S9 E10 | Homeschooling Out and About: Ideas for Enriching Your Academics With Adventures Outside the Home (Shiela Catanzarite)

S9 E10 | Homeschooling Out and About: Ideas for Enriching Your Academics With Adventures Outside the Home (Shiela Catanzarite)

Show Notes:

Homeschooling is about freedom—freedom to pursue a lifestyle of learning that includes lots of out and about educational adventures. There are so many opportunities to enrich your children's learning outside your home. With a little planning you can take advantage of the variety of offerings in your area and beyond! In this episode, Shiela shares ideas for homeschooling out and about and how her family enriched their homeschool by adopting this life-giving lifestyle of learning. Go to Shiela's website to request her free PDF of ideas for homeschooling out and about.

About Shiela

Shiela Catanzarite is an author, speaker, editor, and communication coach. She's a 20-year Charlotte Mason veteran homeschooler and has worked as Jeannie Fulbright’s editor and designer for 20 years helping develop Jeannie’s award-winning Apologia science curriculum and most recently her Charlotte Mason products published through Jeannie Fulbright Press. Shiela is the author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry and is finishing up her second book in the series Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture, to be released spring 2024.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary, Shiela has been teaching language arts in some capacity for 40+ years. Her passion remains helping students understand the elements of language and how to use these elements artfully to communicate effectively. Shiela is currently a language communication coach, working one-on-one with students who have language learning and communication challenges. She also writes curriculum for her private middle and high school English language communication classes that focus on writing and speaking.

Both of Shiela's and her husband Bruce’s daughters attended private universities on scholarship and went on to pursue graduate studies in medicine and global business. She attributes their love for learning and academic achievement to homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methodology.


Shiela Catanzarite | Website | Instagram | Instagram | Email

Homeschooling.mom | Instagram | Website

Subscribe to our YouTube channel | YouTube

Thank you to our sponsors!

Medi-Share: an affordable Christian alternative to traditional health insurance

Tuttle Twins: children’s books to help you teach your kids how the world really works

Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? We hope to see you there!

For more encouragement on your homeschooling journey, visit the Homeschooling.mom site, and tune in to our sister podcast The Homeschool Solutions Show.

Show Transcript:

Shiela Catanzarite Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a show that discusses Charlotte Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. I'm your host, Shiela Catanzarite, author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry, and soon to be published, Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture. I'm so thankful you joined me today, and I pray this episode deeply encourages you as you learn more of Charlotte Mason's life-giving methodologies and how to implement them to bring greater freedom, confidence, and joy to your homeschool days.

Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them. Enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins help you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks today at TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool.

Hello! Welcome to the Charlotte Mason show. I'm so excited to be with you, as always. And I'm just so grateful that you came to be with me today and I pray that you were so encouraged and blessed by this episode. And what I want to talk with you about today is homeschooling out and about, and how to take advantage of all the enriching educational opportunities available to your children outside your home. But before we dive in, I want to invite you to sign up for my weekly newsletter. It's brand new. I've only been doing it for a few months, and it focuses solely on language arts. I share tips and ideas and little micro lessons that you can incorporate into your child's language arts learning. I also include a weekly fun and interesting word for vocabulary learning, and I always highlight a student's writing, whether that's one of the students whose writing poetry using my living verse language arts and poetry curriculum or one of my students that I'm currently teaching. But I just love the opportunity to honor these young authors who are learning to put their brilliant thoughts down on paper. And it's just been a fun opportunity to honor them and send their work out to our community every week. So I would love for you to join my growing newsletter community, and you can do that by emailing me at [email protected]. I'll put my email address in the show notes and I send it out every Thursday. So if you email me and ask me to add you to the list, you'll begin receiving my email this week starting on Thursday.

