This part of the school year can often lead to homeschool burnout if we are not careful. With yucky winter weather, fewer hours of sunlight, and just the continued hum-drum of the same old routine every day; things can get pretty boring. So after Christmas break, we decided to add a little something new into the mix for Big Brother! We signed him up with our county's 4-H program
In case you are not familiar with 4-H, it is a youth development program that has clubs and activities available in most counties. Regular 4-H is for youth ages 9-19, and many counties also allow 5-8 year olds to participate as Cloverbuds.
The 4-H motto is "Learning by doing." This hands-on approach to life and learning really fits well with the educational philosophy of many homeschoolers!
Students can choose from a wide variety of interesting projects, clubs, activities, competitions, and camps. Our county has a very active 4-H Homeschool Club that meets monthly for various projects. There is also a Cloverbuds Club, Shooting Sports Club, Rabbit Club, Horse Club, Teen Club, Business Club (for young entrepreneurs), Outdoor Adventure Club, and several of the public schools also have their own after school clubs. Most meetings take place at our local county extension office, and membership is free.
4-H'ers are also encouraged to complete projects and displays to be entered in the county fair in the summer. Cloverbuds can win prizes at the county level, while youth 9 & up can also advance to the state fair!
Big Brother is still 7, so he is Cloverbud age. And already he is really enjoying himself!
Last week we attended our first 4-H Homeschool Club meeting. We met some new families and were able to join in with a great service project: helping make shoes for needy children in Uganda through an amazing organization called Sole Hope. We watched a very interesting video about the organization and then worked together to cut shoe pieces from old blue jeans.
This was not only a good service project, but it also turned into a geography lesson and a health lesson! Big Brother learned all about a parasite called a jigger and how it causes foot diseases.
We look foward to next month's 4-H Homeschool Club meeting as we will be filling backpacks with necessities and comfort items for small children who are entering emergency foster care.
Also, this week Big Brother has participated in a couple 4-H photography contests! Each contest has had a specific theme, and the goal is for students to learn more about photography as they are participating. He has really had fun with this and enjoyed the different challenges!
The most recent contest involved shadow pictures. It was an interesting challenge and a great learning experience for him. I am proud to announce that Big Brother won for the Cloverbud age group in our county! Here is his very silly winning shadow picture:
Big Brother is also interested in learning to cook (cooking = life skills, math, & science!). He would like to enter some of the 4-H food competitions at the fair, so he has started practicing some of the simpler 4-H competition recipes. The chocolate cookies he made the other day were some of the best I have ever tasted!
If weather permits, his first Cloverbuds Club meeting is scheduled for this week. They plan to work on some different art projects. Art is an area where I am pretty weak as a homeschool teacher, so I will be very thankful for him to have this enrichment opportunity!
A few of the other 4-H activities that he may soon be participating in include picking up trash in our county, collecting plastic lids for recycling purposes, and helping design club T-shirts!
While I was not a 4-H'er growing up, I have known several homeschoolers down through the years who were involved in 4-H and found it very beneficial to them as it complemented their home education. From farming and agriculture to cooking and sewing to engineering and technology, there is sure to be something to interest any student! The focus on building real-life useful skills is wonderful for our children.
In case you are wondering, 4-H is not necessarily a Christian program. There may be times, as with any secular activity, when we may want to pick and choose when or how we participate if we come across anything that goes against our family's convictions. I honestly do not see this being a huge deal though with the clubs in our area.
I just wanted to share with you this new little development in our homeschooling, and perhaps to encourage you to give your local 4-H program a try! Please stay tuned, as I will soon be announcing a few other rather interesting new developments regarding our family's plans for next school year!!
Do your children participate in 4-H? I would LOVE to hear about it!! Please leave me a comment!!
Find more info about 4-H here!