Tag Archives: sports

The Year of the Taxi

This fall is our first venture into organized sports. We live in the country, and it takes us about 15 minutes to get to the closest grocery store, or 25 minutes if we’re going to do any other shopping. Because of this, I knew that signing one or more children up for a sports program would require quite a bit of driving. And time. And driving… and driving…and driving…

But my daughter Cassie wanted to take the plunge. She loves meeting new friends, so we signed her up for a volleyball skills session in June. Twice a week, she met with other girls to learn how to play volleyball. I figured it was a good sport to learn, as that’s the game of choice when extended family gets together. Next reunion, she’d be ready.

And she loved it!  So when the teams form and she was placed on the middle school girls’ volleyball team, it was hard to say “no.” As soon as we received the schedule, I marked everything on the calendar — times and places of practices and games. And then I wondered how I was going to juggle it all.

All four of the kids are taking music lessons of some sort now, and my oldest son is also teaching piano to some young friends. That was already four places I had to be. We also have co-op classes twice a week. Then there are the spontaneous get-togethers with friends (especially for my 10th grade son).. Still do-able, except that when the school year started, my husband began part-time work most weeknights, so he’s not available to help run anyone around.

So far (and with extra help!), we’ve made it. We share rides with some friends to/from co-op, which cuts out one trip for me. Some other friends who also have a daughter on the team have been able to give Cassie rides to some of the practices and even a couple of games that were far away.

It does get complicated, though. Monday’s are the trickiest, and I actually have to write it all down so I don’t miss anything. On a typical Monday afternoon, this is the plan:

  • 2:30 pm – Co-op classes end
  • 2:40 pm – Take Cassie and her friend to volleyball practice
  • 3:00 pm – Pick up son John and 3 friends (we carpool with them) from co-op
  • 3:10 pm – Pick up daughter Lillie from friend’s house where she went there to play after her classes were done
  • 3:30 pm – Drop off John at the home where he’s teaching piano lesson
  • 4:00 pm – Drop off John’s 3 friends, pick up son Luke who’s been playing at the friends’ house with their little brother
  • 4:15 pm  – Drop off Lillie and Luke at their grandmom’s house (next door to ours)
  • 4:30 pm – Pick up John
  • 4:45 pm – Pick up Lillie and Luke, take all home
  • 5:00 pm – Leave to pick up Cassie from friend’s home
  • 5:30 pm – Arrive home and start supper

So far, so good, though I almost forgot to pick up Lillie last week. And since we only have about a month to go until volleyball season is over, I can soon take a small break from the taxi service.

But then, John’s wants to try out for basketball….

 

Photo by K Rosseel

Lacking Confidence?

This past week, my 15-year-old went to the DMV to take the written test for a beginner’s driving permit. His birthday was at the beginning of August, so he had been asking me for a couple of weeks when we could go, so as soon as we had all the paperwork together, we went. But the night before we planned to go, his attitude suddenly changed.

“We don’t have to go tomorrow,” he said.

“Why not?” I asked. “You’ve been asking and asking to go.”

“I’m not ready. I’m going to fail.”

“Sure, you’re ready. You’ve been studying the driver’s manual, haven’t you? And, even if you fail the test, so what? You can always try again.”

“I’m just not ready,” he replied.

“You can’t get your permit if you don’t try,” I said. I was starting to get a little frustrated. During the past few weeks, I’ve been juggling a lot of the kids’ activities, trying to get everyone where they needed to be when they needed to be there. We had set aside this particular time for him to get the permit. I didn’t want to re-figure the whole schedule.

Though he wasn’t convinced, off we went, my son very nervous and myself just glad we were going. He took the test and came out of the DMV a proud owner of a driving permit.

I’d like to say that the lack of confidence has only been on his part, but lately, I can really relate. As we start another school year, I’ve been reassessing how we’ve been doing and what needs to change. But sometimes, I’m just not sure. There are so many opportunities available; which ones should we make time for? What activities are the best ones to be involved in? Are we getting too involved in extra programs? Should we stay home more? Are we spending enough time with the books? Are we spending enough time as a family?

There’s no single answer to the questions, as every child is different, their needs are different, and family dynamics are different. And for us right now, I don’t even have an answer. We’re trying a sports program for my daughter that’s requiring a lot of time and a lot of travel, but she loves it. Yet as our co-op gets ready to begin, so do the big assignments, and I know we’ll have to start working on those for the majority of each day. So as we begin a new year, I’m thinking, like my son, “I’m not ready. I’m going to fail.”

