The End of Our First Semester

The first semester at Edmonds Heights K-12 has come to an end. We are doing pretty well there. The schedule and classes seem to be a good fit for us right now. Our 5.5 year old is still super excited about “school”, and he’s looking forward to getting into more classes in the second semester that starts next week. He wants to continue with his Fairy-tale Kitchen Cooking class. He got very excited over adding a Math class. We also added an Art class, a piano lesson, a Kindergarten skills class, and YMCA Homezone PE/Swimming class. We are all looking forward to our new semester.

We are generally a pretty healthy bunch in this family, but we were hit by the flu in December 2017. We spent Christmas Day in the emergency room. We were all sick, on-by-one, for weeks. It seemed to be taking too long for my 3.5 year old to bounce back, so we took him. Within a week, we were all back to ourselves.

After returning to health in the last couple weeks, the boys both started eating seemingly twice as much as usual. We are looking at a growth spurt. On top of more food, EB has been wanting more of everything lately. He already asked for Minecraft! He also wanted a new backpack with a binder in it for his ABC’s and 123’s, like his big brother. So, we purchased him a Samsung Android tablet, like his big brother’s and a new back pack big enough to fit his new learning binder. These boys are becoming more academically inclined than we expected at these young ages.

Work. Learn. Play. Camping! We did not get to have as many family trips last Spring/Summer as we would have liked. This year, we are looking ahead. We have already booked a few camping trips for this coming summer, starting with one in May. We are hoping to make it back to Cali this summer. As the boys are getting bigger, and mom and dad are working more, we need to step back and be very conscious of scheduling time to balance our energies – Down time. Time to relax and explore. Together.


Kindergarten is well under way.

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 weekly, watches PBS cartoons, 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. 

Pre-school?? –> Kinder

LW attended a preschool class for a few months at Lynnwood Rec Center. We decided to take him out. It wasn’t worth the money to us based on what he was actually learning/doing. We decided once again to focus on homeschooling… And make sure we get him into classes, since he wants them, and he does well. 

For the next few years I really want him to learn at his own pace and how he chooses. I want learning to be fun. I want him to discover his own preferences and strengths with as little pressure as possible.  Reading and math will come. They both already impress me with how much they know and can do.

For the spring/summer we are focusing on outdoor fun, as this past winter in the PNW was especially long, and we spent lots of time indoors. Vitamin D, here we come!  LW attended Froggy Holler hiking class again thru Shoreline Rec. He loved it! We are all now attending Itty Bitty hiking class at Discovery Park on Saturdays.

LW is registered for a LEGO camp next week thru Shoreline. It’s a Minecraft themed LEGO camp for four hours a day M-F. He’s looking forward to it! And he needs time away from us working with older kids! 

In the Fall, it looks like LW will be attending our local school district’s “Edmonds Heights” homeschool parent partnership program for Kindergarten, and EB and I will be there on campus for each class, so he’ll be learning along side LW. More info on that to come.

My favorite learning app for them has been Starfall. They can play with it on the PC… our touchscreen is especially fun, or on their tablets, or the old cell phone LW uses. It’s basic, not flashy, but fun. It costs about $30-35/year, so not bad… They’ve been using it on and off for two years. Now that they (LW) are getting into little video games, and more complex cartoons, they seem to enjoy more because of the ability to win tickets and purchase items… And the content/format is far more dynamic and exciting. 

Itty Bitty Hiking Class

We won a free hiking class! Lewis just finished his second class called Froggy Holler thru Shoreline Rec Center… They met weekly mostly at Hamlin Park. This class is for me and the boys to attend and takes place on Saturdays at Discovery Park. We meet each week at a different place in the huge park, so it’s also working out to be a great tour.

ABC Mouse

The last two days, the boys have discovered They seem to love it. They spent 4-5 hours playing on day 1 and 2-3 hours day 2. Hoping to add it in to our new routine.

Indoor Play

Since it rains so often here in Washington State, we take a few trips a week to indoor play places, so the boys can play with toys and friends and get some energy out. We have found a few places that we love to frequent. The only downfall we have found so far is that my boys have been sick almost monthly this winter! This is a big change from home in California. I’m assuming it is from catching bugs from other children in these indoor play places. I’m also making some changes at home, in case the moisture may be causing them to become ill.

We got a membership for Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. This place is so worth the money! It is a fun environment with various different areas/rooms for the boys to play and use their imagination. There is a even a roof-top playground for when the rain is not too heavy. I really like the tables downstairs to sit and eat our own snacks/lunch. They are located in front of the art room – another aspect I love. The art room has various daily activities – this almost takes the place of me paying for an art class. The museum is perfect for the ages of my boys, and I especially like having a membership, so I can go during not-so-popular days/times. The place can get packed on the weekends and during their one FREE evening a month.

Our second favorite indoor play place is called PlayHappy Cafe. It is located very close to home in Lynnwood, WA. This place has lots of great attributes. There is a large play area for little ones ages 1 to 6 with toys, a blow-up jump house, a ball pit to jump in, a play fire station, dress-up stage, train table, and little cars to ride around. My boys love to play here. I also love that they have a little cafe for parents to grab a latte or some inexpensive organic snacks for the little ones. I would normally prefer to bring my own snacks for the boys, but this is the next best thing. My favorite part about this place is that we get to attend for FREE, because I volunteer to monitor and clean-up the play area for a couple hours every Friday. I don’t mind helping, and I love saving money!

My third favorite play area is not large – in fact it is only about the size of my kitchen! It’s FREE for children 2-5 to play for an hour and it’s supervised, so I can drop them off and run around – run around the store and shop. This is the playroom at our local Fred Meyer. It is not the greatest in terms of space, but it wins in terms of convenience. This is where I go when I need to think for a minute – and buy some bananas. I generally prefer to grocery shop at Trader Joe’s, and we purchase our fluoride-free water at Whole Foods, so we shop there occasionally also… and if either one of these places offered a free supervised play area I would visit daily. Fred Meyer has a Starbucks in it – Enough said! They also have great sales on clothes, shoes, kitchen items, sporting goods, and electronics. Their prices on organic/healthy foods are very high compared to Trader Joe’s, but I am glad they have such foods, so I can pick up a few things while I’m getting a break from my boys and they are able to play with other children and the nice young lady with the blue hair that supervises them.

There are plenty of other indoor play places that cost plenty of money to enjoy in and around Seattle. In fact, here is a nice list of indoor activities, complements of Seattle’s Child Magazine, in case you are interested. As you can tell from this post so far, I enjoy saving money. It helps me afford to stay home with my boys and give them the love and education I want them to receive.

So, back to my list, coming in at number four is a really nice play area with great toys, a huge ball pit, supervision, and some serious security measures to keep my boys safe – and it’s FREE for all children between the heights of 37″ – 54″ once per day for up to one hour. This is at IKEA in Renton. It’s a bit of a drive for us, so we don’t go often, but when we’re in the mood to look at furniture and space-saving contraptions it’s a fun day for all of us.

Now, I must go attend to my boys with the stuffy noses – thanks to all the parents who take their sick kids to indoor play areas!