Our First Week of 2019
If I am going to be completely honest, our first family adventure of 2019 almost didn’t happen.
I had plans to visit a specific nature center Thursday or Friday. But it was raining Thursday and the forecast for the weekend was great. I decided to rearrange our plans to go on our adventure on Sunday. But then, on Friday I woke up with a cold. I spend Friday and Saturday feeling pretty awful. My throat felt like someone shoved a wire brush down it. My nose was clogged, and my head throbbed with every movement. But Sunday morning, I woke up and felt better.
But my six year old didn’t. My poor youngest son started feeling sick on Saturday and was not doing well Sunday. I thought about skipping this week. Or going on two adventures next week to make up for it. But here’s the thing. There will always be obstacles in the way of my goals. Skipping the first week was no way to start my challenge. Even if the whole family could not go, I knew I needed to start this challenge off right.
So I made the choice to visit a nature preserve closer to home with the older two kids. It’s been on my to-do list forever. And I am so glad we did!
Turnipseed Nature Preserve is beautiful! The 265 acre preserve is located in Wendell, NC, about 25 minutes from Raleigh. There are a few different trail options, but we took the Boulder Trail.
A sign at the beginning of the trail showed us how to spot signs of the wildlife that lives nearby. While we saw a few birds and squirrels, that was it for spotting wildlife. But we did see lots of beaver lodges and dams! The kids were so excited! Once, years ago, a friend of mine who works at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA gave us a private viewing of some animals, including a beaver. The kids loved the beaver and have continued to think that beavers are pretty cool animals ever since.
After observing the lodges and dams, we decided that we’d dedicate some time learning about beavers this week.
Even though our adventure was not what we planned, we had a great time. The kids are so excited to learn more about beavers, and they can’t wait to come back with their dad and little brother. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!
I am already working on more free printables for hiking and learning about animals! If you’re interested in getting your hands on these free printables, be sure to follow my blog!
Have you started your own adventuring for 2019? Tell me about it in the comments!
Planning Can be Overwhelming!
When I decided to to embark on 52 adventures with my kids this year, I wondered if it was too much. It’s hard to plan so many day trips, hikes, road trips etc. Even though I was overwhelmed, I knew that I really wanted this- for my kids and for myself. I started googling and found so many resources that have helped me get started on my new journey. I’ve heard from some of you on social media. A few of you have expressed an interest in trying your own 52 Weeks of Adventure challenge! I am sharing some of my resources. Hopefully, they will inspire you!
When in Your State / Only in Your State
When in Your State has listings for each of the 50 US states. There are categories for everything from gardens, to waterfalls, to “haunted” places. Only in Your State has a very similar set up. Thse are great not only for finding fun places to visit nearby, but also for seeking out adventures when you’re on a a road trip.
Find a Park
The National Parks Service website will help you find a park, trail, battlefield, trail, or memorial near you! Better yet, if you have a fourth grader, all National Parks are free with the Every Kid in a Park program!
Museums USA has a database of museums in every state! There are subheadings for Zoos, Nature Centers, Planetariums, and more!
Macaroni Kid has listings for several cities. Each area is covered by a different publisher, so content varies from city to city. Many areas have great coverage and are full of info on day trips, local parks, events, and more!
January Adventure Planner
I have created a fun, free printable for anyone who signs up for my email list before 1/5/2019. It will help you plan your first month of adventures!
Sign up for my mailing list here for your free printable! Be sure to check your spam folders. It may take up to 24 hours for your free printable to arrive.
Do you have any resources you like to use to plan your roadschooling/adventures? Let me know about them in the comments!
The World is Our Classroom
As a homeschooling mom, I love to take my kids on adventures. We go on lots of day hikes. If we get the opportunity, we will hop in the car for a road trip or board an airplane for far-away destinations. We spend many days in museums, at festivals, or attending local performances. Our homeschool motto is “the world is our classroom.” We try very hard to make sure that we live by that idea.
