Tag Archives: homeschooling

Summer School

summer school

We do summer school.

Some homeschoolers take the summer off. We go year round. Some homeschools are structured. Some are completely unstructured. We are semi-structured. What I mean by that is that Yak has a daily list of assignments that he can pursue on his own time, within reason. I want his assignments done by 2 pm because often I will have a project for us to work on together. Usually, these projects are school related. Some days we have a field trip or something to do in the morning, which moves assignments to later in the day. Or even gives him a day off from his assignments.

We do school on Saturdays.

Yak gets his assignments done in 2-3 hours a day, so doing school on Saturdays is not unreasonable. It is a lighter assignment day, though. Usually, we will have some “alternative” schooling going on Saturdays, as well. This also keeps us moving towards finishing up high school requirements. Now we can move on to exploring life skills and possibilities for making a living. Deciding whether or not college will factor in. Did you gasp? Look around. Today’s college grads have lots of debt with student loans but they have to claw their way into any kind of decent job. College is not the solution that it used to be. Unless your student has a clear notion of wanting to enter the medical, legal, or engineering professions.

bike cruisers

So what are some of our alternative schooling and projects?

Learning to cut and fit new light panels in grandpa’s ceiling.

Caulking the bathroom sink.

Brushing, skimming and vacuuming the pool.

Working on mom’s truck: replacing brake lights, fuses, learning to check the fluids.

Fixing up the bikes we got at a yard sale: washing, replacing tires, adjusting brakes.

And more.

Field trips?

We’ve gone to the movies (historical fiction/fact).

Beach.

La Brea Tar Pits

Park days with homeschool group

Escape room

Hiking to Eaton Canyon Falls, San Antonio Falls, Murphy Ranch.

And more.

We document everything and save it in electronic files. Even pictures and videos. Soon I will be deciding how I will structure his portfolio and I will begin putting it together from all this documentation. This way he will have an official record when he decides to apply for college, jobs, or whatever.

In the meantime, it’s summer. I hear the swimming pool calling.

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Education Reform Starts at Home

 education reform

For years now, our government has been lamenting the sad state of education in our country. So many methods of reform have been tried and have failed. As homeschoolers, we know that education reform starts at home. Education is not a one size fits all endeavor. The job market has changed and continues to evolve. Homeschoolers are in the unique position of being able to prepare our children for these changes, as we see them.

astronaut talk

Yet, the basics remain the same. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are key to further education and success. Once a person can read, communicate clearly through the written word, and solve basic math problems, he or she can pursue whatever career opportunities may present themselves. Provide a strong foundation in the 3R’s during elementary school. Then step back and provide guidance, support, and encouragement to the young person.

elk at rocky mt nat park

Guidance,

especially if the student in question seems to think that gaming is an appropriate career choice. It can be, but it is about as likely as becoming a rich and famous actor, musician, or sports figure. They need backup skills.

la brea calif tar pits poppies

Support,

in the form of books, supplies, activities, and mentors, as students explore possibilities for careers. Aside from textbooks and lab time, this might include internships; docent work at museums; a whale-watching trip with an oceanographer; a nature walk with a botanist, forester, or geologist; flight simulation with an airline pilot or an astronaut, etc. Once a student develops a more serious attitude towards a particular subject, they might spend more time with a mentor. Including assisting with projects, interning, transcribing notes, etc.

tar pits dig site

Certainly, all this must be documented in the student’s portfolio. Especially at the high school level. And even if you’re unschooling, your child deserves to have the tools he needs to get into college. If he or she so desires. So assemble the student portfolio with an eye to your state’s high school graduation requirements and general college admission requirements. At least at community college level.

We started high schooling this year. So I will post more about our activities and how I document them for Yak’s portfolio. How I blend it all together to satisfy requirements in several different states. How to make it good enough for college applications. And how I try to keep it interesting for Yak.

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Pompeii

 pompeii
The 2014 movie Pompeii is great historical fiction. I have found movies to be a great tool to use in the homeschool. Especially historical fiction.

Pompeii got the boy and me (and his older brother!) discussing the AD79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. We talked about how volcanoes work. We discussed other events of the era. The persecution of the early Christians. The historian Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the event from his Uncle Pliny the Elder’s villa across the Bay of Naples.

