2

Our Top 5 Reasons for Homeschooling Our Kids

If you had told me a year ago, or even 6 months aFresh Blog (4)go that we would be homeschooling all five of our kids, I would have told you that you are riding the crazy train.  It always comes back to this simple thought, We do what we gotta do for our kids.

I first began to see homeschooling in action about 6 years ago when I joined a beautiful circle of women who were mostly all homeschooling their children. These mamas I count among the best, loving, patient, fierce and present. I was in awe of their love and dedication, but thought “Oh I could never do that”. To spite having taught  several freshmen courses on World Religion at San Diego State University, and loving it. I imagined homeschooling to to be completely different than teaching a University class.

But alas, here we are. Although we have only begun to dip our toes in, and not all of our children have left their traditional school yet, we are loving it. We are breathing easier and soaking in the love and learning.

So what lead us to this journey? Here are just a few reasons;

  1. BULLYING When I have mentioned that my kids are being bullied, I have had several parents jump in and share:  “Oh I was bullied, everyone gets picked on, it builds resilience” or “I just teach my kids to handle it, or fight back”. I even had the Head of School tell us that her grandsons get bullied and she just tells them to ignore it . These words are not helpful, our kids are still working on recovering from their histories. Our kids were in a collective 15 homes before becoming a forever family. We are working very hard to build their confidence and instill sold self identities. When they experience bulling, it sets them back in their healing process. We understand that they will encounter bullies in life (I even encountered another mom bulling me online when I stated in a forum that my daughter was being bullied). It is not a level playing field, our children didn’t start out with the same advantages as most of their peers.
  2. TRAUMA INFORMED SCHOOLS Most schools are not trauma informed. Ours was no different. If you are lucky you may find a trauma sensitive school, but a school like the one Oprah talked about in a segment on trauma she hosted for 60 Minutes.  is rare. We have had some great teachers that ‘get us’ and then we have encountered others that don’t. There were the teachers that let my children get away with everything because they didn’t want to trigger them, or because they ‘felt sorry’ for them, knowing that they were in fostercare. On the other side of this, we have had teachers blame my children for everything, and labeled them as a problem. When a child acts out, a trauma informed person asks “What is going on behind this behavior? What does this baby need?” This is not letting them off the hook, but examining the root of the problem. With a trauma informed/sensitive school the needs of all children are considered. Fire, tornado, and lock down drills can be triggers for kids that have experienced trauma. Safety is always at the front of their minds, many exist in a fight, flight or freeze state. When their perceived safety is at risk, they will be triggered and go into FFF. To completely overlook and dismiss the needs of these children is a huge oversight.
  3. LET THEM BE KIDS With the emphasis on Common Core it has taken much of the creativity and flexibility away from teachers, and causes them to teach to the test. Here in NC we have House Bill 950 (Read to Achieve). This is the test of all tests for our third graders. They are told “Pass it you don’t move on to 4th grade”.  I had 3 children not pass this test (luckily it was resolved in a week with two of our kids, and overlooked with one because he has an IEP). This test is stressful for kids, especially for those with anxiety. What are we doing to these littles? One of my children sited for a reason to wanting to be home schooled as not feeling so much pressure anymore. Being pulled out for IEP work puts unnecessary attention on them. When they return to class they feel rushed to catch up with the lesson plan that their classmates have already been working on. Most kids feel the struggle to keep up from time to time, but our kids with IEP’s the struggle can create severe anxiety.
  4. SCHOOL ATMOSPHERE I am pretty sure that everyone is in agreement that the atmosphere in schools has changed. The Everytown website reports that since 2013 (Sandy Hook) there have been 308 school shootings. If you examine the data, many of these did not include injury, but that’s really not my point. It’s the atmosphere that’s being created in our schools. Our school had 3 threats in one week. This created an atmosphere of elevated stress, caution and frustration on the part of the parents to know the details of what was going on with these investigations. The kids felt it. They felt it from their parents, from their teachers and from their peers. There was no escaping these conversations when a police car is parked out in front of the school. Many parents agreed that it made them/their children more comfortable knowing that the police were on campus. Here’s that trauma reminder: Not all children associate police with safety. Their histories have proved to them that police equal problems.
  5. WE ARE IN CONTROL OF CURRICULUM I have to give praise to our school for offering a very diverse and inclusive curriculum. My children never once came home with the white-washed history of Columbus Day. The curriculum emphasized POC in history, and their music and art class was full of multicultural activities and songs. But, schools have limited resources, and there are still times when reading lists or histories miss the mark on being inclusive. So for our 5 year old we get to pick Zooey and Sassafras for our read-aloud and science. She sees herself in Zooey, and representation is so powerful. For our older children, we will not brush over the tough parts of history, we will not make heroes out the men that caused pain and devastation in our dark history. Will will celebrate the great achievements and contributions of the men and women that have made this country great.