Well, I know you've most likely heard one of Charlotte Mason's most famous quotes. She says, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." And today I want to focus on this idea that education is a life. I so agree, and I would say that education is a lifestyle and it's a lifestyle of learning. And we approached our homeschool in this way, and looking back, I would not have done it any other way. I truly have no regrets. And some people equate education with government schooling. Kids go to a school building from kindergarten through fifth grade to complete their elementary education, then they go to a different school building from 6th grade to 8th grade to complete their middle school education, and after that they go still to another school building from 9th grade to 12th grade to complete their high school education. And many go on to complete college and even higher levels of education. But is education really ever complete? Should people stop learning just because the system has told them they're done? Well definitely not because learning is a lifelong pursuit. We know this as homeschool parents. Some of us got the education that we never really received when we were in school. When we were homeschooling our children, we were actually getting a brand new education along with them. And we want our children to understand this idea that learning is a lifelong pursuit, and we want to approach our children's education in this way. Homeschool is not designed to be school at home. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is critical to grasp this truth that when you choose to homeschool your children, they are free from the system and you are free from the system. Your children are no longer bound to a building for six hours a day, forced to study a predetermined set of classes. Your children have been released from the system, and they're free to be out and about, learning from all types of experiences and experts the world has to offer. And this is what I want to talk about today. How to make your homeschool education a life. A lifestyle of learning based on wonder and adventure and a variety of enriching educational experiences.

And we homeschool from the beginning, and we were always out and about learning. In fact, we were really not home that much, especially in the younger years. We wanted our girls' education to be life-giving and fun, and we wanted them to be well cultured. So we pursued as many hands-on learning opportunities as possible through the years. We also wanted our children to be taught by experts and masters in their field. So we took advantage of all the out and about offerings available to us as homeschoolers, and there were so many throughout the years. When I was preparing this podcast, I was amazed and truly so thankful as I thought back to all that we were able to learn and experience together as a family, and it truly was a life-giving style of learning. It was such a blessing, and the greatest blessing was being able to do it together as a family. And so I want to share with you what this looked like and some of the learning experiences that we enjoyed most may be to give you a picture of what it might look like for you to take your homeschool out and about. And I've created for you a PDF with ideas on homeschooling out and about, and wanted just to provide you a handy list of ideas that you can reference when you're planning your homeschool year and activities. And I've organized the ideas into learning topics to make it easy for you. And I'd love to send my PDF to you, so if you'd like to receive it, just go to my website at shielacatanzarite.com to the Resources tab, and you'll see where you can provide your email address and request the PDF, and I will send it right out to you.

I want to mention upfront that we took advantage of developing social skills and working on manners as we were homeschooling out and about. And this is really an authentic way to train those habits while developing interpersonal communication skills. And I would remember before we would go out on a field trip or an outing, I would remember to remind the girls to practice the skills that we were working on, skills like looking people in the eye, speaking confidently, listening quietly, paying attention, all of those foundational habits that we want our children to grasp, the social manners that we want them to develop. And so we were always working on those while we were out and about. And the one thing that my daughters heard me say over and over through the years, it was always the last thing that I would say before they got out of the car before dropping them off somewhere was be a blessing. And we laugh about that now, but I said that over and over because I felt that God had blessed us so much and that he's called us to be a blessing to others, and I really wanted the girls to really feel that deeply and understand that deeply, and have the joy of being able to be a blessing to others while we were out and about. And we were representing the Lord and we were representing the homeschool community, so I really took that seriously, that when we were out and about, we were seeking to engage with people, to be hospitable, to be kind, and to be personally engaged with other people. And so when you're going out of the home for learning, plan to integrate working on those soft skills that are so important to our children's success. It's really just a natural way to get the habit training in practice.

And so before we get into the list of ideas, I want to encourage you to think about how you can preserve your children's out and about learning. And of course, being Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, we did a lot of notebooking, but I remember early on I created some field trip forms that the girls could fill out before we went on our trips and after, so that they would have a record of what they learned. And I remember it would have questions like, What do you know about this topic or this animal or whatever it was that we were going to learn about? Or what do you think you'll learn about and what do you think you'll enjoy most? And so we'd have some questions to ask before we went. And then at the end, I had a section that would ask a few questions: What did you do on this field trip? What did you learn? And what did you enjoy most? And you could easily designate a specific notebook for this or even a scrapbook. I remember the girls pasting items they had collected from different places into their notebooks, and sometimes I would even add a page protector for things that couldn't be pasted in. So it would be very easy to create a notebook, and you could just have a notebook that's just specifically for out and about learning. And there's many different ways to do this, but I encourage you to think ahead and plan how your children will record their out and about learning. There are a lot of different ways to do it, but if you plan beforehand, you will end up with just a treasure trove of memories that your children will look back and enjoy reminiscing about because you took time to preserve the learning that they did outside of your home.

