"That Is It! They Are Coming Home," by Kristen C

 

I never, ever, ever wanted to homeschool.

I thought all homeschoolers were weird, or at least pretty socially impaired. The nice, clever, well-adjusted homeschoolers that I knew were clearly the exceptions to that rule. I had had a decent education from both public and private schools, my husband had had a great private school education, and we both anticipated our children would follow along similar foot steps.

We were so wrong.

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Our daughter’s first day of preschool in 2007

Our first child was nothing like what we expected. She was fast-moving, smart as a whip, and never, ever slowed down. She wanted to explore and to learn and to see and to touch and take apart everything. After we had our second child shortly thereafter, I was exhausted. Our son didn’t sleep well and didn’t ever want to be away from me. We decided to put our daughter into a preschool  program a couple days a week to give me a bit of a break and to get her ready for Kindergarten in a couple of years. It didn’t go very well. Our daughter didn’t want to sit when it was time to sit. She didn’t want to walk in a line, and she certainly didn’t want to take a nap when all her friends were so close! Usually a very happy child, she left each day frustrated and I left each day beat down from hearing all the things she had done that day that had exhausted her teachers and that weren’t in line with their expectations. The final straw came the following semester after she had been placed in a room with new teachers. She had once again refused to nap and to sit silently on her mat, and she was brought to the director’s office. Yes, our barely three-year-old had been taken to the director’s office because she wouldn’t lay still for 45 minutes. The day I talked to the Director was it for my husband and me. There is a place for rule following and for doing things you don’t want to do, and every child needs to learn to obey. However, there is also a place for appropriate expectations and this wasn’t appropriate for my kid. So we pulled her out the following day and I started to Google “How Do I Homeschool?”

As this all was happening, I had slowly begun to meet more and more homeschool families that had happy and well-adjusted kids. I started to think that maybe these kids were the rule, and maybe the weird ones were just like the weird kids in public schools. I began to be aware that not all homeschool families were the same and that they all had their own reasons for homeschooling and none of those reasons were as abnormal as I had thought.  Maybe homeschooling wasn’t as fringe as I thought it was? Then my husband started to notice, too. He whispered to me at church one morning, “See those kids? They are homeschooled and they aren’t weird at all, huh? I think that family over there homeschools, and they aren’t weird, either.” So when we pulled our daughter out of preschool it was my husband who suggested that we try homeschooling to see if that was an option. After all, we could still put her in Kindergarten if it was an epic fail.

After we made the decision to give it a go, I went into full research mode. I checked out every book on homeschooling the library had. I asked every homeschooling person I knew what they liked and what they hated. I looked at the internet for hours upon hours upon hours. And at some point in that rabbit hole, I came across The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, and my life completely changed. Here was what I had been looking for, here was my blue print, here was the proof that I could actually do this and do it well. The idea of a Classical Education appealed to the History major in me, and to the disciplined nature of my husband. We knew that if we kept this structure around our school, we could let our kids march down the lines of it at their own speed. The best of both worlds.

So we trucked on, following our Classical Education ideals, for a few more years and a few more babies, loving every minute of homeschooling. I loved being able to pick my battles and let my daughter grow at her own pace. I loved our slow days and our time together, and our kids were learning awesome things. I did NOT envy my friends with their early morning drop offs. At least, not until a few months after our fourth baby was born. Our fourth baby was an easygoing baby but still a baby. He needed to be nursed and held and cuddled. At the same time, I found that our third child was in dire need of attention, and I wasn’t giving it to her. I was trying to teach the big kids and mother a newborn, our house was a wreck, and our little toddler girl was getting lost in the shuffle. At my wit’s end, I decided to put our older two into public school right away.  I didn’t know if it was for good or if it was for a break, but I knew I wasn’t giving anyone what they needed.

