Thursday, May 24, 2012

This and That and Summer

The last couple weeks we've been working hard to finish our winter subjects and have succeeded for the most part (save for Latin).  Our last day of co-op was Monday, and now I'm relaxing and playing catch up.  Our busy winter schedule always means many things get neglected.  Summer is a time to rest, reevaluate, and bring the household up to par.  I love summer.  Soon I'd like to organize closets, clean, and take care of various little odds and ends that have been on the back burner.  I also expect to cook more decent meals rather than relying so much on restaurants or spaghetti!

Kylen was invited to a birthday party at a place called Sky High that is just amazing.  They have huge trampolines where you can even bounce off the walls!  He enjoyed it so much that Greg's been taking him about once a week.  Within the first 15 minutes of Greg's first time there, he had snapped his glasses in half, and they'd both sprained their ankles!!  We have to admit, he was being kinda stupid jumping into the foam while wearing them.  Thankfully, it's gone pretty smoothly since that initial break in session!

Sky High ~ Kylen Upper Left

Progress is being made on finishing our basement.  Our good carpenter friend has been coming 8-5 Wednesday through Friday.  He's finished most of the framing and electrical.  Today he worked on the plumbing.  Roller blading down there will probably be on hold until the floor is carpeted, but we did manage to attend one last homeschool skate event.  Greg even went!
Playing Pool at the Skate Place

Greg Came!

We got some flowers planted in front last weekend.  Yay!  Still need to weed the raised garden beds and plant more flowers and seeds in them.  This week has been rather chilly and rainy, but I would say summer is here at last!  And what better way to celebrate than a nice, foresty read aloud?  We've been greatly enjoying The Adventures of Robin Hood and his band of merry men!  Did I mention I love summer?  But who doesn't?!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Homeschooling: The Extras (Part II)

My extended family has been blessed to have a strong musical background, especially in piano, strings, and voice. I have precious childhood memories of the many informal performances that took place during family gatherings, and piano was always a favorite. Although I personally had to give up playing, I've long harbored a strong hope that someday Kylen might learn. At the same time, it was important to me that he only take lessons as long as he enjoys them. Hopefully this would lead to self-motivated practice and a lifelong love for a hobby that can be so tremendously refreshing to the soul.

There was a short time during which I tried to teach Kylen myself, but his enthusiasm quickly waned. I decided to let it lie a few years and held out hope he'd still learn in the future. So when he expressed an interest last spring, it was hard not to get excited! This time I thought we might have better success if we tried lessons from someone else. I found a local lady in an ad, and we both liked her from the start. She is a very talented Christian musician who, having overcome physical challenges, specializes in children with disabilities. I believe this has helped make her extra patient and unusually keen at keeping things positive. To my heart's great joy, Kylen not only likes playing but very much enjoys performing. In fact, he seems to play better when someone is watching! Here he is playing Star Wars at his second recital back in November. He's playing more advanced music now, but I don't have any recent videos!

Another "extra" we've employed this year has been Netflix. It takes a bit of work to wade through the junk, but you can find a lot of educational gems on there. They have an abundance of resources for nature lovers (like me!), but I've also discovered good quality documentaries and shows that appeal more to Kylen's interests (which sadly do NOT include plants, animals, or many other topics related to science). We especially liked Fires of Kuwait, A Cemetery Special, 17 Kids and Counting, Waiting for Superman, and Prototype This. We've been particularly impressed with Prototype This which takes viewers through the process of inventing and building cool new gadgets.

As for art, Kylen takes a couple of watercolor classes each year from this fun, vivacious gal. In the past, she focused mainly on watercolor, but I've noticed recently she's been adding other mediums. We might give some of those a shot before the school year is over! Anyway, she offers art classes for all ages and has a great personality. Art isn't Kylen's thing (opposite me that way), but he does get in the mood occasionally. Recently, he's turned out a couple of excellent super hero drawings done freehand. I have a closet full of art supplies he's never noticed, and that's partly why I decided to teach art at our co-op this year - a sort of last ditch effort to get in a few crafts before junior high takes him off into more specialized directions. Although, I'm sure we'll still do some art-related projects in the future.

I bought this stop motion book by Klutz forever ago and finally got around to trying it out. (We have several homeschooling items we've never gotten around to "trying out." I've chosen to address it by no longer attending conventions or reading curriculum literature. I am determined to use what we have before purchasing any more! I mean, we're not drowning in the stuff, but I seriously want to use what we've already spent money on! But I digress.) We have made two videos. The first was a snap and came from Kylen's imagination (see below complete with sound effects he made); the second took hours and was the combined effort of my brother, Kylen and me. It could have been quick, but we didn't take enough care in our setup and made a mistake that resulted in reshooting. By the time we were halfway through, we were losing our outside light and patience. We took a much needed long break after the second one, but I think this week we might make a few more. For the most part, it's a lot of fun, and I'd like to try some of the neat projects already laid out in the book.

Well, that about covers the main areas of homeschooling, although we've already discovered new additions since I started this series. It's just one of the many aspects of homeschooling: it's always morphing and the possibilities never end. Rather than being stuck in doldrums or drudgery, we can instantly ditch what no longer works, try new things, skip over well established knowledge, and explore new topics at any time. I wouldn't trade it for traditional school for a million bucks, and I don't believe Kylen would either!