My homeschooling journey so far – and curriculum reveal!

This is my life lately. Reading about education, researching different curriculum, talking to homeschoolers who have experience (Lisa) and those who are like me and taking the plunge this year for the first time (Whitney). I have attended two online conferences and have plans to attend a third. I have read about all the different styles, decided mine is eclectic (big surprise!), thought about Wyatt’s interests and learning style, then finally made my choices. Which was exciting but scary too! On some level I am like this is kindergarten, relax, but then I am also like, it’s kindergarten, the foundation of his whole education!

So after much deliberation, the materials have all been bought and printed. My husband brought it all home to me yesterday and I very nerdily enjoyed going through it all and placing it into different binders. It gave me that first day of school thrill that I always had when I would get all my new school supplies, all shiny and unused. Then I realized, Wyatt’s first day of kindergarten was going to be so very different than mine was. I was actually in the newspaper my first day of kindergarten – I had bad allergies and was holding a handkerchief, in my little smocked dress, holding my mom’s hand in the hallway, but I must have looked like a little bereft schoolgirl because that was how they captioned it, about being sad. Wyatt will have an entirely different experience. None of the first day nervous anticipation, no filling of the brand new backpack with shiny new supplies. I need to think about how to make that day special for him!

For math, I chose Math Lessons for a Living Education. I love that it has a central story read aloud for every lesson, and I know that Wyatt will enjoy that aspect as well. However, I bought the first textbook and it is a little low for Wyatt so we started it already, and I will buy the next level up around Christmas I think. He is enjoying it so far, so that is good! It is a Christian curriculum, which wasn’t my intention, but it works!

For Language Arts, History, Geography, Art, Music, and Nature Study, I chose Blossom and Root’s Kindergarten curriculum (which is 30% off right now). I am absolutely in love with it, and I am so excited to start it with Wyatt. There is a huge emphasis on reading and books and nature, which we love in this house. The history and geography section starts with the history of Wyatt, then his family, then begins to explore his place in the world, from our community to the wider world. I can’t wait to begin it with him. We also had to choose a few heroes to study, and Billy and I chose MLK Jr, Benjamin Franklin, and Jane Goodall. This program looks like it is all about joy and ease and beautiful art and language, all good things that I want to influence Wyatt’s learning. The art and music component is amazing as well. Wyatt is going to be studying some real masters this year, from Monet to Diego Rivera (I so hope that we can get in to the DIA safely to show Wyatt the enormous Rivera mural there) to Edward Hopper, and Bach and Joplin and Chopin. It sounds more intense than it really is, but how awesome that this is what he is being introduced to. I felt he needed a different math component though, which is why I went with Math for Living Education. Not because I felt the Blossom and Root was lacking, but because Wyatt needs a little structure in some areas.

I am also adding in the Chickie and Roo Kinder Nature Beginnings Language Arts program. If I knew what next year had in store for us, whether we are committing to homeschooling for elementary or not, then I might just stick to the Blossom and Root, but I wanted to add in just a touch more language arts as well. Wyatt I think needs just a little more reinforcement and structure, and he loves to do table work.

I will also be adding in some mini-science unit studies of my own as well throughout the year. Wyatt and I are going to be so busy – but in a really good way. I am super excited for this school year, and I hope that he will love it too!

World Giraffe Day

Friday was World Giraffe Day and also summer solstice, celebrating the longest necked animal on the longest day (or night depending on your hemisphere) of the year.

Wyatt loves giraffes. They are his favorite (coincidentally, his favorite colors are also orange and yellow..) We were already planning on celebrating solstice in our own small way, by eating summery fruits like strawberries and getting together with some friends, but when I read about Giraffe day, I decided to make a whole day of it. Billy even took the day off from work so that he could celebrate with us all day as well!

We headed out early, basically waking up and packing up our “adventure backpack” as we call it and hitting the road, zoo bound. The giraffe festivities at the zoo were starting at 10, but I like to get to the zoo, or anywhere, right when they open as I have found places are less crowded earlier. We found the parking lot empty and the zoo almost to ourselves when we got there, and since we had time before the giraffe day things we visited some of the new exhibits, like the red panda’s new enclosure, with its rope swinging bridge, which puts zoogoers closer to the treetops where the red panda’s hang out, and the arctic exhibit which is usually jam packed. We had both exhibits to ourselves, which was kind of neat, especially the arctic exhibit. I finally got a chance to view the artwork that is inside! We were able to get very close to the glass as well with our kiddo, so close that a passing seal startled him a little! Most of the seals at the Detroit Zoo have cataracts and would not be able to survive in the wild and it is amazing how they still can perform their water acrobatics and swim and dive with limited vision. Nature is so cool.