We’d love to roadschool or worldschool full time, but it’s not possible at this point for our family. We have medically complicated kids and need to be near a home base regularly to meet their medical needs. We’ve made it a point to be sure that these medical complications don’t limit their experiences.
In 2018, we worked hard to expand our horizons and explore the world as much as possible.
We flew to Seattle twice. Our road trips took us to eight states. Our biggest trip of the year was my favorite to date; we flew to Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Not all of our trips were big, of course. We visited the Botanical Gardens at Duke University, many local museums, and visited the Jamestown Settlement to learn about colonial history.
Adventure as a Way of Life
I truly believe that these experiences are vital to the growth and development of my kids. Children who spend time in nature will learn to value our planet. If kids see the world beyond their front door, they will understand diverse cultures and learn to respect then. Kids who are exposed to the arts will appreciate not only the beauty behind art, but the importance of art in our culture. Exposure to museums, zoos, and aquariums can bring science and history off of the page. My kids learn more from these experiences than they do from textbooks.
My Challenge for 2019
This year, my family will have fifty-two adventures. I will post an adventure every Sunday evening at 52familyadventures.com or you can just check out the home page of stepheniepeterson.com to find the newest posts. For the purpose of my challenge, an adventure can be as simple as a hike in the next town, or as grand as a trip to France. I mean, I don’t currently have plans to go to France this year, but who knows! If I did fly to France, I could use a trip to the Eiffel Tower as one adventure and exploring Norte-Dame another adventure. Because of this, though I will post one adventure a week, they might not be chronological. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more frequent updates. I’ll be posting with the hashtag #52familyadventures so be sure to follow the hashtag too!
Do you want more adventure in your life? I’ll be posting tips, printables, and ideas to help you experience adventure with your family! I hope you’ll follow along as we dedicate 2019 to adventure!
Okay. I know I said we were done homeschooling.
We bought 12 green folders, 76 glue sticks, 2 blue binders, one purple, and one white. We bought special headphones, name-brand pencils, rain ponchos, new backpacks, and one really expensive calculator. My daughter planned her first day of school outfit for a month.
The first day finally came. They looked pretty cute. They went to that first day and came home fairly happy. There were of course, a few issues, but none of us expected it to be perfect.
As time went on, however, the little issues became bigger.
My oldest has a lot of medical issues. Right after the school year began, he had what I could best describe as a medical crisis. He missed a lot of school. As many days as he attended, he missed all or part of the day for illness or medical testing. It was a scary time. And it reminded me of why we homeschooled to start with. When you homeschool, you can change the time of your math lesson to work around a neurologist appointment. With homeschooling, you can have science lessons while you have an at-home EEG. At home, he wouldn’t have missed so much.
We figured out what was causing his health issues and he was doing so much better. But I just wanted to be with my son. I didn’t want to send him away again after having to worry about him. And I wanted to know that if he faced another medical crisis, we could ensure that his academics would not suffer.
I considered having the other two continue to attend school, but we had worries about younger son’s allergies were being handled at school. Protocols weren’t being followed. We could have fought the school on it, but we didn’t really want to.
My daughter is a free spirit. She marches to the beat of her own drum. While she made school work, I could see that spending all day conforming was squashing her spirit and I didn’t want that.
We pulled them out three weeks into the school year.
Thankfully, we were able to get them back into their homeschool classes and co-op and it’s been an easy transition.
If nothing else, we can say we tried it. Maybe it was a failed experiment, but you don’t know until you try, right?
Currently, my kids are learning about Edgar Allan Poe, writing Halloween stories at home, and taking classes in mythology, archaeology, chemistry, and current events with their homeschool group. They’re also taking classes with co-op and obviously learning math, language arts, and history at home.
Life is good. My babies are home and we’re ready for new adventures.
A lot of people have preconceived notions about what a homeschooling family looks like. Some of the ideas people have about homeschoolers are based on stereotypes they’ve heard. Sometimes, someone remembers a homeschooling family they once met and assumes that’s just how it’s done. Sometimes people are just making assumptions based on their own lives. Whatever your assumptions about homeschooling are, put them aside. Like any other group of people, no two homeschoolers are exactly alike.
