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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lake Effect Snow in the North. Homeschooling During the Deep Freeze. GIVEAWAY!

Here in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron we get SNOW! Our bank in front of our home is at least six feet high. And while there are those who jump gleefully into a snowbank at 40, I am not one of them. I grew up with enough outdoor time during the winter to satisfy my inner husky...which is more a toy poodle really (minus the slipper chewing). I have contemplated taking up some winter sport like snowshoeing or donning my ice skates again but the reality is I don't. The kids although they enjoy playing in the snow have no overwhelming affection for it either. As a matter of fact my son asked how much more he would have to look at the boring white of outside before spring. He's into herbs, gardening, and bees so naturally this season has less appeal for him. Homeschooling then can be challenging in January as we are in the deep freeze until the end of February when it starts to warm up. Thankfully we know this will happen and so aside from jumping deeper into our studies we use some of our rare free time to explore other things.

 I like to include more art lessons. Even though my son is admittedly not very artistic he enjoys the process. My daughter is artistic and loves practicing new techniques and having time devoted to the study. This past week the kids art project was to create a tinted painting and apply a painted paper moose. They were to pick one color and gradually tint it until it was solid creating the effect of the moon in winter. The moose was drawn on paper and painted before being cut out and applied with some white glue to the dried canvas. After the glue adhered they added some snow to the moose antlers and snowflakes. Projects like these are so enjoyable and to see each child's personality shine through their work is amazing.

Their Dad has been working shifts out of town so we took the opportunity to have picnic meals (partly because our table was covered in puzzle pieces) and delve into a 1000 piece puzzle that my son had received for the holidays. It was immensely frustrating at times and other times hilarity ensued from our conversations over the bees and life.

As the kids have grown older and they are stepping away from the childish games of youth that they used to enjoy and I find it's a good time to let them unschool themselves  on their laptops. By simply showing them a program like Open Office and then asking them to explore it they have now started typing out stories. Long evenings are filled with laughter as my son sits side by side with my daughter helping her with her spelling which is terrible. Yes I admit it needs a LOT of work. But she's young and I am sure with time and practice it will improve. She has been writing stories with spell check on and it has proven to her that it's not just Mommy saying her spelling is bad it really is. It's been slightly eye opening for her and I think she is going to see some leaps in learning in that area from her story writing.

The most frustrating part of wintertime homeschooling is the mess! We are inside a lot more and we have to clean up piles of this and that a lot more. Added to our regular winter mess we added two ferrets, Tinsel and Slinky, to our family. While they make excellent, interactive pets they do also act as little dust mops pulling all manner of dust bunnies into the light of day. I can only hope they will have under the cupboards cleaned out soon because sweeping three times a day is not only time consuming it just generally annoying.

We also have a multicultural day coming up for our homeschooling group which is both exciting and daunting. It's the first one the kids and I have done so it's new. Be sure to check back to read more about it!

The Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team is excited to offer you a chance to win this book package from On the Mark Press
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Leading on the Winter Path. Being Your Child's Guide Through the Winter Months.

When I was a child we had no real driveway and my mother would break trail for us on the winter mornings with her old leather laced snowshoes. We would follow her begrudgingly down the half mile that made up our driveway often sinking in the snow well up over our knees. One day after getting off the school bus from kindergarten I demanded I was allowed to be the leader on the way home. Now of course a small child likely wouldn't be able to accomplish that for long. My mother though allowed me to take up the challenge. Why is this important? Because that challenge changed my life. In that moment of taking the role of leader I realized it was hard to be a leader. I felt the weight of that responsibility. I think I maybe took twenty steps before I gave the role back to my very amused mother. The point here is that winter is a great time to allow the kids more time to find roles that suit them. Sure January signals the deep freeze of winter and it limits what we want to do outside. But there are many roles and responsibilities that kids can choose to learn in the home.

As homeschool families we have a great gift of time with our kids. Also we have a very great responsibility to make sure we raise our kids to be competent adults. I have often heard that college aged kids can't do laundry or know how to change a fuse etc..Why? They weren't given those jobs growing up. Often times we want to be there for our kids in every way and sometimes yes we want to coddle them. I see the quieter months of winter as the best time of the year to focus on learning some of those needed skills. We have more time in the home and less distractions from outside to take our focus away. Challenging kids to do more gives them confidence in their persons and allows for personal growth. 

Ultimately each and everyday we need to strive to make ourselves better human beings. Some days we fail miserably and some days we surprise even ourselves with how much we can do. It's the days in between that fill our lives and make life what it is. It's the laughter and joy in the simple, silly things that make life worth living. In the end we are all just trying to do what is right for our children and ourselves.
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