Winter Spiral 2019

What a beautiful night for the spiral!  I didn’t realize that the date I chose happened to fall on a full moon.  For 2019, we decided to make blessing bags for the local soup kitchen.  One of my friends sewed fleece scarves with pockets that the bags slipped into.  They turned out beautiful.  The kids made cards to go along with the bags.  I didn’t get any photos of the cards.  They brought out the watercolors this year and made some beautiful note cards.  Overall, the night was magical.

Thanksgiving 2019

Another year to be grateful for.  Thanksgiving went a little differently this year. Parks and I got the flu the week before Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, we still had it on the Monday before Thanksgiving so we had to make some quick changes.  The location moved from our house to my parent’s lake house.  Everyone had to pitch in to make side dishes.  Tables had to be rented to fit all of the people.  Somehow, it all came together.  There was a nice crew at the actual dinner.  Parks and I ate dinner at home on the back porch and then went for a short walk.

By Friday, Parks and I were feeling better although Parks got a sinus infection.  Friday and Saturday, we hung out with family on the lake and played a little bit.  By Saturday night, Parks was back to not feeling well and ended up with pneumonia (I think we may have played a little too hard).

I hope everyone had a terrific start to the holiday season!

Another Year Older-Sawyer 15!!

Today Sawyer turns 15 years old!! I cherish every year with my kids (actually every moment) and this one was no different.  Sawyer, my little introvert, became quite the socialite this year.  She jumped at every chance to go on a hike, go hang with her friends, draw at the local coffee shop, jet ski, go climbing and well, you get the idea.  She got strong this year.  We had no idea how much strength she would get from the silks.  This transferred right over into her climbing.  Those muscles increased her confidence as she climbed this year.  Sawyer continues to be kind, fun, adventurous, creative and loving.  Happy Birthday, Sawyer!

November in Review

I know that it is a little early for a monthly review.  Next week is Sawyer’s birthday and Thanksgiving, so I do not foresee much happening school-wise!

November began fairly uneventful.  Classes continued.  Co-op continued. Sawyer and Parks had a watercolor intensive class this month.

Since the first week of nonevents, the month has been crazy!  Sims fell while climbing and messed up his shoulder which has resulted in many, many appointments.  He dislocated his shoulder resulting in an impaction fracture to his humeral head and a torn lat muscle.  We had cars in and out of the shop.  Mobile phones died (this actually was not too bad until it was.  It did make it tough for the kids to communicate with me while they were out and about, but that was about it.).  Sawyer had to go in for an infusion.  All kids had eye doctor appointments.  At one point, I thought for sure were being videoed. If it could go awry, it had.  We sat at our table laughing about all of the crazy when the dog and the cat came running through the kitty door chasing a squirrel!

Then the viruses starting hitting the house!  First Sawyer went down.  Then Parks and I were hit right after.  Thus, we spent two weeks with high stress from illness.  We have watched movies, read, and just chilled out because that is all we could do.

We did have a few fun times.  We celebrated Parks’s 13th birthday!  Sims hurt his arm but missed getting sick.  He went on an adventure to move a 40-foot sailboat from Annapolis, MD to Charleston, SC.  He is still gone today.  They aren’t going to make it to Charleston due to the weather, so he will be out on the boat again at a later time.

So November was not our most productive month school-wise.   Lots of life-learning happened!

Starting a Homeschool Co-op

I have written several times about our co-op.  I thought today that I might elaborate on it for those interested in beginning a co-op.  Our co-op began simply as a group of like-minded families who hiked together.  Eventually, we started doing some classes together such as African drumming, environthon, and a few other fun classes.  Two years ago, we did a physiology class together in addition to a few other families.  The physiology class went so well that we started talking about doing more classes.  The biggest problem was the space.  We needed a space (this seems to be an issue for most co-ops from what I hear).  We were also fairly picky.  We did not want to use a church if possible due to the diversity of our group.  We did not want anyone to feel out of place.  We also wanted a space with both indoor areas and outdoor areas.  And of course, it needed to be affordable.  Last year, we were able to rent a room at our local YMCA.  Once the facility was booked, we began working on our classes and the schedule.  We met one day a week for 3 hours each day.  Most days consisted of a class for an hour and 15 minutes, a break, another class and a lunch period.  We predetermined the classes.  Parents signed up to teach the classes.  Overall, last year went well. We did find that we wanted more freedom with our space and the kids wanted to get together more often.

Moving into this year, we went on the facility search again.  We found that our local American Legion rents its facility out.  The building is terrific.  It has a commercial kitchen and a large open room.  My favorite part is the location.  The building sits across the street from a local park with a baseball field, a stream, a playground, and picnic tables.  We decided to meet on two days a week for four hours each day.  The daily activities change and the rhythm remains the same.  We begin each day with a morning meeting at which time the kids make announcements about the plans for the day,  Next, there is a work period, lunch, a second work period, clean-up and a closing meeting.  My favorite part of the co-op thus far is the ownership by the kids of the co-op.  The kids run all of the meetings, oversee and participate in the cleaning of the facility, monitor the noise level in the room, come up with guidelines for the group, and teach each other.

