From Homeschool to Public School

Big changes are happening for the Creekside Family this fall.  Firefly, our 10-year-old, will be returning to public school for his 5th grade year, after 4 years at home.  This is not something that was even on our radar a few months ago.  But, after lots of family discussion and investigation into what a return to school might look like, we came to this decision.  

Most importantly, the reason we are going down this path is that it is the right thing for this particular child, at this particular time. That is, after all, why we went down this wonderful homeschooling path to begin with. That is why only one of our children is going to public school right now. That is why, odd as it may seem, I still consider this a part of Firefly’s homeschooling journey.

Will he go on to 6th grade in public school? I don’t know. Will he ever return home for his schooling again?  I don’t know that either. We will make that decision year by year, as we have done every year of his academic life. We will do what works for him and for our family. 

Firefly is happy. He is looking forward to going to school. We are doing many things to prepare him for this big change.  And, we are adjusting ourselves. We will all miss him. There are two younger siblings who have never known homeschooling without their big brother. There is the school’s schedule and time clock that we will all now work with and around. 

Creekside Learning will not change. I will still be writing about learning ideas and activities for preschoolers through elementary ages. My focus has always been to create a place where families and teachers can find resources and get inspired by hands-on learning, regardless of whether their kids/students go to school at home or in brick building. And that will continue. 

There is so much more I could write here, but it feels like such a personal part of our family’s story right now. Perhaps I will write more in the future. For now, I wanted the eyes who so graciously read my blog to know that we are, at this point in time, an academically blended family.  

We feel so very fortunate to have supportive friends and family surrounding us, a neighborhood school that is welcoming us and the experience to know that if our new schooling situation isn’t the right fit, we always have choices. 


From Homeschool to Public School | Creekside Learning

Firefly at age 5, our first homeschooling year.



Service for Kids: 20 Unique Ideas for Summer Service Projects

Want to help those in need in your community this summer? Looking for ideas for service for kids?  Here are 20 unique ways you can help your community and each other.

20 Summer Service Projects for Kids from @creeksidelearn

Summer Service Projects for Kids

  1.  Collect donations for your local food bank.  Summer is a time of greater need because families whose children are fed meals at school five days a week find themselves in even greater need.  And food bank donations are notoriously low.
  2. Visit a nursing home to sing or read poetry. This was a service project my oldest son participated in this year with 4-H. Afterwards, the kids walked around and talked to the residents. They were clearly glad that the kids were there. We heard some wonderful stories and saw some beautiful smiles. 
  3. Make a secret water balloon fight delivery , like Pennies of Time did for a family with  three young boys and a new baby.  This would be great for any parent who is finding it challenging to keep kids occupied this summer.    
  4. Make On-the-Go Bags to keep in your car for the homeless like Thriving Home.  Summer items might include bottled water, insect repellant, deodorant, baby wipes, pop-top canned fruit, bags of nuts, single serving peanut butter, etc.
  5. Pass out cold bottled water to people working outside in the hot sun. Throw a cooler in your car and stop when you see landscapers, construction workers and others working out in the heat.
  6. Set up a lemonade stand at a senior community or assisted living center. Price of lemonade:  one smile. 
  7. Plant flowers, pull weeds and mow the lawn as a surprise for a family who is in crisis. It can be a relief to find that the mowing chore has been done and the flowers may help them to smile.
  8. Help animals. Collect donations of pet food and kitty litter and drop them off at the local animal shelter. Call the shelter and ask if there is anything else they need. 
  9. Drop off a bag of healthy  snacks at the ICU of your local hospital. Families sitting with a critically ill loved one have likely been eating hospital cafeteria food for days or not eating very much. It isn’t something they would think of to ask for help with but are often grateful for. (We have personal experience on both sides with this one.) We’ve dropped  food off with a card explaining we’ve been where they are at and we leave it at the nurse’s station so as not to disturb them. 
  10. Challenge your kids to provide service in-house. Do something nice for a family member, for each other. Surprise a sibling by completing their chore one day. They might to do the same for you another day. Offer to help Dad cook dinner or wash mom’s car. 
  11. Make busy bottles for kids in the Emergency Room, like this one from Jill at Meet the Dubiens.  One of the several times we’ve been to the ER, my oldest son was given one of these. He loved it. He still has it 5 years later. It made his hospital experience a bit of a better memory, despite the stitches he got in his chin that day from falling off his bike. He held it while they stitched him up and was so touched that other kids had made this for him. 
  12. Stock up on school supplies as they go on sale this summer. You know, those 49 cent boxes of crayons and $1 notebooks? Buy two bags worth and donate one now to homeless shelters, foster care, or directly to schools with kids who may need them. Save the second bag for later in the year when kids need those things again but the prices aren’t as low.
  13. Leave sidewalk chalk pictures and messages on the driveways and walkways of neighbors as a random act of kindness. It will wash off the next time it rains. 
  14. Pick a Go-Fund-Me site to donate money to. Babies who need surgery, kids fighting cancer, rescue dogs with huge vet care bills.   What does your family feel strongly about? What touches your heart? 
  15. “Work with your local high school or college to place empty boxes on campus at the end of school. Collect textbooks for students who need them in Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and other African nations.”  This and many more terrific ideas from Kid World Citizen’s 35 Service Projects for Kids.  
  16. You know the organizations that hold dog adoption events outside of pet supply stores? Ask them if you can stop by and offer to fill water bowls or bring pretty bandanas from the dollar store to help the dogs look fancy and more adoptable. Tell them you will help them get the word out about the adoption event by posting it on Facebook or Instagram. 
  17. In fact, spread the word on social media for whatever cause you are supporting. Raise awareness for the cause that touches your heart. Post pictures of your kids helping and let people know what’s needed and how they can help, too.
  18. Kids who have learned to read can read to younger kids, whether it is siblings at home or new friends in the local library’s children’s section. Create a fun outdoor reading nook in your yard, like this one from Alanna at The Craft Nest and read to younger kids in the neighborhood. 
  19. Share what you grow in your garden. Flowers and vegetables are fun to grow and enjoy and even more fun if you have an abundance to share.  Grab some beans or squash or roses, pick a neighbor you don’t know well and offer them some. Open up new conversations.
  20. Interview a grandparent or elderly family member.  Type up what they say and share it electronically with extended family. You can email it or start a Facebook group just for your family to share these memories and important pieces of family history. 

