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An Unexpected Kayaking Lesson

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015

What I love most about homeschooling is the unexpected learning experiences that my children encounter on a daily basis. Although most of these experiences border on the ordinary side, yesterday’s experience was anything but.   As usual, my children attended their weekly homeschooling class at the YMCA. This consists of art, physical fitness, and swimming.  Until the last half hour, everything about their classes had been typical and like always my kids were loving every minute of it. As the children poured out of their gym class, I overheard them discussing  the beautiful Homezone art banner they had just created in art class. Then I heard other chatter (mainly from the boys) about how fun it had been to play dodgeball.  Once the kids had formed their two separate walking lines, they proceeded to march from the family gymnasium to the changing rooms. After helping my son change,  I very cautiously (and unfortunately without much grace),  lugged my sleeping 6-month-old and his infant carrier to the pool deck.  Then for the next hour, I watched their swimming lessons. The first group to swim was the beginner’s group, which included my son. Pride swelled, as I watched Cheshire float, kick and (almost) swim across the water.  His progress, although slow, has been steady.  Without reservation, he followed the swim instructors every command (something he struggled with just a few months ago).  Instead of reluctantly placing his face into the water, he enthusiastically submerged his entire head and methodically practiced his breathing when asked.  When it came time to kick, he instinctively grabbed his kickboard and ferociously kicked his little heart out.  And if that hadn’t been enough, he then went on to do one of the best black floats I have ever seen.  After two years of swim lessons, it was with great joy to see his fear of swimming replaced with cheer and confidence. As if my son’s progress wasn’t good enough (which of course it was), my daughter’s swim class continued to amaze me with an impromptu kayak lesson.   A few minutes later, after the novice swimmers transitioned to free swim, the advanced swimmers were outfitted in life jackets.  Then their usual swimming spaced doubled in size (one lane suddenly became two) and kayaks were ceremoniously pushed into the water.  After receiving instructions from the swim instructor,  my daughter cautiously took her seat in the kayak and began her first kayaking lesson. For me, it was amusing to see her paddle backward, thrilling to see her advance forward and it was a proud moment when I witnessed  her travel the entire length of the pool.  As you can imagine, she was very pleased as well.  When we finally left the pool she turned to me and said, “That was quite fun! Can I  do that again?” To this, I simply replied, “Maybe this summer you can take lessons or possibly in the fall, but right now let’s just enjoy the moment.” To this she smiled and my children and I all walked along, enjoying another great homeschooling moment....

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Our 2014 Family Road Trip to California

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015

The one year anniversary of our great homeschooling road trip is fast approaching.  Last April, (while 4 months pregnant), we took an impromptu road trip from Seattle to Los Angeles, California. We drove over 2,400 miles (round trip).  We traveled through mountains, farmland, cities, small towns and along the shoreline.  Our favorite parts of the trip were seeing Mt. Shasta, Mt. St. Helen and the redwoods at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (this was homeschooling at its best!).  It was an amazing trip and one that our whole family will treasure for a long time to come.  Sure, driving for hours on end was difficult with two kids in the car (and a third on the way), but it was completely worth it.   No matter how hard it was for my husband and I, it was something we wanted our children to experience… this great country firsthand.  It’s one thing to learn about geography from a book, it’s another thing to live it. Here are some of my favorite photographs from the trip.     So what’s your most memorable homeschooling road...

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Our Lenten Homeschooling Goals

