Family Movie Night—10 Classics to Enjoy as a Family This Summer

June 27, 2017, Epoch Times

One of my favorite summer activities is the family movie night. There’s no bedtime to worry about. Hardly any planning is required. Sometimes it’s coupled with ice cream. What’s not to love?

After a day of fun outside, everyone gets cleaned up and into their pajamas; we pop lots of popcorn, turn out all of the lights, grab our favorite blankets and stuffies, and snuggle in for a fun movie together.

If you plan to add family movie night to your summer lineup, here are ten family-friendly classics that won’t disappoint.

‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’

A story of friendship, “E.T.” is Steven Spielberg’s timeless adventure of a boy who finds an alien hiding in his home. Possibly scary for very young children, but when the kids are ready, a must-see.

“Swiss Family Robinson”

A family finds themselves shipwrecked on an uninhabited island and must summon all of their resourcefulness to survive. Based on the classic novel by Johann David Wyss, Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson is chock full of animal high jinks and dangerous pirate and will keep the whole family on the edge of their seats.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”

Best viewed after reading the book, this adaptation of a literary classic is beautifully done. Off you go, into the wardrobe, for one of the greatest stories ever told.

“Pollyanna”

Another book adaptation and one of many Disney classics starring Haley Mills, “Pollyanna” tells the story of a young orphan whose positive outlook turns around the character of an entire town. A fun classic with a wonderful message—this one’s a perfect pick for movie night.

“Chicken Run”

This stop-motion claymation comedy by Aardman Animation (“Wallace and Gromit) is just good fun. When farmers decide to switch from selling eggs to chicken pot pies, the chickens need to plan their escape.

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

Of course, we’re talking about the Gene Wilder original. If your kids don’t know the Oompa Loompa song yet, it is time. Pair this one with chocolate and ever lasting gob stoppers.

“The Sound of Music”

The musical of musicals, “The Sound of Music” is based on the true story of the Von Trapp Singers. There are many elements in this one that lend themselves to educational opportunities about history and geography, but feel free to just pop your popcorn and settle in for this almost three-hour saga.

“The Wizard of Oz”

This iconic film was originally released in 1939 and is every bit as relevant today,

“The Muppets Take Manhattan”

When you want to lighten things up, this is a no-fail option the whole family will enjoy.

“Toy Story”

You can’t really go wrong with a Pixar film, but rather than list them all, let’s just cut to the chase and go with the best. Pizza delivery is the perfect dinner companion to this film.

 

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9 Reasons Parents Choose to Homeschool Their Children

June 14, 2017, Epoch Times

Increasingly, homeschooling is becoming a mainstream option for families of all sorts. The vast access to information and connection the Internet provides has allowed what was once considered a fringe idea to seem like a plausible one for many families.

The reasons parents choose to homeschool are as varied as families themselves, but here are nine common reasons people choose to take the education of their children into their own hands.

Demanding Extracurriculars

If a child has an extraordinary talent or skill (in sports, the arts, and so on) that calls for a significant commitment in time or travel, parents may opt to homeschool to afford them a flexibility in schedule or location.

Special Needs

Parents may find that learning disabilities or other special needs are difficult to adequately address in some traditional school settings. It’s hard to compete with the advantages of a one-to-one student-to-teacher ratio and special needs students may not get the attention they need when participating in a class of varying academic abilities and learning styles.

Prioritizing Religious or Spiritual Teachings

Parents who want to incorporate their spiritual beliefs into their children’s education may find homeschooling to be a better option.

Increased Family Time

Hours in school, along with extracurricular activities, begin to add up quickly for even very young school children. Some parents aim to reduce the separation traditional school inherently imposes on their family life by choosing instead to homeschool.

Dissatisfaction with Curriculum

The prescribed academic curriculum in the traditional school system leads some parents wishing for something better. It’s easier than ever to find alternative options for students of various learning styles, interests, and abilities.

Negative Social Environment at School

Parents who find the social or cultural environment they send their children to each day unsatisfactory or not aligned with their values often look to homeschool as a welcome alternative.

The Child Wishes to be Homeschooled

A simple request from one’s child may lead parents to look into the option of homeschooling and find it to be viable. Motivated, self-directed children may find traditional schools stifling and crave the idea of a more challenging or broadly based option.

Gifted Children Require More

A gifted child may find little to be challenged by in a traditional school and become bored or unmotivated in such an environment. When the light of curiosity seems to be dimming, some parents look to homeschool to reignite that spark within.

Freedom

For many parents, letting go of the prescribed route and numerous obligations and limitations that come with it provides an invitation to go one’s own way that is difficult to ignore. Allowing children the freedom to pursue their curiosities to full completion; dictating one’s own schedule; traveling whenever one wants and more are the advantages of homeschool that many families dream of.

