Field Trip Fridays

We have not gone out hiking yet this school year or on too many local field trips.  However, we did make two quick out of town trips.  First we headed west to Asheville, NC to check out Kolo Bike park.  I heard that it was a pretty fun place if you enjoy biking.  Upon pulling into the parking lot of the park, I was far from impressed and was thinking about trying to go find some free mountain biking somewhere close by.  Thankfully, the kids thought it looked great, and they jumped out of the car.  Overall, the trip kept the boys thoroughly entertained.  Sawyer and I, well, we hung out and pretended that we knew how to ride bikes!

Our next trip took us east to Raleigh.  We visited my brother and his family on Thursday night.  Then Friday morning, Parks headed to camp at Daniel Dheirs Action Sports Complex while Sawyer, Sims and I went to the NC Museum of Natural Science.

Overall, two fun field trips days!  Hopefully, we will get on some trails soon too!

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Homeschooling Gets Harder as Kids Get Older

I recently read an amazing blog post from The HmmmSchooling Mom blog entitled, “5 Reasons Homeschooling Gets Harder as Your Kids Get Older.”  Her post has me thinking about my own blog and why I have slowed down on writing-although, I think she nailed it!

Her five reasons include:

1.  School work:it’s more difficult and less fun. (Definitely, on my blog you will see the fun activities.  How many people want to see pictures of my kids sitting at the table working on math?  Or at the computer researching?  We try to keep the work “fun,” but even the fun stuff isn’t as exciting as the fun, crafty, hands-on activities from a few years ago.  Also, my kids just want to get through their work now and get onto their interests/activities.)

Kids working

This is what the mornings look like a lot of the time around here.

2.  Money (Yes and yes.  Curriculum costs more.  Interests cost more, unless you luck into finding a mentor.  I am also finding it tough to find opportunities for my kids that we do not have to pay for now that they are older.)

3.  Socialization (This is tough too.  I have three kids with three different interests.  Socialization happens but I tend to be more of a taxi driver.  The kids used to have a core group of friends at Latta Plantation-in fact, we went there a couple of times a week. As the kids got older, the group dwindled down. Now, they each have a core group of friends at various places such as the climbing gym, music, the neighborhood, etc.  I also do not take many pictures of my crew hanging out because they want and deserve to have their privacy respected.  The change in socialization for the kids also led to a change in socialization for myself.  When they hung out at Latta, I also hung out at Latta with some amazing moms and instructors.  Now, I have to make sure that I make time to see my friends.  A week can go by pretty quickly without seeing anyone!)

4.  Parents and children start to butt heads. (We have lucked out on this for the most part.  Now, we do have to occasional overwhelmed child but for the most part, we are ok)

5.  Support for homeschooling parents of older kids can be harder to find. (Definitely!  Where are the homeschool groups for preteens and teens?  There are a ton of groups around us for the little guys-ages 8 and younger.  However, it is tough to find parents of older kids to chat with about curriculum, life and how to adjust to the middle/high school change.  I loved my experience at the Taproot Teacher Conference.   I dream of finding something similar for older kids.)

 

Block 1: 2017/2018

We are not officially doing blocks this year, but I am going to try to group each month’s work into blocks for documenting here on the blog (hopefully, it will work!).  We made a few changes this year in hopes to make this year a but more manageable.  Homeschooling three grades is tough and adding high school made it tougher.

Block 1: Grade 5

Throughout this block, Parks learned about the Stone Ages and Ancient Mesopotamia.  He is using Oak Meadow’s sixth grade book as his core curriculum.  He also read the book, Gilgamesh the Hero this month.  Daily, Parks worked on math from the Life of Fred book-Farming, spelling from Soaring with Spelling, copy work/dictation from Gilgamesh, and grammar from Growing with Grammar.  He loved working on the projects from the Oak Meadow book.  From the stone age section, he made an ax with a rock, a stick and some sinew.  From learning about Ancient Mesopotamia, he made two posters and a ziggurat.

 

Block 1: Grade 7

Sawyer did not find the same excitement in the Oak Meadow curriculum as Parks did during this block.  Sawyer did a quick review of the Ancient Romans and how Rome was affected by the new religions of Christianity and Islam.  She also did daily work from Life of Fred-Fractions, copywork/dictation from her reading of A Door in the Wall, spelling from Soaring with Spelling and grammar from Growing with Grammar.  Sawyer worked on creative writing with a teacher this month and will continue with her through the year.  So far, she has made a picture story and a story from a painting.

Block 1: Grade 9

Sims worked hard this month.  He has a good bit more work this year.  He worked daily on World History, Geography, Algebra and Biology.  He also read The Epic of Gilgamesh and completed a story board complete with the six elements of an epic and how Gilgamesh fits into the elements.  He also has worked on a few fun experiments such as how chemical weathering effects rocks on the earth and how to extract DNA from a strawberry.  We are still trying to figure out the best fit for some of his subjects, but I think that we are close to getting all of the kinks out so that he can soar through the rest of the year.

