a blue car there and it shows up in the movie too. I like that they included the flying car in the movie. It was one of my favorite parts. His comments kind of blew me away. His mother reads to him and he compares screenplays to original books. He's a first grader. Even if you do not like reading, consider modeling reading behavior by grabbing a book for you and let your children see you reading or listening to a great story.
Memories can be built by playing tourist in your hometown. Most of us leave town to do our vacationing and don't take the time to discover the treasure locally. Tour your own city, and who knows? You might just uncover a local gem. We forget how close we are to history. You might consider doing some research for sites in your area or check out your local national park. If that doesn't interest you or you're not available, how about a comparison day? Try five different places for French fries and take a poll to see who has the best. Or try cookie companies or fried chicken locations. It only takes a taste to form an opinion, and it can be a lot of fun. Kids love to share their opinions, especially when it comes to likes and dislikes. What about letting the children plan a trip to explore somewhere. Find and let them plan a day trip or a short vacation to some unchartered territory. Taking a family bicycle ride.
Maybe you've never been to a neighboring state or close up to a national monument. Give it a try. Build a memory together. Driven by the interest of your children, teach them to keep learning alive. It's fun, no matter what the age. To me, summertime means backyard barbecues and outdoor picnics, so bottomless lemonade. You might try making a new recipe together. Sneak a little measuring in there to keep them up on math. Create a few yard games and have a fun family competition.
Attend a ball game together and cheer for the teams, even if you don't know who's playing, and cheer someone on. Community or yard cleanup projects remind the kids to give the earth a big hug and teach responsibility and stewardship. Do it yourself projects can be picked up each month at The Home Depot stores and other businesses. These can be fun and there are literally millions of ideas on Pinterest about crafts to do and maybe something to set on their desk or their bedroom for the school year.
Summer is a time to develop routines that will help you in the school year. I'm talking rocking routines here. Things like helping out with meals, laundry, house pickup, and shopping. These skills practiced at a time when you're not as rushed, when there's less stress and optimum daylight will help the family run more smoothly during the fall. And you'll find that you have more patience to teach when relaxed. I found a fun list on momables.com on how to teach your child to cook. The list divides up tasks by age range and begins with a two year old. And the early list includes things like squeezing lemons, matching silverware from the dishwasher, using the salad spinner and so forth to working with teens who usually can work independently in the kitchen, if they've been taught the basics. But this is the age where you can add skill levels like fine chopping and kitchen safety, such as washing hands and surfaces after touching chicken.
Good memories can be fostered by teaching with patience and remembering not to talk down to the kids, something I have to remember from time to time. Talking down can be as simple as, "Oh, let me show you" or "Hurry, or I'll have to take over". The tone is key here. Sometimes I just have to take a breath and then begin. And the biggest and best thing I ever did during one summer was to teach my children to do the laundry. Summer's usually a time when we are slammed with laundry. What with all the activities, it can be so overwhelming and piles and piles just grow daily. Sharing and teaching the responsibility of laundry is a big deal. I found a website called overthebigmoon.com, which shares ideas that will help you teach the laundry skills to your family. They suggest to create a kid-friendly laundry area where the children can sort and keep the laundry going for the family.
You will need sorting bins, a step stool, an easy pour spout detergent or pods with a careful discussion on their use and safety. Teaching the children to check for stains, empty pockets, sort by color and manage load size is a great way to help your routine, and it certainly changed my home. The best part about it was I no longer was in charge of finding the lost swimming suit or the socks. I loved that freedom and my children learned to care for their clothes.
And the last thing is beginning to look for a place where you'll be doing school, if you're going to be schooling at home. I've had several parents tell me that setting up a big fancy place is not necessary and will often go unused as the year progresses, but please put some thought into it. At least establish a place where the supplies and electronics will be housed so that they'll stay organized throughout the school year. Establishing a bedtime routine, such as picking up the house at night, story time, grooming, and then going to bed with a little visit from mom or dad are all habits that can be established for the new school year right now. You are on track to have a successful end of summer. I hope you'll be prepared for fall, build lasting and fond memories and rock those new routines.
Thank you for listening to K12 On Learning, sponsored by Stride. To learn more about online public schools powered by stride K12, Stride career prep programs that foster lifelong learning or any of the private school or individual course offerings, please go to stridelearning.com or k12.com. Special thanks to ThreeK studios for providing the music for us. Remember to subscribe to this podcast and feel free to leave us a good review. We hope you'll join us next time for K12 On Learning
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