For a few months, everything went okay. Our little kids got the attention they needed, our big kids received consistent schooling, and our laundry was always done. Our school was lovely, our teachers were nothing short of God-given, and our kids were making friends.  What they weren’t doing, though, was learning much. Both kids were marking time academically, and forgetting a lot of those wonderful Classical Education foundations we had worked on while they were at home. They were getting embroiled in a lot of school-kid drama and bringing home awful attitudes towards each other, and worse, towards schoolwork. Their teachers worked with us, but as I came out of my exhaustion I knew that this wasn’t working. One evening after the kids had gone to bed, as my husband and I went over the newest thing our daughters teacher had called us about, I mentioned that she had somehow forgotten how to carry while subtracting, something that she knew cold while homeschooling. My husband lost it. “You mean they are acting like little jerks AND getting dumber?? That is IT. They are COMING HOME.” And that was that.

Since then, I’ve adjusted the expectations I have for myself and my home. I’ve worked on making time for the little kids a priority and we’ve dug back into our Classical Education plans, and things have been moving along quite well. Our days aren’t perfect. We’ve had a diagnosis of ADHD for my oldest son, a looming one of ADD for my daughter, some food allergy issues, and all of the regular teaching issues that pop up. Our days aren’t perfect at all, but they are Good Days. I can do attitude adjustments as the need arises and I am able to take the time to explain why we have to do things — why it’s important that we follow most rules and why some rules need to be broken. I can walk my son through his math as slow as a snail, knowing that he is actually learning the material and not being pushed further than his ability. I have taught three kids to read and have another one hot on their heels. Homeschooling has allowed my children to play to their strengths and to work on their weaknesses off-stage. There is no one staring them down as they struggle. Choosing to homeschool has been one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made, and from here on out, we plan to stick with it for the long haul.

Kristen C13021867383_2cf4e968cb_q. is a homeschooling mom of four, living deep in the heart of Texas. She loves history, running, and camping, and drinks more coffee than is prudent. Kristen blogs about her daily adventures trying to classically homeschool kids who would always rather be up a tree than writing anything, ever, at www.unsinkablekristen.blogspot.com

Field Trips in Fort Worth, TX, by Kristen C

Field Trips

 

There are so many great field trip opportunities here in Fort Worth. Some are well-known and others are slightly off the beaten path. If you are a local wanting to shake up your regular school week or if you are planning on visiting our excellent city, there are some places you certainly won’t want to miss. Any of these locations could fit seamlessly into your studies, be it viewing the Assyrian and Sumerian works at the Kimbell while you are studying the Ancients, or learning about the native insects and visiting birds at the Fort Worth Nature Center for Biology. Fort Worth has something for everyone.

History & Government

National Cowgirl Museum

  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Price: Adults (13+) – $10.00, Children (3-12) – $8.00, Children (3 and under) – Free with adult
  • What’s Special – Along with the amazing collection of real Cowgirl clothing and amazing photography, there are plenty of things for kids to enjoy.  The highlight of your visit, though, will be riding the life sized Bronco replica.  While you ride the gently bucking bronco, a screen will be playing old style rodeo videos behind you making you feel like you are really there.  Later, you’ll be able to get a code and download a 10 second clip of your ride!

Texas Civil War Museum

  • Hours – Tuesday through Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Price – Adults (13+) – $6:00, Students (7-12) $3.00, Children (6 and under) – Free with adult
  • What’s Special – In this Texas sized museum, you’ll be able to see the largest collection of original Texas Flags in the state, as well as view a rotating collection of over 300 Victorian dresses.  If you have a large group, be sure to contact them, you can arrange for a special presentation.

U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

  • Hours – Tuesday through Friday:  8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  The last tour walkway entrance is at 4:30 p.m.
  • Price – Free!
  • What’s Special – Visitors to this facility can see billions of dollars printed from an enclosed walkway, which is suspended above the production floor.  Tours are self-guided and at your own pace.  Be sure to plan enough time to get through security, as this is a government building.

Log Cabin Village

  • Hours – Tuesday through Friday: 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday & Sunday: 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.
    Closed Mondays
  • Price – Adults (18+) – $5.00, Children (4-17) – $4.50, Children (3 and under) – Free
  • What’s Special – The Log Cabin village is a living history museum and is entirely outdoors.  There are things to do and see at each cabin, but make sure not to miss the Seela Cabin where you are encouraged to touch and explore all of the things around the cabin.

