Week Two-Life Long Learning

Well, we made it through the first two weeks of school.  The first week went fairly well.  The second week went about the same.  Nothing very exciting.  So far, I think that our favorite curriculum choice is Byline for the older two.  It is also tying in well with our block on civics.

This week, Sims had his first real test.  He is taking an online geometry class which has tests every other week.  It is moments like thee, that we realize how dysgraphia will continue to effect him through the years.  He writes well, but it does take him more time to write.  Geometry requires a lot of writing and planning.  Thus, his test took him three hours to complete.  Wow!  I was shocked that it took that long and amazed at his perseverance to get through it.  (and not that it matters, but he was very excited to get an 89-pre/94-final grade after corrections in his first real test).

Sawyer is moving through her work well.  She generally does not find school work challenging but this year, we found some fun stuff.  She is enjoying the writing with byline and the Visual Latin program.  She has a gift with languages that I love.  She finds them so easy! (This is a concept that boggles my mind because language is so tough.). She also started designing her Halloween costume this week!

Parks (I am scared to jinx myself here but…) is doing really well this year on his school work.  He wakes up and hits the books.  He is focused to finish his work-which can be good and bad.  Right now, I will take it.  Last year, he struggled with getting motivated to start his work and to complete his work with out A LOT of encouragement (insert-lots of frustration here..lol).  So far, he is completing his work and doing a great job with it!  He is also working on lots of projects such as rebuilding his drones, soldering, and making his own fingerboards.

I am teaching geology this month in our 4H co op.  I explained to the class that I am not a geologist but that I find the subject interesting. Thus, I decided to teach the subject.  Who knew that being a homeschooling mom would also make me an unschooler too?  Life long learning.

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Back to School Time!

I am still in denial that we are actually starting school which is why this post is slightly delayed.  We started school last Monday as a group.  Sims started an online class a few weeks ago.  As much as I would love to show you a beautiful back to school picture of the three of them smiling, I have nothing close.  I have pictures of the three of them steadily working and looking at their books for the year.

Overall, the week went well.  Monday, we spent at home.  Tuesday, Parks and I headed out for his writing class while the older two stayed home and worked.  Wednesday, we went to the park for the first day of our 4H co-op and pretended that it is still summer by hitting the lake for a swim afterwards.  Thursday, we hit the barn.  Friday, we finished up any unfinished work from the week.  We also celebrated Sawyer’s last allergy shot!!  (Five years ago, Sawyer found out that she is allergic to the five bee types that we have here in NC.  Over the past five years, she has gone monthly to get two shots-equivalent to getting 18 bee stings at once.  She is amazing.) The workload was light this week.  My hope was just to get everyone into a rhythm.  I think that it worked pretty well.

In addition to celebrating, Sawyer’s last shot, we also watched Sims compete in his first deep water solo rock climbing event at the US National White Water Center.  The competition was a lot of fun to watch!

Monarch Mania

About a month or two ago, we were excited to see a monarch in our butterfly garden.  We have seen several different types of swallow tails and moths, but we have been trying to attract monarchs for a while.  Well now we have tons of monarchs!  Not only do we have monarchs but we have eggs and caterpillars!  We have so many that we are sharing them with others.  So far, four other families are helping to care for some caterpillars.  In our family, we have already had one group of eggs hatch and morph into monarchs.  We have about 35 caterpillars now!  And there are a ton more on our milkweed in the back yard.

2018/2019 Planning

I am finding it tough to sit and plan for long periods of time this summer, thus the plan is coming along slowly.  I found out late this summer (like last week) that all three of my kids do not feel “as smart as their friends who go to school.”  This statement quite shocked me-not that I want them to be comparing themselves to others, but I do want them to feel confident in themselves.  This new knowledge is making me change my plan a bit.

I am also trying to figure out how to develop a transcript for high school that truly shows who my kids are.  We have never done formal testing or grades.  We go over information and apply it.  If the information is not understood, I find that the kids cannot apply it correctly, and we go over it again until it makes sense.  I would call this a mastery approach.  I have heard some people say that the kids should get an A after that, but I do not feel that a letter grade truly describes the knowledge.  I am looking into proficiency-based and mastery transcripts as a model for high school.

Sims Grade 10 

Theme: Perseverance

Goals:

  • Self-confidence in uncomfortable situations-academic and personal
  • Increased ease with note-taking and written communication
  • Demonstrate accountability to an outside teacher
  • Demonstrate leadership within his community
  • Challenge himself to use the knowledge he has to gain deeper knowledge in a subject

During Sims’s tenth grade year, he will be working through US history, writing and US literature, geometry, Latin and Chemistry.  I am sure that he will have more that he works on, but this is the plan for now.

Sawyer Grade 8

Theme: Personal Achievement

Goals:

  • Self-confidence in personal and academic knowledge
  • Learn to set personal goals and to develop a plan to work towards the goals
  • Design, implement and complete an eight grade project.