So let's look at the different opportunities that are out there, and I want to start with nature. So obviously we have nature preserves and nature centers, botanical gardens, national parks, national forests, national seashores, lots of different things related to nature in the community that we can be a part of. And I remember we had a nature preserve near our home, and it was actually a mountain, and it had a nature center, and they had a full time naturalist on staff there.. And we asked them, when the girls were in elementary school, we contacted them and asked if they would be willing to host a homeschool class for some homeschoolers and I think we gathered maybe around eight children, and they agreed to it. And it was such a blessing because we were able to go. For six months we had classes once a month, and the naturalist just did such a great job. She would take them on a little nature trail during the fall, and sometimes we'd be inside with different books on nature, doing drawings and artwork. Other times she would take us in to see the animals. I remember there was a tarantula and a bunny and some butterflies, and so we really enjoyed that and they enjoyed it as well. And that's the blessing of homeschooling. A lot of these places are- during the day when our children are home, those are the downtimes when they have time to do classes. And so I encourage you to take the initiative and contact a nature center or a botanical garden in your area, and ask if they would be willing to put together a class for your children. I remember it was very affordable and it was just such a great, fun time for our children to be together with their friends and to learn from someone who was really passionate about nature and who was an expert in the field. The botanical gardens are a wonderful way to get your nature journaling in and your nature sketching in. We would go at different times during the year to catch the different flowers blooming in the seasons, and sometimes they'll have Christmas themes and will be open at Easter, and so botanical gardens are a great way to get out and about for nature. The national parks, of course. We used to travel. Whenever we'd go to see family, we would try and find out what national park or national forest was on the way in route to where we were going, and we always tried to stop there. And we saw so many beautiful places just through the national park system. Apples and pumpkins and corn mazes, those were things we took advantage of. We always went to the apple orchard, that was a tradition. The pumpkin patch, the corn maze, things like that. Strawberry picking and blueberry picking and raspberry picking—all of the opportunities to be out in nature, we took advantage of all of them and it was just so much fun. Those are some of our sweetest memories.

Well, what about science? Well, of course you have the zoos and aquariums and SeaWorld, the farms—we had a Cagle's dairy farm and they had homeschool day every year and we would go and they would milk the cows and feed the animals. They had a petting zoo. And so that was always a fun thing we try to do each year. Animal preserves. There was an exotic animal preserve up in the mountains that we visited one time. Of course, all the science museums. We're here in the Atlanta area, so we have a beautiful big science museum, Fernbank, and we were able to get a yearly membership pass. And so a lot of these places, as you know, have memberships and homeschool days, and you definitely want to take advantage of that. They reduce the prices and made them very affordable for homeschoolers. One thing that we did for science that was one of the most memorable and special things that we did when the girls were younger, is we did a birding competition at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Georgia. We were on a homeschool birding team called the Homeschool Hummers, and we did this maybe 2 or 3 years, and we won the whole state competition, and it was so much fun. We were definitely at the advantage because while the other kids were sitting at their desks inside a school building, we were out studying the birds training for this competition, and this competition was intense. It lasted for like two nights on a weekend, and we would drive down to Savannah and down to Tybee Island, and the birding competition would start, you know, on the seashore, and then you'd travel up and you'd get all the shorebirds, and then you'd go and you would get the marsh birds, and then the mountain birds and the forest birds, and we'd even go at night and get some of the owls. And I think we had like 100 birds on by the time we were done. The competition lasted more than 24 hours and it ended up at the big Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. It was so much fun and we spent many hours as a little homeschool group, our children enjoying each other and going out. Our coach was a birding expert, he banded hummingbirds, and we were so blessed to have him. But again, that was many hours and a few years of enjoying being out as homeschool friends being in nature, learning far more than we could have ever learned from a textbook. It was such a blessing. And so look for those opportunities in your area. You'd be surprised at what some of the science and nature centers might be willing- a program they might be willing to put together and curate just for your homeschool group, if you ask.

