Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Inexpensive Oklahoma Field Trip Ideas

School is back in session, and now is the perfect time to head out on some field trips without the crowds. Unfortunately, many homeschooling parents find themselves in a rut when it comes to field trips. Limited funds, a lack of time to research, and a host of other factors can quickly lead families to stick to their usual territory.

This is all fine and dandy, but it can also become incredibly dull. After all, not many people enjoy doing the same old thing day in and day out. If you are already finding yourself in a rut this school year, why not break out of it with one of these inexpensive, yet interesting field trip options? All are less than an hour away from Norman, making them easy day trips that don’t require too much car time.

Braum’s Tour

All Oklahomans know the Braum’s brand and most of us love the delicious dairy products they provide. If you are one of the many Braum’s ice cream fanatics out there, you will love the Braum’s farm tour. This tour is absolutely free, but must be scheduled in advance, so be sure to call a few weeks ahead of time to reserve a spot for your family and friends.

Sam Noble Museum

The Sam Noble Museum is a wonderful place full of all kinds of information and artifacts. Anyone who has any interest at all in natural history will adore this place, and even little ones can find something to do in the special room that is set aside just for them.

Unfortunately, this museum is also a little bit pricey. However, by waiting until the first Monday of the month, your kids will get in free, meaning you only have to pay for the adults in your group.

Edmond Historical Society Children’s Learning Center

While it is a bit of a trek, the Children’s Learning Center which is run by the Edmond Historical Society is a worthwhile day trip for those with elementary age children. The center focuses on the history of Oklahoma with a focus on role play. Admission is free and the museum often holds special craft days, making the visit even more special.

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Slightly older children will appreciate the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman on the OU campus. The museum has several permanent collections on display, but also hosts temporary exhibitions on a regular basis. Admission is free, making this the perfect opportunity to introduce the young people in your life to the power of art.

Oklahoma State Capitol

Learn about the history of our state government as well as what goes on in the capitol building. The capitol building is open throughout the week for self guided tours, but we highly recommend planning to take a guided tour. These are available Monday through Friday at various points throughout the day. All tours are free, and well worth your time.

These are just a few of the wonderful things our state has to offer. Do a bit more research and we’re sure you’ll find even more fantastic field trip options.

Looking for a way to get out of the house on a regular basis in addition to your occasional field trips? Why not sign up for one of the many great classes here at The Loop?

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Weaving History into Your Daily Life

History is a fascinating subject. Unfortunately, many of the history books out there make the story of our world appear to be a dry and boring matter, and this creates a less than wonderful relationship between the student and the subject. If your children are among those who claim to “hate” history and won’t touch their history books without groaning, it might be time to make a change in how the subject is presented to them.

This situation can be difficult for parents. After all, they are merely teaching the subject in the same way it was taught to them. What better way could there be? The truth of the matter is that history can be shown, taught, and embraced in a variety of ways that intrigue the student and give him or her reason to seek out more information and dive further into the topic.

Below are 5 amazing ways to weave history into your everyday life and get your children excited about the past.

Read

Reading can be just as wonderful as history when done right. Take advantage of this fact by making reading a big part of your child’s history education. No, this doesn’t mean you should pull out the same dry textbook. Instead, seek out historical fiction, well written biographies, and old documents. You might be surprised just how fascinating your journey into the past becomes when you replace the dull reading material with something interesting and fun.

Write

Writing is another great way to get in touch with the people of our past. Give your students interesting writing prompts and allow them to set their imaginations free. Some great options include writing a fictional memoir or novel. Not sure you can help much in this area? Consider signing up for the history writing class here at The Loop.

Take Field Trips

Field trips make everything more fun. Fortunately, we have tons of great history-focused field trip opportunities here in Oklahoma. Head to the Oklahoma History Center or the National Cowboy Museum. Check out the Medieval Fair or schedule a day at Harn Homestead. Whichever destination you choose, try to find some good reading material on the subject beforehand.

Join a Club

If your students show an intense interest in a particular time in history, you might consider joining some sort of club in order to allow them to explore further with like minded individuals. Some great options for this include The Knights of Castleton in Muskogee and Historic Dance OK.

Throw a Party

Nothing helps kids dive into the past quite like a party. Choose a time period, find period appropriate recipes, and get to work making some grub. Pull out the sewing machine and whip up some costumes that fit the chosen theme. Do some research on the proper manners of the time as well as ways our ancestors may have entertained guests and structure your party accordingly. Parties like this are a great way to end unit studies.

These fun and interesting ways of learning about our past are sure to pull your kids out of the history funk and get them excited about the story of our world. Why not try one out this week and see how the kids react? You might just create little history buffs in the process.

 

Helping Your Child Find Their Inner Writer

Whether your child loves writing or hates it, there is a good chance they are going to have to do a good bit of it over the course of their lifetime. For this reason, it is best to encourage the cultivation of this skill while your student is still fairly young. Of course, most parents already know this fact, and it often leads homeschooling parents to push their children too far, causing a hatred for the very act of writing.

Fortunately, there are ways to encourage young students to develop their writing skills without excessive pushing and prodding. Here are a few ideas for helping your child find their inner writer.

Read Often

All good writers are also avid readers. At least, that is what I’ve come to find. Therefore, providing your student with high-quality reading material and encouraging them to pick it up or even reading it to them once a day is a wonderful way to plant the writing seed.

After all, by showing your child what good writing looks like and helping them hear what it sounds like, you are giving them a good model to go off of whenever they decide to put pen to paper.

Encourage Journaling

Journaling is the perfect way to get a reluctant writer to pick up a pen (or keyboard) and put their thoughts on the page. This is because there are no rules in journaling. This gives the student freedom to write about anything and everything they see fit, making the experience a fun and freeing one rather than a dull chore.

Give your child a notebook and a pen, allow them to express themselves through whatever kind of writing they enjoy, and see where it leads. The results may surprise you.

Set the Mood

Trust me when I say that writer’s block is a very real thing. However, many times I am able to overcome this issue by changing my surroundings. Find what helps your student focus and attempt to create that environment for him or her. This may mean diffusing oils, allowing them to write in bed, or sitting outside. However, the end results will be well worth the extra effort.

Provide Prompts

Just as free-journaling can be an excellent tool for encouraging a reluctant writer, writing prompts are perfect for helping a willing writer find something to write about.

For this reason, I recommend keeping a running list of writing prompts for those days when your child cannot think of anything to journal about. Make these prompts interesting and allow for plenty of creativity by skipping any constricting rules in your prompts.

Join a Class

For many children, a fun yet focused writing class can work wonders when it comes to getting their creative juices flowing. The writing classes here at The Loop are a great option for young writers who crave this sort of environment.

By combining excellent instruction with fun subject matter and a group of friends, young authors will blossom in these classes and will finish with works that they can be proud of, something that fuels further exploration in the world of writing.

Are you interested in signing up for one of the writing classes here at The Loop? We would love to have you! Please contact Miss Alanna at alanna.d.ireland@gmail.com for more information.

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.