There are lots of days when I think that I do not completely have this homeschooling thing in my grasp. The twizzlers pretty much get to do fun activities, while the ladybug is working on her printing and reading comprehension. Those days can sometimes be exhausting and cause me to want to give up for the next day or three, so we try to switch it up. I’m SO grateful for the homeschool co-op that I finally decided to connect with this year (hello fear of being judged by other homeschoolers) and we have been trying to do at least two outside activities with the group each month. Sometimes it works, other times not so much, but the ONE thing that I’m learning is it’s not going to make me a failure.
I’m a renegade of sorts. Some might even call me a rebel. I love finding things that work for me, and if it’s a total hodgepodge of every homeschooling thing that has ever been done, but that I combine for my house, then so be it. One of those things is getting out of the house at least once a week, and not making a big deal out of it. The kids love it, I NEED it (more than I thought that I would) and it makes sure that we get sunlight and don’t turn into sad vampires during the start of the season. Okay, okay, okay, it’s more so I don’t become Debbie Downer during the winter. It’s easy to do, and I don’t want to use the seasons as an excuse to not interact with the kids.
One of my favorite places to go lately (probably because I purchased a membership this year) is the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. It’s a smallish museum that you can totally get lost in for several hours, and STILL never see all that it has. I organized a group meetup there last month, and I was amazed at the turnout and how much fun the houseful of littles and I had there. You may remember me posting about them a while back in a review of seeing the new Nature’s Struggles exhibit (which closes on October 19th – so get in before it’s gone!) so we’re quite familiar. We’ve been probably a total of five times since then, and always think of it as a great place to visit. During this visit, we hit up Riverworks (always a hit with kids – I mean, it’s a bunch of water, come ON!) Hands On Habitat – which is friendly for children up to the age of 7 years of age. This is where the ladybug gave an impromptu concert and then went back on her merry way, playing and sliding to her heart’s content. We then hit up the reading nook in the Nature’s Struggles exhibit, and learned about Peregrine Falcons and animals that may be present in a back yard. We also couldn’t help but stop by the butterfly haven where pretty black and white butterflies followed me around and used me as a landing bay.
Back to renegade homeschooling though – which is probably a misnomer, but whatever. Essentially I would like for everyone to get comfortable with THEIR teaching style and their children’s learning styles. Initially I got caught up in the ladybug not being able to read by the time she turned 5. ESPECIALLY since I’ve heard from countless people how I was reading when I was three years old. I felt like a failure as a mom. I mean, I know that Mor Mor Baby (my mom) can basically do anything, so I felt like a failure compared to her. THEN I realized that the ladybug is not me, and I’m not nearly as awesome as my mom, and overall, that’s okay. We’re different parents, and different kids, and everything if carbon copied through each generation would make our lives feel like we’re living out the pages of The Giver.
So we go to museums, and don’t take packets like I was thinking that we would. That’s no fun and doesn’t give way to children learning in more organic manners anyway.
We Dress Up
Here we have lil miss and sir twizzler dressed up as animals from the marshland! A beaver and a frog. They took their creative liberties to full hilt with these costumes and didn’t want to take them off. They are an excellent addition to the Hands On Habitat
We Learn About Animals
Being able to interact with live animals around the museum was one of the highlights of Sir Twizzler’s day. He’s still learning the art of “gentle,” but he should be there soon. They were awestruck with the snake, and we had to do a bit of guiding out of this area in order to get home for lunch!
On days when I think that the kids are just not having fun, or maybe I’m not smart enough to teach them a concept, I’m often reminded when I flip through these blog posts, or even when THEY see photos that we’ve taken in general, and they start talking about how much fun they had, or even better, how much they want to go back again! Later this month, we do have apple and pumpkin picking to do, and hopefully that will lead to many more memories of happiness for them. All in all, I wish that everyone would be a renegade of sorts. Abandoning all of the “rules” that come with homeschooling for practices that are comfortable for you. I mean, that’s why we don’t have our children in traditional schools in the first place right? Not that I don’t like traditional schooling – I mean, Nathaniel’s in a private school now – but for us, this is what’s working for now.
So, let me know homeschooling moms and pops, what renegade things are you planning for this month?