Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Solstice

 We had our first summer solstice celebration yesterday.  We have always talked about the first day of summer, but never have we immersed ourselves in the longest day of the year.  One thing we have fully adopted from the Waldorf philosophy is living in the seasons and really letting them guide our activities. 

To celebrate the solstice, the kids and I sat down and brainstormed some ideas.  We had my nephews over for the weekend, so the kids decided first and foremost, they would be playing outside for most of the day to make the most of all the daylight. 

The second idea was make glass lanterns with tissue paper.  The kids wanted to have candles burning after sunset to keep the "sun fire awake a little longer". 

Our lanterns

My idea was to make paper boats and float candles in the kiddie pool.  We have been doing a lot of paper folding lately, and this provided the perfect opportunity to put our creations to use.

Our fleet
 After a full day of playing outside, we ate a meal that included the first fruits of our vegetable garden (lettuce with chives and a parsley and basil salad dressing) that we purposely waited to harvest on this day. Then we went out to create some art with rocks around our lanterns.  Truth be told, I think I had more fun than the kids did.  My little man has asked to do this over again as he felt he didn't spend enough time creating his rock art.  The call of his cousins, who finished quite quickly, was too much. 

Working to create some rock art

And then we waited for the sun to fall.  We played outside for a bit longer and then enjoyed a movie with some treats.  Finally it was time!  We went out and each child lit their lantern and then they walked through the garden.  There was an air of reverence between them, their voices hushed as they quietly discussed the patterns they made and the fun they had on the longest day.

They also spun the boats around the pool by creating a whirl in the center with their hands (science, check!)

After they had enough, they went in to get ready for bed and I stayed outside to take a couple more pictures.  After a few minutes I realized the house was dark but for a small glow coming from the living room.  The kids had shut all the lights and when I listened I could hear them telling a train story (when one person starts the story and other add to it).  It was lovely to hear their chatterings as I soaked up some much needed peace in the back yard (five kids is a loud undertaking!)

And now that it is all over, I am SOOOOOOOO excited that we are falling back in to darkness!  I am by far a lover of fall and winter and am excited to be returning to shorter days and longer nights.  Our rhythm just seems to flow so much better without all this dang sunlight ;)

I hope you all enjoyed your Summer Solstice!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Year in Review and a bucket list.

One of the MANY things I love about homeschooling is the ability to slow down and catch a breath when it is needed. Last week we had one of those days. 

At ten in the morning we were still in jammies, curled up in the living room, each one of us doing our own thing.

I was working my way through a book about learning to draw.

Little man was drawing plans for his next Minecraft creation.

Little lady was playing with her sticker book.

It was lovely that we didn't need to go anywhere. We were basking in the emptiness of the day ahead.

About twenty minutes later, my little man declared it the start of summer.  "We have no more classes now until the fall.  This is what I want to do all summer."

Well okay then.  I asked him if he enjoyed his classes this year and we dove in to a long discussion about all the things he loved, and didn't like so much, this year.

On his like list:
  • Woodworking
  • Garden Class 
  • Minecraft
  • chalkboard math
  • circle time with singing and poems
  • learning to read, 
  • copy work, 
  • hiking
  • (field) trips with friends, 
  • writing out the grocery list, 
  • baking, 
  • planting the garden, 
  • drawing maps while we walk around the neighbourhood

On his didn't like list:
  • Boring trips, 
  • writing stories

I'm really happy that he feels he had such a successful year. We tried some different things this year, with a focus on hands on activities and LOTS of outdoor time, based on his feedback about homeschooling last year. I really feel that made the difference this year.  Most of what we did was right from his suggestions last year.

He then created a list of all the things he would like to do in the coming months.  A bucket list, so to speak.  He was really excited about creating this list, and has since added some things and written it all out so he can cross things off as we do them.

On his to do list:
  • garden class again
  • more woodworking, 
  • make a Minecraft book, 
  • learn how to make a Lego Movie, 
  • read more so he can read his big pirate chapter book all by himself,
  • learn to bake muffins on his own, 
  • take a survival class, 
  • be a pioneer for a week (this one should be interesting for all of us),
  • practice printing because, and I quote, "I want to write so many words but my fingers aren't strong enough and my brain doesn't know enough words on its own.",
  • play in a creek, 
  • learn to skip stones, 
  • go to SportBall classes.

A pretty thorough list if you ask me, covering lots of different areas of his life.  It looks like we have fun times ahead of us!

My little lady added some things of her own:
  • more painting and crafts
  • make puppets
  • make an Elsa dress

I'll be using this list of activities as we map out our next few months, making sure to continue to incorporate our outdoor time and hands on activities.  The rhythm we have established over the last year has become the one thing that ground us, allowing us the freedom to add new activities and the security of knowing that certain things will always be a part of our day.   It centers us and helps us through the hairy times.

And I'm sure there will be some hairy times to come!  Especially if we all have to be pioneers for a week!!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lesson Learned

Well look at that.

A whole "school year" has come and gone since my last blog post.

I was busy with the business of homeschooling.  And when I wasn't busy with the business of homeschooling, I was pursuing my own interests which kept me away from the blog.

We had a very successful year, although our learning isn't completed.  We are what some people call year long home learners without a summer break.

What we really are is a family that learns together all the time.

I've been reading many blogs the last few days, many of them focusing on what the mamas have learned since they began the homeschooling journey. So I thought I would take a moment and do the same.

So many things have gone well since we started homeschooling two years ago.  A few things haven't meshed well with us.  And some things we never got around to doing.

Two things that really work well were our focus on Waldorf and Charlotte Mason styles of education, and continuing to focus on bringing more cheer and calm to our family through stories and song.

The biggest thing I learned this year was that perfection is over rated. I'm a planner by nature, but waiting to start doing something until all the pieces fell in to place was draining my energy and halting our discoveries.

So I let go of the elaborate plans and now, when we find an interest, we just go with it.

I let go of some of the control, and surprisingly enough, feel more in control of our lives.

Before, I was always chasing the dream of creating the perfect situation to learn something.

But the perfect situation to learn something is when nothing is perfect.

The perfect situation to learn something is when the spark has been lit and we follow its light to see where it takes us.

Sometimes it leads us exactly where I thought it would.

But more often than not, it leads us on a wonderful adventure we could have never anticipated.

That was a great lesson to learn.