Our First Year of Homeschooling- and YES we loved it.

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These are the kids I decided to homeschool for- and yes all three of them are my own LOL! We didn’t come into homeschooling in the traditional sense. We began public school including preschool in 2006. We ventured into the world of homeschooling in the fall of 2012. Our youngest had become sick in the public school- allergic/sensitive to the carpeting. Allegedly- don’t want to get in trouble here. Anyway- for his health we opted to pull him and for my ability to not get stuck with the bus schedule and be able to go on field trips and the like we pulled his older siblings too. Like I said we homeschooled for non-traditional reasons. What a blessing it has turned out to be.

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Meghan was able to focus on her love of Art. She pursued it at all opportunities. Her older brother, Quinn, was able to help her make connections to history and she began to love History as well. Our days in the beginning were spent trying to replicate the “real” school day- and that quickly changed. It was too hard to sit from 8:50-3:15 every day doing book work. We needed to get out and see the world and do what worked for us.

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Quinn worked on learning how to type as did all his siblings. We utilized BBC America’s Dance Mat typing and it was a huge success. A great way to practice spelling too. He quickly wanted to type everything and even wrote a paper he sent to one of his previous teachers. He wanted to make her proud. (You made Mommy & Daddy pretty proud too kid!)

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Meghan taught her younger brother, Cole, that drawing wasn’t so hard. She got books from the library and some from Santa and began to show him that simple shapes can create magical things. My reticent drawing buddy began to blossom.

IMG_20121208_183038 IMG_20121211_123224Meghan and I went to an art store and got her 1st grade Art project (from her public school days) framed. Riverside Art did a wonderful job and all I did was bring them a cheap frame I’d bought and they cut down the mat and for less than $5.00 they mounted it for us. Shop local and support them. It doesn’t hurt if you have a child who nearly fainted when she saw it in the frame. Meanwhile Cole continued to play dress up in an authentic WWII hat that his grandmother found for him.

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The Dighton Library became a 2nd home for us. Small but yet welcoming to homeschoolers. The kids even got to pose with Santa Claus (although they knew he was just a helper they didn’t squash the littler kids who were there in awe that Santa had come to the library).  Tyke’s not completely sure about homeschooling yet- it seems the house gets vacuumed more now and he is not okay with that 🙂

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Some days I’ll admit homeschooling I’ll admit happens in your pajamas. And well that’s just OK with me. Isn’t it more fun to draw and cook when you are comfortable? Well that’s my excuse. No matter the clothes you wear you can learn in them!IMG_20121216_124055 IMG_20121216_125738

Even Dad and Grandma get into the learning process. Note to self for next year- when the icing calls for lemon juice make sure you have it. Apple cider vinegar works for the purpose of building the gingerbread houses but it does NOT taste ideal. 🙂

IMG_20121216_184719 IMG_20121216_184829  See the tentative taste buds!

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Building ones body and mind is an integral part of homeschooling for us and sanity for Mom. Having the kids participate in group activities allows them to learn skills from other trusted adults but also socialize and learn from other children as well. It also doesn’t hurt that your daughter and sons learn self defense in this day and age. Finding a family focused Karate School helps!

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Being an active part of the community is also useful to us. The boys learned a lot in Scouting this year and although I am disappointed personally in the BSA’s policies to not include adult leaders in their change in policy I will say that to my knowledge our pack and our leaders never excluded anyone. Meghan learned a ton too as she tagged along on all activities and we look forward to participating in the future as well. We also have recently joined the Navigators- an inclusive Scouting organization which is also co-ed. Meghan is particularly excited as she can learn badges alongside her brothers. We were not able to fit girlscouts into our already busy schedule.

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Christmas for us provided us with a great opportunity to find great logic and creative games for the kids to play with. I think so many kids these days spend so much time on electronic devices they forget how to use their imagination. Play has returned as an active part of the kids lives. Nobody thinks anyone is a “baby” anymore for the toys that they have. It’s interesting what public school friends said about their toy collections prior to us leaving school. Now – who cares….my kids certainly don’t. Days can be spent with Playmobil, Legos, blocks or anything of that nature and hours of fun and exploration and design can be had.IMG_20121228_144332 IMG_20121228_144342 IMG_20130101_131817

We made a New Years REsolution this year as we did last year as well. It’s more like a Family Goal list. For those of us opposed to new foods and veggies we must try new foods this year and continue to learn to ride a 2 wheeler and Mommy needs to walk the dog and all the fun and healthy things we should practice all year long. It’s great because we all came up with ideas for the whole family. It’s still posted on my wall. And we still look to it to ensure we are on the right track.

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Homeschool looks like this too. Yes for us workbooks and textbooks do work as part of our homeschool toolbox. The kids enjoy working on them and so we utilize them as a guide to see where they are at and what we need to work on. Nobody is looking unhappy here.

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Science- oh how fun Science can be. The first picture above is when it was snowing out and they realized that if the took a shovel full of snow when the dryer was going (you can’t see the dryer vent) that it would melt. How quickly would it melt? Would ice melt? All of these questions were answered and they had a ton of fun. Trips to the Science Museum were made often and here are some fun pictures of just one of our many trips.

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Making sleds to go down a timed track was one of the most fun exhibits the kids participated in. They all enjoyed it!

IMG_20130110_115950 IMG_20130110_120122 IMG_20130110_120236 IMG_20130110_135813 IMG_20130110_142013 IMG_20130110_143033 Science sure is fun!!!!

