Watching the Olympics?

Is your family watching the Olympics?  Why or why not?  Some families have no interest in any sports and other families can’t get enough. I am not a huge sport fan.  Generally, the only sports I watch on TV are the Chicago Bears.  I enjoy watching high school and junior high sports live when I know a student on the team.  Of course, I watched my own children play team sports and consider it a special treat to watch any of my grandchildren play their sport.

downloadBut the Olympics rate in a category all their own.  Watching the Olympics happens in the comfort of my own home, usually in a recliner and without insects, or sunburn, or someone hawking food or raffle tickets. I don’t have to cart around a child or children to weeks of practices and games or pack healthy snacks for 20 other kids. It’s also FREE. All of these are simply a matter of convenience. There are many positive reasons for being an Olympic spectator.

The Olympics provide tons of opportunities for conversations on topics not often addressed. Don’t just dish out information, but do some research with your children to discover where Korea or the current host country is located.  Do you know anyone who served in the Korean War?  Ask them about the country and their experiences. North Korea is a current event in politics.  Do you know what that is all about?

The Olympics are filled with symbolism and tradition. Its history goes back to ancient Greece where the earliest champions were awarded laurel wreaths. What do today’s winners receive besides the medals?  What do the torch, the flame, and the rings mean?  Explain the differences between amateur and professional sportsmen/women.  How are Olympians a bit like both?

When I watch the Olympics I am always amazed at the perseverance of the athletes.  Their dedication can be an inspiration to us not just in athletic endeavors but also in other areas of our lives. Perhaps your child will discover an interest and desire to explore a new sport. Do you want to build a curling rink in your back yard? (Frozen Disney tune in my headMaybe you simply become a fan of ice hockey and discover the fun and excitement of the game.field day events

The Olympics have 3 top winners in every competition but that means there are hundreds or thousands who return home with an incredible experience but a defeat.  Maybe they fell on the ice or lost a ski or some other fiasco.   We can all relate to failure. But how is it handled? That is another great conversation starter.

How about the winners? How does their life change? They have not all handled the success successfully.  How many past Olympic winners can you recall? Sports and training have value and we can learn much from them but the character and integrity of a person outlasts the strength and skill on a snowboard or skates.

One summer when our four oldest children were between the ages of 13 and 6, we decided to turn the TV off for the entire summer.  I thought it was a good move until August rolled around and the Summer Olympics were being televised.  There was sadness in the house. Reflecting back I think a 2 month hiatus would have been sufficient.

Schools often have Olympic studies planned. The Olympics can be addressed in theDan basket ball subjects of history, geography, literature, writing, math, spelling, and current events. Why not read a book about an Olympian?

One more Olympic idea is all about food.  Strength and health come from physical activity and nutrition. Discuss a healthy diet.  Look up what Gold medalist, Mark Spitz, ate for breakfast when training. With the Winter Olympics in Korea, it is the perfect time to try some Korean food at home or in a restaurant.

I would love to hear if your family does anything special related to the Winter Olympics.


Summer or Not

Do you think children should do school work/homework during their summer break?   That was the survey question Parents Magazine, , recently asked. The results were reported in their June 2016 issue.  The answer was 59% to 41%.  Which side do you think was the majority?

The majority is not necessarily the best answer for your family.  Furthermore the answer may vary from year to year and even from child to child.

We were a homeschooling family.  Our five children were born over a span of 17 years.   Counting from when the eldest entered home school pre- kindergarten until the youngest finished high school was thirty

We generally followed a traditional school year calendar.  Year after year I noticed that my children were squirrely by May 1st.  The entire month of May was a challenge for me and for them.  Focus and concentration were elusive. We were weary of the hard work and eager for a break.  We usually ended the school year  June 1st, which was almost always 5- 10 days earlier than our community public schools.  We did comply with our state standard of required number of school days.

During June I would wrap up the record keeping for the year.  I also would research curricula, make decisions, and purchases for the next school year.  In July I refused to think about or do anything regarding school. My brain was fried and my endurance exhausted.  July was my one month free from school.   As soon as August rolled around it was time to preview curricula, begin lesson plans and prepare for the new school year.   This is not meant to be a rant or a complaint.  It is just a reality.   I loved homeschooling and was committed to it (for 30 years), but I needed a break just as much as the children did. Summer was also the time when I tried to get caught up with big household cleaning and projects that I had neglected through the previous school year.


But, there were a few exceptions.  Two of our sons required additional and specialized assistance with reading.  Both of them had a couple of summers where the daily reading work continued.  If a child is struggling in a particular subject, I would encourage the use of great creativity in addressing that area during the summer.


In general, I believe children need to play freely.  A less structured summer schedule is a refreshing change.  Our children also enjoyed participating in numerous park district classes, sports and programs.  A few of those classes could be classified as both fun and educational.


We continued to frequently visit the library during the summer.  Keeping a supply of reading materials available will encourage reading.  Children who love to read will find time and material to read.  Non-readers can be read to and may expend great effort to avoid reading themselves.

Back to the survey.  The survey said: 59% NO and 41% YES to homework in the summer.  Which side are you on?