I’ve been thinking a bit lately about our homeschool “style”. I love the term Lucinda over at Navigating by Joy uses – “Us-schooling”. We learn in a way that matches with our interests and opportunities. We follow a pretty traditional approach to math and grammar while everything else is interest led (aka – unschooled). Sometimes we join with a team or a class and have a particular topic to research. Sometimes we follow rabbit trails – so a book about squids leads to several books about the entire cephalopod family followed by ocean mammals and then sharks. So what does a year look like in our homeschool?
I love the freedom to take lots of field trips. Experiential learning is an incredibly important aspect of our homeschool.
Our list for this year was long: Mammoth Cave, Corvette Factory Tour, Canal Fulton, COSI, Nat. History Museum – Mammoths & Mastadons, Cleveland Orchestra performances, TIMBER and Intergalactic Nemisis at Playhouse Square, Cleveland Botanical Gardens with special LEGO exhibit, Airshow, University of Pittsburg – Human Engineering Department, TechShop Tour, Pittsburg Science Center, Apple Farms, Beehive tour, Bourbon Distillery, Maple Sugar processing, Great Lakes Science Center – Mythbusters Exhibit, and NASA Hubble Day
It’s impossible to pick a favorite field trip from this year. I really wish I could have captured a picture of the boys’ faces during the Corvette Factory Tour. They were so amazed by the enormity of the entire factory. While a bourbon tour might seem a bit odd, it is a great chance to see a distillation column up close. (I think I may have spent 2 years sizing distillation columns before seeing an industrial sized one up close.)
The boys did the usual soccer teams. This year they’ve really developed more ability to handle their bikes and we’ve been able to enjoy riding single track together. The boys and I learned to ski / snowboard which greatly increased our enjoyment of the winter months. The boys also took parkour classes during the winter. Come spring we switched over to swim lessons and plan to continue swim during the summer. This summer we will be checking out a boys gymnastics opportunity. My goal is to keep them fit and active in the now, as well as discovering sports and activities that will keep them active throughout their lives.
In addition to their soccer teams the boys were on FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and a Science Olympiad team. One of our favorite group classes is zoo class, which is typically twice each month. We also joined the Geography Club which gives the kids an opportunity to make presentations to a peer group. The kids from Science Olympiad enjoyed getting together so much, we formed a Science Club which typically includes an hour of an activity followed by an hour for socializing.
Some of our unit studies were on our own, while others were with FIRST LEGO League teams, and others were with Science Olympiad partners. Our best integrated learning path started with the Percy Jackson book series, led us through Ancient Greek and Roman history, and finished with building catapults.
We did unit studies / projects on Atmospheric Science, the Power House, Bees (FLL), Catapults, Learning (FLL), Animal Tracking (SO), Aerodynamics (SO), Mousetrap Car (SO), Simple Machines (SO), Greek and Roman Mythology, Cells and the Maldives
Reading (including audiobooks)
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, Chronicles of Prydain, The Once and Future King, Nature’s Children series, Redwall, and a variety of non-fiction books related to our projects and unit studies.
Singapore Math 4A and 4B and Growing with Grammar 4
Singapore Math 6A and 6B, Challenge Math, Growing with Grammar 5
Lastly, my favorite reason to homeschool – quality time in nature. During our Mammoth Cave trip we also took some time to drive over to Cumberland Falls, KY, where we enjoyed a few days immersed in beautiful fall colors playing next to the river. The large picture above is from a smaller waterfall just down the river from Cumberland Falls. We visited Brandywine Falls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park many times this year including when it was just a cascade of ice with barely a visible trickle of water. On two separate occasions we found fossils while we were just out exploring parks. We’ve spent time playing in creeks and watching butterflies. Not every trip is exciting or different but over time we increase our knowledge and love of nature.
What was your year like?