But like my son, even if I fail, so what? I can always try again. And I can keep trying until I find what works. After all,  that’s one of the reasons why we started homeschooling in the first place.

And as for my confidence as a homeschooling parent? I’m thinking that might come after they’ve all graduated…or made it through college…or have families of their own…or maybe just through a lot of prayer! 🙂

 

Photo by karlzbobarlz

 

Last Week of Summer Break

This week is our last week of summer break. On the 15th, when the schools in our area begin their first day, we’ll start off on our first “official” day too. While I had great intentions on finishing up my lesson plans early in the season, we are now just a week away, and I still have to make those plans. I have almost all of the books we’re going to use — just not the plans to go with them.

But, I reassured myself, that’s okay — I still have this week to pull everything together.But, like many plans, mine is in need of some revisions, as it’s  turning out to be a week busy with activities.

Monday: A few necessary errands in the morning.  In the afternoon, my daughter Cassie will join a homeschool middle school volleyball team for practice, her first team sport since she was  eight years old. After I drop her off, I’ll then take my oldest son John to his first piano lesson — as the teacher! He’ll be working with two young students who haven’t played much before. Maybe I can do some planning in the evening.

Tuesday: Planning in the morning; violin lessons for the girls around noon; community service for John in the afternoon.

Wednesday: Monthly visit to the nursing home in the morning; piano lessons for John and Luke in the afternoon; Lesson planning?

Thursday: Meeting with friends in the morning – afternoon at a state park to swim and picnic; Lesson planning…?

Friday: Last opportunity to use our tickets from the library reading program for a local water park. The park is about an hour away, so we want to make a day of it. Hmmm….lesson planning…

I have to admit, I am not a homeschooling mom who has it all together. As I look at this schedule, I’m really glad to have at least some time on Monday and Tuesday to put our first few weeks of school in writing.

But while homeschooling works well for those who are organized, structured, and totally prepared, it also works well for those of us who aren’t.  Even if I don’t have the whole year planned, I can still mix my teaching style with my children’s learning styles and create an educational atmosphere where they continue to grow. And isn’t that one of the reasons we homeschool in the first place?

 

Photo by mensatic

Homeschool Reporting Online

 

As it is with traditional school teachers, record-keeping is a necessary part of the homeschooling parent’s job. But, if you’re like me, keeping detailed and accurate records (especially for my high school student and all his extra activities) may be something you have to work at. Fortunately, there’s now website available to make record-keeping much easier. It’s HomeschoolReportingOnline, and it’s just the tool I was looking for.

HomeschoolReportingOnline can be used by umbrella groups, co-ops, and individual families. There is a small annual fee for the service ($20 per year), but the services the site offers are well-worth the price. Through the site you can record grades, standardized test scores, and lesson plans, as well as keep track of attendance for the year. You can also maintain a detailed account of extracurricular activities for a student portfolio, such as scout awards, music performances, athletic events, and community service. And for those in high school, the site will even generate transcripts as they begin to apply to various colleges.

And the site is so easy to use! After logging in, you’ll be directed to a page featuring a quick overview of all of your students.  At the top of the page you’ll find links for editing your information, including your family and student information. You’ll also find a link for setting up the school years; I used this to pre-plan what courses my children will be taking in the years ahead, especially for my high school student.

Under each student’s name are more links for keeping track of their individual records. And there are how-to videos for everything you need to do, including setting up the school year, adding students, adding grades, and using the forms.

If you’re looking to reorganize/regroup your records for the new school year, check out this site. It might just be what you’ve been looking for too!

 

Photo by Jane Sawyer

 

Saving With Used Curriculum

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on plans for the school year in the fall — deciding what curriculum to use and figuring out the cost. I’m finding that as the children grow older, the cost of the books we need to buy goes up as well. Add that to the cost of regular school supplies, such as paper, pens, and notebooks, along with the cost of any extra classes such as co-op classes, sports clubs, or fine art instruction, and it’s easy to see that homeschooling can be expensive.

But there are ways to save, especially where curriculum is concerned. Used curriculum can often be found at a fraction of the retail price, even the most recent editions. If you are looking for used curriculum, here are a few places you can start:

Yahoo Groups: There are a number of yahoo groups that you can join where people post their used curriculum for sale. Once you contact the seller, the two of you work out payment and shipping. Go to Yahoo Groups and check out BobJonesCurriculumUsed_Homeschooling_Curriculum, ChristianCurriculum, All-Wholesome-BooksUsedHomeschoolBooks, and TheHomeschoolMomUsedCurriculum.

eBay: If you enjoy using eBay, look for the curriculum you need in the listings there. If you don’t like the auction-style format (it can become a little nerve-wracking sometimes), check to see if someone has listed the books as Buy It Now.

