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.
Our first true month homeschooling 2 kiddos-January.
First Nature Study
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!
We fell in love with nature study!
Our irst backpacking
Lighting the stove
Lighing the fire
I am a bit “behind” on my blog due to our annual LEAF festival trip. We arrived home late sunday evening after another amazing festival.
The LEAF festival is, on the exterior, simply a music and arts festival. However, you experience so much more. We arrive the night before the festival begins each year in order to have one day of escape. The camp appears fairly empty, although all around you people are setting up booths and stages. The stillness of the evening allows you to listen to nature, see the stars and explore the camp before it comes to life on Friday evening.
Every year, the festival amazes me even more and in a different way. Last year, the kids made bows and sold them. They met lots of other children and played with them throughout the weekend. This year, the kids sold bows again. Instead of getting excited about the financial gain of selling bows, they got excited seeing their bows throughout the camp and hearing from children who purchased their bows last year. Evidently, their bows hold up well over time-which they enjoyed hearing. The kids did not meet a whole lot of new children but they did see lots of familiar faces. We even connected with several families who live in our area.
We experienced art in many ways. We listened to and felt the music. We awed over phenomenal handiwork from metal works and hand-made instruments to beautiful scarves and tapestries. We witnessed mother nature’s canvas as the leaves change colors. All around us, we had a world of color.
If you ever get the chance to go to your local art and music festival, jump on it! You may feel slightly out of place if you are not artistic but that is the beauty of them. Everyone there is unique. My youngest kept asking for the meaning of things. You may look for this too. However, I have found that sometimes it is best to experience art, see how it makes you feel, accept it and move on. You may find things you love, and you may find that you do not connect with it. Your children may find something that they connect with which is such a lovely gift.
And before I forget…Happy Diwali everyone!
Over the past few days I have been looking at what our family looks like now compared to a little over a year ago. Last August, my wee guy was entering his second year of Primary Montessori school and my older two were entering a new school for our family. We decided to try a new school because it has been changed to a magnet program, which sounded phenomenal and right up our alley. We also knew that at public school there would be many services available to our family that we needed at the time. My wee guy did okay in his second year. He worked through a lot of emotional challenges. He was not the happy kid at school who we experienced on the weekends but he was okay. My oldest did not transition well from a Montessori school to a traditional school. My middle child made the most of the transition but she did ask over and over if she could be homeschooled. You all know how this story ends, we pulled the older two out last year and now are homeschooling all three.
Last year was a roller coaster of a year. We were still driving back and forth to pick up and drop off my wee guy. We were still figuring out how this homeschool thing works and I was a mess trying to make it all perfect. Well, it didn’t turn out perfect but we are in a much better spot. For 85-90% of the time, we all get along. School work happens even when we don’t mean for it to happen(such as, while we are going for a walk and the kids begin a discussion about something we discussed earlier). My wee guy has very few melt downs (in fact, now when he has one-we have to think about what to do-whereas, a year ago melt downs were a daily experience). My middle daughter is challenged in school and enjoying the new friends she has made. My oldest is more confident in himself than I have ever seen him.
So many things, people and opportunities have gotten us to this point. My DH, although he was not sure about the homeschooling thing at first, trusted me enough to let me try it. My friends have been a constant support and have continued to keep in touch even though this is very difficult these days. The instructors at Latta Plantation sparked a fire in all three of my kids about the wonders of nature. Sims’ tutor last year changed our child’s life. She gave him the tools and he has taken off with them. The opportunity for me to take classes at The Rankin Institute has helped me to teach my kids in ways that work well with each of their individual needs. The Lake Norman and the Internet homeschool networks keep me in touch with who I am and give just the right amount of help when needed. I almost forgot-Learning Ally! www.learningally.org. This is a fabilous resource if you have dyslexia. It is allowing our family to enjoy a lot of books!
This past week, we all experienced something new. We took our first homeschool trip without the dads. We went to Asheville, NC. We camped at Lake Powhatan and learned about bears, cougars, wolves, foxes, making fires and camp ground etiquette. Then we experienced the complete opposite and visited the Biltmore House where the kids learned about high society. It is an experience that none of us will forget and is yet another reason I have fallen in love with homeschooling.