 

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Fathers Day Experiences, Not Things

June 13, 2017, Epoch Times

It’s time to celebrate Dad.

This Father’s Day, rather than the typical tie, the mug, the cuff links, the gadgets, here are some experience-oriented ideas to celebrate and show appreciation for your #1 dad.

Life is about experiences, not things. Action-oriented gifts make for great memories and embody the spirit of the special day.

Dad’s Favorite Activity

Whats Dad into? Fishing? Golfing? Biking? Surfing?

Whatever Dad loves, organize a family outing to do just that. Be sure to handle all of those details that would typically fall on him.

If he usually packs the car, have the kids do it. If he is usually the driver or navigator, take that off his plate. If he’s the one that makes sure the doors are locked before you leave, that the tires are full in the bikes, that the reservations have been confirmed, or whatever Dad usually handles, give him a free pass to sit back and enjoy a day doing what he loves with his family with all the details handled.

A twist on this idea could be to arrange for Dad to do that activity that he has set aside since becoming a dad, but now misses.

Invite Dad to a Backyard Campout

As a fun activity for this time of year, conspire with the kids to create a backyard campsite, complete with pitched tent, dinner on the barbecue, and a campfire.

Enjoy family time together and insist that Dad not lift a finger. You don’t want your gift to become a chore for Dad on Father’s Day, but a carefree joy he’ll cherish.

Make a ‘Honey, It’s Done List’

If Dad’s got some nagging repairs or chores he’s been meaning to get around to, work with the kids to get them done. Perhaps there’s a leaky faucet or a garage that needs cleaning or a guitar that he’d like tuned, or yard work he wants done or a scratch on his car he love to have addressed. Hire them out or complete the tasks for him.

For that “ta-da” moment, wrap the list of done items as a gift and watch the sense of relief fall across his face on Father’s Day.

On Father’s Day, celebrating Dad for who he is, what he loves to do, and all of the things he does that makes him the best dad in the world, just takes a little thought and a lot of love.

Happy Father’s Day to all the #1 dads!

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7 Ways to Turn Down the Tech in Your Family

June 13, 2017, Epoch Times

The start of summer is an opportune time to take a look at your family’s use of technology and, perhaps, turn it down just a bit.

For all of the convenience, opportunity, and access to information today’s technology provides, the potential effects of stealing our time, hampering our relationships, and impacting our physical and mental well-being are becoming ever more obvious as this technology works its way into every facet of our lives. Especially troubling are the potential effects on our children as they are developing.

Responsibly using technology for its benefits while avoiding its pitfalls requires some attention. A fun approach is to intentionally incorporate decidedly low-tech ways of life into our every day. Here are some simple ideas.

Resist the Morning Check

Morning sets the tone for the day and parents set the tone for the family. Try to replace checking your phone first thing in the morning with different, analog activity like meditation, exercise, reading, drinking coffee, tidying up, showering, and so on. Aim to ease into the morning and appreciate the real, physical world around you before diving into the world on your screen.

Spin Some Tunes

No really, spin them, on a record player. Your kids are sure to get a kick out of this ancient machine while you enjoy music with a warmth and special quality unique to vinyl.

Get Out Into Nature

The beauty of our natural world has so much to teach us if we’d only shift our gaze away from the glow of a screen and out to what’s all around us. A daily walk makes getting out into nature an easy habit to establish. Schedule as many summer outings like picnics in parks, trips to the beach, hikes through the forest, and more.

Burn Candles

While you may not see electric lighting as particularly high tech, you may be surprised at what a relief it is to dim artificial lights and utilize natural candlelight. Transitioning to candlelight at night may become a calming and delightful ritual for you and your family to enjoy.

Write With a Pen

Writing with a pen (or pencil) is a different experience than typing on a keyboard. Encourage your family to hand write journal entries, letters, to-do lists, and so on. Let the creativity flow and the distractions diminish.

Send Letters Through the Mail

Speaking of writing, the next time you or a family member wishes to catch up with a loved one, encourage sending a handwritten note through the mail. Your loved one will be delighted and the impact of your words will be more meaningful than if quickly sent via email.

Replace Video Games With Board Games

This may be a challenge for many families. The difference between getting lost in a video game versus playing a board game with family or friends could not be starker. The latter encourages all involved to laugh together, centers focus in the real world, and enhances relational bonds.

There are many ways to reduce the reliance on technology for your family. Summer is a wonderful time to put those in place and ensure that your loved ones aren’t missing out on the real things right in front of them.

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