Box stores are stockpiled high with pencils, notepads, and backpacks. Supply lists abound with the things your kid needs in order to succeed. It can only mean one thing: back to school time is here. And while this year might look and feel a little different, you can be sure that classes will go on as scheduled – whether they be online or not. Cutting the cord on traditional classes comes with the boundless possibility to bring an unconventional classroom to your own backyard with a wide range of possibilities for keeping balance while going back to (online) school. With the right creative inspiration in mind, you can make your backyard into the perfect school away from school.
Breaking the Fast
Start your day with a good breakfast. Skip processed foods like junky cereal and go straight for the homemade goodness of cooked comfort. Buttermilk biscuits, ooey-gooey cinnamon buns, and cheesy quiches are easy to make-ahead dishes that are perfect for bringing everyone together for a little bit of unplugged family fun while also working double-time as excellent starters for the day. Pull off your outdoor table cover and serve up your pre-prepared dishes with a balanced meal containing fresh fruit, organic granola, greek yogurt, and perhaps a fiber rich cereal that provides enough fuel for a full day’s work. Coming together on your outdoor patio for a family meal before heading in your separate directions is the perfect starter for a day of accomplishments. Just be sure not to forget the coffee!
School’s In For Summer
Untangling yourself from the Web certainly doesn’t extend to the obligations of work and school. Still, online education allows for a certain amount of freedom and flexibility when taking classes from home. Setting up your workstation outside allows you to enjoy the last stretch of summer while smoothly transitioning into autumn. Secure your umbrella to create an area on your patio with plenty of shade that also gives you ample opportunity to step into the warm glow of the sun. Small doses of Vitamin D have proven to be beneficial in triggering special areas of the retina that trigger the release of serotonin, boosting your mood and giving kids the ambition to work through the school day. In turn, moving the schoolwork day outside encourages kids to embrace unconventional means of education, producing a more refreshed work product – almost as if it’s a day-to-day field trip in your own backyard. Print as much of their work as possible so they’re engaging the old school way: with paper and pencil. When you’re through teaching for the day, pack up the supplies & cover your schooling surfaces with an insulated cover or tarp so everything is in tip top shape for tomorrow’s lesson.
Taking the school day to your backyard does not come without its difficulties, especially with distractions so readily available to draw attention away from reading, writing and arithmetic. Unpack recess into intervals throughout the school day, setting breaks for both work and play. Organize outdoor games, or even bust out an interactive game like Charades that stimulates critical thinking skills. These types of intervals keep their minds engaged, while simultaneously taking them out of the mundane routines that come with focusing entirely on book work. Structured intervals allow for some sense of normalcy, that while not exactly social, still engage kids in spirit, mind, and body.
Know with the Flow
Keeping a routine while schooling from home is key to successfully maintaining the balance between work and play. Develop a flow for your day that is conducive to both productivity and staying unplugged. Try to strategize the methods that will best allow you to keep play at bay when focusing on school activities. Incentivise completing necessary tasks and assignments by offering rewards that stick to staying unplugged. When the school day ends, be sure to log out and not work until the next designated period. Make the end of the day a celebration by playing a round of croquet, a game of badminton or bocce, or any other outdoor game your family enjoys to signify the freedom of a day completed. As a parent, don’t be afraid to leave work on the computer and out of unplugged family time. You may even wind up enjoying it more than they do!
After School Special
Once you’ve packed up the teaching materials and embraced fun in the sun with family game time, it’s time to relax. Whether you choose to enjoy some poolside cocktails while the kids take a dip or step away from the hustle and home bustle of a hard day’s work for a little alone time, you can embrace unplugging and unwinding – even while ensuring home school goes off without an issue. Consider after dinner family game time to keep the fun going all night long. The potential for staying unplugged and unwound are endless with a little bit of creative inspiration.