 Dalai Lama #quote. Helping others. From @creeksidelearn

 Follow Creekside Learning on Pinterest. 

  Visit Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s profile on Pinterest.

Road Trip Tips for High Energy Kids

Love to travel but have kids that prefer climbing, bouncing and perpetual motion to endless hours sitting in the car? Ok, I realize I just described most kids but if you have high energy kids you know this is even more of an issue.  

My husband and I have three super active kids, ages 5, 8 and 10. We’ve taken a lot of road trips. And we have it down to a system now that is pretty smooth. We keep planning more road trips so either we have some sort of travel induced amnesia or we are actually onto something that works for our family. Maybe it will for yours, too.  

road trip tips

 Our Top Ten Tips for Smooth Road Trips With High Energy Kids

[Read more...]

5 Pin Boards to Help You Nurture Your Child’s Creativity

 {Thank you to the folks at Disney and BlogHer for sponsoring this post.}

How do we encourage our kids to think innovatively, whether they’re painting a picture or building a Lego tower?   Creativity is more important now than ever.  The ability to think about things in a whole new way.  Think Steve Jobs creative. Think all those successful-entrepreneurs-by-the-age-0f-25 creative. 

Creativity is now as important in education as literacy.                                                  ~Sir Ken Robinson

I have some wonderful Pinterest boards to share with you and they all focus on ways we, as parents, can nurture creativity in our children. Everything from art to music to building with unique materials and cultivating inventions. These pin boards have it all.  nurture your child's creativity So, without further ado, here are the pin boards. Get your pinning fingers ready and click on each link and follow these boards for lots of great ideas in your Pinterest feed every day.

5 Pinterest Boards to Follow to Nurture Your Child’s Creativity [Read more...]

25 Days of Character for Families

A simple tradition. A valuable connection.

Gratitude.  Patience.  Courage.  

These traits, and many more, are the focus of our Character Advent.  I wrote that post two years ago and this year, I had an idea. I wanted an easy way to incorporate this into our days in December and I wondered if other families might want to join me, to share together how we can encourage character in our children and ourselves.

So here’s the plan:  Each day, on the Creekside Learning facebook page, I’ll post one of the character traits, starting December 1st and going through the 25th.

The facebook posts will be a reminder to you for the day, to share with your families.

Share it any way you like:
*discuss it over dinner
*add it to a list on the fridge
*include it in another Advent calendar tradition
*write it on a window with dry-erase markers in festive colors
*any way you like

25 days of Character:  A Trait a Day on Facebook from Creekside Learning

When you talk about it…
***Define the trait.
***Together,  come up with an example (or 2 or 3 or as many as you like) of someone you know that embodies this trait. Maybe it’s a historical figure you’ve been learning about, a character in a book or video game (one year we used Harry Potter characters for most of our examples. Whatever makes it relevant to your child, do that.), a person in your extended family, a way your child showed that trait recently. Maybe your child showed perseverance by learning to ride a bike, even when he fell off over and over again.  Maybe you admire a world leader, who shows the quality of leadership.

If you want the daily Facebook reminders, here’s what to do:

  1. Like Creekside Learning on Facebook.
  2. While there, hover over the “liked” box  and click “show in news feed”. This will ensure that all the Creekside Learning posts are shown in your daily feed.
  3. Each morning at 7 a.m. EST I’ll post that day’s character trait and perhaps, a quote or an example.

I’d love it if you’d share in the comments on facebook: “We talked about how Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrated peacemaking.” or “We remembered our Great-Grandpa who was so very brave when he left his country to make a better life in America.” Share once or daily or as many times as you like.  You can share photos, too.

Don’t get to it each day? No worries. This is designed to be a peaceful and easy addition to your day, not another taxing way we all do too much during the holiday season. Do it on the days it fits in, let it go on others.

I so look forward to hearing how this goes in your families, the things you come up with, the insights your children have.

Pin it to share it, or so you won’t forget it:
25 Days of Character A Simple Tradition. A Valuable Connection.

If you’d like to do the Character Advent on your own, rather than follow along on Facebook, you can find a list of character traits in my original post.

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