Yay! It's finally fall...
time to get outside, move, and play!
How important is play anyway?
Play and movement are huge components of development and learning
(and something we take very seriously around here:)
Learning isn't something to be confined to a desk or table.
Get up and move!
I've been gone for so long that I'm not sure where to start!
How about with the news that we are all officially a family now?!
Our adoption was finalized a couple of weeks ago, and we were so happy to share the news with the littles.
No more moving around.
No more uncertainty.
We are forever a family!
We stepped away for a few days to spend some time together, see family, and just rejoice in the moment.
And now we are back home and nack to our normal routine:)
But I missed the Not Back to School photo week and the day in a life blog hop.
So, I'm making up for it today!
Celebrating Not Back to School for ninth grade, seventh grade, and kindergarten!!!
My determined high schooler, easy going middle schooler, and spunky kindergartner:)
The whole crew- preschool through high school:)
I'm not really worried about schooling such a gap...from ages three to fourteen. Here's how we are handling life as a family of interest led learners on a day to day basis:
We plan- the girls tell me what they want to learn...not so I can control their learning, but so I can best support them in what they want to know. A. is pretty focused and driven and wants to tackle the basic high school courses but still have time to do the things she loves, like drawing, photography, music, and volunteering. M. wants to practice all of her instruments every day (piano, violin, guitar, ukelele, and mandolin) while dabbling in other things like reading or math or baking when she feels like it. Little Miss H. just wants to do "art and projects" and also "learn to read ALL the words"...pretty much right on for kindergarten, I'd say:)
We read together- I read aloud to the littles at nap and at bedtime everyday and sometimes throughout the day. I still read out loud the the older girls too:)
We don't schedule our day- Parts of our day have to be scheduled to a certain degree (like daily quiet time is a must for my sanity;) but "school" doesn't start at a certain time since we learn all day every day. Overall, each day here has its own flow rather than a rigid routine.
We do hands-on, multisensory activities every day- art, crafts, games, blocks, cooking, experiments, nature study and/or puzzles every single day.
We allow uninterrupted time for play and pursuing projects- some days this is easier than others, but if we have a busy afternoon (i.e, volleyball practice and piano lessons) then we spend all morning at home to balance out the day and slow the pace.
We try to spend time outside everyday (weather permitting, but really...short of a tornado, we are getting outside;)
We utilize teachable moments and learn together- if we don't know something we look it up. I don't make it an assignment, I just show an interest in knowing the answer too. We look things up together. We talk about the things we are learning and discovering throughout the day.
We get out- We go to the park, museums, our homeschool group, church, the library, the zoo, and other places in the community...not every day, but often enough.
And here's a peek into our day today:
Linking up here, join me!
And with Homegrown Learners for Photo Collage Friday!
Yes, we homeschool,
but our home is not a school!
I don’t want it to look like one either.
Not to mention this 114 year old farmhouse doesn't have large spacious rooms...we are keeping it cozy around here;)
We have functional learning spaces
tucked away that hopefully blend into our living spaces
while still looking comfortable and inviting
Because the truth is,
our learning happens everywhere...all day long.
So, truly our school space is
the library, our yard, a museum,
the kitchen, the porch swing, our favorite park,
our homeschool group...
and so much more!
And that's just the way we like it;)
Join me here for this year's blog hop!
“I know of nothing more inspiring than that of making discoveries for one’s self."
George Washington Carver
It's that time of year.
Time to celebrate Not Back to School!
I just got news today
that I have approval to homeschool
our kindergartner this year...woohoo!
Foster kiddos are required to attend
public school in our state,
so I had to appeal to DHS and ask for a waiver
in order to keep her home
(our case plan is adoption at this time,
so that will allow our little miss H. to start
and stay at home rather than have to switch settings at a later time).
So I will have
a toddler, preschooler, kindergartner,
middle schooler, and high schooler this year
Really, that is no problem for a family of interest led learners;)
I know that our plan won't look like any other.
Because our family is like no other.
As so many around me are preparing for a new school year,
I am reminded that...
we don't have to use the same curriculum as everyone else.
We don't even have to use curriculum;)
We don't have to try to keep up with other families.
Since we chart our own path and
we go our own way,
it's up to us to decide what and how to learn.
Here in this family
our goal is simple- joyful learning.
And right now,
for our family-
joyful learning means...
