Did you have great plans to get out of the house over the holidays, to the museums, the libraries, that great holiday program – and those just never happened? Or was that just me?
I was thinking this is a great time to do social and learning activities with other kids who are not home schooled. Everyone is out for at least a couple of weeks, so it’s a great opportunity, right?
Then, reality happened. Probably like many of you, we had family visit from all over the U.S. Of course there was buying presents, putting up decorations, making Christmas dinner, cleaning up the house before company came, cleaning up the house after company left.
We made cookies from scratch, with all the kids, not once, but twice.
Baking Christmas cookies is an educational activity as it teaches children units of measurement and fractions – a teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 cup of brown sugar. This is a hill I will die on.
Unless you made your cookies from those break apart packages of cookies dough you buy in the grocery store. If that’s you, don’t feel bad about it. I’m sure your house looks way better than mine, which for most of the vacation resembled the after-party scene from a horde of death metal rock stars. I don’t actually know any death metal rock stars, but I can imagine.
So, January is almost over, there is still almost a whole year to get out of the house. Let’s get to the point.
If you don’t have a library card, go get one now, for you and each of your children!
Even if you do have a library card, chances are, you aren’t taking advantage of everything the library has to offer.
If you are an experienced home school parent, maybe all of this is old news to you. However, if you’re new to homeschooling, as we all were at one point, you may be overlooking some of the great resources that are in your public library.
Public libraries are a gold mine for home schoolers.
Library resources for your kids
Of course, if you live in a big city, your large public library is probably going to have more programs than in a small town. However, even when we lived in a town of less than 15,000 people our little library would have children’s authors come through on occasion and give readings.
Most libraries have a separate area for children, with tables for studying or reading books. It may be just the ticket for your child to have a quiet place away from distractions in the house.
Some have a huge area with playhouses and boxes full of toys for kids to play with in the library. Almost all of them have story time for younger kids. Many offer software services like Duolingo for learning new languages – for free!
One thing I want my children to be is confident speaking up for themselves. From the time they were 6 or 7, I would go to the children’s section of the library and have them ask the librarian for whatever type of book they are interested in at the moment. Currently for the middle one it is “silly songs and poems”.
If you live in a part of the country where temperatures are dipping into the teens or lower this time of year, just getting into a different environment can help with that “cabin fever”.
Maybe your kids aren’t like mine and they never get on each others’ nerves. They don’t get to constantly picking on each other, poking each other and wanting whatever the other one has at this exact moment. For those of us who are raising human children instead of little angels, separating them works wonders.
Libraries for homeschool parents
Librarians, are a great resource for you as a home schooling parent, too. They can recommend resources for your child’s grade level and interests. They can also recommend books for you to help on your own homeschooling journey. They don’t work for any big publishing company or school district so they tend to be unbiased.
Many offer computer classes for the community, starting with teens. That maybe be something you want for yourself so you can help your children learn coding, for example. It can also be an activity you do with your teen. I’m a big believer in modeling life-long learning, walking the walk.
Most libraries have an adult literacy program and if, like our family, you believe community service is important, there may be opportunities for you to volunteer. I will be honest here and say that’s a pipe dream for me at the moment and something I plan on doing once I’m down to maybe just one kid in the house. I bring it up, though, just to point out the range of opportunities at your public library and that for large libraries, it’s probably impossible to take advantage of all of these.
Get a schedule of events every month.
Speaking of every month, I schedule a monthly “library day”. That doesn’t mean we only go once a month but that we for sure go on that particular day. Our kids always look forward to going.
And, of course, there are books!
Recently, I checked our public library and every one of the books on our 9th grade reading list was either available on the shelf or could be requested and received within a week. For free!