Homeschooling Where You’ve Gone Before

Hiking new trails is awesome.  But hiking trails you’ve hiked before is awesome in a different way.  We recently revisited a hike that we had done twice before, once 6 years ago, and once 4 years ago.  On our first visit to Taylor Creek in the Kolob section of Zion National Park, Brett had the stomach flu.  Thinking he was just car sick, and not wanting to spoil our planned weekend, we made him hike over a mile down the trail before he nearly threw up on some other hikers and we turned around.  The second time was beautiful spring weather, Max and Lulu hiked like champions, and we finished the 6 mile hike, but it felt quite tough.  This time, we flew down the trail, and were surprised (and disappointed) when it ended so quickly.

I felt that this was a perfect allegory for our homeschooling life.  In our homeschooling life, there are so many firsts.  The first child taught to read, the first child to scream “I hate math!” , the first failed curriculum choice, the first diploma, the first college application.  Lucky for us, we also get to re-visit our decisions, not just on subsequent children, but on subsequent choices.

The first time you teach a child to read, it is frightening, challenging and exciting.  The second child you teach to read, it is not quite as frightening, and less of your self esteem is involved.  The third child, the parent has confidence that she will read at some point.

The first time you totally botch a curriculum choice is a real disaster.  You mourn the money wasted, the time wasted.  Sometimes you (mistakenly) try to push on through a rotten curriculum.  The second bad choice, you may still mourn the money and time wasted, but hopefully recognize that throwing more good time after bad (smile) is not the way to solve the problem.  Hopefully, you don’t make a third bad choice (but I have!) but if you do, you recognize and remedy it quickly.

We are in the midst of our first high school graduation and diploma writing.  We’ve visited the college Brett has chosen, and felt inadequate (and too young!) to be there, and been reassured by his easy admission with his “Floyd Homeschool” transcript.  It is reassuring to be in the middle and find out the end is where you thought it should be!  I am already looking forward to walking this road with Eden.

Of course, not all homeschool families follow the same road we are following, but as you tread where you have gone before, take time to relax and realize the learning that you have done as a parent which allows the road to get easier.

What part of homeschooling has been easier on your second time around?  Please leave me a comment below.

Advertisements

5 Ways to Encourage Teens to Enjoy Hiking

While parents of toddlers long for the day that their kids will “just walk!” beside them, making hiking easier, parents of teenagers have their own challenges to face.  As kids grow older and more independent, their desire to make their own fun — outside of the family circle– can lead to diminished returns on family hike outings.  What can we do to help our teenagers maintain their enthusiasm for the outdoors and hiking?  Here are my ideas:

  • Let them choose the trail.  Does your teen have a special interest, such as waterfalls, mountain or desert hiking?  Perhaps he can look at hiking books from the library and find a place he would love to visit.  Let him be in charge of the choice and his enthusiasm will build.
  • Leave the younger ones at home (sometimes).  If your family, like ours, has older and younger children, try a hiking trip without the youngest members of the household.  It will allow you to fly along the trail or mosey without whines of boredom, and will set a much different pace than a “whole family” trip.  It might also allow for much longer distances to be covered, or steeper trails to be experienced.
  • Bring the Ipod.  I know, I know.  For the  full nature experience, you need the sound (or silence) of nature around you.  Teenagers in our society, however, are accustomed to a constant barrage of sound and stimuli.  If bringing the Ipod makes hiking more enjoyable for your teen, try to strike a compromise.  We allow in-ear music on the return trip.  On many of our hikes, this means we will already have spent 3 or 4 hours listening to nature or talking to each other, and are ready for some alone time.  For Brett, this means music, and the compromise makes our hiking trips more enjoyable — for all of us.
  • Don’t hike every weekend.  With school and other responsibilities growing, kids view weekends as their time to relax and be with friends.  If you can’t convince their friends to come along with you on hiking trips, (we haven’t been successful in this area) your teenagers will want some time at home to arrange their own kind of recreation.  Make sure they have that time.  If your schedule allows the flexibility, schedule some family hikes during the week when other kids are in school.  Then your kids will be available on the weekends for “normal” teenage fun.
  • Make it a big deal.  Let your kids know that you think their hiking is a big achievement, something to be valued.  Sometimes we make a big deal about our little ones doing long hikes, but how many teenagers get off the couch to do a 10 mile hike?  We can let our kids know that what they are doing is special.

Most importantly of all:

Don’t Give Up!

Teenagers are entitled to their down days.  It happens to all of us.  Hopefully, following this advice will give you more great hiking days, and put more smiles in your (trail) miles.

Do you have any great tips on keeping enthusiasm high for hiking?  Please leave me a comment below.

Upper Muley Twist — Capitol Reef National Park

Upper Muley Twist, in Capitol Reef National Park, should definitely be rated one of the most scenic.  After all, how often do you hike past 10 arches in 6 miles?  Last weekend, with snow flurries and wind chasing us to hike quickly, we hiked into the bottom of Upper Muley Twist.  We stopped at the first trailhead, although only about 1/10th of a mile to the next trailhead was rough (it was the first 1/10th, and we turned around.)  The first 2 1/2 miles to the real trailhead was easy road walking, and the first arches were spotted on that part of the hike.  Peekaboo Rock is the only arch found in the white sandstone, the rest all on the east, red sandstone side.

 

The only two arches marked on the map are Peekaboo Rock and this one, called Double Arch.