Unschooling high school (A.'s plan is here in an earlier post)
following M.'s interest led middle school plan,
which includes unit studies of her own choosing.
She'll continue with a living math approach to learning
and continue with piano and guitar lessons
(and learn the ukelele independently).
M.'s also taking choir, theater, science experiments,
violin, and geography/cultures with our homeschool group.
She loves to read too, so that rounds our her seventh grade year quite nicely:)
And letting the kindergartner lead.
Have I lost my mind?!
No, I don't think so;)
H. just wants to do "art and some projects"...
well, I think we can handle that;)
She's ready to read too...
I'm noticing her picking up on sounds
and words quite easily these days.
She also chose classes to take with our homeschool group:)
And I know she'll be spending a lot of time
reading, cooking, and playing with the other two little ones as well.
So, that's "school" for us.
Our plans don't look like any other!
Neither should yours:)
We are each so unique.
Let's embrace that truth.
"...I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."
Join me here this month!
Last week was Heritage School for the big girls (a living history camp).
It was a busy, fun week, but I'm glad it's over.
Their favorite part of Heritage School this year?!
Either the marches, military commands, cavalry drills, and meal of hot beans and hard tack in the blazing hot sun as they were learning about the daily life of soldiers during the Civil War
the ball (complete with the hoop skirts, the Virginia Reel, waltzes, and dance cards) on the last night...
well, there's a contrast for you!
we are slowing it down and staying home...
all week long.
We canceled or rescheduled everything that we had on the calendar.
So we can rest,
and play games,
and read books,
and pick from my overgrown garden,
and spend time together,
and see friends (but only if they come over here;)
Because we are just staying home.
I like the sound of that!
1.-2. and 8. Pool days are the best!
3.-4. Washable markers and a spray bottle of water=awesome coffee filter art!
5.-6. Sharpie permanent markers and cardstock projects:)
7. Cute coasters from 16 cent white tiles from Lowe's:) We colored the entire top of the tile with colored Sharpies and then used a straw to drop rubbing alcohol in tiny pools over the top. We'll add details with Sharpie again when the tiles are dry, then glaze with a clear protective coating. Oh, and add felt to the back.
8. Catching up on our reading;) The two year old has this one memorized, but then again Sandra Boynton books are pretty catchy!
9. So, I hadn't checked the garden in a while...wow!
I have no problem with the fact that we are so relaxed in our homeschooling...
except as August approaches each year.
Something about reading other mama's posts
about all lesson planning, curriculum choices, and scheduling for the year
always makes me stop and think for a moment.
Are we doing enough?
Then I take a deep breath,
stop looking at everyone else, and watch my children.
I see the older girls...
drafting emails, planning and coordinating a major event that they are hosting for friends (which was all their idea to begin with), budgeting money, attending two different living history camps, teaching and caring for the littles, trying new recipes, honing music skills on several different instruments, cultivating drawing and lettering skills, participating in a virtual book club, making movies with friends, blogging, writing letters to friends, observing and participating in therapy and counseling with the littles, signing songs, watching musicals, amazing me with their knowledge of facts and trivia, swimming, playing games with friends, crafting, developing photography skills, completing unit studies on their own, and even trying to keep their math skills fresh (though that one is per mama's request;)
And that's when I know...
We ARE doing enough...
more than enough.
We are embracing life learning and what it means for our family.
Our journey won't (and shouldn't) look like any other,
because it's our journey.
We anticipate twists and turns,
steep hills and deep valleys as
we navigate this journey together
though life and its uncertainties.
Our daily life has changed so much since adding the littles,
and we anticipate plenty more change in the future.
But through it all, I see these girls on fire for
learning new things,
cultivating existing skills,
planning and dreaming for the future.
And then I relax.
I don't know about you, but we spend almost all of our free time outside during the summer.
The littles love it...they can spend hours outside playing in the yard:)
So I needed a good insect repellent recipe just for the kiddos...or "bug bite spray" as they call it;)
So far, this recipe has passed the smell test (I've got some sensitive sniffers in the family), and it works really well!
Fill spray bottle halfway with distilled water and then add witch hazel (fill rest of the way, almost to the top)
Add 1/2 tsp. vegetable glycerin (optional)
Add the following pure essential oils, then shake thoroughly-
15 drops lavender
12 drops peppermint
8-10 drops lemongrass
6-8 drops melaleuca (tea tree)
4-5 drops geranium
2-3 drops each of cinnamon, eucalyptus, and cedar
Thought I'd also share some summer photo snippets from our little homestead in the making...
