Our Classroom

A classroom in the home can be anywhere. I am truly amazed by all of the different homeschool classrooms I have seen while doing homeschool research. I have seen families make a classroom in their dining room, convert their garage, convert a large closet, use a spare room and many other clever ways. We are lucky enough to have extra space in our basement. Last year, we turned an area that was sort of an odd half room at the bottom of the stairs into a project area for the kids. Therefore, when we decided to homeschool, it wasn’t too hard to switch it into a usable classroom space.

In order to determine what we wanted in our classroom, we had to establish what our needs would be. We knew that our children needed to have separate workspaces and even possibly space where they could work by themselves where it was quiet. Also, I wanted a desk where I could do my lesson planning and other work. Our math program is DVD based, but can also be accessed online; therefore, we also needed to have a way/space to watch their lessons. Our piano program is cd based and we also have a keyboard for the kids to practice on. The piano would need to have its own space that was not distracting to the schoolwork going on. Once we figured out what our needs were, I went to work making over the existing space.

After three months of using the space, I am happy to say that our workspace has suited our needs well. Our main classroom area contains individual workspaces for each of the kids and myself. We also have a large Ikea shelf system that holds all of our books and supplies.

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We have a section of the wall dedicated to the calendar that we use every morning when we do our daily planners. Also, on the walls, we have a map of the United States and a map of the world. Due to our love of geography and our desire to travel, these are necessities and used frequently. Near the classroom, there is a guestroom. In this room, we have made an additional long desk along the wall with a large workspace. This is helpful for when the children need a quiet place to work or when dad is helping teach for the day. Also, in this room is our electric piano.

 

I am a very organized person. I know that myself and my kids do best when they know what to expect as well as what is expected of them. When I discovered the workbox system for organizing the classroom, I knew that we needed to try it. Each drawer is dedicated to a subject or task that needs to be completed within the school day. Prior to the beginning of each school day, I set up the drawers with the necessary materials needed for each subject. On the front of each drawer, I have a label with Velcro on the back that has the subject/task associated with that drawer on it. Once the child has completed the work within the drawer, they move the label to the other side of the drawer. By moving the labels, they can easily see throughout the day what they have left to accomplish. Initially, when I started our homeschool year, I placed the drawers in order by how I wanted the kids to work through them. This has kind of gone out the window as they skip around based on their mood for the day, and my availability to work with them. Overall, I am loving this system and how it keeps us organized.

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***Side Note – My favorite school supply purchased this year has been a laminator.  I have used it to create all of the labels for our workbox drawers to make sure they will last all year.  Also, once something is laminated, you can use dry erase markers on it.  A great idea for many things in the classroom.

Occasionally the kids will move around while completing their work. I find them working on the floor, on the stairs, at the kitchen table, in their bedroom or sometimes even outside if it is a beautiful day. There is no right or wrong spot as long as they are able to complete their tasks. The biggest issue that we struggle with is when one needs quiet and the other one is working with me. This is something that I am sure will never go away. I look at it as a good learning experience for them. Very rarely is it possible to have peace and quiet when working.  Especially for a parent!

One Month Done – So Far So Good

Today marks our official one-month anniversary of homeschooling.  The morning bus stops in front of our house and I do not miss the stress of getting the kids out the door with their lunches packed, shoes tied, theme of the week outfits on, homework done, whatever permission slip/worksheet done that we forgot about the night before, or any other minor issue that tend to cause major meltdown under the time pressure of an approaching bus.  I’m OK with this new pace.  I wanted to get a few weeks under my belt before writing this post so that I could evaluate how homeschooling is working for us.  I am very excited, and thankful, to say that it is going really well.  Of course, there have been moments of frustration on everyone’s part but overall, it’s been a great experience.  One of the kids said to me the other day, “I feel like I’m still on summer vacation.”  That right there shows me that we are still able to learn and have fun, without having the end of the day burnout that used to happen after a full day at public school.img_4817-e1506035543935.jpg

We have decided to homeschool year-round in order to make time for our travels and also enjoy some long weekends to relax or do spontaneous things.  Our typical day starts around 9:00 in the morning and ends between 11-12:00.  That may not seem like enough time to get everything covered, but surprisingly it is.  For this first month of school, we have covered everything other than art, science, and history.  Some of the curriculum touches on these topics while focusing on another subject, but nothing specific.  My goal was to get settled into homeschooling and then add more to our days.  In the first week or two, it took us the whole three hours to accomplish our daily agenda.  I am noticing that we are working more efficiently as the kids settle into the curriculum and expectations.  We now have more room in our days to begin to incorporate additional areas of study.  My goal is not to make our day as short as it can be, rather make the day as productive as the kids can tolerate.  I am currently researching which route I want to follow for science and history.  Once I figure that out, I will write a post about it. Deep Space Sparkle is a great website I discovered that has some really neat at home art studies.  I am planning on incorporating them into our schedule on a weekly basis.