 

Keep your eyes peeled, don’t just stare at your feet, or you will walk right by some spectacular arches.

 

All of these arches are quite high on the canyon walls, as you can see in the picture below.

This one was our favorite, and is our designated lunch spot for next time we visit this hike.  It was the only one accessible to climb into, and had a wonderful alcove below it.

We definitely want to return to Upper Muley Twist soon, because we did not get to hike the rim route.  There is a loop hike that goes to the top of the canyon to see the Waterpocket Fold, and while we hiked to the top, we did not hike along the top because of the gusty wind.

We really need the perspective from the top to see the angles and beauty of this canyon.  It is definitely a “revisit soon” hike.  In the meanwhile, we are congratulating ourselves on stretching the hiking season:  this weekend was exceptionally cold and blustery for November, with 30 degree temperatures and snow squalls, along with 20 mph wind gusts.  One reason there aren’t many people pictures for this hike:  no one wanted to stand still long enough to get their picture taken.  The little kids enjoyed it, though, and Lulu bragged about wearing 3 hats!

All in all, a great trip — one we would love to repeat.

Hope you are enjoying great autumn times wherever you happen to be!  Leave me a comment below.

 

Happy Sunday

We headed south out of a big snow storm to spend this weekend hiking in alternating snow squalls and bright, windy sunshine.  This picture was taken looking down the Waterpocket fold from the top of the Upper Muley Twist.  I’ll be sharing more photos from our trip in the coming days.

We felt invigorated, challenged and brave as we hiked this weekend.  Hope yours was equally wonderful!

 

October Reading List (in November)

Even though November is well underway, I wanted to share with you a few of the books I have been reading lately.  I’ve noticed a trend in my reading toward “lighter” reading right now — both fluff fiction and fluff non-fiction.  Do you agree with me that much of the non-fiction published right now is fluff?  These journalistic books could be published in installments in a current women’s magazine and feel right at home.  I am going to try to stop checking these books out of the library:  books on “clean” eating, how exercise helps depression, and books examining the way teenagers are turning into adults:  mostly just a waste of time.  I end up skimming, reading portions and returning these books without gaining anything of benefit, but having wasted my hard-won reading time.

These three books, while on the lighter side, were worth a review.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  Alice wakes up on the floor of the gym, having forgotten the last 10 years of her life including her three children, her best friend, and her divorce.  This book was a very quick read for me.  I actually couldn’t put it down, and stayed up late two nights in a row just to finish it and get on with work that should have been done.  While Alice was discovering that in many ways she had made a mess of her life, I was rejoicing that I do not feel regrets over the past 10 years of my life.  So many things we have begun in the last 10 years–homeschool, hiking, running — have brought me such joy and happiness.  Thank goodness I don’t need to re-live those years in a “do-over.”

The Year of Learning Dangerously — Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings is one of my fluff non-fiction books.  This is not a book of homeschooling how to, neither is it a book of one family’s journey in homeschooling.  Instead it is a book of a journalist’s experiences traveling and observing different homeschooling occasions and events, mainly while leaving her daughter (in her first year of homeschooling) at home.  I guess from the tone of the previous sentence, you realize I did not approve of this mother’s attempt at commercializing her homeschooling attempt.  While many may have some sort of prurient interest in a fundamentalist Christian homeschooling convention, or a home school prom, of what benefit is it to disguise oneself, attend the event, and then write about it?  I hardly believe it was for her daughter’s benefit that she did this, especially since this family is professed atheist and the daughter is in fourth grade.  (I’m wrong.  It’s probably for her daughter’s financial benefit.)  So, this is one book I am glad I found at the library (rather than buying!)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green feeds my young adult fiction addiction.  Not your standard hope-despite-cancer story, this novel follows Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters from their meeting at a cancer victim therapy session to the end of their story together.  Funny and sad, its themes of quiet heroism — the kind that affects one life, not millions– and endurance were presented in an easy to read story.  Eden read and enjoyed this as well.

My November reading list includes more classics, as I try to wean myself from fluff.  Although I read for relaxation and enjoyment, I want to read for education as well.  Even now, I am halfway through Henry James’ first novel, Ward and Watch.  I’ll let you know how it goes soon.

Do you read whatever catches your eye, or do you try for book “assignments?”  Please leave me a comment below.

Half Marathon Finishers!

Does anyone else find a 13 year old two time half marathon finisher amazing?!  I would never have considered running one mile for fun when I was a teenager, let alone train for and run a half marathon.  This last weekend, Eden ran her second half marathon — the Snow Canyon Half Marathon in St. George.  I ran this race for my first half marathon last year, and it was a blast.

This year, Shandy, Eden and I were planning to run this race together, but Shandy got to stay home and have flu instead (so much fun!)  So Eden and I ran in beautiful St. George weather.  The temperature was cold at the starting line — we waited around for about 45 minutes at 40 degrees — but beautiful for running.  The sun came over the mountain just as the race started, and we ran in the sunshine down a beautiful canyon.

Eden has been racing me in training runs and winning, so it wasn’t a big surprise when she took off around mile 11 and out distanced me.  She came in a full minute ahead of me.  I beat my PR from last year by 40 seconds, coming in at 1:56:39.

What a wonderful thing to have teenagers to run along with me!  I can’t wait until the whole family can run together.

Do you run with your children?  How do you encourage your family to more physical activity?  Please leave me a comment.