First-Timer’s First Impressions

I had lots of reasons I wanted to homeschool my kids – lots of “benefits” I could go on and on about theoretically. That was last year.

This year, it got real. Let me tell you, the “perks” and “benefits?”

They are way better than I ever dreamed.

Of course there are days that teaching my own child is hard. But parents struggle teaching their kids the materials they bring home from public school, too. At least I have the freedom to troubleshoot those struggles any way I want – including by changing the material! If something is just. not. working for my kids, I don’t have to push through it just to check off a box for the curriculum fairy, or for their teacher.

My absolute favorite thing is custom-designing Noodle’s lessons. This sounds so “duh, of course that’s a benefit of homeschooling.” But in practice, it is everything.

Custom lesson planning means my girl doesn’t have to spend her precious childhood completing worksheets to prove she is competent at a skill. It means we can spend as much time learning how the letter “S” looks different from the number “5” as we need to. It means we can integrate fine motor skills into everything so she can catch up on those seven weeks her right arm was casted this summer. It means we can do above grade-level work because I, her mom, know more than anyone else what she is capable of.

And it means I can design projects for her to complete that not only educate her, but that she truly enjoys. Nothing warms my hear more than hearing my sweet girl tell me she loves me. But a close second is the several times just this week that I’ve heard, “Mom, can we do school?” or “Mom, can we do another activity?”

The best thing is this: being my child’s teacher makes me feel like I’ve gained more insight into being her mom. Our relationship is growing so much, and I can’t imagine what it would look like without those forty hours per week that many kids spend away at school. Beyond that, what would her relationship with her sister be like?

So I guess what I’m saying is, as hard as it may be, this is right for us. Nothing could be better.


Fall Scavenger Hunt and Nature Walk

If you’ve never been to Albuquerque, your idea of the the scenery here probably comes mostly from the filmography of the recent TV hit “Breaking Bad,” or from a vague sense of the definition of the word “desert.” But I assure you, there is a lot to recommend our city and state – there’s a reason New Mexico’s nickname is “The Land of Enchantment.” The sunsets, for one thing, are more spectacular than 90% of the sunsets you’ve ever seen about 90% of the time. There’s also the International Balloon Fiesta, which fills the skies with hundreds of hot air balloons for eight days every October. But one of my personal favorite sites here in Burque is the changing of the trees along the Rio Grande in the autumn.

The Bosque in November

The Bosque in November

This morning we took down the Halloween ghost Noodle made from our front door and made a fall tree activity I saw on Pinterest to replace it. I’m always looking for good fine motor activities to build her hand strength since breaking her arm a couple times has set her back, and scissor exercises are especially necessary. This tree was really fun for her, and she even got a little creative and whimsical, making “falling leaves” and piles for jumping into at the base of the tree.

Noodle was especially on task today and we finished all her school activities ahead of schedule, so I decided to soak up one of the last warm days we’re likely to see, pack up a picnic lunch and head down to the river for a little walk. A moment of genius and a google search later turned up an adorable printable fall scavenger hunt from Mrs. Bremer’s Kindergarten blog.

The one issue I have with scavenger hunts is that my girl happens to be a bit of a hoarder. Anything she makes or finds interesting or puts in her pocket is V.E.R.Y. hard for her to ever let go of, so I really didn’t want her picking anything up along the way. Enter stroke of genius number two: we grabbed her Fisher-Price Kid-Tough See Yourself Camera* and a packet of fall stickers. Now Noodle’s “job” was to take pictures of everything on the list and mark each item off with a sticker.

Our ecosystem here in the desert is a little different from Mrs. Bremer’s, so we didn’t quite find everything on the list. Noodle photographed ducks and geese instead of crows, we saw only one lonely desert flower in bloom, and we never did find a squirrel. But we had a lovely little “hike” together anyway; it’s always good to get a little fresh air and, as I mentioned in our Backwards Day post, any variation from routine is a huge fun bomb for a preschooler.

What fun activities do you have planned as the weather gets colder?

*This is not an endorsement of Fisher-Price or an affiliate link, and Fisher-Price has not paid me to say anything about their product; in fact they don’t even know I exist.