An unintentional byproduct of teaching is that I am remembering things that I have forgotten over the years.  With autocorrect, shorthand acronyms and emojis, it is easy to become complacent and lazy in regards to language arts and basic sentence structure.  I am guilty of this and my fourth grader’s curriculum is compelling motivation to put in the effort and create a proper sentence. So, bear with me if you see typos, fragmented sentences or improper punctuation. I’m workin’ on it, lol.  Our learning as a group goes beyond the classroom.  Having an awareness of what Red and Fred are learning in school, allows my husband and I to find ways to integrate additional learning into their daily lives outside of the school room.  Overall, the first-hand experience of seeing my children learn something new, and the sense of accomplishment they get once they understand it, is exceptionally rewarding.

We took our first “flying” trip while homeschooling in early September.  Fred’s birthday is in September and this year instead of having a birthday party, our kids had the option to pick a travel destination.  Fred chose to travel to Atlanta to visit the Delta Air Lines Museum and the Georgia Aquarium.  We were able to make it to Atlanta and the museum on day one. Unfortunately, we had to cut our trip short due to Hurricane Irma’s predicted track. Everyone was escaping Florida and the open seats we travel on were quickly disappearing.  We will make it back another time to check out the aquarium.  On his actual birthday, we went to a local zoo.  It was a fun day of looking at the animals, having a picnic and enjoying an afternoon at a park.  I planned to make the trip to the zoo an official “field trip” day. We did a little prep work in school to make it a focused learning experience.  The day before we went to the zoo, I had each of the kids pick two of the resident zoo animals that they would like to learn more about.   Afterwards, I printed off a basic animal research worksheet for each animal and we spent the afternoon at the library.  The next day as we drove to the zoo, the kids shared with the family what they learned.  They really enjoyed learning new facts and then actually seeing the animals that they researched.  It was also fun to have the kids be the experts at the zoo instead of the usual “know it all” mom or dad.

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Polar Bears are huge!

Our first month is in the books. In the beginning, the uncertainty of what lay ahead was worrisome, but looking back I am proud of this month and very excited for what the future holds. The research I have done has enabled me to develop a solid foundation to build upon. I feel this foundation has assisted in our first month going as smooth as it has.  I know, it has only been one month, but I am optimistic.

Yellowstone National Park

We recently took a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park.  This was a unique trip because we were able to enjoy it with the some of our immediate family.  Via planes, cars and campers, we arrived and frolicked within America’s first National Park and the area surrounding it.  We love to travel and it is a treat when we get to go on an adventure with others.

The plan for our trip was a full day at Yellowstone National Park (YNP), then spend our remaining time fly fishing and taking in the sights near where we were staying in West Yellowstone, Montana.  For the full day at YNP, we wanted to maximize our day and also avoid the crowds.  The primary road layout of YNP consists of a giant loop that is over 140 miles long with multiple spots that you can stop at along the way.  We had great timing and got there soon after the park opened.  One member of our family stated that it is human nature to always turn right, we like to be different and so we turned left as we entered the park.  Whether or not this observation played a part in our good fortune, we were able to enjoy the park with very little shoulder rubbing due to overcrowding.  Overall it was a long, but wonderful day filled with amazing sites and great memories.

This trip took place before we officially started school.  Even though it was still technically “summer”, I wanted to educate the kids a bit about what they were going to see within YNP.  We went to our local library and checked out all of the books in the children’s section that pertained to YNP.  These books helped educate while keeping it kid friendly.  It was exciting as we traveled through the park to see the kids associate what they were seeing with what they had read about.  There is definitely a lot of information about all of the neat geologic features, but I feel that one of the biggest things that is prevalent all over the park are the effects of fire.  One of the largest fires was in 1988, but there are many fires that happen frequently throughout the park.  It was a marvel to see the many different stages of growth occurring within the forest due to these fires.  The kids were able to recognize the fire as something that helped the forest rather than destroy it.