Here are sixteen ways I break homeschool stereotypes. I’ve heard all of these from people in the past. Some of these assumptions are great qualities – just not ones I possess. Some of them are awful stereotypes and just need to end.
- I wear pants. The last time I wore a denim jumper, I was five years old.
- I don’t bake my own bread from grains I harvested myself. I buy it at Aldi.
- We don’t live in an RV. (But that would be really cool!)
- My kids don’t speak Latin and I don’t have plans to change that.
- I’m not super organized.
- We’re not unschoolers, though I know and admire many unschoolers.
- I don’t homeschool my kids to keep them away from the world. I homeschool them so they can spend more time in it.
- My kids do not behave perfectly. In fact, when people imply that they do, I laugh.
- I don’t think everyone should homeschool or that schools are evil. We’re just doing what works for our family.
- We don’t homeschool because of super conservative religious beliefs.
- My kids socialize with other kids. A lot. I promise. Please quit asking about this. Homeschoolers have a million ways to get out in the world and interact with people. My kids go to baseball, dance, classes with other homeschoolers, co-ops, the park, the library, museums, the store, church, friends’ houses, doctor appointments and about a thousand other places. Seriously. We’re almost never home, so let’s put an end to this one.
- I do not have saint-like patience and I get frustrated just like other parents.
- I don’t sew all of our clothes nor am I great at crafting in general.
- I’m not a perfect parent.
- I am not a dead-beat parent who is too lazy to get her kids to school on time.
- My kids are not illiterate.
In the end, I am really not that different from any other mom. I want the best for my kids and I am trying my hardest to help guide them in this world. I think that most moms I know can agree that’s what we’re all aiming for.
Homeschoolers, what assumptions have others made about you because you educate your kids at home? If you don’t homeschool, maybe you learned something about families like mine. Let me know what you think!
If you take a homeschool mom to the library,
she’ll pick out an audiobook for her kids.
When she goes home, she’ll scour the internet for resources to go with the book.
When she finds a really fantastic unit study for only $5.00, she’ll have to get it.
As she looks over the unit study, she will realize how detailed it is.
She’ll wonder if the kids might just need a copy of the book so they can reread it.
You will find her on amazon.com before you know it, downloading a copy of the book she got for free at the library.
“But it’s only $6.99!”
After she downloads the audiobook, she realizes she is out of ink and can not print the unit study.
So she goes to Target, just for some ink, of course.
After she finds the ink, she remembers she needs paper.
She walks to the office supply section to get the paper.
She grabs it, but then she sees file folders.
And of course she needs file folders.
Near the file folders, she sees markers.
The markers are on sale. She can always use markers.
By the time she leaves Target, she’s spent $54.
Her kids LOVE the book and the unit study, so of course she has to plan a corresponding a field trip.
On the field trip, her kids notice the gift shop, filled with educational toys.
She just can’t resist.
Once, home, she realizes that she has to take the audiobook back to the library.
And chances are, if you take a homeschool mom to the library,
she’s going to want an audiobook for her kids.
*Inspired by If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
I am preparing to take “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” on tour! As this is my first book and first book tour, this is a new experience for me. I will be heading to the Dallas, TX area in early March. I am just a little excited. Or a lot.
So are the kids.
I am taking them with me. As a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t have a lot of options other than to take them with me. Thankfully, I picked Dallas as a destination because we lived there for almost six years. We have friends there who will help me out during events. That will make our trip so much easier. This trip is basically a trial run to see if I can handle touring with the book to other destinations with my sweet little brood tagging along.