The boys, of course, were fascinated by the whole gladiator thing. I love to scrutinize the costumes and settings. And so many ways to die as a volcano erupts. Even though we knew the real ending, we couldn’t help but hope for survivors.

Despite the goofs in period accuracy and geography, we enjoyed Pompeii. It made for good discussion and fun escape.

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40 Books Reading Challenge

40 books reading challenge

Somewhere in the last month I read an article about a 40 books reading challenge. A teacher had challenged her class to read 40 books for the school year. The theory is that this will foster a love of reading. It sounded like a good idea. I did a quick search so I could let you know where I first read about it and I discovered that this challenge has been around a long time.

Yak has reading assignments for school, but he does not really enjoy them, and he gets through them as quickly and minimally as possible.

There is much discussion and many variations on the 40 book challenge, but I kept ours simple. My goals are to get the boy reading for pleasure again, and expand his teenage mind beyond video games. With this in mind, we set some ground rules:

Yak will read:

4 books a month of his choice = 1 brand new book of his choice.

Books must be:

at least 200 pages (not including index, etc.)

over 300 pages = 2 books

must not be objectionable to mom

prize book not to exceed $20 unless mom okays it.

There will be a bigger prize at the 1/2 way mark (20 books read). This is not decided yet, but may involve pizza, a special dinner out, a trip to a trampoline park, or some other excursion.

There will be a grand prize when the goal of 40 books read is reached. Disneyland is a possibility, or maybe a water park. Not for sure there yet, either.

A journal must be kept, documenting:

name of book

author

date started

date finished

how well he liked it

main points he noticed

So far he is on track with a book a week, and well on the way to his first prize. I am enjoying our book discussions (I try to read what he is reading) and they also help me to determine whether he is actually reading!

 

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Jackson Stables Trail Ride, Estes, CO

trail ride

Trail rides are a great way to enjoy horseback riding. Especially if you don’t have time, money or facilities to own your own horse. Well kept grounds and large paddocks characterize Jackson Stables. Uniquely located in the YMCA camp complex in Estes Park, CO and right outside Rocky Mountain National Park, it is an ideal spot to begin a trail ride. Confident, well-trained guides pair visitors with well groomed, stout and healthy looking horses. Each with a unique personality and good temperament.

Our guide, Liz, was a friend of my daughter from college, who was working at the stables for the summer. Guests can ride, rain or shine. As a matter of fact, guides are trained to deal with the frequent summer storms. Additionally, horses carry rain slickers for guests. Moreover, several areas are earmarked for waiting out inclement weather. Apparently, the horses are used to such situations. Liz told us that they rarely have a problem during the storms.

My daughter’s ride was Otis, a stunning black and white paint, for the more experienced rider. Not only do horses pick up on nervousness and inexperience but some will also see how much they can get away with. Of course, Otis picked up on her confidence and performed flawlessly.

Likewise, Yak drew Dallas, a slow, deliberate buckskin. His only mischief was grabbing mouthfuls of the tall grass growing alongside the trail.

In contrast, my mount was John. John was in much more of a hurry than anyone else. Apparently, our trail ride interrupted his break. While the first half of the trail was fine, John seemed to sense when I got tired. As a result, he decided to have a little fun with me. Almost before my legs got tired of holding on, seems like his trot became more like a bouncy room. With no padding. After a few trots, John and I came to a compromise and I was able to survive the rest of the ride. I definitely need to ride more often.

For the most part we enjoyed  partial cloud cover and temps in the mid-seventies. The trail through Rocky Mountain National Park winds through pine and aspen groves, past streams and waterfalls and along some spectacular view points.

Although Jackson Stables is located in the YMCA camp, YMCA membership is not necessary to use the facilities. The 2-hour ride is $55 per person. They accept credit cards. Tip the guide with cash.

Jackson Stables, Inc.
YMCA of the Rockies Livery
Allen and Julie Jackson, Owners
PO Box 20549
Estes Park, CO 80511

SUMMER PHONE:
(970) 586-3341,
ext. 1140/1149

WINTER PHONE:
(970) 586-6748
(Nov.1 – March 3)

FAX:
(970) 577-1401

EMAIL:
info@JacksonStables.com

 

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