I have this idea that while we travel I would like the kids to keep a journal.  This would help them with their writing skills but also serve as a memento.  Before we left, I took a small booklet with blank pages and tried to make it journal friendly.  I also created a scavenger hunt in the back of the book based on the items that we read about.  I made a journal for both of my children and also my niece.  The kids thought it was neat, but in the end, it did not get used as much as I had hoped.  It was a great learning experience for me to see what did not hold their interest and how I can improve and or incorporate journaling on future trips.

The one thing that did hold their interest though was the Junior Ranger Booklets that we purchased once in the park.  Check it out here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/kidsyouth/beajuniorranger.htm.  I read about the program online and thought it would be a neat way for the kids to learn about the park and also have activities to do during the long stretches of driving between the attractions.  These were a hit and definitely helped the older two kids stay busy during the drive.  Fred, who is 6, was more motivated to complete it because he wanted the cool patch.  Red became so immersed in her work that at times, we had to pry her out of her book so she could enjoy the natural wonders outside the truck’s windows.  After completing their books and attending one of the designated programs, they went through a little ceremony and received their badges.  They were very proud of their accomplishment.  These patches will look great on their backpacking packs.  We now have a goal to see how many patches they can earn and put them all over their hiking backpacks.  A goal I will happily help them with!

 

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Red & cousin working on Junior Ranger Booklets while waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.

 

 

We Have Decided to Homeschool…Now what?

After much thought and deliberation, in the fall of 2016 we decided to homeschool our children starting in the fall of 2017.  We opted for a cooling off period of one year to provide ourselves time to research and develop a plan on how we wanted to proceed rather than diving right in.  This time also allowed us the opportunity to observe the learning styles of our children while they were in the public-school system.

Starting to research homeschooling was actually quite fun.  It was encouraging to see the different methods that people use to educate their children.  There are mainstream methods and unique and personal methods, all of which are easy to discover via a web search.  It is not my intention to explain all of these methods in detail, rather I would like to explain what we decided to do.

While researching homeschooling methods, we realized that there were elements from several that we connected with and thought would work for us. Therefore, we chose to take an eclectic approach.  We are planning to use a more traditional style when it comes to the core subjects of language arts, reading and math.  Due to the age of our children and the travel plans that we have, we will focus on an experience-based learning style when it comes to the topics of science and history.  This method is sometimes referred to as unschooling.  We are going to use the interests of our children to create unit studies that also have an influence on our travel plans.  Unit studies focus on a specific topic and then ties that topic into subject areas such as math, reading, spelling, geography, science, art, music and history.  For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and learn about Egyptian artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.  Along with the main subjects, we are also going to be covering learning to play an instrument, typing and learning how to code.  One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the fact that we can be at both ends of the traditional vs. untraditional spectrum while teaching our children.

Once we determined our approach, our next step was to figure out what we were going to use to teach with.  The growth of technology and the increasing amount of families homeschooling provides one with a vast selection of curriculum.  To be totally honest, it is quite overwhelming.  Based on a referral, I discovered Erica Arndt.  She has a great book that acts as a guide to getting started and also a wonderful website.  www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com.

I created a spreadsheet of curriculum choices based on Erica’s recommendations and also some of the research that I did.  On the spreadsheet, I had the pros and cons of each curriculum along with the cost.  Due to the fact that both of my children learn differently and were at different grade levels, I realized that the same curriculum may not work for both and decided to make a different spreadsheet for each.  By having my notes all in one spot I was able to narrow down my choices and determine what would work best for each of my children.  The cost of buying all of the curricula to run your own school can add up.  We had a budget in mind, but we also didn’t want the cost of a curriculum to determine whether or not we would use it. We were really going into this blind and unaware of what the curriculum would cost, so the best we could do was pick a number we could afford and work from there.

After determining what curriculum we wanted to use, the next step was to figure out where the best place to purchase was and also what we needed to buy new and what we could get used.  I discovered that if you attend a homeschool convention or material display you can usually get a discount and free shipping.  When it comes to getting books delivered, free shipping is important.  The majority of curriculum comes with a teacher book and a student book.  When considering purchasing new versus used there are a few factors to consider; most student books are workbooks and will need to be purchased new, when considering using a used teacher book with a new student book it is important to be aware of when updates to the teacher’s books happened as this affects whether or not it matches up with the student book.  It really depends on what kind of sources you have available for used material.  For the majority of the curriculum I chose, I didn’t see enough of a price difference to justify buying used.

After much deliberation and consideration, I came up with what I think is an obtainable and practical plan. Below is the curriculum I have chosen to use to teach each child.  I am still working on developing our unit studies and will touch on those in a future post.  We are also open to the idea of starting a foreign language and looking into our options to do that.

