So much time has passed since I set up this website for our homeschooling journey. I was so anxious, that I set it up earlier than I needed it – before I had any idea how exactly I’d use it.
Our oldest boy is now 5 years old… Almost 5 1/2 already… And we’ve officially started our journey.
He is now enrolled at Edmonds Heights K-12, our local parent partnership homeschool program. Folks who don’t live in Washington State may not be familiar with such a thing… I wasn’t. So, in this state school districts are mandated to offer free classes to homeschoolers. In this way, they receive funding per head, like they do for regular public school children. So, pretty much each district has set up a parent partnership “school”. It looks like a school, complete with library, cafeteria, and playground, but the classes are offered more like the way community colleges work – you get to pick and choose classes based on your interests and preferred schedule. Most classes are about one hour and occur one or two days a week. The parents are mandated to stay on campus at all times with their students until 6th grade, and we have to do monthly reporting of academic progress. As homeschoolers, we are responsible for teaching any and all subjects that are not being covered at school.
For us this means LW gets to choose some cool classes to take for free… The classes that are taught by credentialed teachers are free under this program, and the cooler classes, that are taught by workshop teachers/parents have a cost. The school gives us $650 per year to pay for these classes, and to use on specific school supplies.
For his first semester of Kindergarten, we decided to keep his classes to one day on campus, since Mom and Dad just started new jobs, and we had some serious schedule juggling to do. He chose Fairytale Cooking Class, and Maker Lab, and to fulfill the requirement of being enrolled in one credentialed teacher class, we chose Study Lab, which takes place in a fun room most call the Lego Lab. They have millions of Legos and other fun stuff in there. This is where LW speaks with a teacher weekly. She asks him about his learning.
Maker Lab Class is super fun. He’s in there with students of all ages, and they are encouraged to create whatever they want with all of the available resources. Since he’s one of the youngest in the class, he learns a lot from the others.
Fairytale Cooking Class is for K-2, so many of the students are a year or two older than him. The teacher assigns a culturally diverse and interesting book each week for us to read at home. She then reads it in class, and then the class makes a yummy dish based somewhat on the story. He’s made rice pudding, berry dumplings, and other fun things so far. He really loves it, and he loves his Cook Book he’s creating along the way – a binder with each recipe.
The school works on a semester system, so we get to choose new classes next semester. We are hoping for Magic School Bus Science and Karate.
LW has also been doing a lot of learning online – on his tablet and on our computer. He uses abcmouse.com weekly, watches PBS cartoons, starfall.com occasionally, and we will soon start using a handful of other online resources available to him for free through the school’s subscriptions.
We still visit local and state parks about 4-5 days a week. We live right next to one local city park, so even on lazy days we walk right over there and make sure the boys get lots of physical education/play.
We also visit museums, nature centers, and other city events as much as possible. Our memberships for Imagine Children’s Museum and Woodland Park Zoo recently expired. So far this year we decided to get a membership at Pacific Science Center. It’s a great hands-on museum for them, and we get to see IMAX documentaries whenever we want. So cool.
LW is also currently enrolled in an art class at our local Lynnwood Recreation Center. So far that is going really well. We also got a membership for the Recreation Center, so the boys can go swimming whenever we want, and mom and dad can attend exercise classes and use the workout equipment.
We are also very excited to start 4H soon. LW wanted to work with llamas/alpacas, with our local group, but he’s not allowed until age 8, so for now he chose to work with chickens. We attended the Snohomish County 4H Open House recently. There were so many fun groups to choose from! Robotics, sewing, creative and performing arts, and of course all the animals – rabbits, cats, dogs, cows, sheep, llamas/alpacas, poultry, etc. The local group we joined meets in Edmonds – very near our home – it’s called Wild N Woolies.
Our three year old boy, EB, is pretty much doing all of these same activities alongside LW. At the school, he attends many of the classes with him. The school is super relaxed that way – moms are nursing babies in the same room while their older students are attending class. So, EB is far ahead academically of where LW was at his age. They both started reciting the ABC’s at about the same time. LW is clearly doing more complex learning, being he’s 2 years older, and he is getting a deeper learning experience, as he teaches his brother so many things.