Monday, June 27, 2016

The Critter Keeper

Summer reading programs at the local libraries are great for summer time learning.  The Critter Keeper came to our local library and entertained us with various bits of information on amphibians, reptiles and arthropods.

Here are a some of the animals he brought for everyone to enjoy.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Buck Creek Campground

My parents bought a new travel trailer and were itching to take her on the maiden voyage.  We wanted to try somewhere different and knowing that the weather was going to be HOT, we wanted somewhere cool.  I scoured the internet looking for various campgrounds that would meet our needs.  Several were already full for the weekend.  Then I remembered a place we scouted out several years ago, Buck Creek Campground.  I called and they had two spots!

The campground was about an hour and a half from our home.  It wasn't a bad drive and the roads weren't twisty like other places in the mountains of North Carolina.  That was a definite plus when driving two lane roads.  Buck Creek was easy to find and not far from US 221.

The campground was very well maintained.  When we arrived, no one was in the office.  There was a note and a phone to call the owner and announce our arrival.  We knew our spot numbers and he allowed us to proceed to set up camp.  He told us to just come by the office later and pay for the site. 

The roads of the campground were very well maintained.  It looked as though fresh gravel had been spread and compacted.  The sites were all gravel and which was a plus, so no sand tracking into the rig.

The majority of the sites were closely spaced together.  So, if you want to sprawl out and/or have large rigs with several slides, it could pose an issue.  The owner did ask the size of our rigs and let me know upfront that the sites were on the smaller size.  So, if he forgets to ask you, make sure you tell him your rig size.  Our travel trailers are 31 feet tongue to bumper and have one super slide each.  Site 45 was the smaller of the sites and we set up on it.  My parents backed into site 46 and we spent all our time on their site.  It was a little larger than our site.

We loved that we were right on the creek.  We could not access the creek from our sites, but we had a nice view of the water and could here it rushing.  The sites were very shaded and that was a definite plus.  It was a short walk to swimming hole 2 from our site.  Swimming hole one was just a tad further down stream in the campground.  We tried out both swimming holes and enjoyed them.  I think we decided swimming hole 2 was our favorite.  There were large boulders at both holes to jump off and into the water.  The holes were quite deep eight to ten feet.  This thrilled Little Man.  The water flow was just right to allow for a lazy river tube ride.

Down stream view from Swimming hole #1

Swimming hole #1 The large boulder in the back is where you can 
jump off into the creek.

View from our campsite #45 and #46

My hubs, dad, mom, and kids fished the creek.  They caught a few fish and Hubby caught a nice trout.  We saw several people fishing and they were reeling in some nice sized fish.  So, fishing is good in the creek.

Fishing near Swimming Hole #2

 Fishing at swimming hole #2

The campground was very quiet at all times of the day and night.  I was really surprised due to the number of campers and how close the sites were together.  The speed limit of 5mph is strictly enforced and keeps road traffic noise down.

They do sell firewood at the office, but there was really no camp store.  However, the local Walmart was just about 10 minutes away and Tom Johnson's Camping World was right down the road.  So, if you forget anything or need a NC fishing license, you don't have to travel far.  Once at the campground, you wouldn't know civilization was so close!

We will definitely return to Buck Creek Campground!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Not Qualified to Teach Our Own Children?

     To my homeschool moms and those that are on the fence of thinking they don't know enough to take the plunge. Remember, you graduated from the system (public or private) and they said you fulfilled the requirements to graduate. Why do you feel inadequate to teach your own kids?

      Think about this: Teachers went to college to learn how to teach a group of 25 or more kids at one time. They learned classroom management. You aren't managing a classroom.

     They learned how to work the overhead projector (now the smart boards), how to use a laminator, how to make an informative bulletin board, etc. Do you have these things? Probably not, so don't worry about it. Can you work your computer? Can you Google? Can you put a dvd in your dvd player? Good. You have that class covered.

     They learned how to create elaborate lesson plans. One that must state Essential Questions;  State the State and National Standard they are covering that day;  Spell out exactly what they are doing in each class; List the different types of learning styles in the classroom and how they plan to address each; State how each component will be assessed for the lesson; State how each component will receive a grade;  ETC.  Your homeschool lesson planner needs not be elaborate or detailed like a classroom teacher's plan.  You may write down a generalization of what you will do today.  You may write that the week before, the day of, or after you completed the lesson/activity.  Heck, you may write it down days after, because you got so caught up in the learning process or life and just forgot to log it! 

     They learned how to keep a grade book, write a test, analyze the results, etc. You may keep grades, put them in a grade book, and analyze what your child got wrong. (You don't have to do this in most states.)  You are also able to sit with your child and see why they got something wrong and learn from it within minutes of your child completing their work. Then you can make sure your child understands the mistakes before moving on to the next task. The teacher must grade all the papers of the class, record the papers, analyze the papers, go over the results with the entire class, and it can take days for the papers to get back in the hands of the students. They have already moved on to the next task during this waiting time and there isn't time to reteach what is not understood.

