Saturday, February 25, 2012

Free Admissions...We're There!

O.k. I know we are all always looking for or at least get excited when we learn of free outings for our home schooled children. Well I had a play date scheduled for this past Tuesday because it was winter break in our county so my daughter's school-age friends were out of school and available to come over. I decided not to take winter break along with the school system but we did take a couple of half days and a really awesome field trip! This is what today's post is all about. Our really, really awesome, super fun, free, educational field trip!

There's a place in south GA called Callaway Gardens. It is really beautiful in the spring and summer months, well, because it is a garden:

"Open since 1952, Callaway Gardens is the centerpiece of 13,000 acres nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachians.  Founder Cason Jewell Callaway longed for a place where man and nature could abide together for the good of both, and now more than half a century later, his retreat continues to offer solace, inspiration and discovery for all who come here."

We, however found out from my friend, that Callaway was offering free admissions! This is of course due to it being winter which is definitely off-peak season for a nature retreat in the South. Well, the dear old people of Callaway Gardens were probably not expecting it to hit 75 degrees during their off-peak season, but opportunistic moms like myself and my friends waited patiently until just such a day come upon us and pounced on the golden opportunity!
Birds of Prey Show at Callaway Gardens

I called a field trip, packed a lunch, called another homeschooling mom of 5 and we hit the road. Literally. We are not in the closest proximity to Callaway so it was more like a road trip for us but was still well worth it. We watched an awesome Birds of Prey show that included interesting facts about Raptors or wild birds of prey. We learned about the Red Hawk which is one beautiful animal. We also learned about the Horned Owl and a couple of more beautiful birds. We also ducked as these lovely creatures flew ans swooped over the crowed. It was a great experience for the kids! Especially since my friend's kids were coverning birds in their curriculum this past week. We however had just finished covering insects. NO worries though, Callaway had us covered. There's a beautiful butterfly atrium where they breed butterflies and have a number of cocoons and chrysallis on display so that we could observe the different stages of a catepillar turning into a butterfly. Very educational for my two girls. Inside of the atrium though was several species of butterflies fluttering all around. It was magical.
Chelsea in the long sleeve pink tee inside the butterfly atrium and Madison attempting to catch a butterfly!

We also enjoyed feeding large fish off of a bridge at Discovery Center and seeing all of the different types of flowers beginning to bloom as we walked from station to station.

In closing...I'd like to say that if you are new to home schooling like me, take this tip for things to do. Think about all types of attractions business whose peak times have passed, pull up their websites and search for free admissions! You're sure to stumble upon something good.
We need a better camera!
Chelsea and Madison playing in the fountain inside of the butterfly atrium

I will add pictures of our outing soon...

*What did you do on Winter break or over the weekend? Please feel free to share below!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012 was a good day. We got through all of our assignments and then went outside to ride bikes. I had to play bike shop first though since all of our bikes had gotten flat tires from sitting in the garage all winter. My husband had to stop by the store yesterday to get a new inner tube for Madison's bike and a bike pump because the pump we already had was apparently only for his basketball. Just kidding, it was for balls only, not bikes. So today, I wore about three extra hats along with the four that I (WE) already wear daily.

So not only was I a bike repairwoman but also a trainer as I held the bike up that Chelsea was on for a 1/4 of a mile around our neighborhood. All of the houses in our neighborhood go around a circle so it is ideal for walking, running and bike riding. It's is very small as one lap around the neighborhood is only a 1/4 mile. Ergo, 4 laps is a mile. In fact, this is how I lost the "baby weight" three years after giving birth to my spicey/sweet Chelsea. I lost 25 pounds just by walking and cutting back on the foods that I always eat. Not too shabby.

I talked with a friend and former co-worker today. She's a part of a co-op in our area that I have researched and am really interested in. I didn't know she was a part of it but was really glad to find out that she is and now I am excited to take a look at the co-op and to see if it will actually fit for our family. It's great to have friends!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am Loving Home Schooling

O.k. let me just tell you that the last two days of homeschooling have been AWESOME!! Just having my girls home and watching them LOVE school and "get" concepts that I am teaching them is ranked among the highest highs of my life. I mean, I taught my first born how to read, write and do simple math all before she went to pre-k. So I have enjoyed being their first teacher but now that I am their only teacher (academically) speaking; It has taken teaching to an entirely new level. For instance, yesterday we had an appointment at the Library's computer lab and there I was sitting between the two of them while they worked on their different learning programs.It was just the perfect touch to being home doing school all day. Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat there watching them have fun and be stimulated in that setting.
Chelsea in the computer lab at our library!