My kids are great travelers. We’ve done a lot of road trips with them. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned so much that can’t be learned at home or in a classroom. It’a one thing to read about dolphins. It’s another thing all together to watch them jump and play in the Gulf of Mexico. But where there’s lots of driving, there’s often antsy kids. And when kids are away from their routine, be it homeschool or traditional schooling, a lot of parents get anxious about learning. I thought I would put this post full of tips together to help remind myself of all of the great experiences we’ve had on the road and to help other families as they embark on their own adventures.
Stephenie’s Tips For Keeping Learning Alive and Keeping Parents Sane on the Road:
Two of my three kids are great readers. They will happily read for hours, at home or on the road. We always bring stacks and stacks of books with us on the road. If you are worried about keeping up a school schedule, this can be a great way to keep up on assigned reading. We usually bring books they’ve chosen as well as some that relate to our destination. On our last few trips, we’ve added audiobooks as well. There is something wonderful about audiobooks. They keep everyone happy and engaged and as a bonus, their eyes are free to take in all the changing scenery. We’ve been going through the “Harry Potter” series on car trips and I enjoy that as I am also a huge fan of the books. It makes the time pass by more quickly for the parents as well as the kids.
If you will encounter geological features vastly different from those in your hometown as you drive, this is a wonderful time to discuss and explore geology. The depth of this discussion will obviously vary based on the ages of your kids, but if you are going to be passing somewhere like Mount Saint Helens or the Grand Canyon, you can learn a ton!
Whatever your natural surroundings may be, take time to stop and explore. First off, as much as you may want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, your kids will be happier if you stop and stretch your legs from time to time. Also, kids can benefit a ton from nature study. We always bring nature journals with us on the road. That way they can make observations about the world around them on a short hike. Younger kids may just doodle, but older kids can take notes on animals they encounter, plants they want to identify later, or tracks they find in the dirt. And did I mention they can get out some pent up energy? Because that matters on a a long trip. A lot.
If you pass a battleground, get out of the car and explore. Go slightly off course if it will make a trip to a great art museum possible. Get out of the car and enjoy new areas as you pass through them. There’s always something to learn if you just look for it.
While driving and when you get to your final destination, don’t forget that it’s okay to relax! You don’t have to schedule every moment. You and your kids will be happier and more open to learning if there’s time for fun as well!
I hope these tips help you enjoy a roadschooling adventure! I can’t wait to get on the road for my “Nellie Nova” tour with my sweet little assistants by my side.
Families choose to homeschool for a variety of different reasons. Some are looking to escape bullying. Some want the flexibility so that they can travel. Some want to be able to use a religious curriculum with their kids. Whatever the reason they start, people often find some unexpected benefits along the way.
1.Board Games For Learning
I mean, who wouldn’t rather play Scrabble than write out lists of spelling words over and over again?
2.Grade-Level Means Nothing
My son decided that he wanted to play the cornet last year when he was in 2nd grade. I can’t tell you how many people acted totally shocked that we were “letting him.” The local school started band in 6th grade and people were taken aback that he was allowed to start an instrument “early.” His teacher said he played better than most of his middle school students, so obviously, waiting would not have changed that! We have the flexibility to decide when the right time is to learn an instrument, write in cursive or learn Algebra.
3. No Dress Code
Why not learn German wearing a princess dress or shark costume?! I mean isn’t it easier to remember that shark is der Hai if you are dressed like one?
4. Nearly Empty Museums
Have your ever been to your local science center on a Tuesday morning? It’s great! There’s almost never a crowd. Better yet, the staff has time to answer questions and give demonstrations you may not get to experience on a busy Saturday.
5. Sibling Bonding
My kids are so close. They love to be together and always look out for one another. I have no doubt that homeschooling has helped that. (Also- see Number 3. We obviously love the lack of dress code around here!)
6. More Time in Nature
We love being outside. Homeschooling means that we can read in the backyard or take a day off for sunny weather. Trust me, they learn plenty on a nature hike.
Obviously, a lot of these are little things and probably not a deciding factor in education. That said, these added bonuses make our days happier and I am so happy that my kids are having these experiences.
Homeschoolers- what are your “Unexpected Benefits?”