 

 

The Return of the Monarchs

Back in June, we released monarchs that we watched morph from tiny eggs into amazing caterpillars and finally, into magnificent butterflies.  Throughout the summer, we kept an eye out for any monarchs returning to our garden.  We saw many butterflies but no monarchs.  We were all slightly disappointed that all of our work in the butterfly garden to attract monarchs was not working.

And then came September!  Sawyer came running in to tell us of her find-monarchs landing on the milkweed!

 

Now we watch as daily, five or so monarchs flutter around our garden in preparation for their long journey to Mexico!

2017/2018

Here we are at the beginning of a new school year and a new dimension in home schooling……HIGH SCHOOL!  Overall, we will have fifth, seventh and ninth graders.

Grade 5

Parks begins fifth grade.  Throughout the year, he plans to learn about tIMG_4123he ancient cultures, botany, anatomy and astronomy.  He also wants to work on his spelling and writing.  He made tremendous gains in his handwriting last year which means that he can focus a little more on content.  In years past, he narrated, I scribed, and he copied.  He will also continue with playing the drums in his band (The Beat Keepers), riding bmx bikes and riding horses.

 

Grade 7IMG_4135

Sawyer jumps into seventh grade studying the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, botany, anatomy and astronomy with Parks, and creative writing.  Sawyer also plans to continue sewing, singing in her band (5 Lives), riding horses and climbing.

Grade 9

Sims transitions this year into high school.  I am still not exactly sure why, but this makes IMG_4142me slightly anxious.  He has quite a load of academic studies, but he is excited about getting started.  He will study Algebra, Biology, World History (the early years including ancient cultures and the Middle Ages), World Geography, English 1 (he will be tying in English with history), and Forestry.  He will continue rock climbing throughout the year and is going to try out a local sailing team as well.

We are moving to a more traditional approach to schooling in response to the kids’ requests.  I love the Waldorf approach using stories and art to bring concepts to life.  Thus, I am trying to do a bit of traditional, Waldorf and Montessori.  For the younger kids, we are trying out Shiller math (a Montessori-based).  So far, they are both LOVING it.  The lessons are short and to the point.  They are hands on too.  The younger kids are also using Growing with Grammar, Soaring with Spelling, and Oak Meadow for the rest of their work.  The first two books are pretty straight forward and to the point.  I am splitting up the grade 6 Oak Meadow curriculum.  Parks will work through the first half of the book starting with the Stone Age and working through the Ancient Greeks.  Sawyer will start off with the Romans (a quick review) and work through the Age of Exploration.  Sims is using Thinkwell for Algebra, Oak Meadow for geography and world history, various sources for biology, English writing with mom, and forestry using 4-H materials.

Bringing Summer to a Close

Monday afternoon, we took a group out on the boat to watch the solar eclipse.  The eclipse turned out to be an excellent event to bring the summer to a close and the school year into the fore front.  We were all excited about the eclipse and engaged in actively learning about the unusual phenomenon (not that unusual as it happens every 18 months somewhere in the world-one of the facts that we learned).  At the last minute, we found out that my friend had three pairs of glasses that we could use

IMG_3987for the event.  The glasses were amazing!  Although, we had some boxes to use too.  Nick really enjoyed his box viewer!

 

The rest of the month, we truly just took every moment enjoying our friends and family.  We went tubing down the Catawba River.  I had several play dates with my nieces and nephews.  We basked in the sun at the lake and the beach.  We made an attempt to win the cardboard boat race in the neighborhood.

Now, I am buckling down and getting everything ready for the kids to start back to some academic work.

 

 

The Perfect Summer Month

IMG_3625Just like June, July came and went fairly quickly.  I guess that is how it goes when you do not have an agenda to fill.  When I envision a perfect summer, I envision almost exactly what our July looked like.  (I know that I hate it when other bloggers say stuff like that, but I now know that it can be true!  In the past, our summers were fun but not without a lot of sibling stress and the stress of no schedule.  This year, everyone got along and went along with the no-schedule ride.)

July included visits from lots of friends and family, which meant lots of floating in the lake, playing behind the boat, and lemonade stands, .

 

We also made a couple trips up to the mountains where we kayaked the Green River in Saluda, NC  (by kayak, I mean float in big tubes that look like kayaks-no real skill involved) with friends who visited from Florida and hiked with local friends in DuPont Forest.

The kids had camp again this month.  Parks and Nick headed off to scout camp where they repelled, biked, swam and had a ton of adventures.  Parks also went to sailing camp with some friends.  Sawyer participated in a costuming camp where she helped make the costumes for the play “The Crucible,” in our town theater.  Sims headed to the mountains to climb outdoors for a week.

In between all of this, we simply enjoyed the pool and the lake every moment that we could.  It was hot and the water felt amazing.

And last but not least, I celebrated my 40th birthday with my family on the last day of the month!