This Moment

Originally inspired by “Soulemama“: {this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary (sometimes just silly) moment.

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Summer Anxiety

Oh, how I love summer.  Well, I used to love summer.  I enjoy(ed) coasting through the days without a schedule, sleeping in(lol-well, at least sleeping past 6:30), and going where-ever the day takes me.  Unfortunately for a person with anxiety, the lack of a schedule and an irregular plan is far from enjoyable.

Every summer, I remember the importance of rhythm.  My children thrive on a rhythm.  They need it.  Without a rhythm, they are lost.  I, on the other hand, like to live life without a plan and as the day takes me.  Do you see the problem here?  The two ways do not mesh AT ALL and the result is stress, frustration, melt downs and all over unhappiness.  You would think that by now, I would have figured this out.  However, I haven’t.  Every summer we experience the above-stress, frustration, melt downs and overall unhappiness-mainly with only one child but the frustration takes over the entire family.

So we head back to the schedule and the rhythm.  I am still trying to figure out how to set a schedule and a rhythm for the summer but I will figure one out soon.  You would think that since we are together all the time during the school year that the summer would go smoothly.  Unfortunately, everyone’s schedule changes.  There are no classes in the summer-only camps.  Horseback riding is sporadic due to camps and vacations.  The gym schedule changes.  And there are kids to play with who are not around during the school year to play with.  Sounds like fun to me, but the changes bring increased anxiety and stress to my youngest.  He tries so hard to take control of his day but he needs a plan and a back up plan.  Until he can do this for himself, I must help with the plan by providing a rhythm.

Are you able to relax during the summer or are do you need to keep a rhythm?

This Moment

I recently found a new blog that I am truly enjoying called Barnraised.  Each week she has post called “This Moment.”   The post includes a photo and these words:  “Originally inspired by “Soulemama“: {this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary (sometimes just silly) moment.” (this quote came from her site).  I LOVE this idea and would like to join in.  Please take the time to check out her site.  Her “This Moment” photos capture beautiful moments.

So on to my photo (from now on, there won’t be as many words).

Parks painting a horse at camp.

Parks painting a horse at camp.

Finding Passion- Hiking

Finding Passion-hiking

As you can tell from previous blogs, hiking ranks high on our list of activities.  All three of the children love to hike and explore in the woods.  Luckily, we also have many friends who enjoy the same activity and are up for a challenge.

I have to smile when I think about our journey with hiking.  I hiked a little bit in college but nothing much.  Once  had children, I don’t think I hiked at all.  We played outside ALOT but did not venture into the woods much.  Enter homeschooling-we began homeschooling in about the third month of my oldest child’s third grade year.  At the time, my friend also had begun homeschooling.  In her homeschooling research, she learned about the importance of children doing nature study.  She drug me out on a hike and had the children sit in silence for a few minutes.  That hike alone changed our lives forever.

My children fell in love with what they experienced, and I fell in love with their excitement and enthusiasm.  We now hike once a week.  The kids do not need formal nature study.  They study their natural world independently.  Sawyer knows which squirrels live in the nest in the tree outside her window.  Sims notices how the trails are changing with the seasons.  Parks keeps an eye on various areas of the yard and updates us on changes.  All three children are amazingly in tune with the natural world.  They take notice of the changing winds and weather.  They sit with nature because nature is where they feel the most at peace.

We are now starting on the next step to hiking.  We went on our first backpacking trip this week.  It was short in time and length.  We learned.  We experienced, and we are ready to go again. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would some day be an outdoor enthusiast, I would have laughed.  My children have taught me so much and I am so glad that we now all share the passion of hiking!

Main Lessons

I recently had a question about main lessons-what are they/what does that mean? We are eclectic homeschoolers.  I would not call us unschoolers because my kiddos definitely follow “a plan,” but the plan is fairly open with some requirements.  Daily math, spelling and reading are requirements.  In addition to these subjects, we work through other interests and subjects in blocks.  Insert main lessons!

I use Melisa Nielsen’s Waldorf Essential’s program loosely.  I read the curriculum for each grade and each year.  Then I divide the subjects into blocks.  I really love the way Waldorf works with the developmental stage of the child.  Every child delves into age-appropriate worlds filled with history, lessons, science and folklore.

Each child has a main lesson book.  In the past, we used nice sketch books.  This year, we tried actual Waldorf main lesson books with one blank page and one lined page.  The books are very nice, but we all decided that we like the sketch books more.

