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Why we won't take a break from learning this summer

Val Kleppen, Parenting Perspectives columnist

Now that spring has finally arrived (thank you, Jesus), we're spending more time outside and looking forward to the finale of our first year homeschooling. It has been a joy, really, to see both kiddos learn and develop their interests in our first year of schooling from home.

As we wind down the school year, however, the learning is ramping up for another season. Once the curriculum boxes are checked complete and the book material is put on the shelf for another time, we'll continue in our education quests, albeit in a completely different form.

Summer school will be in full swing here at home, and I have a feeling it will be a summer to remember.

Little Miss and Little Man both have a desire to learn all things cooking, and while we've dabbled in it some since last fall, I think there's no better time than summer to try their hand at frying up fresh ingredients, learning about appropriate food pairings, and making their snacks for the day. The measuring, chopping, flipping and frying will be lessons they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives. Not to mention the baking. I have a feeling the chocolate chip cookie lesson will be one we revisit frequently.

Gardening will be another subject on the summer-school agenda, as the kids help with the weeding and the watering and of course the harvesting. There's much to be learned from a single, tiny seed. One tiny element can bring forth an abundance of fruit when cared for and nurtured, and it's as true in our own lives as it is in the garden.

Then there's the science of chickens, how to properly care for them, protect them and carefully collect their eggs. Chickens are good for more than just laying eggs or filling a stew pot, though. They're incredible helpers with tilling and composting, and an animal that eats bugs and turns them into the incredible edible egg is a winner in my book.

We'll do a nature study complete with camping trip, fishing outing and trail hike. I figure you can't do summer school without a few field trips, and my prayer is these will be field trips the kids remember fondly for years to come.

There will be lessons about barbecue safety, proper marshmallow roasting techniques and sunscreen benefits. We'll learn about the life cycle of a butterfly, and how to effectively scream while in retreat from wasps.

Art lessons will take place in the driveway with oversized pieces of colored chalk, and music lessons will take place singing along to the radio with the windows rolled down while on road trips.

We'll have puddle-depth tests, bubble-blowing experiments and foot races around the yard. And when summer school winds to a close, we'll test their comprehension by how hard they sleep, how often they smile and how sun-bleached their hair becomes.

Val Kleppen is a local wife, mother, blogger and co-founder of Harlynn's Heart, a group that comforts families who face infant loss. Her blog can be read at mindmumbles.com.

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