5 Tips for a Great Not-Back-to-School Month

It’s August, and that means most parents and kids are gearing up for going back to school. While this is also true for many homeschool parents, there is absolutely no reason you have to make this month the stressful nightmare it is for so many parents of public-schooled kids.

After all, part of the beauty of homeschooling is the freedom it gives you, right? So take advantage of that freedom, and make August an amazing (not) back to school month you and your kids won’t soon forget.

#1: Take Advantage of Lower Crowd Levels

With all the kids back in school, the crowd levels at local museums and other educational attractions will plummet. Why not plan some beginning-of-the-year field trips and take advantage of the lower crowd levels while also helping your children get back into the learning mindset?

A trip to the zoo or science museum is a great way to kick off the school year, and doing so without the summertime crowds is a major bonus.

#2: Buy Cheap Supplies

If you’ve ever been in a store a week or two after school begins, you’ve probably noticed that school supplies are deeply discounted once everyone has purchased their gear for the year. You can save some serious cash by opting to start school a bit later than the rest of the crowd and gathering your supplies once they have been marked down.

#3: Ease In

Remember that flexibility we mentioned before? That same flexibility gives you the option to ease into your school year without the rules and restrictions of traditional schools. If your kids are reluctant to leave summer behind, you can make it easier on them by starting the school year slowly and adding a new piece of the curriculum every few days until things are in full swing once again.

#4: Allow Your Schedule to Evolve

Many times, new homeschooling parents stress themselves out in the first part of the year by trying to adhere to a strict schedule. However, there is no way to anticipate exactly what will happen during each day when you create schedules in advance.

Therefore, it is important that you go into the school year with an open mind and allow your schedule to evolve as necessary until you and your young student(s) find a groove together.

#5: Get Into The Loop

Whether you are feeling nervous about the upcoming school year, excited about what’s around the corner, or simply reluctant to get started, having a community can be immensely helpful. For this reason, it is a good idea to seek out a welcoming homeschool group for support. Here at The Loop, we provide that support and companionship, as well as a number of fantastic learning opportunities for people of all ages.

Be sure to check out our class and activity schedule so you can get into The Loop this school year and join our tribe.

3 Things Homeschool Parents Shouldn’t Worry About

Homeschooling your children is a bold choice, and while it is becoming more and more accepted by society, it is still pretty out of the ordinary. For this reason, many homeschooling parents worry about whether or not they made the best choice for their children. Additionally, these same parents often stress themselves out about the many trials that come after choosing to homeschool.

That said, worrying doesn’t really solve any problems, and in many cases, the concerns these parents have are likely about things that are non-issues entirely. Therefore, if you are a concerned homeschooling parent, it might be time to take a step back and have a good long look at what you’re doing. If it feels right and your child is thriving, it probably is right and you can stop stressing out right away.

Still aren’t sure? Well, here are three common concerns that all homeschooling moms and dads should let go of right now.

#1: Staying at “Grade Level”

Know this: Your child will learn and grow at their own beautiful and wonderful pace. No matter which curriculum you choose and no matter how many sick days you take, your child will continue to blossom into a wonderful little human. Comparing your little one to other kids and expecting them to fit into an arbitrary mold set by the school system is just silly.

Stop worrying about “grade levels” and getting through the workbooks and start concerning yourself with feeding your child’s curiosity and showing them the beauty of the world. You might be surprised just how much they pick up along the way, and you’ll be left with a clever little person who can think for themselves and ask intelligent questions—something that is so much better than having a child who is at “grade level”.

#2: What Other People Think

People will always have different ideas about what’s right and what’s wrong. That’s what makes our world go round. However, if you let the opinions of others dictate how you live your life, you will soon find yourself in a pretty miserable place. Therefore, it is crucial that you make an effort to ignore the naysayers and do what is right for your family, no matter what other people think.

You may lose some friends along the way, but you will make new ones with similar mindsets. Those new friends—as well as the amazing journey of growing your kids your way—will make the difficult parts well worthwhile.

#3: Socialization

Socialization is almost always the first thing people bring up when homeschooling is mentioned. The funny thing is, most homeschooled kids are far better at socializing than the average American child. This is because homeschooled kids spend time with people of a variety of ages and interests; they chat with the adult neighbors and giggle with friends in dance class; and, they visit with grandparents and find mentors in their areas of interest. Heck, they even work on socialization during family visits to the grocery store.

Therefore, as long as you are living a regular life in which you get out of the house once in awhile, socialization is not something you need to be worried about.

If you find yourself stressing out about these things, you may benefit from finding a tribe of likeminded individuals to help you through your rough patches. Here at The Loop, we offer just that.

