A Visit To Hawaii From Home-Tot-Time Tuesday

Aloha Summer

Today was our first official day of homeschool and part of me really wanted to write about our first great day of school. BUT another part of me felt obligated to pay homage to the “Summer of Fun” and close out our summer with a respectful farewell.

In the beginning of the summer, I wrote an article called My Summer Plan that MOPS International published on their leaders blog. In my article, I declared that this summer would be a time for me to lighten up, be more carefree, notice goodness around me, and go on new adventures. After I wrote that article, the girls and I created a Summer Bucket List and we started making plans to have some serious FUN.  We wrote down whatever their hearts desired- big or small- it did not matter. This was a dreaming list.  When the list was complete, we posted it on the fridge and looked to see what we wanted to do first. Most of the activities were easily achievable–icecream, the beach, stay at a hotel- those were things we normally do in the summer. But there was one item on the list that I knew would involve some creative thinking. Item- GO TO HAWAII!!!Summer Bucket List

This was my youngest daughter’s contribution to the list. I knew we could never afford the planes tickets, the hotel stay, or find the time for a real trip to Hawaii; but I did not want to stifle her enthusiasm to add her thoughts to our bucket list. If we could not get to Hawaii, I would bring Hawaii to us.

Last week was our last full week of “fun” before homeschool started and we started the transition into our “fall schedule”.  My parents had come for a visit. It was a Books on Hawaiiperfect time to “take a trip” to somewhere tropical. To prepare for  our trip, I borrowed books on Hawaii from the library.

Our favorite was Froggy Goes To Hawaii  by Jonathan London. I think we read it three or four times and laughed at the same places every reading.

On the day of the big event, I gave everyone their boarding tickets and we patiently waited for the time to board the airplane. Froggy got a boarding ticket too!

Play Boarding Tickets  Froggy Goes to Hawaii

I had the kids help me make Coconut Playdough. (I found the recipe at The Moon and Back Blog.)  I wanted a strong coconut smell so we added a lot of flaked coconut (almost a whole bag) to counter the smell of vinegar. This playdough recipe has good texture and the oil leaves your hands feeling soft. Coconuts seemed to be the favorite thing to make.

Coconut Playdough     Coconut Playdough  I   Coconut Playdough

As the kids were creating with playdough, I prepared dinner.  The menu consisted of ham, grilled pineapple, grilled potatoes & onions, mango salsa, and POI.  Poi is a Hawaiian word for the primary Polynesian staple food made from the underground plant stem or corm of the taro plant (known in Hawaiian as kalo). It is a traditional part of Native Hawaiian cuisine and is produced by mashing the cooked corm (baked or steamed) until it is a highly viscous fluid. 1  I wanted a traditional dish at dinner and the recipe to make Poi seemed like it would not be too hard to make. I questioned myself during the recipe- it seemed too simple. Peel, chop, steam, mash, add water. It was suppose to turn a purple color (which I was excited about) but it ended up a gray color (which I was not so excited about.) It did not have a bad taste (like a sticky, gooey potato) but no one had a second helping. I was happy that we all tried something new.

Making Poi

The flight to Hawaii was delayed (a.k.a dinner was not ready) until 5:30 PM. At that time, we all boarded the “plane” and found our appropriate seats. After two rounds of “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” (Merv Griffen) we had arrived in beautiful Hawaii.

Flight to Hawaii  Flight to HawaiiFroggy Goes to Hawaii

There were paper-leis to be made, palm trees to be decorated, and Hawaii coloring sheets to be colored. The weather was perfect and my husband found a great album of Hawaiian songs on Rapsody to add to the great atmosphere.

Paper Leis Decorating Palm Trees Craft Ideas- Hawaii Party

We ate and ate and laughed and laughed until the mosquitoes corralled us into the house. We closed out the night with a creative dessert that my parents provided. I was touched when I found out that they went to five stores trying to find gluten-free treats and palm trees to keep with the theme and a creative look .Hawaiian Night

What a wonderful way to close out our summer! I think I told my daughter at last ten times what a great idea she had to think to put it on our list! And she beamed every time I told her. The family all agreed that a “trip” to Hawaii needs to be a annual event at our house and a regular item on our Summer Bucket List. A Fond Adieu and Aloha to the  Summer of Fun 2015! Thank you for helping me rediscover fun and helping me notice all the good things right in front of me.  Next stop,  a”Fall for Fun.”