Then there was today. At one point my six year old was at her desk doing her reading assignment and I was in the floor with my three year old covering sight words and making short phrases and sentences with our index cards for her to read. She's doing very well by the way. I was just so full! My fireplace was on, the t.v. was on low in the background because I must have a little background noise at times and we were learning! I tell you, there have been very few feelings to rival these past three weeks of home schooling. I really and truly thank God for the opportunity to stay home to do this. I've noticed that Madison has gotten more confident just in the past few weeks. She's still six and must be reminded to focus and pay attention and to do her best but my husband and I both have seen a difference in her communication and assertiveness with her friends. Chelsea is even more confident in giving answers when asked. And even I seem to be more patient with them. It's like I told my friend one day, it seems to me when you are not around your kids much their noise and busy-ness tends to bother you more. However when you are with them a lot, you get used to their noise and it actually becomes like music to your ears. You get used to their busy-ness and begin to interact with them more. So I've just noticed that about myself lately. I'm yelling less and understanding more. I truly consider it a gift from God to be able to do this.

What about you? Did you notice immediate changes in your family once you made the decision to home school?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So Far, Here's What I Know

In my two weeks of Home Schooling, believe it or not, I have learned some things and I eagerly share them with YOU!

  • There is so much helpful information on the web for homeschoolers. So many wonderfully, encouraging blogs out there. I came across two that I loved from the beginning. These families are so much farther ahead in their home schooling than I am and I have been able to learn soooo much from their posts and hope to one day, help other families coming along as they have helped me. The first one is Lady of Virtue the first blog that I read. I didn't even know that this was the name of the blog until recently because I was so desperate for information that I simply Googled, clicked and began reading. Beyond the comforting, soothing design of the blog which is no small after thought, the posts were amazing! As my husband and I were ringing our hands about pulling our first-born out of KINDERGARTEN (who does that?) In sheer desperation to over-dose on information, I Googled "home school blogs" and happened upon this lovely blog that literally and physically calmed me down. I'm telling you the first post that I read was so soothing to my mind and as I scrolled down the page and clicked from post to post, I started to feel better, stronger, and even my thoughts grew a little quieter. What a gift to the new homeschooler! Now I consider myself a young mother of two however some may not consider me so young anymore, it's just how I feel. But from this blog, and I assure you I am not trying to be cooky here, I felt a sense of "mothering" oozing from between each letter and each word that seemed to have been so carefully scripted by the blog owner Sherry. If you haven't yourself a favor and check it out!

  • The second blog that I read and still faithfully read to this day (two weeks later :)) is Weird Unsocialized   Homeschoolers. I fell in love with this blog for a completely different reason. While Lady of Virtue appealed to my more vulnerable side (if you will), Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers appealed to my more quirky, "get up and go" side. It was so energetic and I felt the energy and the love of home schooling jump off the pages of this blog. When I found out that she too had taken her first born out of the public school system at a very early grade, that was extremely encouraging and I later read that her reasons were very much like mine. Her first-born just kind of thought a little bit differently from most kids in her class and she knew that. I can not tell you how reassuring it was to read this blog and realize that there are other parents and mothers out there just like me. Passionate and involved enough with their children to the point of doing something about it. I have friends who say, I monitor every little thing that goes on with my children...and my question becomes, why? For me, I monitor for the purpose of decision making. If there are no changes that I need to make after my follow-up and monitoring...great! However, if I find holes in a process, unfavorable outcomes, or the like, I feel obligated at that point, to make changes. I don't monitor for montoring's sake and I after being properly introduced to the home schooling blogosphere through two very different but highly effective blogs, found many, many moms just like me.

  • I also have learned that there are so many organizations and websites available to new home schooling moms. In my state a wonderful resource is GHEA or Georgia Home Education Association. I guess you've figured out that I live in Georgia. :) So I don't know what it would be in your state but this organization has helped me find the available home school groups and co-ops in my area and there are several. I happen to live in a very good town for home schooling. Not so much because the schools are bad, we are actually among the highest ranking schools in the state of GA but as you will find out if you haven't already, each family has their own reasons for home schooling. GHEA was also instrumental in helping me to know and understand the laws that govern home schooling in GA. That is one if the first things that you'll want to acquaint yourself with for the state that you live in. GHEA also pointed me to HSLDA which is the Home School Legal Defense Association. I have not yet joined this organization but I definitely plan to as soon as I am off and running. Right now my focus is making sure that Madison has work to do everyday to keep her mind sharp while we wait for our curriculum which should be here tomorrow!!!
I hope these little tidbits and links will help you get started. I have so much more to share, alas, another time.