Red – 4th Grade:

A few notes on Red’s curriculum…during her 3rd grade year, she was placed in the gifted and talented program for math.  She loved doing the mathematical reasoning and problem-solving worksheets.  I wanted her to continue doing those so I made sure to add in extra supplemental material for that.  The local public-school system allows homeschooled children the opportunity to participate in the orchestra program.  Red has elected to attend that and play the bass.  Hopefully, it fits into our car…

Fred – 1st Grade:

  • Language Arts (Reading, Spelling, Vocabulary, Poetry, etc.) – Abeka
  • Handwriting/Typing – Handwriting Without Tears
  • Math – Math U See “Alpha”
  • Math – Kumon Workbooks & Ready Set Learn Workbooks (Money & Telling Time)
  • Musical Instrument (Piano) – “Piano is Easy
  • Geography – Down to Earth Geography & Beginning Geography
  • Physical Education – Karate & Swimming

Backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains

June 11-14, 2017

To celebrate our 10th Anniversary in 2015 my husband and I decided to try something different, so we spent a few days backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We really enjoyed ourselves and vowed to do it again soon.  Fast-forward to two years later and we finally were able to dig the backpacks out and put them to use, except this time we added two more.

We love to travel with Red and Fred and decided this would be another fun adventure to include them on.  There was some hesitation though due to the fact that neither of our kids had yet to sleep outside in a tent before. Also, both kids are terrified to be outside after dark, of bears, wolves, snakes, spiders and the dreaded Hodag.  We decided to choose adventure and do it anyway, even though we were uncertain of the outcome.

We purchased each kid a backpack that fit them just right along with a pillow, sleeping bag and sleeping pad.  Like most kids, ours are not the most adventurous when it comes to the variety of food that they eat.  I did a lot of research on what packed well and what would be filling.  Many people highly recommended lots of snacks and stopping often, which we found to be wise advice.

Our adventure started off on a Tuesday afternoon after stopping for a filling lunch at a restaurant near the entrance to the state park.  During lunch, the clouds rolled in and there was a nice thunderstorm.  Thankfully, by the time we set off on our hike the rain had stopped, but there continued to be consistent rumbles of thunder.  We set off to get to our first campsite, about two miles in, as quickly as possible knowing that it could start raining at any time.  Initially, there were some issues with the kids in getting the packs adjusted just right and the realization this is going to be work!  Fred stopped after 50 feet and refused to take another step, but we expected that, and eventually the kids started getting more comfortable with adjusting their own pack’s belts and straps.  It was hard to move quickly when the scenery around us was so beautiful.  We had to remind ourselves that the trip was not about a destination but rather the journey.  The kids needed the frequent breaks and we needed to slow down and enjoy the slower pace. The trail that we were on paralleled the Little Carp River which had a lot of little waterfalls to enjoy.  It also goes through an old growth forest.  The centuries-old trees towering over us were magnificent to look at.

Going into the trip we plotted the sites where we hoped to spend each night.  This state park has designated campsites that have a fire ring and bear pole.  Backcountry camping can sometimes be tricky when it comes to sites as they are first come first serve.  We figured the kids would be able to do 3-4 miles each day and picked where we hoped to end up.  We also let the kids explore the map and get an idea of where we were going.  This helped to pacify a few of the “are we there yet?” type of questions that are always present on any trip with children. Thankfully, when we reached our intended first campsite it was empty.  We quickly set up the tent and a tarp covering an area near the campfire as the thunder seemed to be getting closer.  The kids had a blast camping right next to the river and of course, both of them fell in with their shoes on within 20 minutes of arriving.  A neat feature right in the middle of our site area was a large boulder with a tree growing over the top of it that acted as a wonderful natural jungle gym.  We had our first meal which consisted of Easy Mac and hot dogs that slowly thawed from the frozen state they started in when we began our hike.  It started to gently rain soon after dinner.  Fred and I went to unroll the sleeping pads and sleeping bags.  When traveling or doing anything with children, we all know that unexpected things tend to happen.  Well, while Fred was helping me, he ended up spilling his entire water bottle and quickly soaking two of our sleeping pads.  It was so damp out that we knew they would not dry very quickly and it was approaching bedtime.  So, my husband and I put the kids in the tent with their journals and proceeded to hold the sleeping pads very carefully near the fire to dry them off.  Eventually, we all got settled into the tent.  Surprisingly there was very little apprehension about sleeping outside.  One of the most successful items we packed were glow sticks.  They gave off just enough light to act as a perfect nightlight for the kids. With glow sticks lighting up the tent and the peaceful sound of the rapids on the Little Carp River, we all quickly fell asleep.