Take a look at our schedule, sign up for a class or an event, and come by to make some friends. We look forward to meeting you and your family, and we know you’ll fit right in.

Teaching Our Children Financial Smarts

In today’s consumer-driven society, it can be all too easy to raise entitled children with no idea how to properly handle money. Unfortunately, this often leads to young adults who dig themselves into financial holes that are nearly impossible to get out of.

Since nobody wants to see their child in a bad situation, it is crucial that all parents begin teaching their little ones the value of a dollar and how to manage their green as early on as possible. Therefore, if you have a young child at home, you may want to jump on the “early financial training” bandwagon and start implementing some of the ideas below.

Leave them Wanting More

Every child has wants, and honestly, there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t have at least some of those wants fulfilled—provided it’s financially feasible, of course. However, no person needs to have each and every thing they desire.

Giving into the majority of your little one’s requests is a surefire way to set them up for disappointment in the future when they must fulfill all of their own needs and realize they can no longer have everything they desire. Not only that, but teaching kids that they can and/or should have whatever they like when they’re young is likely to send them spiraling into debt as adults, when things like credit cards and loans become available to tempt them.

Seek Out Exposure

If your kids come from a financially stable household and are surrounded by people of the same financial status, it is likely they have no idea what it means to go without. By arranging for your child to be exposed to people living on the other end of the financial spectrum, you can help them see just how fortunate they truly are, despite not having every tiny want fulfilled.

These kinds of encounters can be arranged quite easily by scheduling a volunteer visit at the local food bank, making a point of visiting playgrounds in a part of town where those with less may play, or even enrolling your child in a more financially diverse school.

Teach the Importance of Saving

By showing your child the power of saving at an early age, he or she will be more likely to continue setting money aside as they grow older. To do this, simply purchase a small bank for your child and insist that they save a certain percentage of every dollar they earn. Make it a game by setting a fun, long-term goal for the child, such as a fun family outing.

Allow them to be involved by having them find percentages, helping them set end dates for projects, and having them keep charts on what they’ve saved and what they still need to earn.

Insist that All Money is Earned

Nobody is entitled to weekly income. This is just as true for your child as it is for yourself. You can help your kids understand this fact by insisting that they earn all the money that goes into their piggy banks.

Regular chores can be one way of giving your children the opportunity to earn money, but it isn’t necessarily the best way. Instead, paying your young wage-earners to do tasks outside of their regular chores is a great lesson for all: Everyone has chores, but extra hard work will pay off.

Additionally, encouraging tiny entrepreneurs to offer services to neighbors is a perfect way to instill a business-driven mindset in your kids.

Place Value on Experiences

As mentioned before, we live in a very consumer-driven society. Exposure to this type of mindset can lead children to become fixated on owning material things, whether or not they truly need the items in question. This is the first step on the road to credit card debt, and is not a good way to start a healthy relationship with money.

Because a fixation on material items can set kids up for a financially insecure future, it is best to make an effort to place value on other things. Family, friends, and fulfilling life experiences are all valuable parts of life that cost nothing. Be sure to drive this point home by regularly spending time with family and friends, and making fun experiences a normal part of your day-to-day life.

By using the tips above, you are sure to put your kids on the path to financial success!

Looking for ways to help your children see the value of experiences while also giving them to opportunity to befriend like-minded individuals? Check out the class offerings right here at The Loop.

4 Reasons Homeschool Families Should Travel

With summer in full swing, you and your family are probably going to be heading out on a family vacation pretty soon. After all, summer is the time to venture out into the world and do some exploring while making incredible memories, right? Well, of course it is! However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only great time to travel with your kids.

Many parents avoid regular travel with their children when they are young. They believe the kids won’t remember the experience nor benefit from it. Many parents are afraid that travel will interrupt their child’s schedule; others are worried about skipping days of formal schooling in order to hit the road.

While it is understandable to have these concerns, none of them needs to be a true issue. With the right amount of planning, any family can see the world without turning their own little world upside down. Additionally, although the youngest children likely won’t remember your trips, they will still benefit in a number of ways.

Here are four reasons you should make an effort to travel with your little ones.

#1: Enhance Problem-Solving Skills

Let’s face it, not every trip is going to be perfect. There will be long waits, days spent stuck in a hotel room, and broken-down vehicles.

While none of these situations is ideal, they do all present a problem to be solved. This gives parents an opportunity to demonstrate good problem-solving skills to their little ones. It also gives children the chance to do some problem solving of their own as they find ways to entertain themselves in these unfortunate situations.

#2: Encourage Open-Minded Thinking

Traveling gives people of all ages the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people and immerse themselves in many different ways of life. Not only is this incredibly educational, it also helps the traveler develop an open mind as he or she discovers first-hand that our differences are not bad. Instead, these differences are part of what makes our world such a beautiful and fascinating place.

