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.)

 

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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.

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!

Grade 8 Project

Eighth grade!  Wow!  Eight grade!  I cannot believe that our homeschooling journey began six years ago, and that we made it this far.  My oldest child began homeschooling in the third grade after a less than good experience in traditional school.  I was a nervous wreck about pulling him out of school and taking on the responsibility of teaching him.  Looking back, I am so glad that I did.

Sims and Lily

These two met in kindergarten and have homeschooled together through the 6 years! All grown up!

When I pulled my kids from school, I had many ideas in my head for what I wanted to do over the next years.  One of my ideas was an eighth grade project.  When I mentioned this to my son last summer, he was ecstatic.  He came up with enormous projects-rebuilding a car, rebuilding a sail boat, building a bouldering wall in his room,….the list went on and on.  Obviously, these projects were slightly larger than what I had in mind.

We came to  a compromise.  At fourteen, people can get their boaters licence here in North Carolina.  He decided to take the class to get his boaters licence and to work on his grandfather’s fishing boat to get it up and running.

His grandfather brought the boat up in the fall.  Sims worked on the trolling motor first.  Before the age of fourteen, a person can only operate a motor that is less than 10 horse power on the lake; so the trolling motor was perfect.  He and his buddies putted around the lake at a very slow speed!

The first adventure!

One long boat ride with the trolling motor!

Right before his fourteenth birthday, Sims completed the boater’s course, which consisted of 6 sections that had to be passed and a final exam.  Passing the course meant that he could now take the boat out and use the actual engine.  He was ecstatic.

He and his friend took the boat out.  It made it about 200 feet before it stopped.  LOL!  They paddled in and then the engine work began.  Since that time, he has also built a platform inside the boat so that they have more room to stand and fish.  Overall, I think his project was a definite success.  I also think it will be a project that he will keep learning from over the next few years!

Block 8: 2016/2017

Block 8!  I cannot believe we are getting close to the end of the year!  Not only was block 8 full of school, it was full of activities!

Grade 4: Norse Myths

This month, Parks finished up his study of the Norse myths.  He told me that the myths have been his favorite part of the year.  He loves the stories, which is good since he has heard them many times before.  We continued to use the D’Aularis book of Norse Myths.

Grade 6: Business Math

Sawyer LOVED this month (in fact, she is going to keep working on it through May).  For this block, I purchased the Bookstore curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason.  She developed a logo, decided on her inventory, and began working through the book.  The program introduces real life scenarios, such as road construction occurred in front of your store; thus, you lost some of your sales.  Of course, these scenarios brought about a lot of discussions-especially about our small town that is going through quite a few construction projects lately.

Grade 8: Government and Civics

I originally planned on only going over US government with Sims, but our discussions turned us in another discussion.  This allowed him to learn about other types of governments and to compare/contrast them to the US government.  We also all fell in love with the game CIVITAS.  It is a quick card game that teaches about different government types.

Our month of activities!

Monarch Butterflies-Follow-Up

The monarchs are here!

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In November 2015, we worked on a monarch butterfly garden at our local nature center.  The kids worked extremely hard on the garden-ripping out poke weed, prepping the soil, planting a ton of plants in the milkweed family, watering the garden and trying to figure out how to keep people off of the area.  You can read about the garden building in this post.

Last spring, the garden did not come up!  We were shocked.  All of the hard work and nothing came up.  Obviously, we did not have any monarchs visiting the garden.  Imagine our surprise when after our hike this week, we checked on our garden.  It is flourishing!  The plants came up so well that we may transplant some of them to another area in the nature center.  Now plants are exciting, but monarchs are even better!  We observed a monarch laying eggs on the leaves.  Next we will collect the eggs and help them hatch in a safe place.  Unfortunately, monarch eggs rarely make it due to other parasites and insects.  We are hoping to tag some of them too so that we can watch their migration!

Block 7: 2016/2017

For block 7, we worked together on more North American Geography.  In December, the kids worked through Canada.  This month, we worked through the United States and how the land forms/water forms and history impacted the growth of the United States.  For this block, we used two main resources-Pin It! Maps and the book, “The American West.”

 

The Pin It! Maps are a terrific resource to look at the expansion of the US over the years.  Using the maps in conjunction with the stories brought the stories to life for the kids.  We followed the path that Lewis and Clark explored.  We looked at the southern US and Mexico and learned about the Mexican-American War.  We started with the Native American tribes who lived in the area prior to the Europeans and moved through the fifty states.

We also went on several hikes this month.  The weather is beginning to warm up, and we are thoroughly enjoying it!