May 2007 Homeschool Adventures

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May is kind of the official end of the "school" year, although we don't really stop doing what we do the rest of the year. Still, we submit our annual homeschooling reviews in at the end of May, and that kind of symbolizes the beginning of summer.

The month kind of went by in a blur. We started off the month by attending the Fairie Festival in Glenn Rock, PA. This is our third year, so it's becoming somewhat of a tradition. The weather was great this year, and we didn't have to haul the stroller with us, now that Joe's better at sticking with us and walking on his own. He did get a little worn out towards the end, asking anyone who was willing to carry him. But, since the festival is held on a huge organic farm, the terrain was always challenging with the stroller, and we felt much more mobile without it. Overall, enjoyed spending several hours just checking out all the great costumes, vendors and tasty treats!

The proceeding week, Flo's friend and homeschooling buddy, Megan, turned eight years old. So, Flo got to attend her late morning birthday party, and then we were off on another field trip to a local "Head Start" preschool, where our homeschooling group got the chance to read to the preschoolers. Flo practiced with her book the day or two before, and did a great job sharing her story about a bunch of animals in a box. Very cute.

The following weekend, the kids spent Friday night alone with Darren, while I went to meet my friend Laura, in Wilkes-Barre, PA for an overnight. Darren apparently managed to survive one day as a single parent. That Sunday was Mother's Day, so he had them paint me some pictures and other artistic endeavors while I was gone.

On Mother's Day, we went to lunch at the Common Market in Frederick, and then spent a couple hours at Cunningham Falls State Park's Recycled Tire Playground, playing with the kids and enjoying the good weather.

We had found out about the recycled tire playground earlier in the month, when our homeschooling group organized a fieldtrip there for a "Scales and Tales" workshop, which is "an environmental education program that gives citizens a chance to experience nature up close. Interpreters give presentations that can be adapted for all ages, and encourage public stewardship and appreciation for Maryland State Forests and Parks." Basically, the kids got to see a bunch of different birds and snakes, and hear about their impact on the environment.

Flo finished her ice skating lessons mid-month, and was passed on to the next level. We decided to take a couple month break for summer, and she'll start up again in the Fall. Joe FINALLY got some confidence and let go of his perfectionism (not wanting to fall) and has started skating on his own. So, by Fall, he may be ready to start classes, too. It seems to be something they both enjoy.

On the 17th, we our homeschooling group met to do our annual reviews or assessments. Because we do our reviews through The Excelsior Academy, which is a Maryland approved umbrella program, the process is very simple. We all just met at a park, chatted about our year, and signed our review forms, which we were independently responsible for filling out pertaining to each subject, and then mailing off before mid-June. Easy-peasy, as Flo would say!

On the 20th, our vegetarian group met for a potluck. My mom was out of town, so both Flo and Joe had to tag along this time. We only had two people show up, so that was a bit discouraging. Nonetheless, the kids had fun socializing and running around the church grounds, where we held the potluck.

Then on the 22nd, one of the families in our group hosted a lovely "fancy Spring picnic," inspired by their daughter, Olivia. We all brought picnic snacks and they had tea and lemonade. The girls all dressed up in dresses and it was very cute. Of course, most everyone brought a change of clothes to play on the playground at City Park, which provided hours of fun.

To close out the month, we were invived to a Memorial Day BBQ at the home/farm of another one of our homeschooling friends. We spent several hours relaxing under the shade of one of their trees while the kids wore themselves out playing. It was great. And to further wear them out, we ended the day by heading out to Western Maryland Rail Trail for a quick walk before it got dark. The bugs we kind of bad, and it was getting late, so we only walked for a half hour or so, but it's a nice trail, and we hope to go back for a good outing in the Fall.

Aside from all our activities, we continued along the same path with academic pursuits. We are plodding our way through the Shiller Math program, and focusing a lot on reading comprehension with Flo. On the last day of the month, I finally had to empty out the playroom and make it a dedicated "school" room. This is because it's the only room downstairs with a locking door, and Joe has become such a pest to Flo whenever she's trying to accomplish anything, we needed to give her her own space. Thus, our former "school" room, which is technically the dining room, is now the playroom. This is okay, except for the fact that there's no door to keep the dog out, and it's also the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. And our playroom is notoriously a mess, so no I feel more compelled to clean up every night, so nobody injures themsevles coming through our front door. Ha.

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