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PS The next day, we played Coconut Bowling (bowling was also on our Bucket List) Highly recommend this game. Highly recommend doing it outside. Coconuts are hard!

Coconut Bowling   Coconut Bowling

If you have serious competitors in your house, here is a Printable Score Card to use.

 

 

 

 

How We Came To Homeschool and Why We Do- Part 2

How we Came to Homeschool and Why We Do- Part 2

According to homeschool research, there are about 2.2 million home-educated students in the United States. An estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (grades K-12)  were home educated during the spring of 2010. The research indicates the homeschool population continues to grow at an estimated rate of 2% to 8% per year (over the last few years.) (Ray, 2011) 1

Homeschool families are a demographically wide variety of people. People of different religions, nationalities, and with various degrees of education fall into this diverse group of people. Just as each family is different, each has their own story as to how they came to homeschool For some, it was an easy and clear cut decision. For others, it was a challenging and complicated choice. Most families have their specific reasons as why they chose homeschooling as the best choice of education for their children. The following are our family’s reasons:

1.) SCHEDULE– Flexibility! A pastor’s schedule can be crazy and unpredictable. When other families are enjoying weekend time off, our family is at work in the church.  If my children went to public school, our family time would be extremely limited. My husband and I were not willing to cut-away time spent together. Homeschooling has provided the flexibility  needed to schedule family time and vacations when it works best for us. We also appreciate that our homeschool schedule allows time for other ministry opportunities (like serving as a MOPS Coach and Coordinator for me) and serving in the church as a whole family unit.

2.) TIME– Time is precious and valuable. Our children are growing up faster than we care to admit. Homeschooling allows us the maximum amount of daily time spent with our children. There are plenty of opportunities during the day to strengthen and build family relationships and practice social interactions with peers and adults. I recognize that homeschooling is a calling of selflessness and servitude but for our family it is a sacrifice worth making.

3.) CURRICULUM– I am a curriculum fanatic! I love the freedom to choose my own curriculum as I see best fit for the individual needs and differences in each of our children.The ability to teach my children about life, social issues, history and science with a Biblical worldview is very important to us. I love that Bible time, study, and prayer are included in our school day.  I also appreciate that my children do not have to take part in state testing. I believe very strongly that progress and growth should be evaluated but I like that there are options in the way it can be done. Last year, we chose to do a portfolio evaluation which was much less stressful experience than a standardized test would have been. Along with curriculum and testing choices, I have been overwhelmed with the educational opportunities that are available for homeschoolers. Museums, nature reserves, art and drama classes, music lessons are available to accommodate homeschoolers’s needs and interests.

4.) MORE TIME FOR LEARNING- When I taught in the public schools, I was constantly spending time redirecting behavior or transitioning students from one place to another. As much as I tried to keep “time on task” to a maximum,  the distractions and general “noise” in the classroom made for a less than optimal environment to learn. At home, distractions can be kept to a minimum. The ability to teach in a small group instruction fosters quicker mastery of academic skills. And lessons can be based on individual needs and learning styles. On top of that, challenges and problems can be identified and remediation can occur quickly. And all of that equals to more time on task and the ability to accomplish more learning than in another school setting.

5.) SOCIALIZATION- The very reason why some people think they should not homeschool is one of the very reasons why my husband and I think we should. According to the The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, SOCIALIZATION is defined as “the learning of customs, attitudes, and values of a social group, community, or culture. Socialization is essential for the development of individuals who can participate and function within their societies, as well as for ensuring that a society’s cultural features will be carried on through new generations. Socialization is most strongly enforced by family, school, and peer groups and continues throughout an individual’s lifetime.” 