1. Our second year for peaches:)
2.-4. The garden picket fence that Hutch made by repurposing used privacy fence he found for sale on Craigslist...I love it!
5. Summer school;) M. listening to an audio book on the porch swing.
6. Little man found an excellent way to get the recycling bin up the driveway! I love to watch him problem solve.
7.-8. The new kid around here sure has done well. He seems to love the attention from everyone and doesn't seem to mind hugs from preschoolers;)
9. We've found three bird nests around the yard, and the littles help me check them every day. They are counting the days until the eggs hatch.
10.-12. My favorite part of summer!
I think back to just seven months ago (has it been that long?!) when the littles came to stay with us. I see how much they have grown and changed. I see fear and anxiety being replaced by joy. And I am amazed at the work God is doing in each of them and in our family. I am thankful for the opportunity to slow down, enjoy the little moments in each day, and spend as much time as possible working and playing together outside.
“I realized at the start that whether a child is biological or adopted, one does not know all the ingredients in the package. That is what growth is all about. A child is the slowest flower in the world, opening petal by petal, revealing the developing personality within.”
So we are relaxed homeschoolers,
interest led learners,
you get the picture:)
We love reading good books,
and learning together
(which sometimes means
or hands-on family projects
and always mean fun).
That’s not going to change
just because A. will "officially" be high school age next year.
Right now, her plans for the future
are to go to college and become a teacher.
She’s not sure what she wants to teach though…she loves art and is gifted in that area, as well as language. She also adores younger children (preschool and early elementary) and really seems to connect with kids that have special needs. I don’t know how all that will factor into her future, but I am confident that God will use her talents, skills, and abilities in a way that will serve others.
These high school years will be time for her to continue to grow in knowledge and mature in Christ. They will also be a time for her to observe and gain experience with regard to teaching and her other hobbies (photography, art, music, volleyball, and writing).
We won't be sticking to a rigid schedule or purchasing textbooks for all of the major subject areas. We will continue to let her lead in all areas (except math where we have made some suggestions;) It's her Achilles' heel...though she actively helped me research and choose an algebra program to try:)
Our personal plans for relaxed recordkeeping and creating a transcript are here. We won't be necessarily following the traditional order of things. For example, A. has been working on anatomy and physiology for several hours each week using books and internet sources. We are about to incorporate video as well and she already loves virtual surgeries and dissections. She is completing and creating notebook pages and sketches for all that she is learning. By the time she is finished pursuing this interest, she will have achieved enough hands-on research and study hours to gain high school credit for anatomy and physiology.
She has also been researching and creating preschool activities and lesson plans for the littles several times a week. They see it as "playing school", but I see A. really working hard to integrate a lot of learning into their hands-on theme for the day. She's even got M. in on it (she's in charge of coordinating snack and music to fit the daily theme...the perfect job for M:) A. has also been volunteering once a week in my friend's first grade classroom. As I see her dedicate hours each week to this passion of hers, I know I want to make sure that A. receives "credit" for that time. I think Introduction to Early Childhood Education has a nice ring to it and will look nice on her transcript, don't you?!
We're addressing both English and History through literature...addressing different time periods and areas of interest with good books and biographies (this should be easy since since she enjoys reading...I might make some reading suggestions but she has great taste in books). We'll integrate some good movies as well:) I think we have the arts covered. She'll continue with piano lessons and theater class at her request. A.'s also planning to take an art class with our homeschool group. She'll continue her homeschool Advanced American Sign Language class (that's a foreign language credit there). Oh, she also registered for a homeschool physical science class in the fall too. Wow...now that I look at it, she could potentially earn 7-9 credits easily!
Well, that's how we'll roll for high school. I know a lot of moms dread this stage of homeschooling, but I'm really kind of excited about it! I've tried to instill a love for learning in both A. & M. and I think that these are the years where we will really see them take off and have true ownership of their schooling.
I would love to know your plans for high school!!
Also, I wanted to share these limks to great resources too:
Transcripts and Delight-Directed Learning
West River Academy- accredited transcripts for unschoolers
"My life is a lovely story, happy and full of incident."
