Summer Lessons: From Home-school Families


Published:

Summer is here, and if your child will be at home for three months, you'd probably like him to do more than eat popsicles and play video games. (Everything in moderation, of course!) So why not take some tips from the professionals — parents whose kids are schooled at home?

We asked four Triangle families who home-school their kids for their take on how to introduce learning into the lazy days of summer.

1 Follow children's interests.

Education during summer doesn't have to consist of forcing your child to read Dickens or do geometry problems when other kids are outside playing baseball. As all home-schoolers know, you'll get more out of your efforts if you let your child lead the way. Following your child's interest makes things easier — and more productive.

For Keisha Barber, who home-schools her 11-year-old son in Durham, this insight guides her daily life. Her son found it difficult to learn when forced to sit still and follow instructions, but once she allowed him to pursue his own interests she saw a remarkable change.

"We study things that are high interest," she says. "He started a pet-sitting business. He tells stories with Lego characters. I think that one day he will have a job he is passionate about, so why not start now? When it's high interest, it's not work. It's a passion."

Homing in on something children are interested in — whether it's catching bugs, interpretive dance or playing around on the iPad — and encouraging them to develop expertise is a great way to focus on learning without making it feel like work.

2 Don't over-schedule.

With all that the Triangle has to offer, you could enroll your kid in everything from cooking lessons to soccer camp. But summer vacation is all about downtime, and home-schoolers know that being careful about over-scheduling and allowing for lots of downtime is crucial for children's physical and emotional well-being. Rebecca Camplejohn of North Raleigh home-schools all three of her children. She was spurred to take the home-school leap initially because she wanted her daughter to have more unstructured time.

"All parents need to keep in mind to limit outside activities," she says, reflecting on her experience home-schooling her children. "Be intentional about not filling every moment with something, let them do things they are passionate about, and let them be with family."

Although camps and lessons can be positive experiences, it's important not to undervalue the gift of time. Be careful not to replace school with a variety of other structured activities. Allow space for daydreaming — and even a little boredom.

3 Consider private lessons.

If your child attends school outside of the home,chances are she spends much of her day working in a group setting surrounded by peers. Home-schooled kids receive much more individualized attention and are less likely to be surrounded by other children their age.

"Individualized education is great, but it's important that their parents aren't their only teachers," says Teri Smith, a mother of a home-schooled first-grader in Cary.

Individualized education can boost skills kids are passionate about or help with activities that require more focus. For example, if time and money permit, consider private swimming lessons rather than a group class. "We did that with swimming with my son, who attended public school, and it really helped him master the skill," Smith says.

Camplejohn agrees. "It's important to not always be with peers, and individualized education means kids can be mentored and challenged beyond the expected developmental stage."

4 Be creative.

Many children will oppose a summer curriculum. After all, isn't summer supposed to be a vacation? But not having a formal curriculum doesn't mean you can't incorporate learning.

Barber says being creative is essential to her success as a home-schooling parent. "I can do math with Legos. I can do math with blueberries. I can do math at the grocery store," she says.

Incorporating your child's learning style is another way to make information appealing and compelling. Using a more interactive approach has helped Barber's son learn in a way that appeals to him.

"When you learn in a way that is meaningful to you, it really sticks," she says. "My son is visual and creative and has a difficult time just sitting down and doing what he is told."

"If you can incorporate the things they are learning in school into the family life, it makes it more interesting and fun," Camplejohn says. "Cook Indian food if your child is studying India. Turn their education into a family experience."

5 Focus on relationships.

No matter what activities you plan this summer, perhaps the most important lesson you can learn from home-schoolers is that time together offers a golden opportunity to build stronger relationships with your children. Almost all home-schooling families cite the importance of creating family bonds and emphasize character-building.

"For us, home schooling is really about relationship building," says Aya Shabu, who home-schools her 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter in Durham. "It's about using whatever time you have with your child to build relationships and to emphasize your own family's values. Being with your child all day really helps you develop a sense of trust." Barber agrees, saying, "With homeschooling, we get to be the No. 1 influence in his life."

Jill Moffett is a freelance writer, editor and mother in Durham.

Home schooling in North Carolina

There were 47,977 home schools in North Carolina during the 2011-2012 school, according to the N.C. Department of Administration, a number that has more than doubled in the past decade.

If you're interested in finding out more, check out these resources:

•  Home School Alliance of North Carolina: ha-nc.org

• North Carolinians for Home Education: nche.com/about

• Chapel Hill Homeschoolers: chapelhillhomeschoolers. com

• Cary Homeschoolers: caryhomeschoolers.org

• Christian Home Educators Association of Greater Durham: cheagd.org

Home schooling blogs

Penelope Trunk: A lively (and very opinionated) blog with plenty of links to research about the benefits of home schooling. homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com

Parenting Passageway: Focused on the Waldorf method of education in the home setting with a Christian slant; offers parenting tips, inspiration and resources for all families, no matter what type of school the children attend. theparentingpassageway.com

Freedom to Learn: Written by Peter Grey, a research professor at Boston University, this blog explores ways we to create learning environments that optimize rather than suppress children's drive to educate themselves. psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

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Cost: $70/month

Where:
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2080 E Williams St
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View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
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Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Telephone: 704-391-3900
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Cost: Free

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

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Where:
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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Apex, NC  27539
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Orange County Main Library
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Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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Hillsborough Library
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Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Hillsborough Main Library
Telephone: 919-245-2525
Contact Name: Beth Hawkey
Website »

More information

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Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
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View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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It's your last chance to catch the Wolfpack at home this season! Help RED OUT Duke by wearing your favorite RED NC State Gear to the meet. The first 300 fans will receive an exclusive RED OUT...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center
2611 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Preschoolers (ages 3-5 with an adult) learn what wild animals do in winter by pretending to be animals that hibernate, migrate or just stay warm in the cold, winter woods! Take a hike, do a craft,...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
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Explore nature through play!  The Main Library is partnering with local Tinkergarten leaders Heather Murphy and Kate MacCartney to bring the fun of nature indoors.  Join us as we investigate...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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January Story Time, Puppet Show & Art Activity Puppet Show Incorporated https://www.puppetshowinc.org/ presents the classic Aesop fable The Lion and the Mouse. Activities include a story time,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carrboro Library
900 Old Fayetteville Road
Inside McDougle Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Carrboro Branch Library
Telephone: 919-969-3006
Contact Name: Beth Hawkey
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Want a wild start to your new year?When you’re facing the after-holiday blues after packing up the decorations and taking down the tree, never fear. Come celebrate the new year in a thrilling,...

Cost: $20 - $26

Where:
Animal Park at the Conservators Center
676 E Hughes Mill Rd
Burlington, NC  27217
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Sponsor: Animal Park at the Conservators Center
Telephone: 336-421-0883
Contact Name: Taylor Sharp

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
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Family Wildlife Series: Owl Prowl Saturday, January 18, 6-7:15 p.m. Venture into the night on a Blue Jay hike.  Learn about owl habits and adaptations as we listen for these nocturnal birds....

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.