     How many of you did horrible on a test and then a couple weeks later finally understood the material? It was too late to go back and redo the test. Your homeschooled child can, though. Some say that it isn't fair and you shouldn't record the new grade. Why isn't it fair? Wasn't the whole point to learn and understand the concept?  The system doesn't allow this to happen.  It is too much work and time.  I can understand this.  There are students that take advantage of not studying before the test because they wanted to party and have a good time.  They then would want to retake the test on their own terms.  Teachers don't have time for this.  Homeschool parents know their kids and can decide the outcome of their own child.  Some don't cut slack for irresponsible behavior of their child not studying.  Some understand that their child just isn't grasping a concept and know to put it away and come back later to see if it clicks.  We have that luxury!

     So, now it boils down to "Oh, my! I was horrible at X and I could never teach X to my child. A teacher that teaches X is the only way to have my child learn X." WRONG! "They spent hours in college learning X, I didn't." How many had that teacher that was really smart, but couldn't really teach X where you could understand it?  Do you know that some teachers that are teaching X haven't a clue what they are teaching to your child?  The chemistry teacher may have a degree in biology and has taking a couple courses of chemistry way back twenty years ago.  They barely remember all of it and are trying to just keep a chapter ahead of their students to get through the year.  Or the World History teacher was an English teacher that was moved  do to numbers of classes needed.  The last time she had World History was fifteen years ago in college or was it high school?  Hmmmm....  So, don't think that teachers are always experts in the field they are teaching.

    I love this quote in the article I read: "Homeschooling a subject beyond my knowledge base is totally possible because homeschooling isn’t about teaching my child what I know. Homeschooling is about providing an education and I can facilitate my child’s learning even if I know little about the subject. - Eclectic Homeschooling"  (All the sciences that I took on top of the education classes have only on occasion come into play in our hs journey. My kids are not me and the natural sciences are not their cup of tea. Although, I do sneak it in here and there!)

     Like I said in another post, I let my kids follow their passions. When Egee told me she wanted to clog, my response was "No, you don't." I wasn't going to be a dance mom. She repeatedly asked to learn. I barely knew what clogging was and definitely couldn't help her out. I told her if she wanted to clog then figure it out. She happily proceeded to watch YouTube videos and learned to clog on her own. A few months later, I agreed to formal lessons. The instructor couldn't believe she was self taught!  She had not encountered another child with this drive to learn on her own to the degree Egee did. 

      I don't always remember the math that they are doing. Yes, I cheat and look at the answer. Usually, it jogs my memory and then I sit with my child and we work out the problem together. Other times, when my memory isn't jogged, I take out the smart phone and Google it. Don't you just love Google? I do! We can figure out just about anything with it and we learn. Oh, by the way, this is not cheating. It is using a resource to learn how to do something. (How many of you already do this with your kid's homework?)
There are so many websites, YouTube channels, homeschool moms and dads, people in the community, etc. that can help you facilitate your child's learning. So, don't think that your own education or not being a trained teacher should keep you from homeschooling if that is your desire. If you care for your child's education and are willing to take a leap of faith, you can homeschool, too! Remember, you were and always will be your child's first teacher.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Milliken Arboretum

Today we took a nice nature walk at the Milliken Arboretum.  It was a beautiful morning to get out and explore.  We are so fortunate to have many different trails in our area to enjoy nature.  It was especially fun to meet up with friends!

Milliken Arboretum is just off Business I-85.   To enter the facility, it was a little confusing because the road said private entrance.  It leads to the parking areas.  Follow the road completely around to the visitor parking.  The parking lot is the last lot option.  The groundskeeper told us to park in the upper portion of the lot near the concrete sidewalk leading to the arboretum.


The view was amazing from atop the little hill from the parking area.  The kiddos were delighted to spot the ponds and rushed straight for them.  There is just something very appealing about water.

Everything was well taken care of on the grounds.  There was plenty of wildlife (geese, ducks, turtles, carp, etc.).  It was hard to believe we were in an urban area.

We let the kiddos lead the way for the walk and didn't really stick to the trails.  That's okay because the area is wide open and easy to explore.  This makes the walk great for the younger kids to get a sense of freedom to explore.

We loved this little piece of urban oasis!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Awards, Passions, Real-world

    I read a post on Facebook this morning that I think all my homeschool mom friends and even my nonhomeschool mom friends should reflect upon. I know as a hs mom, I constantly have doubts about my kiddos knowing all the things that they are 'suppose' to know at this age and grade. Honestly, I can say no they don't know all the things that the STATE says they should know at their age/grade. But they know things that the STATE says they should know at a higher grade or not really need to know during their schooling process. The math will come when needed, how many of us use algebra on a daily basis or if at all? We are told it helps with logical thinking that is why we need to know it. I can think of countless other things that help with logical thinking, as well. Who came up with these arbitrary rules of when you are suppose to know something anyway?