What about history? There's so many wonderful national historical parks, historical societies, monuments, museums, landmarks, battlefields. There's so many, again, through the National Park Service. One of our favorites that we visited was in North Carolina. We went to Kitty Hawk Monument, the Wright Brothers, and it was an amazing monument to visit. We learned so much. And the great thing is that we visited that while we were on a family beach vacation. We were in the Outer Banks and Kitty Hawk was right there. While we were visiting with our family, we got to steal away for a day and go to that national monument. On that trip, we also went, through the National Park Service, to a few of the lighthouses were actually a part of the National Park Service. We went to see the huge sand dunes. So there were things just on that one beach trip that we were able to take advantage of for out and about learning. And I encourage you to try and bundle up you're out and about learning with the trips that you're taking, try and find the parks and the zoos and all the fun out and about learning opportunities while you're enroute to see relatives or to take a vacation. We took advantage of that, and we saw so many things. And the National Park Service has a program where it—or it did when our girls were young. Yeah, I think it was the Junior Ranger program, and they would go on scavenger hunts. We'd go to the national park and they'd give them a sheet, they'd fill it in and they'd complete it and give it back to the Ranger and then earn little pins. And one time we saw a homeschool family at one of the parks, we knew they were homeschoolers because they had on a vest with all their pins, and we thought, Oh, there's no way children who are in school all day could earn that many pins and see that many parks. But that's really a very easy way to get a lot of out about learning and through the park system. I know they have homeschool days, and I think that they have free days as well. Or they used to, so definitely check on the website. Williamsburg was one of our favorite trips that we went to. We were reading the Felicity books, the American Girl colonial doll book, and we had been to a Felicity American Girl camp through our homeschool group, and we were reading the books so when we visited my parents in Virginia, we went to Williamsburg. The girls dressed up and participated in so much hands-on learning. It was a ton of fun. And on that same trip, we went to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home, which is one of my very favorite places. And so we got a lot of that early American history in while we were visiting family around the holidays. Of course, the decorations were beautiful, and it was just a wonderful way to combine out and about learning with family time.

Well, what about language arts? Definitely the library programs. When the girls were young, we would go to the weekly library program, I'm sure you've done the same, and they would have crafts and arts and books. I remember one time they had a musician and one time the author of a book they were sharing. We did reading challenges through the library. I remember Six Flags had that- we did that a couple years, got our homeschool friends together, and they all read the books required and earned a free pass into Six Flags. So that was fun. Antique bookstores are a great out and about experience for the language arts. If you go into the bookstores, a lot of the bookshelves will have old children's books, and they're so delightful. I think your children would love the opportunity to go and look through the books and see the old books that children read long ago, the cloth covers and the really unique illustrations. They're just so special, and I think it would be such an enjoyable field trip regarding language arts, to go to an antique bookstore and let your children choose an old book that they're really drawn to, that they can have as a keepsake and as a memory from that out and about language arts learning.

Is there anything worse than spending a lot of money on something you are unhappy with and feeling like you're stuck with it? Well, I do have good news for you. You've probably heard me talking about the sponsor for our podcast: Medi-Share. Members of Medi-Share save up to 50% or more per month on their healthcare costs. They say the typical family saves up to $500 per month. And here's the best part, you can become a member at any time, so that means it isn't too late to switch to a more affordable healthcare option that will save you money and help you sleep better at night. If this is the first time you're hearing about Medi-Share, it is the best alternative to health insurance that allows Christians to share one another's medical bills, offers access to 900,000 plus healthcare providers, and has a proven almost 30-year track record. Plus, in addition to saving hundreds per month, telehealth and tele-behavioral counseling are included with membership. It literally takes two minutes to see how much you can save. You can investigate this for you and your family at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medishare.