My husband and I both believe that the public school is not the best place for our children’s socialization. We do not want our children to learn and develop the customs and attitudes of the world and culture rather develop attitudes and values based on a life of faith.We do not want to send our children into a place of unknowns before they are developmentally ready to deal with difficult people and situations on their own. We are not trying to shelter them or keep them in a bubble. We believe that there are other avenues of POSITIVE socialization and our job as parents is to equip our children with the skills they will need to be a part of those environment. We believe that homeschool is the best place to build our children’s self-esteem and confidence and practice social skills as necessary that they might need to deal with bullies and peer pressure. My children still have plenty of opportunities to socialize with adults and peers their age at church, dance class, Audubon Society classes, and Museum art classes. Research on homeschool socialization says the following: 2

According to Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization by Richard G. Medlin, “Home-schooled children are taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not isolated; in fact, they associate with–and feel close to–all sorts of people.”

He continues, “Home schooling parents can take much of the credit for this. For, with their children’s long-term social development in mind, they actively encourage their children to take advantage of social opportunities outside the family. Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society.” 

Museum of Fine Arts

As I mentioned earlier, each family is unique in their decisions and reasoning. Homeschooling might not be for you and your family and that is okay. This is not a post trying to persuade you that homeschooling is the best way and only way to educate your children. It is only a post about my family’s reasoning of why we do. This year, what ever way you decide to school, I hope that your children will grow and flourish in their education, self-esteem, and in their self confidence.

I would love to hear from you. If you do homeschool, what are the reasons you do?

How We Came To Homeschool and Why We Do- Part 1

how we came to homeschool and why we do

If you asked me a ten years ago about homeschooling, my opinion would have been quite negative. To put it bluntly, I was ignorant to the whole thing. With limited knowledge of homeschooling, my perceptions came from common misconceptions of homeschoolers and the lack of exposure I had with homeschooling families. My training as a public school teacher and my teaching experience only compounded my strong opinions. I thought that the public schools had the best access to curriculum, services, and educational experiences. I thought “socialization” at school had to happen in order to form a well-rounded, well-adjusted child.  I was way off.

Then we had kids. A funny thing happens when you have them. The moment you look into the eyes of your newborn, the familiar world you once knew seems to change. Holding life in your arms, you are left to navigate a “new” and unfamiliar, selfless world. Constant time and attention is directed to the needs and growth of another human being . You find yourself questioning why you believe what you believe and you start prioritizing your values and obligations. Things that you once held high in importance are let go and you realize that certain things (like faith, family, friends) matter so much more than you ever thought. And oh the decisions, you spend constant hours thinking about, dwelling over, and making decisions. In momentous decisions and small choices you want to do what is best for your child and set them on a path of faith and a good life.

When my first born was about to start preschool, I knew my husband and I had decisions to make about school. By this time, I had been out of the public schools for about three years.  With increased state testing (which I had always disliked), changes in education policy and procedures, news stories of bullying, faith and social issues under fire, my opinion of public school was not as high as it once was. I knew public school WAS NOT the best choice for my family. So what was?

Also, by this time, I had become great friends with a homeschooling mom. She was awesome and her kids were normal, well-adjusted, and socialized! The more I asked her about homeschooling and the more she told me, the more my opinions on homeschooling started to change. My friend choose her curriculum (which I loved), went on a ton of “field trips”, and made her own school schedule. Her children had plenty of opportunities to “socialize” through church activities, baseball, cub scouts, and other unique opportunities.  Was this the best choice for our family?

The thought of homeschooling started to weigh on my mind more and more. Even when I declared that I would NEVER homeschool, part of me knew that was untrue. I had seen the positive impact of homeschooling on my friend’s family. I wanted a family like hers. The teaching did not worry me. It was the “other” stuff which I think boiled down to what other people would think. Who? I am not sure. I constantly prayed for help to decide what to do. I did my research too- reading books, articles, blog posts. One day, I do not remember the exact day or moment, I felt that I had been given a answer to my prayers. I strongly felt that “yes” we were suppose to homeschool and that we needed to have enough faith that it would work out. A sense of peace washed over me and the weight was lifted. I became really excited about all the possibilities homeschooling would do for our family.