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Spending time with friends and family is a super way to learn. You have to negotiate what you want to do, work as a team, and get to know one another. Sometimes it can lead to fun play, dress up, great conversation or a great time watching your local sports team!

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Snow this year proved to be quite the team building experience.  I had hurt my back and Dad was traveling so Quinn took the lead. He taught the other kids how to shovel and which direction to move the snow in and how to most efficiently clear the driveway. A team leader in the works!

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More fun with Art. Meghan inspired her brothers to join in and they made some pretty neat art themselves.

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Baking was always a fun way to learn too. Fractions, learning ways to measure dry and wet ingredients always proved to be a fun learning experience. It didn’t hurt they got to taste the creations afterwards. A great end to a cold day full of learning.IMG_20130117_162245 IMG_20130118_181423

Now this was probably a weekend of fun. Some sort of Sesame, Mario, Dinosaur extravaganza. Full of great ideas and the ability to work together and play even with the Mouse houses in the rear of the photo. Everyone was included because in our home we are inclusive to all 🙂

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Don’t laugh- this is engineering. This lego tower had to first be taller than us all. It was taller than me too. But would it stay up? NOPE- but did they achieve it YES! Could I find the photo NO!. They also did marble engineering. And field trips to the Fire Station as well. Meghan is looking on contemplatively- and she was QUIET….that means she is very very interested. 🙂

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Logic games with friends- the game of RISK can take quite a bit of time to play. It teaches patience, strategy and more.

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Ah more cooking. These are actually quite tasty Gluten Free Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins!

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Scrabble is a great way to practice spelling as well. Dictionary on the side to help those less able to spell but by the games end spelling was improved by all- including Daddy. (Cole and I are so far the spellers in the family- Meghan and Quinn are getting better by the day!)

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Finally found a good shot of Quinn doing Karate as well. He loves it and is quite disciplined. And we can’t forget about Gramma. Without her love and support homeschooling would be so much harder. She doesn’t live nearby but she loves us and the kids know just how much she and the rest of our immediate family support us!

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More drawing by Meghan and some wonderful Scouting themed cakes. This one was Coles.

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Quinn made a Fenway Park Cake and Cole made a camp site. Meghan assisted. Quinn below at another Science Museum trip- this time making music.

IMG_20130307_174338 IMG_20130307_175133 IMG_20130315_155136 IMG_20130315_162529 IMG_20130315_163216 Meghan & Cole Science Fun!IMG_20130315_190350 IMG_20130315_190412

We got to learn about the Alvin which was one of the things Grampa worked alongside when he was a civilian with the Navy. Deep Submergent Rescue Vehicles was his thing but Grampa new a lot about the Alvin so these pics are for you Grampa! (my dad)

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Pinewood Derby Cars made by the kids. THey all came in last but that’s ok since they actually made the cars!!!

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A Visit to the Providence Children’s Museum- FREE- with our Museum of Science Pass. Always a fun place to go and learn.

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Sewing fun! Thanks to Nellie from Outside the Box Homeschoolers- Meghan knows how to sew and she taught her brothers too!

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Fieldtrips to WSAR in Somerset, and to The Lexington Green where the re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington & Concord happened.

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And last but not least some valuable time spent learning how to make your own telegraph key with Grampa. I am forty (sigh) and as a cool (or not so cool teenager) I didn’t want to learn morse code or my geeky dad’s Ham Radio. I am thankful that Grampa at age 79 is still with us and he is passing on this tradition to his grandchildren. The kids and I are learning together. We are also looking forward to sharing our newfound knowledge with fellow homeschoolers and Navigators next year. The home made telegraph key seen in the 3rd photo to the right-notice the white button?- it’s one of those tabs you remove from an Orange Juice 1/2 gallon container upside down! Yes my dad is a Rocket Scientist (he worked on the Apollo missions too) and he is AWESOME- I just wish I didn’t wait til I was 40 to realize it.

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So that’s just some of what we did this year. The last photograph was taken in early Spring. We’ve done more but the photos alas are still on my phone. The point of the post is though that you can homeschool anywhere doing anything. Kids learn and absorb from all sources. For us we utilize activities outside the home, a weekly homeschooling group, cooking at home, playing at home, doing art, and visting art museums and sculpture gardens. We visit museums utilizing library passes or reciprocity from our Museum of Science pass which was the most economical way for 5 people to visit museums. If you know me you know I’m cheap and don’t have a lot of money but you can homeschool on a very tight budget. Thank you to the Dighton Librarian, Lorie, who has made our lives better just by knowing her. She has taught us about libraries, how to do research, bird watching and she even takes time out of her paid time to teach birdwatching as well. Thank you to Nellie, Ana, Krysten, Mindi & Michelle and the other members of Outside the Box Homeschoolers who meet every Tuesday with great ideas and who are a wonderful source of support. Thank you to my sister, and my parents for loving us through all the “What the heck am I doing??” phone calls and thank you to John’s family who has been equally supportive and understanding. And thank you to the town of Somerset. If it hadn’t been for the aging carpets and the issues we have had that triggered (allegedly) my son to become so ill we’d never have found out that homeschooling was even an option for us. I am so grateful and as Quinn put it “Mom I feel bad but I’m glad Cole got sick or I wouldn’t have been able to homeschool and really succeed!” So on that note- Rock on fellow homeschoolers. Rock on!

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