So far this year, we have had several lunch and learns, classes in biology, experiments on electricity, art classes, chess club, cooking lessons, PE and more life lessons than I can discuss.

The parents are all required to facilitate in the co-op throughout the year.  We love the parents to be there as much as they can to help the kids with projects and to learn along with the kids.  There are at least two parents on-site at all times.  The community of parents is as strong as the community of kids.

Some of the technicalities that go into forming a co-op.  First and foremost for us was finding people who share similar life values and homeschooling styles.  Our original group of families definitely shared these things.  As we grew, we have found this to be a tad more difficult.  This year, we gained several families who recently left a schooling situation and began homeschooling.  With homeschooling being new to them, the co-op situation has been slightly tough.  They do not know their homeschooling styles yet!  Luckily, most of the families seem to be very comfortable with the environment that we have created.

Second, finding the right facility to meet your group’s needs takes time and patience!  We knew that we needed more space than we had at the Y.  We also needed more freedom.  The Y had a lot of people coming and going.  This made it very tough from a safety point of view.  Having a facility all to ourselves feels safe and free!  We can come and go as we want.  We can work outside or inside.  It also gives the kids a feeling of ownership over the space which has developed into a desire to keep the space clean and beautiful.

Third, you need insurance.  Even if you know everyone in the group and you do not think that you need it.  I highly recommend that you look into insurance for the safety of your group.

Fourth, deciding what your goals of the co-op are can be tough.  What needs are you trying to meet?  Initially, we were filling a social need by simply hiking.  Eventually, we started meeting the needs of our kids as they became interested in different topics and activities.  Your needs should be re-evaluated each year based on your participants.  Initially, we planned to start the year off by jumping into classes.  We quickly had to re-evaluate since we had a large population of new homeschoolers and newcomers to our community.  We decided to spend the first half of the co-op working on self-confidence, group dynamics, and teamwork.  In January 2020, this goal will have been met (we have already met it actually) and we will begin to work on more academic classes.

Have you participated in or started a co-op?  Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Another Year Older-Teen!

Today is the day that I become the mom of all teenagers!  I am struggling with that thought and at the same time, I am so proud to be the mom to my three kids.  Parks turns 13 today.  I am struggling to put into words how much he has changed this year.  My child who struggled with being flexible, with focus, with making friends his own age and with being comfortable with who he is-has grown into himself-a confident, hard-working, outgoing, amazing human.  The past year was a year of hard work, and he killed it.  Over the last year, he stepped out of his comfort zone so many times including joining the snowboard team, jumping in at new skateparks and meeting people, meeting new people in the co-op, speaking up for things that he believes in and for those who aren’t able to speak up for themselves, and pushing himself to succeed at tasks that are tough for him.  Happy 13th birthday Parks!

October in Review

What a full month! You know those times that fly by and at the same time seem to never end?  Well, that was October.  There were so many sides to October.  One part of October included the moving of our close friend.  We spent many days cherishing our time together and packing up their house.

Another part of October we spent working through the kinks of our new co-op.  The group is amazing and includes many new-to-homeschooling families.  We have spent a lot of time working with families to learn the ins and outs of homeschooling.  We have spent a lot of time working with the children on communication, working as a team, and deschooling.  In addition to this, I taught the high schoolers a Medical Investigations class.  The class turned out to be awesome.  It utilized the information that the kids learned in past anatomy and physiology classes and added new information.  The kids really enjoyed the class and surpassed my expectations.

Sims spent most of October working on a project about Elon Musk for his literature class, Algebra II and physics.  He also began ACT prep.  He has impressed me with his study skills and initiation this year.  He also applied to take an online dual enrollment class through Landmark College in the spring.

Sawyer finished up her book, The House of the Scorpion, and began a class on the Hero’s Journey.  She is also still working through biology and Algebra 1.  She quickly finished up her Halloween outfit right before the big day!

Parks finished up Medieval China and Africa.  He read Along the River and a book about Mansa Musa.  He also worked hard on a fractions unit.

For fun, Sims and Sawyer have been climbing both indoors and out.  Parks has learned some awesome new skills at the skatepark.  Parks, Sims and I have gotten out sailing a little bit.  We went apple picking in the mountains,  climbing in the piedmont (climbing competition), and dreamt of the warm waves at the beach,  🙂

Overall, it was an emotional month.  I dealt with quite a bit of anxiety this month.  The kids worked with me and my moments of high stress.  The month was busy and full.  Thankfully, we have one amazing village to help during these months!