On the second day, we woke up to sunny skies and birds chirping; it was a peaceful morning.  While we packed up camp, the kids ran around exploring the forest and river with the camera.  We were packed up and moving by 9:30, stopped for a break by 10, but that was OK.  We made it to a beautiful large waterfall for lunch.  We stopped there for quite a while and allowed the kids to play in the water and explore the small pools full of life.   The kids were able to experience lots of things about nature.  Due to it being a nice sunny day, over lunch, a large snake decided to sun itself right next to where we were eating.  The kids were initially freaked out but then just kept their eye on it for the remainder of our time there.  Their fear turned to curiosity and then acceptance that we were visiting the snake’s home. The second half of our trip consisted of two river crossings.  The first one had a nice large tree that had fallen over the river that we were able to carefully navigate.  Once across this log, the forest was very dense and had the smell of a sweaty gym bag.  The kids were wondering why Dad was talking so loud and whistling so much.  We were thankful that we didn’t bump into any large black animals.  The second river crossing was a bit more difficult.  An adult with a good walking stick could have traversed it just fine, but for a child with little legs and not the best balance it was quite difficult.  We ended up having them take off their shoes and walk through the water.  It ended up being easier and more fun for them.  For both of the crossings, my husband carried their backpacks across.  Towards late afternoon we made it to Lake Superior and our second intended campsite.  Unfortunately, our first choice was already taken.  We hiked a bit further and were able to get a campsite only a few feet from the coast.  The water was so calm when we arrived that we could easily skip rocks across its surface.  Unfortunately, that also meant that there was no wind and that made it easy for the black flies to swarm everything.  We quickly got the tent up as a place for shelter.  Throughout the day we had promised the kids that they could go swimming in the river.  Even though it was freezing cold they were still begging to go by the end of the day.  My husband took both the kids and left me at the camp to make a fire and start dinner.  Thankfully, with the smoke from the fire, I was able to at least make the pesky flies bearable.  The kids returned frozen, but happy, and settled in for our freeze-dried Mountain House packaged dinner.  They were surprisingly good.  Due to the flies, we settled into our tent early.  With the front flap open we were able to write/draw in our journals and watch the sun go down.  It was a very relaxed evening.

On the third day, we awoke to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.  The wind had picked up and it was a bit chilly.  Fred and Dad started a fire so we could stay warm while we had breakfast and packed up our camp.  Our plan for the day was to hike back down the trail we had come up and make our way back to somewhere around where we camped the first night.  We made it over the two river crossings again.  This time we attempted to engineer a bridge for the kids with a few logs that were nearby.  This probably ended up taking more time than the kids taking their shoes off, but we didn’t have to deal with drying off wet feet and putting socks back on.  I am very thankful that I threw jolly ranchers into our supplies.  They were great motivators for the kids.  They would get one every half hour or so and would check their watches frequently to see when they could have their next one.  We also played 20 questions.  By keeping their minds busy, they didn’t seem to complain as much.  They really didn’t complain too much in general.  We were very surprised by how well they did.  We stopped for lunch at the same waterfall again and spent a bit of time relaxing.  The sky started clouding up and we knew there was a chance of storms that day, so we packed up and hit the trail.  Our cell phones did not work anywhere, so we were unable to know what the weather forecast was.  Within a half hour, we started hearing a little thunder and could see a very dark wall cloud coming.  At one point, we started to hear this very loud noise.  We couldn’t tell if it was very heavy rain bearing down upon us or a strong wind.  Soon after that, we could see the trees behind us starting to bend. Thankfully we were right next to an old tree that had fallen down on top of another tree allowing for about a three-foot space beneath it.  We quickly had the kids hide under that and covered them with a tarp.  Fred was crying.  Red did a great job of putting her fears aside and attempting to comfort her brother. It was a great moment in a very tense situation. As we were arranging the kids under the log a large branch fell and hit my husband’s backpack that was on the ground behind him.  A few moments later a very large, very old tree toppled over just 50 feet away from us. The situation escalated quickly and then just as quickly it was over aside from a few rumbles of thunder and the rain falling.  Once the wind settled down, we knew that the front of the storm had hit and the worst had passed for now.  We brought the kids out, all put our ponchos on and started to hike.  As we started to hike we had to traverse around the tree that fell next to us and blocked the path.  Just five minutes prior to this storm blowing in, we had encountered another hiker. We stopped and chatted for 30 seconds or so and then continued on.  After the storm, we reflected on how everything happens for a reason and that had we not stopped to chat, we very well could have been taking cover near this tree and where it fell.  As we hiked on we came across a few more trees that had fallen across the trail.  We love weather and we love our radar, but not knowing what was bearing down on us was a little frustrating.  The kids decided that at that point they didn’t want to spend the night. Not knowing what kind of storms might be in our future for the night, we decided that might be the safest plan.  It would be hard to relax under those large trees if another storm rolled in.  The day turned quite cold and it rained for the remainder of the hike out.  The kids did an absolutely amazing job.  They hiked a total of seven miles and in those last four miles or so they hiked straight through with no complaints and no breaks.  It was interesting to see how much they could accomplish with the proper motivation!