Writing competitions are a great way to do out and about learning for language arts. You may not be outside of your home doing the writing, but it would be something outside of your normal homeschool language arts that your children could participate in. I remember there was a little bookstore in Roswell and we went to it a couple times, it was a small little privately owned bookstore, really cute and quaint, and they would do poetry readings. And so we went a couple times to the bookstore to hear poetry readings, there were children's poems and children's literature, and that's always a fun thing to take advantage of.

What about music? So many opportunities. We were very intentional about getting our music education in. And of course you have the symphony and concerts, musicals, music competitions and performances. Our little local area had a symphony, a youth symphony orchestra, and our neighbor's son was in it, and she invited our daughters to volunteer at the concerts. We did this for one season, and they were early elementary school, and they got to dress up and go up on stage and present flowers to the conductor after the concert was over. And that was a great opportunity for them to learn poise and to get over being up in front of people. And they would even hand out the programs before the concert would start, they'd stand there and greet the people, say hello and smile. They were a little bit younger, but it was a great opportunity for them to learn to be out and about with people, serving, being a blessing and just getting those service hours in and being exposed at a young age to the beautiful symphony orchestra that was right here in our area. So you could contact, in your area, whoever runs the symphony and ask about the opportunity to serve in some way their musicals. I remember we went to New York and saw Wicked when the girls were teenagers. When they were young, we went to New York City and saw the Rockettes Christmas show and went ice skating. Those are definitely out and about learning opportunities. The girls were involved in private music, so they had competitions and performances. We tried to go visit other friend's performances and support them. So there's lots of opportunities for music.

Art? So many opportunities for art as well. Of course, the art museums, there are art festivals in the spring and summer. We would go to outdoor art festivals with the different booths and all the different crafts and art that people were making that the girls could see that was unusual. Art exhibits in different places. When they were young, we went to the artistic expressions, a little art studio for preschoolers that they did clay and early painting. We did that with some homeschool friends, and then as they got older, we did Miss Joe's art classes. We formed a co-op with our group of friends, and they would go, and Miss Joe was just a godly older woman who loved homeschoolers, and she would do classes and she'd teach Impressionism and the different types of art, and the girls would learn art appreciation, art history, and learn the techniques of the art. And so lots of opportunities for art in the area, and of course, everywhere you travel, look and see where there are art museums there. There are the big main ones, but there are a lot of smaller galleries that you can visit as well, if you take some time to look for them.

Well, what about PE and fitness? Of course, sports camps, out and about at the sports camps, track and field day—our girls did that through our homeschool group every year, it was so fun. Sports teams, different hikes—we went on lots of hikes—biking, doing biking trails as a family. 5K races, this was something that we did a lot with our girls. We're all runners, we're a big running family and we would do the interesting 5K races. I remember the donut dash and we do sometimes the New Year's Day race. One that we did that was the most memorable, that was so much fun, we did The Color Run, and it was at night and it was a 5K, and they threw color on you as you ran and then it was glow-in-the-dark. And then when the race was over, they had the lights on and everyone was glowing and with all the glow sticks and had paint all over them, and that was a fun thing to do. Our girls were teenagers. That was just a fun thing to do with your teenage children that's cool, and mom and dad are fun and they're getting out with us. And I just encourage you to try and find some things like that, some little friendly competitions that you can be involved in, y'all can be out in the community. A lot of time if you do the races, you'll see the same people over and over. You can grab some other homeschool families and do it together. That's a great way to be out and about getting the sports and fitness in. And we still love to run together, even now. My husband's going to go run with our younger daughter in a marathon. He may do the half marathon, but he's going to do that in October. And we do still try and run as a family as much as we can, but there's so many opportunities for that, and I know that some schools will even allow homeschoolers to participate. Gives them a chance to be out and about.