So the steps we take are:

1. Read a story.

2. Discuss a creative avenue to depict the story

3. Draw a border around the page (this makes it less intimidating than having a blank page.  the border is also a terrific place to practice form drawings)

4. Create with either paints, pencils, crayons, sculpt or cook (if we do something that cannot be “put” into the book, then we take a picture of it and paste it into the book)

5. After at least 24 hours(this allows the story/information to sit with the child), we write out a summary of the story on the same page as the picture.  The summary also includes a good bit of discussion and how the story relates to each of us.  This is by far, my favorite part of Waldorf lessons.

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At the end of the year, the main lesson book serves as a terrific portfolio of the lessons.  I must say that I really cherish these books.  The kids love looking through their old books as well.  The main lessons comprise the majority of our homeschool time and energy besides being outside!

2014-2015 Year End Wrap Up: Grade 6

The year is coming to an end, and it is time to reflect on each child’s progress over the past year.  I wrote about our second and fourth grade plans in the two previous posts if you want to check them out.  Sixth grade proved to be a big year for Sims. Similar to Sawyer, he did not rock all of goals but he surpassed my expectations on a few other activities.  Here are the goals that I made for Sims at the beginning of the year (hind sight is always 20/20.  I put in writing goals for the older two but I had no plans work on writing this year.  The plan was to focus on grammar.  Just reminds me to make sure my plans and my goals actually will work together).

Sims (sixth grade): 1) Begin note taking with research 2)increase independence with reading and activities 3)time management skills 4)Vocabulary 5)Independent with writing a well planned 5 paragraph paper 6) Journaling

Wow, did I go wrong with these goals.  In the beginning of the year, Sims did work hard on taking notes, doing vocabulary and writing.  After Christmas, his enthusiasm to write did not remain.  Thus goals and 1, 4, and 5 were not met at a level that I feel comfortable with.  On the flip side, he found the love of reading!!  I will take this over writing any day.  He read more books than I was able to keep up with.  He used to always kid Sawyer about how much she reads during the day until this year.  He read the Hatchet series, the My Side of the Mountain series and many other books.  I must say, once again, that I LOVE Learning Ally (If you have a child with a reading disability, I HIGHLY recommend checking into Learning Ally).  Sims also really stepped it up this year with being independent and managing his time and work load.

Ok, onto curriculum!

Spelling: Sims started the year with Apples and Pears and quickly asked if he could find another program.  I have to admit that this hurt a little bit because he was doing so well with Apples and Pears.  The carry over with spelling into other writing is amazing.  I researched programs and we decided upon IEW’s Phonetic Zoo.  He loves it.  The program is simple to use. Overall, Sims’ spelling improved over the year.  Even better than improvement is his awareness of spelling.  He wants to spell words correctly and really started asking how to spell words more this year.

Grammar: Growing with Grammar worked well for Sims as well as the other two kiddos.  He easily read the lesson in the lesson book and then used  new information to complete the assignment.  The assignments were easily modified on days that he did not want to write as much (which were few).  The lessons are written directly to the student so he only needed help when he didn’t understand a concept.

Math: Sims completed the first half of Teaching Textbooks level 6 and quickly became bored with the program.  I guess he is feeling more comfortable looking at other curriculums because he again asked if we could look around for something else.  We ended up with Math Mammoth Grade 6.  He loves is.  Overall, the content is more on a seventh grade level compared to the other sixth grade math programs that we looked at.  The lessons are short but require some mind work.  🙂  He will continue to work through that book next year as of right now.  Sims also used a lot of practical math this year with more hands on projects.

Main Lessons:  We loosely followed the Waldorf Essentials sixth grade curriculum.  Sims really enjoyed the lessons this year though.  He worked through business math using the book Striker Jones which made the subject very interesting and appealing to a sixth grader.  He LOVED Roman history.  We spent way too much time on this and did not get through nearly as much Medieval History because of the amount of time we spent on studying Rome.  Sims also thoroughly enjoyed physics this year.  He worked with his Grandad using the Lego Technics Educational sets.  He also did the physical science program from Education Exploration.  Both were terrific programs.  Sims also worked through geology with the other two kiddos.

Enrichment: Just as the other two kiddos, enrichment takes over!  Sims took Adventure Journaling, hiking classes, survival classes, Boy Scouts, gymnastics team, drumming, art, wildlife biology,archery and horse back riding.

Overall, sixth grade was a year of growth for Sims.  I cannot believe how much he accomplished this year.  He keeps inventing new contraptions and working to improve items that he owns (most of the time, he truly makes improvements-sometimes, the “improvements” cost us).  He fell in love hand crafts such as leather working, backsmithing and wood working.  I enjoy watching him transform into an amazing young man!

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