Used Curriculum Sites: You might find what you’re looking for by searching a used homeschooling curriculum site. Visit HomeschoolClassifieds, VegSource, and The Book Cover.

CraigsList: Often homeschoolers will list their curriculum on CraigsList.com. Click on the link for the city nearest you, look under the “For Sale” column, and click on “Books”. You can scroll through the list or do a search for the particular book you’re looking for. Remember to use caution when purchasing items from CraigsList, and meet the seller at a public location.

If you aren’t able to find what you’re looking for online, ask around to find out where homeschoolers in your area sell used books. Do they post it on an email loop, or is there a used book sale you can attend? You might even be able to simply borrow the books you need from someone who won’t be using them this year.

It is possible to homeschool on a budget, and buying used curriculum can help. For many homeschoolers, finding that good deal is all part of the adventure.

Field Day

P1180080Yesterday, our co-op had a field day for the elementary students. It took a lot of planning and a lot of organizing, but it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to conclude the school year for the younger children.

Even if you’re not part of a co-op, you can organize a field day with other homeschooling friends. Here are some ideas to get you started.

First, find a good location for your field day events. You might go to a public park with a field, or inquire at a church in your area for permission to use their land. We’ve had them at both places, and everything has gone well.

Next, plan your field day events. The events the children participated in yesterday included:

  • Three-legged race
  • Wheel barrow race
  • Sack races
  • Tug-of-war
  • 50-meter dash
  • Softball throw
  • Bean bag toss
  • Egg-on-a-spoon race
  • Bowling (using plastic soda bottles)
  • Water balloon toss
  • Wet sponge over-and-under relay

You don’t have to do all of these activities, however. Along with the other moms in your group, see what other events you can come up with. You might want to try:

  • Frisbee throw
  • Jump roping
  • Relay races/passing a baton
  • Ping pong blow
  • Soccer ball dribble
  • Football throw
  • Hoola Hoop Marathon
  • Basketball free throw
  • Egg toss
  • Miniature golf

In preparation for the games, set up a “station” where each game will be played. Be sure all necessary equipment is at the station.

Next, divide the children into groups based on ages and/or height. You might also want to separate the groups by gender as well.

If you haven’t done so already, enlist the help of the other parents. Have a parent supervise each station and make sure all the students are playing according to the rules. Provide each parent with a clipboard, pencil, and paper, so they can write down the names of the children who come in first, second, and third place.

At the end of the games, you can reward the children in several ways. You might assign point values to first, second, and third, then give those with the highest points on each team a special prize. Prizes can include toys, candy, gum, restaurant coupons — whatever you think they would like. Or, you might give out ribbons to those who placed. Either way, it’s also good to have a small prize or ribbon for everyone who participated.

However you organize it, field day is a good day to teach about friendship, sportsmanship, and fun!

Getting Ready for High School

cohdra100_1411Last week, I attended a class called “Homeschooling Your High Schooler” presented by homeschool veteran and speaker Tandy Collier. It was a great  class, focusing on what to do to help your homeschooled child get accepted into college. With my oldest son John entering eighth grade this year, I need to begin thinking ahead now.

This is especially true in our state. Students can begin receiving high school credits for some classes they take in the eighth grade. This year, John will be taking two classes that can count towards his high school credits. I realized that even with those extra credits, however, we need to map out now the courses he’ll take in 9th-12th grade, just to be sure that he stays on track. With so many dual enrollment and online learning opportunities, he can have a strong start when it comes time to enter college.

But there’s more to plan. Ms. Collier mentioned that colleges and universities admission counselors like to see that a student is a dedicated member in an organization and sticks with it for a long time. They also like to see that the student has a variety of experiences withing that group. With so many extracurricular activities available, we have to decide together just which ones he should participate in. Up to now we haven’t done much with organized sports, opting instead to pursue scouting, which John still enjoys. He’s also continuing on with music and playing the piano. But there’s much more to choose from: 4-H clubs, Civil Air Patrol, Teen Pact, theater, chorus, and band, just to name a few.

Was the class intimidating? No — rather, it was encouraging. Last year, my husband and I discussed whether or not to continue homeschooling through high school, and at the time we felt it was the right way for us to go. Now I know we’re headed in the right direction. I also know it will involve a lot of work and a lot of planning, and I need to stay on top of things as we enter the high school years. But I also know that for the most part,  I have one more year to prepare. Whew!