*Before we part...please share something you've learned that may help others...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Home Schooling: Thinking It Through

I've found that there's a lot that a parent goes through and thinks about when coming to the conclusion to home school. For me, it has been both easy and hard. It was easy for my husband and I to say, "hey let's home school our girls so they can get a quality education, form a strong family bond and so that we can keep a relaxed family schedule while they grow." Very easy. It was easy to see the benefits of home schooling, it was easy to see the disadvantages of public schooling. It became hard when we were actually staring home schooling directly in the eyes and faced with ACTUALLY taking her out of school for the purpose of learning at home. Then, beyond the three wonderful and beautiful pros that I listed above came thoughts of socialization of course, college, high school credits, the class Valentine's Day party that was coming up in two weeks, the "friendships" that she'd already formed and the biggest of all..."what would people say." Oh, it was tough.  However, in the face of all of that, you somehow find the strength and conviction to do what you feel you should do for your family and somehow, we did.
courtesy of Google images

So the purpose of this post is to talk about an article that my husband sent to me titled, Home Schooling on the Rise for a Good Reason. Sounds great right? In fact you're probably tempted to click on it right now to add it to your arsenal of what to say when your friends and family ask you why do you home school. Don't! Just kidding, there is some good information in the article from parents who've home schooled for 20 years or more but there is also an interview from a college professor who claims that home schooled children do worse in college than publicly schooled children. He claims that home schooled kids' education usually has holes in it like swiss cheese (heard that one before right?) and it is harder for them to keep up in college. He aslo says that home schooled kids don't have the added benefit that public school offers in the area of knowing how to handle difficult personalities like bullies, bad influences and healthy competition.

Well it started me on a rant to my husband about the wonderful character building traits of public schooling that I attained. Warning: this will be brutally honest. Read with caution:

I started in about what I attained as a result of Melissa (the biggest girl in our 4th grade class) bullying me. And you know what? I can honestly say that I got NOTHING from that experience. I don't go through my adult life thinking, "oh this is how I handle this person because I remember in 4th grade, I stood outside of the school about to fight the biggest girl in my class." I was scared out of my boots that day but I was cursing like a sailor and stripping off my back pack because "it was on!" LOL Thank God that a parent was sitting in her car nearby and stopped me from getting the day lights beat out of me that afternoon. I'd never fought before so how in the world could I have won that fight? Thank you public school bully for teaching me that if I curse loud enough, somebody will hear and save me from myself and a mean person.

Then I thought about a party that I went to with all of my single girlfriends before I got married. We did icebreakers and one of the questions that I pulled from the hat was what was my biggest regret. And at the tender age of 25, my only regret was loosing my virginity before marriage. So thanks "public school sexual pressure" for building my character in this area. I mean really now I know when a boy teasies me about being a virgin, I should go out ans sleep with him so I dont have to deal that one again. Oh wait...that's a ONCE IN A LIFETIME event. No, I'm not bitter...I mean it. I'm fine.

Another very prominent memory of mine is when I was in the third grade and was sitting in the back of the classroom with my hand raised for a very long time and dancing around in my seat. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Daniels looked at me several times and NEVER called my name. NEVER. I wet my clothes and finally she told me to go to the bathroom. I stood up and walked all the way to the front of the class with wet jeans on. Of course one of the kids in the class noticed and announced it. So I had to go to the office and they sent me home and as a 3rd grader I dont remember being crushed by that experience I dont think it registered to me that she didn't like me or was annoyed with me...I just didn't get it. But now when it comes up, it feels weird to know that that happened. I dont know how I feel about it but I do know that I dont want to subject my girls to a teacher who may not like them or at the very least may not like them for that day. So thanks "public school mis-guided authority figure" for teaching me that just because parents trust you  with their most precious cargo does not mean that you are trust-worthy.

So in short, I don't think I am rushing to log any of those experiences in my journal of character building traits that I got from public school. No, not at all. But I can say emphatically" Thank you public school for teaching me that you are no place that I as a parent can with a good conscious send my children everyday for 6-7 hours a day to have such wonderful, character debilitating experiences.
courtesy of Google images

Now in all fairness and I have to say this, that public school was not ALL bad although I have more wonderful character crippling experiences that I could share. However, I wont, I will mention my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Pat Singleton. The singled most, toughest and bestest teacher in the WHOLE WORLD. I will never forget her, she whipped my tail into shape and got me on track for my seventh grade year and beyond with A-B honor roll during middle school. We need thousands more just like her. Teachers who actually care.

*Now I've talked enough...let me hear from you. Who was your favorite teacher in public school and why? What type of qualities and character did she or he possess? Let's hand out some apples for those teachers by leaving a comment about them.

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