When you're a homeschooler, you choose your start date for the year. Some choose based on a date on the calendar (e.g. after Labor Day). Some begin as swim lessons or family camping expeditions come to an end. Others of us receive signs.
Literally. My daughter handed me a sign. I received the above sign mid-July. As usual, I wasn't prepared. (I had this crazy, sparkly, rose-colored vision of cleaning and organizing the house before the start of school. However, we were still firmly planted in we're-not-sleeping-through-the-night-but-decided-to-paint-two-rooms-and-not-clean-up-our-mess-because-we're-dorks-who-mistook-ourselves-for-superheroes territory.) But, I'm a firm believer in following the enthusiasm, and not getting in my kid's way when she's trying to bring about a good thing. So, the first Monday in August, I gathered my crew around the dining room table. I told them that we were beginning school. I told them that while I had all of our new materials, technically, I wasn't ready. I issued a warning: things would change as I got more organized and figured things out. Then, I handed them each a mug swelling with steam. What I lack in organization, I make up for in hot chocolate.
Today, we have over a dozen days of school under our belts. The house is still not organized, and with a baby who sleeps three hours one day and only forty minutes the next, neither are we. But we're attacking our days with enthusiasm, and our fair share of chocolate.
Before we dive into the field trips, projects, and our hopes for this year, here's a brief recap of our 2013-2014 school year. In pictures:
(School picture day. We met up with friends at a local park for a little photo session. In my typical disorganized rush, I forgot to make a "first day of first grade" sign. Luckily, we had just gone on a field trip hiking through an old quarry where we had picked up fossils and this big rock as a souvenir. I grabbed the rock, some paint, and a brush and constructed Audrey's makeshift sign in the parking lot of the park. I love when a make-do mistake becomes a perfect reminder of time well spent.)
I like to begin and end each year with a special field trip. We began our 2013-2014 school year with a drive out to Conner Prairie (Jason in tow) to the one-room school house to find out how kids got their school on 1836-style.
(Indiana Jim's Reptile Experience)
We ended the year by celebrating with some of Audrey's favorite creatures: snakes (and some other reptiles at a local library hosting Indiana Jim's Reptile Experience).
(Rhythm Discovery Center)
But, in between, we made some noise.
(Nathan holding a magnifying glass and piece of rock used for a geology streak test, while wearing his trusty duck-taped rain boots.)
Looked beneath the surface.
(A weather experiment in progress. Fill ball jar with hot water and let sit a minute. Pour out water, leaving an inch standing in jar. Place a colander of ice on top. Cool ice meets warm air, and wah-lah: condensation and fog.)
Let things start brewing.
(Homeschool Program at Indianapolis Museum of Art in honor of Bees and National Public Gardens Day)
Got our neurons buzzing.
(Gingerbread house contest at Conner Prairie)
(Gingerbread homeschool Christmas party with friends. This is Audrey's creation.)
Applied what we learned.
(Another picture from school picture day. 2013-2014 was the year of dresses with boots.)
Created our own style.
(A butterfly we watched metamorphosis from a caterpillar. You can see the chrysalis at the bottom of the picture.)
(Planting azaleas at IMA National Public Gardens Day.)