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Five Ways to Design an Outdoor Space for Your Kids

Five Ways to Design an Outdoor Space for Your Kids

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the kids are…playing video games. Trying to usher your kids outside to play in the summer heat can be daunting, especially when competing against computer games and TV shows. One of our go-to ways to create an irresistible cove is by designing an outdoor space for kids using their favorite activities married with fun design elements. Here are our top five ways to get your kids off the couch and into the backyard:

Classic swing set

swingset

    Very few outdoor activities prove to be more fun and worth the expense than a good old-fashioned swing set. Whether your kids are learning to walk or approaching their tween years, they all can appreciate a swing set that incorporates sky-high swinging capabilities and cool design details. If you have kids of all ages, we suggest opting for a playset that combines several swings, a slide, and other activities like rock climbing or a lookout post for your little explorers.

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    Modern tree house

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      A cool tree house is a great incentive for your kids to spend more time outdoors, and it can be super adult-friendly, too! Perch your treehouse between the largest trees in your yard and make it spacious enough to hold a few lawn chairs or even a bistro set. Add elements like a tire swing, rope course and ladder for kids to play on while you enjoy a glass of wine with a view.

      Conversation pit

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      Image 3

        If you have older kids, chances are a swing set won’t entice them to get out from in front of the computer. Instead, create a conversation pit using lawn chairs, outdoor furniture, a fire pit, plants and ambient lighting for your kids and their friends to enjoy snacks, games and good times outside. After the kids have gone to bed, gather your friends for a bite and a glass of bubbles to toast to the summer evening.

        Splash zone

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          While a pool is always a great fix for summertime blues, it may not be in the budget this year, or you might lack the square footage to install a full-sized lagoon. However, on a hot summer day, there is nothing quite like splashing around in cool water. Installing a fountain on a timer is a great way to get younger kids to beg you to take them outdoors to play. To make it eco-friendly, configure your fountain system to recycle the water.

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          Stay-at-home movie theater

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            The only thing better than going to the movies on a warm summer night is to stay at home and watch one in your own backyard! Encourage the kids to invite their friends; set up a screening area with lawn chairs, tables, lighting, and cushions; and play your favorite film using a digital projector and blank wall. Serve up dinner in your outdoor kitchen and set out snacks during the film for movie night alfresco.

            While these five outdoor home improvement ideas are awesome ways to keep your kids entertained outside this summer, there are many more that can help kids take more ownership of their home (and get a few chores done at the same time)! We love the idea of planting a garden or a few fruit trees and teaching the kids to take care of the plants by watering them, turning the soil, and then harvesting their work. If you have a pet, creating an obstacle course with trees and plants in your backyard is a fun way to give your pets and kids exercise all at once.

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            What are some of your favorite ways to encourage kids to play outside this summer? Have you tried any of our suggestions above? We’d love to know!

            Featured photo credit: Alwayswin via shutterstock.com

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            Kerrie Kelly

            Interior designer

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            Published on November 7, 2018

            How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

            How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

            In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

            The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

            Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

            How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

            After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

            Figure Out the Laws

            Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

            The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

            Decide on an Approach

            Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

            Supplies/Resources

            Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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            A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

            Find a Community

            Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

            Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

            7 Different Homeschooling Methods

            1. School-At-Home

            Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

            The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

            • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
            • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
            • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

            2. Classical

            One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

            Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

            3. Unit Studies

            Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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            For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

            • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
            • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
            • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

            4. Charlotte Mason

            This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

            Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

            5. Montessori

            Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

            With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

            6. Unschooling

            Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

            For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

            7. Eclectic/Relaxed

            As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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            Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

            How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

            One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

            Email

            Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

            It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

            Google Drive/Calendar

            Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

            With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

            Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

            Ebooks

            Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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            E-Courses

            When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

            From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

            The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

            Some recommendations:

            Youtube

            Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

            Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

            Some recommendations:

            Final Thoughts

            Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

            Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

            Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

            Reference

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