Sawyer’s eighth grade year has a lot of classes per her request.  She will be taking a high school level physical science course, pre-algebra, writing, and latin.  She will also have blocks in civics, US history, business math/economics, geometry and woodworking.

Parks Grade 6

Theme: Community

Goals

  • Independence with beginning daily work
  • Self-confidence in academic knowledge
  • Feeling a part of a community beyond the family

Parks is entering middle school this year!  No more elementary children-how did that happen?  Parks will continue with math and spelling/copy work.  He will also be taking a science class and a writing class outside of the home this year.  He will have blocks on Ancient Rome, business math, geometry and woodworking.

We are also starting a 4H group this year that will meet on Wednesdays.  We have planned many classes including-geology, PE, geography, Spanish, leadership, entrepreneurship, horsemanship, environmental science, cooking and coding.

 

Fun Photos in July

One more summer month down!  And as always, it was full of fun.  Lots of visits from friends and family.  Lots of playing at the lake.

June in Review

June has come to an end.  Can it really be?  I feel like the month flew by and at the same time I feel that we accomplished quite a few activities.  We began the month finishing up our dragonfly research (more on that to come soon) and hosting a Crankin Engines Class (we hosted this class last year, as well.  I thought that a refresher would be a good idea since Sims is now mowing lawns for spending money).

Next, we had a new adventure-camp!  Sawyer headed up to the mountains of North Carolina to attend Rockbrook Camp for Girls.  We were both a bit nervous as this was her first time away from home without someone with her.  I knew that she would have a blast, but it is tough to let your kids go! 🙂  We dropped her off on the 11th and picked her up on the 22nd.  On the ride there, she was almost almost silent.  On the ride home, she talked nonstop.  I loved listening to her excitement.  She participated in weaving classes, pottery classes, horseback riding (English which was new to her-she rides Western at home), white water rafting, hiking, waterfall sliding, and more!  The activities were terrific to hear about, but her excitement about life and her confidence convinced me immediately how good this experience was for her.

While Sawyer was at camp, Parks and I headed to Raleigh for BMX camp at the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex.  He participated in a class there in the spring and enjoyed every minute of it, so we decided to head back for camp.  Many of the same kids attended the camp which made it nice.  It was hot, and I didn’t think that he would want to keep going each day.  I was completely wrong!  He jumped up each morning and was ready before I was.  He learned many new tricks and even tried out a pro scooter (he loved the scooter so much that he came home and started earning money to get his own).  Once we came home, we hit the lake.  Sims is thoroughly enjoying his boaters licence and driving us around.  He even gave Parks a lesson on driving the boat.

The month of June finished up with one more camp.  Sims and Nick headed to Camp Grimes for a week of scout camp.  Sims worked on his water sports, fire safety (we could have used that one a few years ago-ha), and Indian Lore merit badges.  He also learned a bit about plumbing as a water pipe burst while they were working on a trail.  While the big boys were at camp, the rest of us laid low.  We watched Wonder Woman (I highly recommend it!), played with friends, cleaned out cabinets, and hit the barn.

We finished the month up with a bang at the Rock the Lake concert where Parks and Sawyer both played with their bands.  This was Parks’ first time playing in front of an audience and he did amazing!  Sawyer has played in front of an audience a few times, but this was her best performance yet (another way I think camp helped her!).  Her confidence beamed, and she looked very comfortable up on the stage.  Hopefully, I will get pictures from the concert up soon.  Mine did not come out, so I am waiting on the professional pictures.  June kept us busy.  I wonder what July has in store!

 

The Hungry Little Monarch Caterpillar

At the end of April, we visited the butterfly garden that we planted at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  We were ecstatic to see monarchs in the garden!  Not only did we see monarchs but we gathered the eggs.  At this time, I had no idea what we were getting into.

So the caterpillar nursery began.  After about a week, twelve of the fourteen caterpillars came into the world.  These hungry little guys ate and ate and ate!  They initially measured a mere 1 mm long!  After two weeks of nibbling away at the milkweed leaves, the caterpillars were about the size of my son’s pinky finger!

I started getting concerned that I would not be able to keep up with their appetites!  They are veracious eaters.  Initially, I thought that they would only eat the leaves, but the ended up eating every bit of each stalk of milkweed that I placed in with them. One afternoon, I started calling around to find milkweed to feed them, but lucky for me I found them forming Js at the top of the enclosure.

We even got to watch one of them form its chrysalis.  It was absolutely amazing.  Then for another 10 days or so, we had 12 gem-like chrysalis hanging in our kitchen.

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We went away for the weekend and came home to an amazing sight!

We had several dark colored chrysalis and several butterflies!  We observed them for a day and were entranced by their beauty.  We watched several of them emerge from their chrysalis and grasp onto the edge of the chrysalis as they dried their wings.  When all twelve had emerged and dried, we brought them out to the garden and released them.  It was a bittersweet moment.

Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to find more eggs this summer so that we can tag them.  Monarchs migrate to Mexico each year.  The generation that we released will lay more eggs here and their offspring should be the ones to make the journey.  We will let you know if we get to do it again!