After checking out the most popular attractions, we went to our other favorites, the wolves and the bears, who were all out and up front and center that early in the morning. I have actually never seen either the wolves or bears so close to visitor areas, we were able to get great views of them. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the giraffes, our whole reason for going!

The zoo had volunteers standing by to answer questions, as well as information tables and signs laid out everywhere. We saw the skull of a giraffe, and signed the card for Kuvali, the mom giraffe at the zoo. We have a family of giraffes, Kuvali, Jabari (dad), and Mpenzi, their son at our zoo, and they were showing off in the yard, playing and posing for photos.

Wyatt and I had been doing some reading in preparation for World Giraffe Day, to expand our (my) knowledge of giraffes, and I learned quite a few crazy things! We learned that the collective noun for giraffes is a tower, which makes sense, and that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human. Giraffes also have blue-black tongues to protect the tongue from sunburns, and fight by swinging their necks around, which I never want to see.

Sadly, these gentle, quiet, beautiful creatures have become endangered. According to bornfree.uk, giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 100,000 remain today. I hate hearing about all of our animals slowly disappearing; it is hard to imagine a world where these magnificent beasts no longer roam. To read more about their plight and what you can do, visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation here. I have already signed up to make a monthly donation and “adopted” a giraffe, but there are other ways to help, which can be as easy as just making people aware that these amazing animals are in danger.

How about you? What is your favorite animal?

A Bird’s Eye View

2019-03-25Saturday was a warm, bright, sunny day – the perfect spring day really.

Good thing we waited until Sunday when it was chilly, cloudy and gray for our family hike! Lol. Oh well. We dressed warmly and headed out – we usually try not to let weather stop us, unless it is extreme weather, of course.

So we headed out, braving the overcast skies and the cold air. We had a purpose to our walk this time too – to try out our new Kelty Kid’s hiking backpack carrier. We didn’t have a ton of time either, which ended up being perfect because we found a new cool place to hike when we want just a short little saunter in the outdoors. It is close to our home, and in a wetland area, which we normally don’t hike in for some reason, even though we live in the Great Lakes State!

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The trail was short but we saw so much during our adventure! We heard the whistle of the red-winged blackbirds, back in town after their winter away; we saw sparrows and chickadees, flickering about, singing and chittering to us from their perches high up in the still bare branches. We saw a plethora of waterfowl, from swans to mallards to ring-neck ducks to buffleheads (I love that name!) We even saw a beaver quickly duck under the surface of the water just a few feet in front of us! This was pretty cool, since beaver have just really recently returned to our area after 150 years – a very good sign regarding the ecological state of our waterways!

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As I said, we had a mission Sunday, to try out the Kelty. I was so impatient to get out and get going honestly, the excitement to see how it was going to work for our family was making me antsy! For us, it is not just a convenience but world-changing. As Wyatt has cerebral palsy, and is making progress every day with his walking, but we still need a way to get outdoors and take longer hikes right now. In our lives before becoming parents, this was something Billy and I did regularly and for vacations. Trips to walk the Appalachian Trail, trails “Up North” in Michigan, those are fun good times to us. It is so important for us to continue this, and share this passion with our son. We have so many national parks we want to visit – we just need to be creative! As Wyatt is getting longer and bigger (not necessarily heavier lol!) carrying him just in our arms isn’t cutting it. And honestly, it’s not cutting it for him anymore either. He needs to be able to experience the woods and trees and the birds and everything a little differently too – this way, in the pack, he can see looking straight ahead of him, see as we see, a whole new perspective! He can also reach up and out to touch things, learning and experiencing the outdoors in a new way.  He even got to use his own binoculars to look for birds! We loved it, and so did he!! He had such a great time, riding around on his dad’s back. He didn’t want to get out honestly, and wanted us to keep going! And we would have had we had the time. However, much longer adventures are now in our future!

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As we walked, I could swear I heard the hooting of an owl somewhere, although Billy missed it so I could have imagined it. I didn’t imagine however, the Bald Eagle that soared overhead. They really are such majestic creatures. It was a perfect ending to our walk, one that signifies more freedom for our family, with a visit from a Bald Eagle.