Even though we ended up hiking out a day early and had a pretty alarming experience, it was still a great trip and we would do it again.  And we “will” do it again.  The kids are asking to do it soon.  Surprisingly, when asked what their favorite part of the trip was they say that it was when they were hiding under the log.

Children are continuously curious.  As a parent, it is easy to sometimes get frustrated by the nonstop inquisition.  Being unplugged and having no electronic distractions allows one to feel less hurried and more available to focus on your children.  Going into this backpacking trip we did not have any specific educational topics that we wanted to cover with the kids.  Instead, we allowed their natural curiosity to guide the questions and made sure to spend time answering them to the best of our abilities. Here is where the lack of electronics and an immediate answer was prevalent. This lead to actual discussions as to why we might think things are the way they are.  We were able to touch on so many topics.  From how big Lake Superior is, to how the logging industry worked in the 1800’s, how and why erosion happens, how rain makes many small rivers that eventually flow into larger bodies of water, the variety of forests inside of one big forest and many other topics regarding wildlife that we found.  It is easy to take for granted the information that we as adults have stored within our minds.  The smallest bit of information imparted upon a child can be so important.  It is also a good reminder that we are never too old to learn.  Although in the beginning, we viewed this as just a camping trip, we became enlightened as to how much learning goes on just by observing and asking questions and putting down the electronics.

 

 

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A Decision To Increase Our Adventures

My husband’s career as a commercial airline pilot provides our family with an amazing opportunity to travel.  We started traveling with our children, Red and Fred, when they were infants.  Now at ages nine and six, they are experienced travelers.  The majority of our travel happens on spontaneous whims.  As Red and Fred have grown older and started to attend school, we discovered that it was becoming more and more difficult to find the time to travel and satisfy the requirement to attend school.  With our flight benefits, we are able to travel on an airplane as long as there are open seats.  Unfortunately, a lot of people travel when their children have breaks from school, and now that our kids are also in school, that makes travel a little more challenging for us.

Enter homeschooling. We were introduced to homeschooling by a friend of ours. I was very curious about the idea but figured there was no way I would be able to handle teaching my children.  I continued with this mindset for about a year.  Once my youngest, Fred, started all day kindergarten it really sunk in how limited our time to travel would be.  We started to do some more in-depth research on what homeschooling would entail and really thought hard about making this drastic lifestyle change.  In the end, we determined that we would be able to offer our children an education with amazing benefits by traveling the world.  We decided to go for it!

What better way is there to learn and retain information than actually seeing and touching something?  We can actually go do things and visit places that pertain to the topics that we are studying.  For example, when it comes time to study the Civil War, we can actually visit the battlefields and museums that pertain to the subject.  I’m hoping to be able to give them a sense of awareness that just reading about something in a book is not be able to do.

Once we made the decision to homeschool, the next step was to determine what materials we were going to use to teach with.  The number of homeschooling families in the past decade has grown by about 60%.  This growth, along with the growth of technology, has provided many different tools and methods for teaching children outside of a traditional brick and mortar school.  This is both wonderful and overwhelming. There was a lot of sifting through that I had to do in order to determine what was best for us.  We’re going into this process with the mindset that we will all be learning together.  Since no family operates the same as another, and no child learns the same as another, I determined this was not a one size fits all situation for materials. I decided to use a few different publishers of materials based on what we thought best fit our needs.  At this point in time, I have ordered and received all of my materials.  The next step will be creating a calendar and determining what we are going to do and when.  That will probably be a future post.

Even though our family and friends may think we are a bit crazy to take on this new adventure, we are confident and excited that we will be able to give our children a quality education, while giving them an opportunity to travel the world.