Showing posts with label Swimming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swimming. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Expanding our Horizons in Guatemala Meets Escaping Buffalo in January

Several months ago, at the age of 34, I got my very first passport.  I was always nervous to travel abroad.  I am sure part of it was the propaganda about traveling to certain places.  However, most of the time I think I was intimidated by new languages, international paperwork, and flying. I had a terrible time with Spanish in college and only received some sort of a B (don't remember the exact grade) due to a student teacher who was afraid to look bad.  I hate flying, not because I am afraid as much as I feel sick, both air sick (either I come down with a sinus infection from the pressure or actually vomit on the plane) and it aggravates my fibromyalgia.  Until now, I never felt like I missed out and I certainly traveled otherwise, hitting more than half the states (by car) before I turned 20.  Still, I was nervous.  I have a cousin who has lived in London for quite a while and have never gone despite the fact that I am sort of in love with Britain from its wonderfully made television mystery shows.  In the case of Britain, it isn't a language issue, but a long flight and time change issue.  Anyway, with our kids in the training choirs at church and the regular church choirs traveling to England this August, it hit me that I needed to get comfortable with foreign travel in the near future.

Then a friend of mine who lived in Guatemala for over a year, raved about it to me and wanted to go back, so we decided to go together for the month of January.  It would be a great homeschool trip for her son and my kids as well as a break for my fibromyalgia in the cold.  Of course, if she had only been on vacation there, I never would have been brave enough to go, but since she actually lived there, on her own with her son, I was much more comfortable.  I wanted the kids to be immersed in Spanish as well as see a different culture and experience life very different than the U.S.  The nice thing about Panajachel Guatemala is that there is still a very strong Mayan culture including traditional food and dress.  It is one of the few places left in the world where so much native culture remains.  The climate is also ideal with lows of about 48F and highs of about 72F all year, so it is never cold or hot.

For homeschool, it was a super experience.  First off, the architecture was interesting with buildings open to the outside, sometimes in the middle of the building, since they don't require heating or cooling.

There are churches much older than our church too.

Don't forget the day trip to Antigua where we saw many sites with old ruins including the Church and Convent at Capuchins.

There was the natural wonder of Lake Atitlan with its surrounding volcanoes.

The science of hot springs due to the nearby volcanoes.
The nature preserve was quite exotic complete with banana trees.
We learned about coffee on a tour of the farm and processing.

Forget conventional art class.  The kids took a Mayan weaving class.
They visited a handmade pottery factory.
They visited the Galeria owned by Nan Cuz where they viewed lots of Guatemalan art.

They tried on authentic Mayan clothing from the village of San Antonio.
While we didn't plan on doing a whole lot of math, they kids studied Guatemalan currency and used it buy things including watching Mom attempt to bargain.  Social studies was the strongest area covered mainly because the kids visited the homes of two local families and ate a traditional meal at one of them.  We also experienced the ancient by visiting Mayan ruins.
Modern differences were the most interesting.  On the one hand, there was litter and less than perfect plumbing, but on the other hand there was the tremendous wisdom in simplicity such as the efficiency of tuk tuks on roads without too many cars (no traffic lights), hopping in the back of a pickup truck for longer distances, shopping in a pharmacy with no prescription needed, using ATMs where you can lock yourself in without the fear of someone else with a bank card being able to get in, and eating in restaurants where the owner's chickens roam about the premises.
Physical Education wasn't left out either as we did a horseback ride throughout the village of San Pedro (which I don't recommend for someone with fibromyalgia as due to lack of balance and sensory issues it was very uncomfortable and afterwards I had to rest quite a bit on the couch for several days - but it was fine for the kids).

The kids also went kayaking, but I didn't get pictures.

Obviously, many people in Guatemala don't have as much as we (or most Americans) do, so we had the kids volunteer two mornings doing an art project with preschoolers at Mayan Families.  They really felt great about helping the little ones. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

There Are No Breaks in Homeschool!

Thanks to the grandparents I got to take the kids on vacation to Maine.  Dad had to stay home, luckily to start a new job, not continue to look for one.  So, did we get a break from homeschool? Not at all!  Yes, I let the kids skip their Time4Learning for the week, but they didn't stop learning.  Besides, what better place to learn than at the beach!  It was unstructured learning though.  I brought along several books from the library on the ocean, Maine, rocks, and seashells.  We looked things up as needed, but made no effort to read anything cover to cover.  The first day, it was raining, but the tide was out at a good time, so we went for a walk and collected rocks and seashells.  Over the next several days we tried to look them up to see what we found.  For the rocks we tried to make an educated guess at igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary based on what we read.