Science & Nature

Fort Worth Zoo – 

  • Hours – Open 365 days a year, check the website for times.
  • Price – Adults (13+) – $12.00, Children (3-12) – $9.00, Children (2 and under) – Free
  • What’s Special – The Fort Worth Zoo has over 7,000 native and exotic animals so you probably won’t be able to see all of them in one visit, but you are welcome to try!  As you explore, though, don’t miss MOLA: The Museum Of Living Art.  This air-conditioned exhibit is a welcome break in the Texas Summers and houses the most amazing collection of amphibian and reptiles.  You could spend most of your day in this area alone!

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

  • Hours – Monday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sunday: Noon – 5:00 p.m.
  • Price – Adult (13+) – $15.00, Children (2-12) – $11.oo
  • What’s Special – The FW Museum is home to many permanent exhibits, but make sure to visit DinoLabs and see the State Dinosaur of Texas (the Paluxysaurus jonesi)
    and to visit the Innovation Studios where you can get hands on with experiments, art, and maybe even lay on a bed of nails!

River Legacy Science Center

  • Hours – Mondays-Saturdays, 9 am – 5 pm
  • Price – Free!
  • What’s Special – River Legacy Science Center is a small center that houses interactive environment exhibits as well as aquariums and terrariums with native wildlife.  As you explore here, though, make sure to check out the park surrounding it and if you are local, take a look at the amazing education programs they offer!

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

  • Hours – Daily 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Price – Adults (13-64): $5.00, Children (3-12): $3.00, Children (3 and under):  Free, Seniors (65+): $3.00
  • What’s Special – The FWNC has over 2,ooo acres of wildlife and over 20 miles of hiking trails.  This is a beautiful way to see Native Texan forests, prairies, and wetlands.  Don’t miss the short hike around Greer Island, it never disappoints!  If you are local, be sure to ask about their Summer programs.

Art & Local Culture

Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District –

  • Hours: Varying
  • Price: Varying
  • What’s Special – The historic Stockyards are home to so many activities, attractions, and amazing food you just can’t pass up a chance to visit.  If you have to pick only one thing to do, though, make sure you visit during the daily Cattle Drive.  Yes, daily.  Every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. real Cowboys and Cowgirls drive the Fort Worth Herd up and back East Exchange Avenue.  The longhorns are nothing short of spectacular.

Casa Mañana –

  • Hours – Varying
  • Price – Tickets prices vary, but generally are between $10-$75
  • What’s Special – Casa Mañana provides outstanding Musicals and Children’s Theater performances year-round.  If you can only make it to one, be sure to see whatever Children’s performance they are currently performing.  Casa does excellent Broadway shows, but their Children’s Theater is unbeatable.

Amon Carter Museum of American Art –

  • Hours – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sunday: Noon–5 p.m.
  • Price – Free!
  • What’s Special – The Amon Carter is the perfect trip for any family that wants to view an outstanding collection of American art.   Take your time and don’t miss the Georgia O’Keefe paintings and the excellent collection of illustrated books.

Kimbell Art Museum

  • Hours – Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday:  10:00 a.m. – 5:00p.m., Friday Noon – 8 p.m., Sunday Noon – 5:00 p.m., Closed Mondays
  • Price – Adults (12+): $14.00, Children (6-11): $10.00, Children (6 and under): Free
  • What’s Special – When you want to see the truly breathtaking works of art, the Kimbell is where you visit.  Home to an impressive collection including works by Monet and Michelangelo, the Kimbell houses more than you can see in one visit.  On your way to visit the famous pieces, don’t miss the newly finished Piano Pavilion, currently housing their African, pre-Columbian, and Asian collections.   Again, if you are local, ask about their Kid & Family programs.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the above locations, please visit the websites linked in their names.  Each place has so much more to offer than can be shown here!

Kristen is a homeschooling mom of four, living deep in the heart of Texas. She loves history, 13021867383_2cf4e968cb_qrunning, and camping, and drinks more coffee than is prudent. Kristen blogs about her daily adventures trying to classically homeschool kids who would always rather be up a tree than writing anything, ever, at www.unsinkablekristen.blogspot.com