Lessons from the Twelfth Week

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We are 1/3 of the way through the school year. Just like that. I am excited about the progress we are making. Also, I am happy with the changes we have made so far to our schedule.

Last week included two days away from home: one preparing for Science Olympiad with two different coaches in Knoxville, and one hiking with our Wild and Free Great Smoky Mountains homeschooling friends.

Seven Islands Hike Board

My kids on one of the hikes at Seven Islands

As such, I had to do some more adjustment in my head about book learning. In the end, I know we will finish our goals for the year. It’s just that I have to allow for weeks like this one to happen. In conclusion, I find it gets easier over time. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Ninth Week

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We have started preparing for Science Olympiad this week. Although the coaches are still recruiting, they have already put assignments out for our children to work on. We might even add another event by the end of the week. Not sure yet. Our kids have to go through a try-out.

Boy lying on a log

Being in nature allows children to hug a log, among other things.

I will announce our final events next week, when we know for sure what they will have to do. Until then, suffice it to say that we are excited. And a bit nervous. Science Olympiad takes extra time to prepare. But the lesson is, stay positive, get organized, and keep calm. Keep Calm and Science Olympiad. Now there’s an idea for a T-shirt.

Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Eighth Week

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In no particular order, last week we learned the following:

  • We still have days when we do not get the basics done. While I accept it on an extraordinary day, I fear this has happened a bit too much lately. We will reduce the screen time to 30 minutes per day, Monday-Friday, in an effort to increase their focus and attention span. On the weekends, they can still have one hour per day. We announced this during a family meeting and the kids took it well. No rebellion. I think they were scared they were going to get 0 screen time M-F, because I mentioned we knew families who did this. But then, when they heard they still got 30 minutes, they breathed a sigh of relief.
The Nina and the Pinta field trip

The Nina and the Pinta field trip

  • No fall break because we already take a break from instruction once a week, for Wild + Free. My daughter heard Knox County has a fall break next week, so no orchestra practice. She perked up, asking when we take our fall break. Sorry, there will be none. We already take only four days a week for book learning. We spend the fifth day with our local Wild+Free group, hiking or experiencing a nature destination. I never thought about explaining why we do not have a fall break. It goes to show how important communication is in any system, including a homeschool.
My kids next to the Pinta

My kids next to the Pinta

  • We learn life skills, a.k.a. adulting, as we travel to Wild + Free destinations. My son and I learned the hard way how to communicate as he gave me directions from the GPS on my phone last week. The lady said, “Turn left, then right.” I said, “Look at the map. What does she mean? I have several left turns available.” My son said, “She means to turn left, then left again.” I made a U-turn. He said, “No, not there. The next left.” We spent the next ten minutes explaining to each other what we meant and how we should communicate in the future. If you think this is not an important life skill, think again. When was the last time you had a “conversation” with your spouse about how she gave directions?
Playing with sticks and leaves

After a picnic, they played with sticks and leaves.

  • The Nina and the Pinta field trip taught us lots of things about Columbus. I wrote down two books from the tour guide and plan to get them soon: Columbus: The Four Voyages, by Laurence Bergren, and Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, by Samuel Eliot Morison.
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Lessons from the Seventh Week

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This seventh week taught us several things. First, children will eat vegetables they pick out at the grocery store. One day, after a routine doctor’s appointment, I took the kids to Kroger and showed them all the fruits and vegetables available. They knew most of them, but things like bok choy, artichoke hearts, and turnips looked unfamiliar to them.

Fort Loudon

My children at Fort Loudon Historic State Area

We do not use those veggies in our dishes, but I wanted them to know they exist. I have cooked turnips before, but I did not like them, so I stopped buying them. Plus, they remind me of rutabaga, and I have some bad memories about rutabaga. The less said about it, the better. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Fourth Week

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The fourth week went by smoothly. The children had auditions for Knoxville Youth Symphony Orchestras on Monday. The results came in on Wednesday and, sure enough, they reached their goals. Our daughter wanted to stay in the same orchestra, but move from Second Violin to the First Violin section. She did. She instinctively knew the next orchestra would be too hard. Well, not just instinctively. She also knew from experience.

Mom and Kids at Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome, Observation Tower

Last summer, during string camp, she tried the next orchestra level up. She kept up, but barely. She prefers a more relaxed environment and we respect that. In fact, her violin teacher said this shows a rare form of insight for a nine-year-old, and also recommended we let our daughter go at her own pace. Continue reading »

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Lessons from the Third Week

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Last week was nothing short of revolutionary. Have you heard of The Wild and Free community? We joined a local group. Also, we had our first outing with them – at the Knoxville Botanical Garden. I have been praying and hoping for more time outside.

Outdoor exploration classroom

Botanical Garden, Knoxville

The answer came in the form of this group. Another homeschooling mom introduced me to them. This means that I will only get four days of instruction at home with the children. We spend the fifth day exploring nature in our area, at local gardens, hiking trails, zoos, and parks. Continue reading »

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