I showed the kids that if you dig, you can reach water.  We even made a little canal and a sort of tide pool.  It wasn't exactly the Erie canal, but I think they got the idea.

They also had a great time playing in the ocean.  C rode some waves with Grandpa and T goofed off in the water.  They wore their long suits and hats to stay out of the UV rays.

Grandpa took T and C candlepin bowling for the first time.  He got them bumpers of course, but, hopefully, it will get them interested in the sport.  Too bad there is only regular bowling in Buffalo.

Don't forget about crafts too.  Mem helped them teach them how to do a type of knitting.  It was fun to watch them since I did that as a kid.

It was a great time.  There was a lot of learning too.  While many homeschool families say that they take the summer off, I doubt they stop learning.  I think when homeschool families say they take a break, they are really taking a break from formal curriculum.  Reading and exploration continues anyway.  This was certainly the case for us.

What about you?  Do you take a "break" from homeschool?  What does taking a break mean to you?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fun Math for Different Learning Styles

We unschool most of the time spending only about an hour or so a day on an online curriculum.  Of course, I have been looking for ways to work on math through everyday life and games.  For T who has more of an interest in the calm of traditional learning, it is just about keeping it fun.  He loves to play Yahtzee.  It is a fun way to work on skills as a family or have Dad take over homeschool after work.

C likes it too, but for her I try to make math more active.  Even though she is only 4 we read the 2 digit measurement numbers on the side of the pool and measure items for baking.

Another fun activity for city dwellers is math in the neighborhood.  When T was learning ones, tens, and hundreds place I had them stomping on the address numbers in the sidewalk:

We also measure food at the Lexington Co-op since they have produce and bulk food bins.  It is hard to get a picture of it though because at their ages it still takes lots of supervision especially when it is busy!  Regardless, the goal is to keep math fun and applicable to their lives.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Endless Joy for Mom - Continued

Unfortunately, I am afraid to bring my camera near the pool, but we have had a banner set of homeschool days over the past week.  Both C (on Friday) and T (on Monday) have passed their swimming lessons from Mom.  T isn't even 5.5 yet and C isn't 4.5 yet and they can both swim 25 yards doing a combination of doggie paddle and rolling onto their back and floating and kicking.  I feel that they are safe enough in the pool.  There is plenty of time for stroke refinement.  C is a real natural at swimming so it may not be far behind anyway.  I was so thrilled.  Start to finish our lessons took less than 6 weeks (we have been averaging 3 times per week of swimming).  I would love to take credit, but their comfort in the water made it easy.  Still, it makes me feel so good as a Mom!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Homeschooling: Endless Joy for Mom

I am going to break from my normal style with this post.  My posts tend to be factual, explanatory, or even argumentative.  I rarely write the more reflective pieces about the maternal joy that comes from homeschooling or homemaking.  It isn't that I don't feel this joy, it just isn't my writing style.

As I may have mentioned before, my career experience is in accounting and school business administration.  I am a licensed CPA, School Business Administrator (SBA), and School District Administrator (SDA).  As you can imagine, the writing I did during my career was technical.  In some ways, my role as housewife and stay-at-home-mom still feels foreign while other times it feels completely natural.  Many people would believe that I am devastated that I can no longer work.  While there are times when I sadly think about the fact that I put a lot of time and effort into my career only to have it end, the sadness is more than replaced by the very great joy of homeschooling.

This past week has brought great joy at my son's accomplishments.  T had two big breakthroughs.  One break through is in reading.  While he can't pick up any book and start reading, he can read a substantial amount of the words from the kids' books that he picks up from the section of readers at our local library branch.  He is still slowly sounding out words quite a bit, but his success at it and confidence have both taken a recent jump where he wants to pick up books to read a lot more often.  His other break through was in swimming.  He mastered floating for several seconds, a big water adjustment step from Infaquatics: Teaching Kids to Swim.  It is hard to describe, but his comfort level in the water went up dramatically too.

Both of these are big steps for two very important life changing skill sets.  The sense of pride I had was obvious to me.  I felt great.  It was a greater sense of accomplishment than I ever felt for any degree or certification I received.  It wasn't until Tom came home from work and I told him about both, that the privilege I have in seeing and contributing to them was even more apparent.  He was quite pleased at T's increase in skills of course, but I could tell that he didn't feel the same way I did.  He just didn't have the first hand level of joy that I did as the parent who was there.  I suppose the situation was reversed when I worked and he was home.  I don't remember being as excited about T walking or talking as many mothers would be.  I was too busy and too stressed.  Of course, having Tom experience the joy instead would be fair enough, but if the kids were in school we would both be missing out.  Money can't buy the great sense of joy that can be savored almost daily by homeschooling.  Spread the word!