"So, how's your school year going?"
Is my typical lead-in when meeting up with other fellow homeschool mommas.
comes the reply...more often than not.
I hear ya'. Believe me, I hear ya'.
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Busyness these days comes in many forms. For some families it is the natural outcome of the over zealous-fast paced-sign up for every possible lesson-lifestyle that American families seem to wear as a badge of honor. For others, it is just the result of having a large family with many subjects and grade levels to cover. My family falls into the latter. (Sometimes I feel like the activities director of a cruise ship SANS the clipboard and khaki pants.)
Whichever camp you fall into, chances are, if you are a homeschool family, you are a BUSY homeschool family.
So, let me tell ya' about one of my best homeschool tricks for saving time and sanity while still getting in lots of learning.
Shhh...lean in really close...I don't want my Littles to know just how sneaky their momma can be.
I outsource with audio books.
Surprisingly simple and with the help of a library card, absolutely free!
Audio books have come a long way since the little Disney cassette tape/book combos I remember listening to as a tot.
And while our family started with the simple fiction book-on-CD variety, we have since found many other delightfully educational CDs to enjoy.
How we use themOur audio book passion began at bedtime one night. Realizing that my children were not always ready to drift off to dream land right at eight o'clock, I began requesting audio versions of favorite fiction books from the library to play at LIGHTS OUT. They would listen for a chapter or two and then find themselves dreaming of Frog and his pal Toad, Almanzo and his calves Star and Bright, or a larger-than-life dog named Mudge.
Eventually, we began bringing these audio adventures along in the car for long trips or even just short jaunts across town. (I actually bought a learn-your-states-and-capitals cassette tape at a garage sale one year. We spent every Tuesday afternoon listening to the zippy-but-slightly-obnoxious songs on our way to piano lessons. I NEVER had to drill states and capitals, but my kids can still prattle them off at a slightly-obnoxious cadence.
And then there was the time when we borrowed a multiplication facts-set-to-music CD from a friend...)
Then, as life gave way to busy.busy.busy and I found myself not being able to read as many lovely picture books to my little ones as I did when my older ones were that young, I began forging out time for my tots to listen to picture books on CD during the regular school day or at bedtime. It was a great way to multiply the learning time without having to perform a five-loaves-and-two-fish miracle with my time and attention.
Our favorite audio books/series
While any great fiction title will do in a pinch, I also like to weave in some content-rich stories to sneak in history, science, geography, Bible, and world-view lessons.
These are fantastic audio/radio dramatizations of famous historical events and biographies of famous Americans. There are also several Bible/character training sets that my children have enjoyed during family devotion time on overnights with grandma and grandpa.
Emphasizing science and science-based topics from a Christian perspective, these have always been a hit with my science-lovin' boys.
While I'm not a huge fan of their daily dramas as I think the topics and school-based-story-line do not usually apply to my homeschooled kids, I love the historical retellings and Bible dramatizations. My favorites are the Eyewitness Collector's Set and Truth Chronicles. (Quick aside: My middle son got the Truth Chronicles set for Christmas and has spent nearly every free moment since in his room building with Legos and listening to Whit and his friends. We have had the lovely privilege of hearing him quote large sections of the series at the dinner table...and in the bathtub...and at the grocery store...and....)
These are the perfect audio dramas for my little ones. While they are not academically content-rich, they are wonderful recordings of afternoon radio broadcasts that use fictional pond animals to teach Biblical character.