Friday, June 1, 2012

Wish Wash Wish Wash

Those of you who know me are aware that I've always wanted to try homeschooling my kids. I have said more than once, "I'm 95% sure we're going to next year."  The reason for this dream of mine has nothing to do with how I feel about public schools. I think our schools in Whitefish are awesome. But time passes so quickly and I would love to take the opportunity to homeschool even for a year or two. The quality time with each other as siblings, as a family, is irreplaceable. The attachment and direction they receive from an adult/parent rather than peers is invaluable. If they weren't interested, I wouldn't even consider it but they want it as well right now and that won't last forever. Of course, I still haven't committed to it. (Wish wash wish wash) I don't want to deprive them of the great experiences they receive at school but I don't want to look back, and wonder,
"What was I waiting for?"

 Anyway, we have been fortunate enough to become involved with a homeschool community here who meets every Tuesday. Myli and I have joined them for some of their group lessons and Myli attended  the monthly art class they formed at Stumptown Studio. The day the group was going on a field trip to Big Creek Outdoor Education Center just outside of Glacier National Park, I took Luci and Fynn out of school so we could all go. I've been to Big Creek on a field trip with Luci's class and really enjoyed it. They do a great job breaking the day into 4 different educational pieces but it is different every time. We absolutely loved this experience and I would like to think that if or when we do decide to try homeschooling, our classroom would be so much more than pencils and paper.
 Hands on, outdoor, real life, and of course, pencils and paper too.

We split up into two groups of about 10 kids each and our group started the morning sitting in a circle around a campfire inside this teepee to talk about the many characteristics of fire. We discussed the three components needed to create fire (fuel, oxygen, and an energy source) and then played a game to create more of a visual of each component. The kids learned that the number one cause of forest fires is..........(wait for it)............people.   

 We went on a hike through a forest to identify areas affected by the most recent fire. The kids were amazed at all of the new growth. The most common question was, "If all the trees were burned, how did the seeds get here to plant new ones?" Apparently, pine cones fall to the ground once they reach a certain temperature.... and plant new seeds before the fire comes through and burns the trees. Did not know that. I hadn't ever even pondered it.

They held hands for most of the hike. (sigh)

What is the best way to determine how clean a body of water is? By looking at the types of bugs you find in it and on it. The more water bugs, the CLEANER the water. Big Creek is clean. Class-One clean. We figured that out because it houses caddis flies and stone flies....and we had just taken a mini lesson on the subject (see left) before getting a hands-on experience in the creek.  Several of the oldest kids were chosen to gear up in waders and life jackets to take samples and identify bugs so we could determine what type of ecosystem it was.

This guy taught our third course of the day - Endangered species of fish and the causes of the massive population drops. Guess what - the culprit again is.... people. Part of the problem is fishing and not knowing how to identify the differences between various types of trout - Bull trout (endangered), Rainbow trout, Lake Trout.... 
The other part of the problem is that we (people) attempt to correct the extreme population variations by trying to interfere and control them. It then takes several years to realize that, oops, we've created a brand new problem.
This part of our lesson may seem like a downer but it was quite fun. After his little presentation, the kids played another game where they pretended to be different species of fish and they had to get through the stream without being eaten by the dominant species. (Some kids just call this game 'Tag') 

Lastly, we went on a nice long walk along the banks of the river to identify three different types of rock. I can still hold up a rock and ask Myli what kind it is and she'll know. At first she had to think about it and do the game we played to figure out the answer. Igneous (hand motions mimic a volcano), Sedimentary (hand motions make layers with each syllable of the word), and Metamorphic (hand motions make crushing fists to indicate pressure). It didn't take long for her to remember on her own.
Our day ended around 2 o'clock which left us plenty of time to explore on our way home. We stopped at some beautiful waterfalls and took our time chatting about everything we learned. When I asked them if they'd like to do this kind of thing again, I received an excited yes times three. It helps that this homeschool group is full of really great families and kids we already know. We met some new friends though too. (Luci exchanged numbers with the other girl in waders.)

That night I told Brad about our day. He was in full support of the homeschool idea already....but the experience left us both with the feeling that we are 95% sure we're going to do year.

Of course a few days later Luci's class went to tour the middle school where she would be attending 5th grade next year. I went too - shocking, right? Well, we both thought it was awesome. I met the teachers and knew immediately which one would best fit Luci's learning style. I found out today that she was assigned that teacher. I also have a great feeling about the teachers Fynn and Myli will be assigned for 2nd grade and Kindergarten. Thus continues the cycle of "should we, shouldn't we?"

wish wash wish wash


By the way, when I spell checked my post before publishing, it occurred to me that I have no business teaching anyone anything!

1 comment:

  1. You should homeschool them for a year to try it. You've got a great network there and you'll never, ever regret it! The three years I home schooled Ruby were wonderful. I miss it all the time. (Remember she said we should call it Paradise Home School?)
    You've wanted to for so long! (And they don't need to know how to spell, they'll use spell check just like you.) :)
    Love you!