April 2008 Homeschool Adventures

April began with our resident fool’s birthday on the 1st. Darren turned thirty-eight year’s old. During that week, we had our homeschooling buddy, Conner, and his mom, Jen, visiting from New Jersey. They came down for a field trip to our local grocery store and to visit for a couple days. They were also here the last week of the month, tagging along to a couple activities and visiting with friends. So, the kids enjoyed having houseguests this month.

Academics were sporadic, but well received this month. Flo started using an online math program called ALEKS. I really like it so far. It requires little direction on my part, and she seems to being moving forward, so that’s good. We’re hoping the “Teaching Textbooks” program is available for fourth grade next year, so we’re waiting eagerly to hear more about that. Other than that, we’ve continued with a couple workbooks on language arts and reading, and she’s now finishing up book five of the “Draw Write Now” series.

Joe is still just working on some basic concepts, and we’re waiting for the opportune time to introduce the Funnix reading program we used with Flo. Of course, we realize that every child is different, and this approach may not be a match for him. But, since we already have the program, we’ll probably give it a try over the summer, and see where his focus is.

Our first activity of the month was a trip planned through The Field Trip Factory, called Healthy Kids or something like that. We went to our local Martin’s grocery store and got a tour of all the departments and some samples. The kids loved that.

Other activities this month included the last two meetings of our Smithsburg Areal Learning Time Co-Op for the summer. We had a great first year, and decided to take the summer off. We’ll look forward to some fun activities in the Fall and utilizing all the talents and resources of our group.

On the 5th, we drove down to Frederick to check out a “Really Really Free” gathering that we saw advertised on one of our mailing lists. It turned out to be about ten college kids with blankets of free stuff laid out in the park. But, it was a nice day, so we chatted with them awhile, then Darren and Joe played in the park, while Flo and I walked around downtown Frederick. We topped off the day with lunch at the Common Market.

Our Earth Scouts group had its first meeting this month. We worked on our banner and decorated their journals. I think the Earth Scouts organization has a lot of potential, and I’m interested to see how the group goes.

On the 10th, Flo took her monthly art class at the Smithsburg Library, with Ms. Kari VanZante. They studied the artist Seurat and his pointillism technique by doing an acrylic painting.

Flo’s friend and neighbor, Caroline, turned eight this month, and had a sleepover for her birthday. Flo seemed to enjoy herself, but had a little disagreement with some of the girls over some missing candy, and came home a bit upset. It all seems to have blown over, as these things tend to do.
Both Flo and Joe went to the Lowe’s Workshops again this month. They built an ant house and a wind sail. I think the projects are cute, but they are starting to overtake our playroom, and their quality is questionable. I think we may have to selectively eliminate some, or start giving them as gifts.

After the Lowe’s workshop one Saturday, we went to a free concert at the Discovery Station museum downtown, featuring Jennie Avila and Stephen Wright. Flo enjoyed it, but it only held Joe’s attention for about ten minutes, due to the room’s proximity to the play stuff in the next room. Nonetheless, it was a nice afternoon.

On the 16th, one of the mom’s in our group organized a tour of the art museum downtown. So, Flo went on a little field trip with me, while Joe stayed home with Darren (who was working). The tour was interesting and I think the kids picked up a few interesting facts and tidbits.

For Earth Day, I organized an Earth Day Party. I got the county recycling coordinator, who coincidentally used to be a middle school science teacher, to come speak to our homeschooling group about recycling. His presentation was engaging and even the parents learned some about where our waste goes when we throw it away. It was enlightening, to say the least. We also had a great whole foods potluck, some crafts and just hung out and enjoyed the nice weather.

That same day, Joe started pee-wee soccer. Darren took him and said he seemed a little disappointed that they only did drills and didn’t actually get to play. But he agreed to go again, and seems to be enjoying himself. He got new cleats for the occasion, which he’s very excited about.

The 24th was Bring Your Kids to work Day, so we left Joe with my mom, since we weren’t up for the challenge of taking him to DC, and Flo, Zofia, Darren and I headed in at 6am. Despite our apparent early departure, we were still late. We were supposed to be there around 8, and due to traffic, we didn’t get there until closer to 9am. Still, Flo had a nice day visiting with some of the kids of Darren’s co-workers and getting a tour of the office. She’s been in a couple times before for similar events, so she knew the drill. I sat in a desk by Darren on and off with Zofia, and then we walked around the city for a couple hours and picked up lunch for Flo at Java Green, a vegetarian place we really like. On our way out of the city, we stopped at Whole Foods Market in Georgetown to grab a salad bar and a few snacks for the ride home, as seems to have become tradition.

Our geography club luncheon this month studied Greece. Flo shared a little info she learned about the Parthenon and the mom that hosted the activity planned some great “Olympic” games for the kids. We also had a eclectic spread of Greek-inspired food. We brought homemade hummus to add to the mix.

Flo had her last ice skating class for the Spring. Her teacher was sick and didn’t show up for the final testing week, so we’re not sure what’s up with that. But, I think we’re going to take a break from it for awhile, just to free up our schedule a bit. We’ll see how things are going in the Fall and where Flo’s interest level is. She’s been doing skating, on and off, for a couple years now, and really enjoys it, but there’s only so far one can go without lots of practice and private instruction, and I’m not sure that’s the direction we’re heading. I think it’s more of a fun physical activity. So, we’ll see.

Flo also wrapped up her piano lessons with her instructor out in West Virginia. She really enjoyed the year with her, and her home was conveniently located near our friends out there, so we could often visit after a lesson. But, for the sake of simplicity and minimizing driving, we opted to check out the music store about a mile away from us that offers both guitar and piano, so she can take them both in one place. So, we’ll see how that goes next month.

On the 29th, I hosted a quarterly organizational meeting for our homeschooling group (PHLiC – The Potomac Home Learning Circle). Eight or ten moms showed up to discuss some activity ideas and some of the minor administration tasks that need to be managed as we grow as a group. It’s inspiring to see all the creative ideas we come up with as a group and the resources we make available to one another.

So, we finished off the month by saying good-bye to our houseguests, who left early to go to a field trip in Baltimore. The kids and I relaxed a bit, then Flo and I headed out in the afternoon for her yoga class, then to return library books. We took a walk downtown for a little exercise before heading to get a few groceries and to the Home and School Connection store to look for a birthday gift for a friend.

It was another full month, and at moments I felt like we were completely overscheduled. Thus, I’ll be looking for ways to minimize that feeling as we round out the “school” year.

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