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015

  Every Lent it’s the same thing.  I think long and hard about what to give up: television (way too hard), my computer (I wouldn’t last a day), cooking and cleaning (I wish!) and then I usually settle on giving up chocolate (my one true love!).  I think I’ve given up chocolate almost every year for the past decade.  I tried giving up sweets as a whole, but that didn’t work (I just don’t have the willpower for it).  This year instead of giving up chocolate, my daughter and I agreed to give up ice cream (she was quick to tell me that Sundays don’t count in the 40 days of Lent – that’s my daughter, “the little lawyer”, always finding a loophole). In addition to giving up ice cream (my second love), I have also decided to add something into our lives… religious instruction.  I always start my school year with the intention of teaching it, but other subjects quickly take priority (language arts, science, social studies, mathematics, etc).  The only piece of Christian curriculum we currently use is Abeka Mathematics, everything else is secular.  And as you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of religious instruction in our math books. That isn’t to say that my children’s lives are devoid of religion, I just haven’t taught them personally.  Every Sunday we attend church and every Sunday my daughter goes off to Sunday school.  In my mind I haven’t shirked my responsibilities, I’ve just outsourced them. My goal this Lent is to start with the basics:  meal time prayers, bedtime prayers and Bible readings.   Meal Time Prayer The meal time prayer that I grew up with is long and often leaves me tongue tied.  At first, I thought maybe I’d make one up, but why reinvent the wheel.  After twenty minutes on Google I found the prayer listed below. From what I can tell it is most likely a Lutheran prayer in origin and it might possibly be used in Australia (if you have more information, please share!).  What I like is that it is short, precise and something that my children can easily learn. Come Lord Jesus be our Guest Let this food of ours be blessed. Amen Bedtime Prayer The only bedtime prayer I know is the one that says “if I die before I wake” and I have never liked the idea of using that for my children.  On the few occasions we have said bedtime prayers; it usually just turns into one big rambling mess because we start praying for every family member imaginable.  The bedtime prayer we will be learning this Lent is Father, We Thank Thee by Rebecca Weston.   Father, We Thank Thee By Rebecca Weston, 1890 Father, we thank thee for the night, And for the pleasant morning light; For rest and food and loving care, And all that makes the day so fair. Help us to do the things we should, To be to others kind and good; In all we do, in work or play, To grow more loving every day. Amen Bible Readings I’ve tried reading children Bible stories to my children in the past, but I’ve never been able to do so consistently.  Usually we read Bible stories for a night or two and then lose focus and switch over to some other reading material. ...

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Our First Year Homeschooling Preschool with Curriculum Suggestions

Posted by on Feb 17, 2015

By the spring of 2011, our daughter was four.  Kindergarten was just one year away and I needed to make a choice as to whether or not I was going to send her to preschool.  I was living in New York at the time; a place where preschool is not only encouraged, it is expected.  Our two options were to send her to a private preschool or teach preschool at home.  The town we were living in had plenty of preschool programs available, but they were all too expensive. A private preschool would have cost us approximately $5,000 a year for a part time, five day program ($4,000 for a part time three day program).  Homeschooling preschool would cost us a fraction of the price.  After talking it over with my husband and weighting all of our options, we decided to teach preschool at home; and as it turned out it was the best decision we ever made. Our daughter learned everything she needed to and more.  By the following year she was kindergarten ready and I had the assurance I needed to become an official homeschooler. Here are some of the reasons why the year went so well. Positive Learning Environment Our home is warm, loving and cheerful.  It is also open 24 hours a days, 365 days a year.  The student to teacher ratio wasn’t 8 to1 or 6 to 1, it was one on one. Learning never had to start and stop at a specific time, it was constant.  Our schedules could be as rigid or as flexible as we wanted.  Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend “classes” were always a possibility.  A large playroom housed a train table, a craft table, dolls, an easel, cars, puppets, castles, Legos, blocks and more. A large backyard offered year round exploration and play.  We swam in our mini inflatable pool during the summer and built snowmen and igloos in the winter.  We conducted flower, worm, and mushroom hunts in the spring; and gathered acorns in the fall.  We built forts, gardened, flew kites, and played in the sandbox.   If pants were too muddy after gardening with grandma, a new pair was just upstairs.  If a nap was needed, the couch or bed was just a few steps away.  Ice cream on summer days and hot chocolate on cold ones were never out of the question.  And playmates were never in short supply.  Other than her brother, who was always a constant source of entertainment, there were cousins and local neighbor children galore. Field Trips Not only did learning take place inside the home, but outside as well.  This provided a lot of hands on learning for my daughter.  Throughout the year we went on a number of educational and fun field trips.  We visited many local Long Island (New York) beaches, where we learned about the ocean including: geography, sea animals, bugs, and plants. At our local parks we learned about animals, trees, plants, Native Americans, weather, the seasons and more.  We  played on the playground and fed ducks.  We studied goats, chickens, roosters, cows, horses, rabbits and pigs at our local farm.  We visited with cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles and grandparents, who gave my daughter gardening, cooking, baking, sewing, crocheting, computer and Spanish lessons. Great Supplies After a quick inventory, it was obvious that we had more...

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