These are OUR reasons for turning to home education. This is where our hearts are leading us. Every parent needs to make the decisions that are right for their families, and at the right time. When my kids were first entering school, my circle of friend included more HS families than not, but we had very specific reasons for choosing our school.  I also know that it is a huge privilege for us to have the ability for me to stay home with our kids. We do sacrifice a lot, but the fact that not everyone is in the position to make this choice is not lost on me, and I am absolutely grateful for this.

Next week…Dancing in Joy, and other things we have learned about homeschooling.

Advertisements
1

Mittens & Mittens all Hung in a Row.

IMG_3680

I posted a few years ago about our Mitten tradition. When Lola & Diego were about 3 or 4 I felt so bad, becuase the house was all decorated for Christmas, and every morning they would wake up and ask “Is it Christmas yet?” So I came up with the idea to hang Christmas stockings with a fun surprise inside, and take one down everyday. This way they could see for themselves how many mittens were left, and how many day before Christmas!

Since this will be our 4th or 5th year now doing this, t really is  a tradition! I have learned that since I actually put memory makers in the mittens that it takes a little planning. I thought I would share this years Memory Mitten ideas. You can follow us on Instagram @CincoDeMami

Dec 1: Make Bird Feeders  for the Kindness Elves

Dec 2: Write Letters to Santa

Dec 3rd: Start a new holiday chapter book, and continue to read it all month

Dec 4th: Watch “The Year Without a Santa Claus”  (1974 version) and have popcorn and a cocoa bar

Dec 5th: Make gingerbread houses

Dec 6th: Winterfest

 2012-11-25 23.03.02 - Copy

Dec 7th: Messiah @ Cary Westwood Baptist

Dec 8th: Watch “Elf” and have pancakes for dinner! (special occasion meal 🙂

Dec 9th: Make a reindeer craft and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Dec 10th: Skype Santa with Portable North Pole

2012-12-18 23.29.06

Dec 11th: Make candy cane reindeer for the Kindness Elves

Dec 12th: We will be out of town, but I found this great Virginia Beach light show 

Dec 13th: We will still be in Virginia Beach, so tonight we plan to go to the Parade!

Dec 14th: Oakwood Candle Light Tour. We went on this home tour before we had kids. We have continued the tradition every year since. No, don’t worry, we don’t drag our small tribe into peoples meticulously decorated homes. the great thing is that the homes are decorated just as much on the outside, so we stop and get Krispy Kremes and walk the neighborhood enjoying all the outside decorations and the music playing!

083

084

Dec 15: Decorate Placemats for the Kindness Elves

Dec 16th: Get our tree at the Jordan Tree farm, where we get to pick out and chop down our own tree!

2012-11-26 20.35.51 - Copy

2012-11-26 21.04.14

2012-11-26 21.28.36 - Copy

Dec 17th: Decorate the Christmas tree, and have hot coco and listen to Christmas music

Dec 18th: Make no-sew fleece caps for the Kindness Elves!

Dec 19th: Watch “Home Alone” and make Santa Pizzas

Dec 20th: Visit the Tanglewood Festival of Lights!

Dec 21st Bake and decorate cookies!

Dec 22nd: Benson Meadow Lights!

Dec 23rd: Wendell Wonderland!

Dec 24th Christmas Eve! We have Fondue for dinner and everyone gets to open new PJ’s, we then play a new family board game.

2012-12-19 00.32.28

2012-12-19 00.45.33

If you noticed, most of the this list is free activities, but the great thing is the memories that they will create will last a lifetime and are priceless!

 

 

 

0

A Place for Kids to be Kids!

When I was growing. up, one of my favorite activities was making ‘tamales’ from palm leaves and sand. I guess you could call it the California version of mud pies. My childhood was spent out doors.  I spent hours in what is now being called ‘free play’. Our children’s play tends to be so organized and monitored, that we now have a term for letting them just play.

We recently spent the day at Three Bears Acres. It describes itself as “,,,an outdoor recreational farm”, I describe it as a place for kids to be kids and just free play!

Jumping Pillow

A 68′ x 33′  jumping pillow.

005

 

Graffiti Wall

Kids let their creativity flow on the  graffiti wall!

012

Mud Kitchen

Our gang got nice and messy while they made mud-pies014

Sling Shot

The kids took shots on the sling shot016

Archery

Lola getting her ‘Brave’ on

021

Tree Houses

The kids enjoyed the 100ft bridge that connects to a tree house, slides and swings

037

Toboggan Slides

This was the favorite of the day! The toboggan run is the length of a football field! No

snow needed for this fun ride!