    As I scrolled down my News Feed, I noticed a few homeschool mom's posting memories of school awards their child had received before they left the system.  They commented on how they missed these pieces of paper that acknowledged their child.  I cringed to think that those pieces of paper hold more value to the general population than to knowing the real child and the gifts that they do not give awards for in school.    No one remembers that little Johnny was top in his third grade class in spelling.  No one cares that little Susy was voted Most Popular in the fifth grade.  What has always struck me funny is that so many teachers give a class clown award to the kid that drove them absolutely crazy all year long, but think it is cute at the end of the year.

    Am I saying all this because I am jealous?  No.  When Egee went to public school she received achievement awards.  Were we proud?  Yes.  Did it define her? No.  Learning came easy to her.  She was a people pleaser and wanted to do her best and follow the rules and make good grades.  She would become frustrated at not achieving perfection and would rather give up drawing or writing than to not do well at those things.  She loved to read prior to second grade.  However, in second grade they started AR reading tests and she was so afraid of getting an answer wrong.  She started trying to memorize the books, so she could get 100s on the tests.  By third grade, she hated reading, hated the AR tests and self doubt started to creep into her mind.  My bright, passionate, creative child that was still a 'free form' was slowly being molded into another peg to fit the system.  This was when I woke up and developed a plan to remove her from the system.

   Fast forward five years and my 'chiseled' child has gained back her 'free form'.  It took four long years of undoing the system.  I hate to image what she would be like today if kept her in the system.  I thank God that Little Man never had to experience the system.  (Although, I will admit I have threatened on occasion to send him into the system.  He knows I would never follow through.)  This is our reality today:

    My kiddos know their passions. They are able to follow those passions and spend unlimited time pursuing those passions. Egee can draw and spend as much time as she needs to perfect the drawing for her own satisfaction and not for a grade. She can write her stories and develop them on her own time frame and not worry about a grade in the grade book. She can spend time studying dance choreography and steps. She can spend time learning the new song on her ukulele and guitar.  She is self taught in all the above.  It is my job to help her hone her craft, when I am asked.  She wants to learn more technique in Manga art, so I have found a summer class for her to take.  She wants to bounce choreography ideas with a choreographer, so I have arranged private classes.  I am her manager.  I help her achieve her passions and dreams.

    Little Man can spend countless hours perfecting a magic trick, a yo-yo trick, bicycle stunt, basketball trick shot, etc. (I know, I know, I know, tricks and stunts but as he tells me he is working on physics.) To think about it, he has constantly been telling me he is doing physics since he was four. Hmmm....maybe he is going to be a physicist.  He has announced he is going to be a professional gamer and go to college to be a gamer.  What ten year old boy doesn't?  He immerses himself in the game world and tries to find the shortcuts, the best strategy, etc.  He doesn't always play the game like it was meant to be played.  But then I think to myself, the developer of the game put these abilities to play the game, like Little Man does, into the game.  He must be like my kid - unconventional!  Who knows, Little Man may become a game developer.

    The post I read was stating the same types of things. She too, was a former teacher. She also has doubts. But, she said she looks at her budding artist and thinks Picasso. She looks at her budding dancer and sees a famous dancer. Do we know or care if famous artist got on the A honor roll? Did they make an A or B in advanced maths? What about your favorite actor, musician, heck Einstein was told he wasn't going to amount to much in elementary school. Do we question the diploma that hangs on the wall of our physician, demanding to know what rank he achieved in his graduating class?  Did he make the A honor role in fifth grade?  Do we ask the lawyer for her spelling achievement award from the second grade? Or if she made the Principal's honor roll in the tenth grade?  Do we ask our friends if they received the class clown award in sixth grade?  Does it matter?

     What if their passion changes? What if they need to know something that we hadn't studied to pursue a new interest? What if they decide to go to college and haven't studied Algebra 2 in their tenth grade year? What if, what if, what if? What if, they just learn it? That's right! My kiddos have learned how to seek out knowledge and learn something on their own without a textbook or a teacher. They know how to seek out help and learn what is needed to continue to learn what they need. I have been up at 10pm helping Little Man learn something that he needed to know to get to the next step of whatever passion it was at the time. I scour Pintrest and pin different drawing techniques onto the Art board at 11pm, so Egee can see them in the morning.  I have read and commented on stories she has written at 9pm to offer encouragement, so she can delve into writing the next segment later that evening.  Learning doesn't happen from 8am to 3pm in this house or August to May.  It happens 24/7, 365 days a year!

     Our kids have their own unique gifts. Don't get hung up in the grades (good or bad), the awards (whether they got any or not), or comparing one kid to the other. Nurture the gifts they have and let them reach their potential. The geniuses of the world don't always know everything. Read about Paul Erdos. Doubt less, spend more time investing, nurturing, and helping your child pursue their passion. You may just be surprised of the outcome!