Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Day at the Farm

So, last week I completely missed posting. Baby Boy decided to come down with the flu, and in caring for him and keeping an eye out for symptoms in the rest of the family, blogging went to the wayside. I return this week, however, with a recap of our recent field trip to the pumpkin patch!

For the younger crowd, our homeschool group usually does an annual trip to one of our local pumpkin patches. Whoever plans it decides which one. This year, I volunteered and set us up with my favorite one, which is run by a wonderful Christian family and truly has a farm feel to it!

We started things off with a hayride, and yes, we rode through the countryside on real bales of hay in wagons pulled my a tractor - no commercialized vehicles here! There's always one part of this ride where I'm always nervous and convinced we are going to tip although it's never happened. On one side of the wagon it drops off to a creek bed several feet down as you bump across a little rock bridge. Once we got past this "scary" part, we spent the rest of the ride trying to identify the many trees along the way!

After the hayride, we headed into the barn where we sat on hay bales in the main area between rows of animal stalls (open to the outside, so the animals were able to come and go as they pleased) where we listened to the farmer herself tell how a pumpkin grows from seed to fruit and showed us the many varieties of pumpkin they grow at the farm. No videos here! We got the real deal!

From there, we were able to meet some of the animals on the farm - a dairy cow, miniature horse, donkey, geese, ducks, goats, lambs, pigs and turkeys - before heading off to the real excitement for the kids, the play area!!! My kids especially love the corn bin, even though it grosses me out just a tad thinking about all the little bodies that have already been in there and where that corn could have ended up before my kids jumped in. *shudder*

We let them play a good 45 minutes or so before heading out to the patch and picking out our pumpkins! Each kid was able to pick out a miniature pumpkin or gourd to take home. They had some really cool looking gourds, but my husband told me we couldn't go to a pumpkin patch and NOT bring home pumpkins. Anyway, I love this pic so much, I've got to show you the unedited version!

Off to the left of the above picture, you can see the entrance to the HUGE corn maze they have. We did take a few minutes to go through it just long enough to find the exit (as opposed to go for the prize by finding the hidden items) before heading back home. 

All-in-all it was a great day, and I was able to cross something off our family's fall bucket list! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What About Socialization?

As I sit watching "18 Kids and Counting" on Netflix, I'm hearing one question over and over in regards to homeschooling. What about socialization?

I think before I can answer this question for myself (and I truly believe most homeschoolers would answer in a similar way), I think I need to first define the term socialization. According to (the definition was not found on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary), socialization is the process by which one acquires social skills. Socialize means to associate or mingle with others. Very similar definitions, yes; however, we are talking a difference between the learning of skills and the application of those skills.

I find in my personal experience that when I am asked the socialization question, what I'm really being asked is do my children ever get to interact with other children. As in, do they ever socialize with others? The answer is a resounding YES! Ask when and where this socializing occurs, and you'll get as many answers as there are homeschooling families. Here are my answers:

Karate Class - As part of our curriculum, my kids take karate classes. During class, they are not only learning self-defense skills and discipline, but they are running around laughing, talking, and playing games at different times. Also, every other week I drive a friend's son to class. The 30 minute trip involves plenty of talking, giggling, and good-natured teasing in the backseat!

Weekly Bible Club - They attend a weekly Bible club at their grandparents's church, where they not only learn more about our values and beliefs, but they are able to interact with kids from the community (many of which attend the public school system).

Children's Church - This takes place each Sunday at our church. We attend a different church than either of our parents in a different town than where we live, so this is a whole different group of kids that they see each Bible club meeting. Again, they learning core values/beliefs, playing games, talking, laughing, etc. with kids who attend either our private church school or the public schools of that community.

Homeschool Group - Once a month, our homeschool group gets together for field trips. Our group is very diverse as far as beliefs go. The only thing some of us have in common are the fact that we educate our children at home. We live in different communities ranging in size from miles away from anyone else to cities of 60,000 people. Of those that do attend church, very few of us actually attend the same church, and our denominations vary from LDS to Baptist to Pentecostal to non-denominational. Family sizes range from 2 children to 11 children. Some homeschooling moms have education degrees (up through masters) while others have high school diplomas. As you can see, we come from different walks of life and are raising our children with different beliefs in different communities.

Neighborhood Kids - Our neighborhood is full of kids, and my family is the ONLY one who homeschools. Come 3:00pm, our doorbell often starts ringing asking for play dates. This is probably our least diverse group of kids when compared with each other but still very different from our family. Most come from single parent homes, are of mixed race, and do not attend church of any kind. They are all great kids, and my kids love playing with them!

Library Activities -  Each week, we attend storytime. The two age groups are pretty small, but it is another opportunity to get the kids out in the community and playing with other kids.

Misc Community Activities - We do our best to keep an eye out for different camps and fun days. In the past couple of years, we've participated in kids games at community events, education camps put on by the regional education service center, cheerleading camp put on by the local public school, back to school bash put on by the local public school, community VBS celebrations, and summer sports teams.

As you can see, there is no shortage here of socializing that my kids get. As I initially said, this is the application of the socialization (the learning of social skills) they receive from Mom and Dad through watching us, family discussions, character education, etiquette education, etc.

This is how we tackle socializing in our family. How do you make sure your kids get in socializing? How do you handle this question when asked?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Wow! Is it really October already?

We've completed our first full month of schooling for this academic year, and while there are a few minor changes I would make if I could travel back in time, I've been very pleased with our progress so far!

Big Boy is adjusting so well to the new heavier schedule of 1st grade, and Big Girl is actually really enjoying math this year! I cannot tell you what a relief these two things are for me. I really was worried about them looking back on last year.

Baby Boy continues to be a challenge. My school-only activities and toys are not working to keep him as entertained as I had hoped. Sure he enjoys what I've gotten, but he is such a perfectionist (much like older sister and mom) that he gets frustrated if the slightest thing goes "wrong". I'm really looking at scrapping the plans I have in place for him and trying to figure something else out.

Looking forward, October is set up to be a pretty busy month.

  • College homecoming
  • Hometown homecoming/fall festival
  • Husband's 15 year class reunion
  • Trip to a local pumpkin patch
  • Piano performance in nearby town
  • History day with the homeschool group
  • Halloween
How about you? Any big plans for the coming month/season?