At that time, we did not have everything figured out. We actually had two options for schooling.  We had been offered a full scholarship at a Christian School. But at that time, we had spent so much time researching and praying and I felt so strongly that this was God’s plan, we turned down the scholarship. I was so blessed to have my husband’s support.  My youngest daughter went to the Christian preschool while my oldest daughter and I started our first year of homeschooling together. It was a blessed year full of learning experiences for both of us. When my second daughter was about to enter Kindergarten, it was an easy decision what to do-HOMESCHOOL.

100s Days Smarter

September 1st, will start of our third year of homeschooling. It amazes me how the journey began and where we are now. We still do not have everything figured out and are learning as we go. I think homeschooling is definitely a calling and not for everyone. I feel blessed that we live in a country where we are given the freedom to choose which type of education is right for our children. I certainly do not look down or differently on anyone for making a choice of public or private school. I like to believe that we, as parents, are all trying to make the best choices for their children so that together we will raise up an generation that will kind, good leaders, and good stewards of this world.  But as for my family, homeschooling is where we will be educating and bringing up our little world changers. 

Stay tuned for the next post- Part 2: What We Homeschool

Happy New Year!

Back To School

Happy New Year!  Today was the first day back to school for the public school teachers and the students in our town. I love this time of year. A mixture of hope, nervousness, excitement, and anticipation. To me, “Back-to-School” feels much more like a new year than January 1st ever will.

There has been a “Back to School” time as long as I can remember. For the most part, I really liked to go to school. And as early as third grade, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. The church my family attended met in a school. On Sundays, during coffee hour, I would wander around the school, looking through the class windows at bulletin board displays and classroom set ups.  One fortunate day, my sister and I rescued some old teaching manuals out of the trash in the school. I was ecstatic to find those manuals and can remember thumbing through each page imagining what it was like to be a teacher. Most days, I could not wait to get home from school so I could PLAY school. I created worksheets for my imaginary students and corrected”their” work.  I would take “them” to imaginary assemblies and field trips. And I kept a Teacher’s Record Book and Attendance!

As I got older, my imaginary students turned into real ones. I started taking care of children in the church nursery and teaching Sunday School.  In high school, I participated in our high school’s preschool program as a student leader. Deciding that I wanted to be a teacher was one of the easiest decisions that I ever made and when it was time to go to college I knew exactly what direction to go in.

My first teaching job was a dream job!  It was on a small island accessible by ferry. I had five students. I was fresh out of college with a degree in special education and I was ready to inspire, motivate, and lead my unknown students to success. I can vividly remember sitting at the teacher orientation breakfast. It was held in an island hotel, the wind was whipping against the building, postcard ocean views could be seen from every angle. Staring out to the ocean, I felt so extremely thankful and blessed. It was almost too good to be true. I was a teacher! From that moment on, I told myself to try to never take things for granted and every day try to take in as much life as I could.

Over the years, my teaching experience has grown and my life had taken me many places. In those seven years between my first job and staying home with my children, I had the privilege of teaching in three different states to three very different populations of students. In each state, in each classroom, there were no two things the same except ONE- my feelings of gratitude and the excitement for the start of the school year.

This year is just like any other, the same feelings of excitement and anticipation for a new year are flickering in my heart and mind. My classroom is no longer housed on an island or in a public school. My classroom is my house and my students are small in number. Only two this year! Everything still feels the same. There is a room to be rearranged, school supplies to buy, desk name plates to be carefully and lovingly written, a new curriculum to be excited for. And a bulletin board to create!

Years of teaching and motherhood have brought me to this point. It is such a blessing to be able to look back on your life and see God’s hand connecting the dots. From the earliest desires to teach, to small group instruction in public schools, to holding my babies in my arms, and now to teaching them at home, God has been with me through every step and allowed me to gain knowledge to be used for the next one. Every day, I strive to do better than the last and to improve myself and my attitude.  So with that, here’s to another year of TEACHING and LEARNING! It is going to be great and I cannot wait to see what is in store!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a]and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11, English Standard Version (ESV)

PS We are extending our summer. Our first day of homeschool will be September 1st. Homeschoolers privilege. 🙂