What about theater? Again, like music, there are many opportunities for experiences with theater. We had the Puppetry Arts place in Atlanta. It was incredible. We had a membership and it was so fun and interesting. We went for a few years with our homeschool group and saw amazing puppet shows. We, you know, been to the ballets, plays, operas, different types of performances. At one time we saw the Chinese acrobats. So again, if you go and contact one of the theaters and let them know that you're with the homeschool group, you know, you could easily put together a group of maybe 10 or 20, and I bet they would be willing to put a program together for your homeschool group at a very affordable price if you ask. So don't be afraid to ask. We found that they were delighted to have homeschoolers be a part of their programs. And so you may have to take the initiative and do some planning, but it would definitely be worth it. Gather your friends together and put a calendar together of some of these amazing musical and theatrical performances that you all could enjoy together.

How about culture? So important. So many different festivals that reflect different cultures. Greek festival, the food festival, we went to a few Renaissance festivals. Definitely check that out. They can be a little risque, but that was fun. We did that. All types of fairs, the state fair, the county fair had all types of interesting exhibits and learning opportunities. Different types of markets, the farmer's market is a culture in and of itself. Those are fun to go to. We would take our girls to that. We went one year to a Christmas market to see all the Christmas artisan crafts and all the foods, and that was really fun. Seasonal events really reflect culture. Of course, you've got the fall and 4th of July and Easter and all the different- a lot of times, there are picnics and outdoor events in the summer that reflect different culture. Of course, experiencing culture through travels. One of the things we did on our way up to see my nephew graduate, he was graduating from a place in New York, and we stopped by the Amish country. I had always been really fascinated with the Amish country, and we wanted to see how they lived. And so we stayed in Pennsylvania for a couple days on the way up there, and we had so much fun. I think we were in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and we just had such a great time driving around and seeing the way they lived and honoring their culture and learning about the Amish. Being inspired by them and it was really fun. And sometimes we would just take a Saturday and go up to a mountain village in the area in North Carolina or up in Georgia, just a small mountain village, go to the antique stores. I remember up in Boone, North Carolina, they have a big general store. We try and find the general store with all the candy and all the old toys, and it was so nostalgic. And that's just a really quick day trip. You can go up on a Saturday a couple hours away and enjoy just a mountain village that has a restored culture that they held on to. Really fun and just a great experience for your children. Of course, our big trip was to Europe. We planned to take our daughters to Europe for many years and saved up and we went. They were juniors and seniors in high school, and my dream was always for them to see the beauty of Switzerland. So we went to Switzerland and France and Italy and experience those three cultures. And it was just- it was the pinnacle memory of our family. I think, because we enjoyed so much beauty, all of us looking at the beauty of God's creation together and sharing that together was just a memory we will never, ever, ever forget. And so if you have the opportunity to travel to other countries, it's just good for our children to see how people live and how God has blessed people in other areas, and the beauty of all the different cultures and ethnicities. And we enjoyed hearing the music of the different cultures and seeing the artwork and the architecture and tasting the food. It's truly so enriching and educational beyond what you could ever read in a book or learn from a textbook.