#3: Present Opportunities for Exploration

Children are naturally curious little beings. They love exploration and find joy in learning the simplest of things. As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your children is to encourage this natural curiosity.

By traveling with your little ones, you can give them more to explore and discover, something that encourages their natural love of learning.

#4: Bond as a Family

Last, but certainly not least, is the incredible family bonding time found during travel. Whether you find yourselves coming together as a team to solve a problem or exploring and discovering new things together, you will return home with a strong family bond and some pretty great memories to go along with it.

As you can see, travel is a great way to enhance your child’s homeschool education. Unfortunately, most families cannot travel ALL the time. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to encourage problem-solving skills, present opportunities for exploration, encourage open-mindedness, and bond as a family while you are at home.

Want some help finding ways to do these things? The Loop offers a number of classes and events that promote these very things. Check out our calendar for more information.

5 Way to Incorporate Math into Your Every Day Life

Are you tired of fighting your kids to do their math lessons? A student’s disdain for math seems to be a problem that many homeschool parents deal with daily. Unfortunately, unlike history, reading, and science, all of which can easily be incorporated into daily life in a fun and engaging way, mathematics tends to be a bit more difficult to weave in.

That said, there are ways to make this often-frustrating subject enjoyable even for those who claim to hate the very idea of working with numbers.

Here are a few ways to incorporate mathematics into your everyday life so you can 1) show your kids that math is useful, and 2) feel less guilty on days when you lose the schoolwork battle.

Play Games

There are plenty of amazing board games and card games that can help your student get a better grasp on math without ever feeling bored or overwhelmed. Set, for example, is a fantastic card game that helps with pattern recognition. Ticket to Ride, on the other hand, is great for practicing planning and counting.

Want more math board game ideas? Check out this post on the subject.

Get Groceries

Meal planning around a budget is not only a fantastic life skill, it’s also a perfect way to get in some productive math practice. Have your children take turns meal-planning and staying within the weekly budget. Soon enough, they will be amazing planners and great at applying math both during grocery trips and in the real world.

Ask Real-Life Word Problems

Sometimes kids are more willing to learn something if they understand how it will be applied in real life. Therefore, learning things like long division is often a struggle. However, if you can show your children how their math skills can be applied in day-to-day life by asking them real-life word problems throughout the day, they may be more willing to listen the next time math lesson time rolls around.

Cook Together

Have you ever considered the amount of math you have to do just to cut a recipe in half? This fact makes cooking the ideal math lesson for children who aren’t interested in textbooks on a particular day. Give your child a recipe, then ask him or her to either cut it in half or double it, and then have them make everyone a delicious snack as their reward for doing so.

Practice Music

Music is another awesome way to get kids interested in math. It requires thinking in fractions, recognizing patterns, and more. Therefore, music lessons of any kind and regular practice sessions can both be excellent ways to add some math into your daily routine.

Not sure where to go for music lessons? Check out the wonderful options we have here at The Loop by going to our calendar page.

Improving Problem-Solving Skills in Kids

In this day and age, problem-solving skills are becoming a more and more important skill to have when entering the workforce. Because the job market has become so competitive, the ability to think outside the box can be crucial to a person’s success.

There are a couple of different reasons for this. One of them being the fact that many big companies are looking for those who are able to think creatively in order to solve problems. These individuals are more likely to help the company in times of crisis and are generally more efficient workers.

The second reason good problem-solving skills are helpful when it comes to finding success is because these skills tend to lend themselves well to running a business. Good problem solvers are creative, they have the unique ability to see a common problem and find a way to fix it, and they tend to be more flexible than those who have not developed out-of-the-box thinking.

As a homeschooling parent, you are well on your way to giving your child the problem-solving skills he or she will need to succeed in modern society. Through your decision to homeschool, you are showing your young student(s) that following the crowd is not always the best solution. You are also giving them the opportunity to think for themselves, something that traditional school settings do not always lend themselves well to.

That said, there are always ways to improve upon what you are doing well, and teaching your children this important life skill is no exception to that rule. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye out for ways to help your children grow as problem solvers and give them plenty of opportunities to think outside the box and be creative.

Not sure how to go about this? Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Ask Questions

When your child comes across a conflict, it can be incredibly tempting to offer up a solution. However, this has the potential to create the attitude of a follower in your child. Because you want your student to be a thought leader, it is better to ask questions about the problem and help them find an acceptable solution.

For instance, if your young child is in an argument with a peer over a toy, you might pull your kids aside and ask what the problem is. Help them identify the core issue as well as the barriers that are preventing the problem from being solved. Finally, ask him or her to come up with various solutions to the problem and help them decide which solution would be best for everyone involved.