040

Rock n Roll

The kids tumbled and rolled in these, while wearing themselves out, pushing it back to the top

019

If you go…

  1. Bring water bottles (there aren’t any drinking fountains)
  2. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined (also recommend mud boots)
  3. If you plan to spend the afternoon, you can pack a lunch and picnic lakeside
  4. Check their website for seasonal activities
  5. Don’t forget your camera!
0

My Top 10 Disney World Tips

164

 

We received a nice surprise in the mail a few months back. it was a tax refund for the final adoption credit for Lola and Diego. We weren’t expecting it, which makes it all the sweeter.  I quickly began to make a list of the things that need to be fixed around the house, and Georges had other plans; “The kids don’t care about all these little things that need to be fixed, but a trip to Disney World, they will remember forever!” .  He was right, so we began planning our trip to Disney World.

As the days  went on, I felt like I was planning a month long back packing trip through the Amazon.  I was ferociously consuming Disney blogs and pinning like a crazy women. Most of the advice I got, was good.  But what I learned was that there really are not many short-cuts or money saving tips. I found our 3-star hotel on Groupon and got a great deal. It was not part of the ‘Disney Resort’, but we were ok with that. What did I learn?

  1. Water  Bottles: I actually got some cheap BPE-free water bottles and decorated them with kids names and Disney stickers, so that we didn’t have to search for water fountains.
  2. Disney Pins: This was fun for the kids. I went to ebay, and bought 50 Disney pins for $24. I split the pins between the 4 older kids, and this added a second level of excitement to the trip. The kids searched out Disney employees that had pins and traded with them.
  3. Snacks; I made a trip to Trader Joes and stocked up on snacks to bring into the park with us.
  4. Lunch: I packed our lunches everyday. It was easy to find a nice shaded table for us to sit and have our lunch, and the money we saved really added up.
  5. Reservations: If you do want to eat at one of the parks restaurants. Make a reservation TODAY! Many of the restaurants are booked months ahead of time
  6. Fast Pass: You can now book your fast pass before your trip.
  7. Glow in the dark/light up toys: We purchased glow in the dark items at the dollar store, and handed them out before the parade.
  8. If you need to skip a park, and the city you live in has a zoo, then skip the Animal Park. It wasn’t much of a zoo, or an amusement park.
  9. Epcot: This is not the most exciting park for the little ones, so we turned into an educational experience. Make passports ahead of time to get ‘stamped’ in each country, have a map to show where each country is, talk about and point out architecture, and  traditions from each country. We bought food in each country and tasted the local fare. The kids enjoyed this most..
  10. If you are at all tech-savvy, then take advantage of the Disney site. You can research and organize your itineraries here, as well as being able to store your restaurant reservations and fast pass times. You can link your Disney passes to the site, and in case you lose your passes, the numbers are recorded on line and you can have new passes issued quickly.

 

0

Jestine’s Kitchen: A Story to Make Your Heart Sing

jestines door

Recently our family was on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. After a long day of sun and water fun we ended up at Jestine’s Kitchen, a Charleston landmark eatery.  One of the things about Jestine’s Kitchenis that you have to wait in a long line that wraps around this historical building  for up to hours. Luckily we only waited about a 1/ 2 hour. I say luckily because we had the whole tribe of five with us.

Immediately we had a gentleman strike up a conversation with us. We found out he was a retired military officer from NYC. He was on a 3 month vacation on  his boat. We shared the story of our family. How we met, and became a family of 7!

Jestines line

Before we knew it, we were seated. The table next to us quickly engaged with the children and us. The owner’s of the restaurant were more than accommodating, bringing toys and activities to the table for the kids.

It was a great meal and we made a few acquaintances. When we asked for our bill, our waiter told us that someone in the restaurant had paid for our families meal. They wanted us to know that we have a beautiful family, and they wanted to do this for us.

What a beautiful gesture. Having our meal paid for was such a nice surprise, but more than that what touched me, is that someone was moved enough to act on this beautiful gesture. I hope this makes you smile, and you think of paying it forward today!

0

Raven Rock…Rocks!

april-June 2013 251

We recently traveled to Raven Rock state park for the day. It’s about 45 minutes from Raleigh.Raven Rock consists of many trails that are located high above the Cape Fear River.

april-June 2013 252

The trail challenged us a bit, but only because it is NOT stroller friendly. Bug walked it and Georges carried The Biter on his back the whole time. When I say that it is not stroller friendly, I mean it. don’t even try it. There are lots of roots and thick sand.

april-June 2013 253

We  took the Raven Rock Loop trail, which is 2.6 miles. What creates the biggest challenge is the one hundred and forty eight steps that lead to the rocks. The rocks are must see! Raven Rock is pretty impressive with the shear rock bluff overhanging the shoreline of the cape fear river. But remember, what goes down must come up 🙂 The climb up the stairs left us all a little  winded when we reached the top.

april-June 2013 287

The loop trail also includes an ‘Overlook’. Great for photo snapping and taking in a view of the Cape Fear river. The trail includes many small streams and benches along the way for picnicking. There are several covered picnic areas at the beginning of the trail, and the visitor center is worth a stop before you start your hike.

april-June 2013 293