SHHH! (yes, we summer school) DON’T tell my kids!

I am often asked if we summer school. I giggle inside as I tell them no. I don’t schedule school in the summer. Who doesn’t learn in the summer? Exploring, traveling, sporting, reading and 4H!

Have you used the Junior Ranger Program at the National Parks and Monuments? My kids love it. They get a little activity book to do and learn about the park, turn it in and get a badge. They’ve even invented fun imaginative games using the badges: private investigators, officials- by placing them on as a sheriff badge, ranger, as an upper arm badge… it’s pretty fun! We’ve learned too that the national program has been such a success that many state and local parks have their own program. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Reading Programs! Libraries, Barnes and Noble, Half-Price Books and a few online ones- we’ve outgrown some of these but I remember using them and what a blessing they have been.

4H is a HUGE part of my school!

We live on a farm. We have livestock and maybe that is how we got involved in the first place- that is the image right? and we LOVE that part of 4H. But my kids have learned so much more.

What my kids do in 4H:

Speaking and other communication projects- like working exhibits. Bring people to your table and teach them something (i.e. teach them to make a craft, a simply science experiment, a nutritious snack….a little make and take table- communicating how to or some little lesson…) give a short presentation, sing a song, play piano, perform a short skit….

sewing, art, cooking/baking), needle arts, woodworking, welding….

You see, I gave them a choice in sports- you can play soccer or volleyball or basketball or whatever was available IF you wanted to, but you will all join 4H. Everything under the sun- anything you can learn- falls into a 4H category. You will do something, take it to fair, and talk to a judge about it.

mean mom, right? My son thought so. He answered the question ‘Why did you join 4H?” in his record book with ” because my mom made me. she said I had to learn something” It’s honest.

Every year I think they will show me a sour face when they show me the (4000)th ribbon they’ve won- but you know what? They don’t. They are proud! Accomplishment. And they put it on display for fair week.

We’ve loved participating in the county fair for years. They’ve gotten involved in more and more activities, made friends…tons of memories I will cherish! But this year as I head into graduation with my oldest, I have learned what the true value has been. Let me just say I think 4H record books are painful. It is a looming task that needs to be completed.(dreaded) I wonder why we do it( except that after the hours and hours of work they are SO PROUD of what they have so we keep doing it because it is worth it when we are done…is it worth it? yes because)  THIS is exactly how you fill out scholarship applications!!

“What activities have you been involved in?” Ha! we have a record of that in our 4H book!

“What is a goal you’ve had…..” ah! that is what we practice doing for every project, and every project area in the record books….

“How did you work toward this goal….” we’ve seriously worked through this with EVERY project.

“What did you learn from this…” …this is too easy. She can probably even copy excerpts right out of her record book.

We’ve got this! Thank you 4H!

** Did I mention the volunteer work? Some states require volunteer work to graduate? some scholarship applications require volunteer work. 4H provided a number of opportunities for community service and volunteer work. Oldest was surprised at how many hours she could add up from her work in 4H.

** Showing livestock requires paperwork: financials (my kids have learned how to balance a checkbook here), entrepreneurship skills- gain, loss, feed costs… not to mention interview skills, confidence and even appearance- really it require a clean shirt, clean jeans, appropriate shoes and a belt! It is part of the rules and part of the game and MOM didn’t have to require it.

So we spend our spring and summer washing and walking cattle and learning everything it takes to raise a food animal as an entrepreneur,  Trying new projects- art, baking, posters, creating a game, making a video (digital storytelling), washing hens! We sign up for the dog training classes. Not only do we get the opportunity to train our dog, but the kids do the training and learn about how to do that and about the breeds all in preparation for the show.

Hands on learning and delight directed at its best in my opinion. Happy summer schooling. Do not tell my kids 😉




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