Encourage Further Exploration

In a similar vein, it is important to avoid offering your child simple answers to every question they ask. This leads to a passive attitude when it comes to finding the information they desire, and does not give the child the information-finding skills they need in order to be a great problem solver.

Therefore, it is ideal that you help your child find the answers to their questions by suggesting they find books or websites on the subject. This doesn’t mean you cannot help the student, but it does mean you should avoid handing them every piece of information they ask for, choosing instead to have them work for it.

Teach Money Management

Think your seven-year-old is too young to understand how money works? Think again! All children should be taught the value of the dollar. Additionally, these kids should be required to cover their own financial wants. Not only does this give the child good financial sense, it also encourages problem-solving skills as they attempt to find new ways to fatten up their piggy bank in order to buy that beloved toy.

Give Opportunities for Experimentation

Oftentimes, a problem is solved only after a large number of mistakes. Give your kids the opportunity to make those mistakes and solve problems on their own by allowing experimentation whenever theycrave it. You can further support this practice by always having art supplies on hand, offering opportunities for teamwork with peers, and allowing your children the freedom to create and play as they see fit.

Offer Respect

Laughing at your child’s ideas or shutting down their creative play can quickly become discouraging to them. Try to respect your child’s thoughts no matter how silly they may seem, and when their ideas for what to play or do are too outlandish, try asking the child if he or she sees any issues with the plan. Once the child identifies the problems, ask how you can solve those problems and truly listen to what sorts of solutions they come up with. You might be surprised by just how creative your little one can be!

By using these tips you are sure to see a marked improvement in your child’s ability to identify and solve problems.

Want to do even more? You might consider enrolling your student in one of our Pretend Drama, Improv, or Odyssey of the Mind classes here at The Loop. All three of these classes offer incredible problem-solving opportunities in a fun, relaxed environment that you are sure to love.

Summer Fun-Schooling In Oklahoma

Summer is upon us! For many homeschoolers this fact means it’s time for a break from workbooks and required reading. That said, a break from formal schooling doesn’t have to mean a pause in learning. After all, opportunities to learn are all around us; we just have to know where they are in order to take advantage of them.

If you are a homeschooling parent, you may be wondering what kinds of things you can do to ensure your children continue growing and learning throughout the summer months. The truth of the matter is, you don’t really have to do much at all. However, taking an active role in your child’s summertime learning can be great fun for all involved, so we encourage you to do so whenever possible.

Here are a few Oklahoma summer activities that are sure to spark curiosity, creativity, and many educational discussions:

Visit a Museum

From Science Museum Oklahoma in OKC to the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma has a huge assortment of incredible museums to choose from. Pick one to visit and spend some time afterward reading up on the information you find there. This will help further engage your young scholar and is sure to make the experience both more memorable and educational.

Sign Up for the Summer Reading Program

Both the Metropolitan and Pioneer library systems offer fabulous summer reading programs. Sign up for one—or both!—and watch as your young reader dives into some wonderful literature. This will help cultivate a love of reading in your young student while simultaneously adding some fun to those summer days that are simply too hot to be spent outside.

Explore Nature

From the Wichita Mountains and Roman Nose State Park to the more local Martin Nature Center, there is a lot of beautiful nature to explore in Oklahoma. Spend your warm summer mornings exploring these outdoor spaces and cool off in the afternoon in one of our many natural lakes, rivers, or ponds.

Be sure to be observant of the lovely plants and animals you see and find the answers to any questions that may arise once you return home.

Play in the Water

There is nothing quite like splashing around in some nice, cool water on a hot summer day in Oklahoma. Offer your kids some water-based educational activities on those especially warm days and combine fun and learning.

For instance, giving your kids an assortment of supplies to make their own sailboats can be a wonderful science lesson. Additionally, it is an excellent way to encourage your little ones to put their problem-solving skills to use.

Water can also be used to study cause and effect, play measuring games, and practice writing on the sidewalk through the use of water guns or the garden hose.

Summer Classes

Classes taught in the summer are generally offered in shorter sessions than those offered during the school year. Therefore, summer is the ideal time to try out a new activity.

For instance, the group piano classes offered on Fridays during the summer here at The Loop are perfect for anyone who wants to try piano without making a long-term commitment. Similarly, our painting, drama, guitar, drumming, violin, robotics, and improv lessons, workshops, and classes are all offered during the summer months with no long-term commitment requirement.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to enhance your summer with a bit of education while still filling it with plenty of fun and games. Give some of these ideas a try and be sure to come back and let us know which ones you enjoy the most!