Well, what about service out and about? So of course, missions trips. And Ashley and I, my older daughter, we were able to go to Southeast Asia for two weeks when she was a junior and work in an orphanage with babies who were very sick. Our daughter was interested in being a doctor, and that was something that God put on her heart to go and we were able to get approved and we went for two weeks. It was incredible. We were able to see a lot of Southeast Asian and explore different areas of culture while we were there on our trip. And it was just life changing in so many ways. But had we not been home schooling, we wouldn't have had that opportunity. Church Ministries, our girls did a worship ministry for our children's ministry. That was fun. We did that for a couple years. They sang worship and did worship dance. Of course, camp counselors, community needs. One year, our daughter volunteered with a hippotherapist and walked with the horse, led the horse while the therapist worked with special needs children. And that was a great pre-medicine activity for her. Worked in the hospital, lots of opportunities to do that. The President's Service Award is something that your children can earn that they can add to their high school transcript for college applications. And it comes to the president's office and you can earn gold or silver or bronze depending upon the number of hours. So it once your children start serving, you keep up with the hours and you can submit that and get these national awards. And that's really a fun way to try to keep the service going. Some of the things that you can do, of course, the assisted living center's. Going to sing there, dance there, play a musical instrument, you can go and read poetry and play games with those who are living there. That's always a wonderful way to be out and about in the community and working on those social skills. Our daughters had the blessing of starting a ministry in a homeless shelter for children. It was called Kids Thrive, and they came up with the idea and they did it all through high school. And they went once a month and it was a health and fitness program for children in a homeless shelter in Atlanta. And they would go once a month on a Saturday, and they recruited their friends, and there was always some type of a sport event and games and some type of a Bible lesson, and then they helped the children learn to eat healthy food and made smoothies. And it was just such a wonderful, not only leadership for our daughters, but service in the community and the opportunity to recruit other teenagers their age to be a part of it. So there's so many opportunities for that. Really, the sky's the limit. Just go with what your children's heart and passion are and support what God is calling them in their hearts to do. The blessing of homeschooling is that you have the time. This is one of the greatest blessings. We have freedom and we have time to pursue the things that are on our hearts, to take advantage of the opportunities that are suited to where God is leading them. And the opportunity for service was huge for us.

And the last area I want to talk about is just out and about academically. So we did tons up through middle school out and about, lots of hands-on learning in many ways. But as I got up to 8th grade and toward high school, the academic out and about learning took precedence because our girls were applying to college and the schools they were interested in had rigorous standards, and so they needed to get the honors courses and they needed to get the AP courses. And so we were involved in co-ops, in hybrid schools, virtual courses, digital courses, and even a couple times private tutors for the SAT scores. And that was really a fun time for them to be involved in some of the areas where they were with other homeschoolers who were teenagers taking classes together. They were able to get their AP courses, and in some years we had to piece it together, some years they had to do an AP course online and go to several different schools to get the courses they needed. But that was actually really fun. It gave a variety. They weren't kind of stuck at the same place all the time, they got to meet different people and be with different teachers. And there were some godly believers who were, I mean, few of their teachers had PhDs and they were really godly, experienced, passionate educators who just had a heart to teach homeschoolers. And so we were able to find people like that in our community who were available. And you would be surprised if you take some time to get your friends together and brainstorm what classes you want for your children—I know once they got through 8th grade, other than writing, I knew there really wasn't a lot that I could teach them, and it was really important that they had teachers who were passionate and experts in the field of knowledge. And we worked really hard to try and find that. And it's really not hard to do to gather your friends together and create a co-op or a little microschool where you can say, Hey, we're looking for someone to teach world history who has a lot of experience teaching this. And just to do some research and talk to someone, gather your friends together, get a class together. There's so many resources and opportunities. And so that out and about learning became more academic in the older years, but again, it all went back to the freedom that our girls had to get exactly what they needed. I will tell you, when you educate your children with this lifestyle of learning, and you give them the opportunity to have an enriching learning experience out and about in all that your community has to offer, your children will be so unique. They will be so winsome and so mature and so interesting because they haven't been stuck at home all day. They've been freed from being stuck in a school building all day, and they've even been freed from being stuck at home. You're not stuck at home as a homeschooler. Of course, there are things that we do need to sit down and do—we need to do our copywork lessons, and we need to do our math lessons, and we need to sit down with our read alouds and do our handwriting and do our notebooking. Of course, we do want to have some lessons at home, and of course we want the short lessons so that we have the opportunity to be out and about, but if you would integrate in the out and about learning with what your academic curriculum requires, you will enrich your homeschooling just so, so deeply. Your children will find learning to be so joyful, and your family will find learning to be a family adventure that's unifying and that's a bonding experience, that's building memories, treasured memories that they will never forget and that you will never forget.