Hans Christian Andersen
My "office"- I get very little actual work done but I don't really mind;)
1. The littles met a frog, "Aww...him's such a cutie!" Yeah, until he jumped and everyone started screaming! :D
2. Farm fresh eggs...well, all that's left after my little helper accidentally knocked four eggs off the table and they broke IN THE FLOOR VENT. Good times;)
3. Everyone always wants a bite of what I am eating...unless it's fried eggs with salt, pepper, cayenne, guacamole, and tomatoes. Haha, I love it!
4. I checked out a stack of homeschooling high school and college prep books. We still plan to unschool high school, but I looked like a "mom scholar" while reading and drinking my iced coffee at the library.
5. Hutch was busy weed eating and stopped to save these flowers and bring them in to me. M. had already brought me a handful of the same flowers just because she thought I'd like them. To me, that's worth more than a dozen store bought flowers any day:)
6. Listening to them "read" to each other is better than tv. It's the sweetest thing ever and always entertaining!
7.-9. A.'s awesome artwork inspired by Keilee at Homeschool Girls and the girls at Teachable Moments. A.'s completely recovering an old, slightly torn board book, and creating beautiful art. She's has to work on it in secret though...because the little would probably cry if they saw what was happening to the board book Chicka, Chicka ABC (don't worry we have another copy;)
10.-13. Most of the time life with preschoolers is pretty fun, and it is always entertaining and never dull. The girls do have to step away though sometimes and spend time alone or time together (just the two of them). We are trying to respect that (which is sometimes easier said than done), but I think that we are finding a beautiful balance most days. This week A. worked on these free anatomy notebooking pages , new songs on the piano, and volunteering at the elementary school. M. baked, read, did a little math, played new songs on the ukelele, and kept working on first aid skills.
14. Every day I come across something like this that makes me laugh. I think I found the missing under the cabinet light I was looking for (minus the cover)! Our little guy is a busy one...he is truly never bored. And I can always tell where he has last been and what he has been up to since he leaves a trail behind him and plenty of incriminating evidence (like the two toy trucks parked at the scene of the crime:)
Not a perfect week, but perfectly lovely if you ask me!
Summer fun has started here!
We are relaxed, interest led learners...
so we are always "in school"
but summer fun marks that time in the year
when our homeschool group has finished meeting regularly
and my responsibilities at the college are few.
I don't know what your plans are for summer,
but it's our first one with five kiddos...
our plans are going to have to be
simple, free (or inexpensive)
and relatively close to home:)
So far, we've been to a few end of the year programs and graduations.
M. has tried a few recipes like this one from Pioneer Woman (yum...she just substituted a gluten free rice flour blend to make it gluten free:) And also duck eggs in place of regular eggs to make all of her gf baking super moist;)
M. has also spent several hours this week studying first aid and watching videos:)
Hutch has been been adding to the little homestead by planting five new peach trees (my Mother's Day gift:)
When it's nice, we've been at the park!
When it's not, we've stayed home to make mud pies...
Or shadows on the wall.
And I found this cute printable summer fun schedule here. Love the idea of having a theme for each day and hoping a loose schedule like this keeps us from going stir crazy:/
Suggestions for the simple, free (or almost free) family fun so far include:
Play Days with friends
Arts/Crafts at home
VBS later in the summer
Happy Hour at Sonic
Playing outside (trampoline, treehouse, bikes...)
Trips to the Library
Road trips/Day trips (Making use of our zoo family pass and other fun things in a 2-3 hour area:)
Family Fun Night (could be movie, game night, or wii tournament)
County Fair (enter items to show)
Swimming Pool (or any body of water for that matter…playing in a creek is almost just as fun!)
Camping (especially state and national parks…the junior ranger program is free and fun for kids)
Ice Cream- frozen yogurt bar, banana split night, and making homemade ice cream
Local Museums (several small historical museums in our area are absolutely free)
Visit Grandparents and Other Family (sleepover with cousins)
Summer Reading Program (local library and/or Barnes & Noble)
Local Bakeries- We like to watch the cake decorators while we eat our goodies.
Park- We are working on visiting a different park ever week:)
Making magazines and books (from my old magazines and scrap paper) and art journals
The best thing to me is that the littles haven't done so many of the things on this list, so it will be a summer of firsts for them...and I am ready to start now!
Any other ideas or suggestions? What are you planning on doing this summer?!