Gather your your family together whenever you plan for your homeschool year, whether that's in July, you start in August and you plan in July, or whether you start in January and you plan in December—gather the whole family together and I encourage you to get my PDF. I've listed these different areas of learning and in different ideas. Look at it and say, Okay. Where are we going this year that we could see a national park? Are there any vacations were going on? Are we traveling? And is there anything in route to our travels that we could visit that we could see to get some out and about learning in? Look to see what concerts are going to be in town, what the ballet is. Are there any art festivals? Is there something at the theater that you want to take advantage of? You want it be intentional about planning for your out and about learning. What are you going to be studying that year in history? Is there an artist that you're going to be studying and there's an exhibit that has artwork from the artists who you're studying? What are the ages of your children? That was a big thing we considered. There were certain times when this is an age when they're interested in this, and we know we only have a year or two left and then they're not going to be interested you more, so you want to look at the age, what their interests are and take advantage of the out and about learning that coordinates with that. So I would say look at the ages, look at where you're going to be in the country or out of the country that year, look at what their interests are and look at it in light of what you're studying. We were studying the colonial American girls and colonial history, and we went up to Williamsburg so we were able to integrate that out about learning with our academic studies. And it was just so life-giving and it was just so much fun. And if everyone does it together, if you sit down as a family and you dream together, envisioning this is where we want to go this year, this is what we want to do. Let the whole family take ownership. Let your children take ownership. Let them see that this is a lifestyle of learning. And yes, there will be some times when we're home. We need to be. But we are going to take advantage of the opportunities outside the home and it's going to be so much fun. We're going to learn so much, we're going to be together, and I just cannot tell you what a joy it is. And this is what the homeschool life is all about. It's a life of freedom, and it's a lifestyle of learning. And you get to choose. You and your children and your family get to choose what you want to do. And if you plan for it, you will find at the end of the year you will look back and think, we did so many amazing things and we have no regrets.

And so I hope that this episode has been so encouraging for you. It was really fun for me to think back and put these together, and I would love to share this PDF with you. And I just want to encourage you that God has so many adventures for your family. He really does. He's a God of variety and beauty and energy and he has things and adventures that he wants to lead your family on. He cares so much about the time that you spend together. He cares so much that your children become mature and interesting and personable and kind and service oriented and winsome some people. That they grow to have hearts that love learning and that love being out and about with other people and love the opportunity to serve, and it is possible to give your children the most life-giving adventure that they will remember. When they think back on home, they'll remember the life-giving adventure that homeschooling was. And that is the most important thing I can emphasize. Having girls who have been away from our home for a few years, they love coming back because they remember the lifestyle that we had and the love that we shared and the fun that we had together. Were we perfect? No. We were very imperfect. But we were intentional about being together and making it fun. Homeschooling should be fun, and you want to give your children that memory, and you want them to come back home to you because they remember this is a place where I had fun, this is a place where we were intentional about the life that we lived. And if you pray and ask God to lead you in the things you should do this year, where should we go, Father? What experiences do our children need? What can we visit along the way and route somewhere else? Show us, Lord. Lead us to those opportunities. He will be faithful to do that. He is for you and your family. He is for your homeschool and he is for your children. He has so much waiting for you. If you'll just take a little bit of time to plan and put it on the calendar and be intentional, you will finish your homeschool journey with no regrets. Well, I hope that you have a wonderful week and it's been a blessing being with you and I look forward to being with you next time.

Thank you for tuning in to the Charlotte Mason Show. If you want to learn more about Charlotte Mason and discover a beautiful Language Arts curriculum that uses her methodologies, go to my website at ShielaCatanzarite.com. There you can find my new blog where I discuss Charlotte Mason's principles for Language Arts, and how to implement her philosophy in your homeschool. Please enjoy my free resource on how to mark a poem. Simply provide your email address and I'll send you the free PDF that teaches a simple, hands-on, Charlotte-Mason-inspired way to bring poetry into your homeschool. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom to let us know what you thought of today's episode.

Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve healthcare you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medishare.

Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the U.S.. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there. Have a wonderful week. I look forward to being with you next time.

Previous PostS9 E1 | Top Ten Reasons to Homeschool, Pt. 2 (Jeannie Fulbright & Shiela Catanzarite)
Next PostS9 E11 | Finding Fulfillment in Your Marriage (Jeannie Fulbright)