Almost-spring cleaning

When so much time goes by between posts (really, I don’t know what happened to all that time), it’s easier to pick a few things to highlight, rather than start a long post about one topic. I know this because I’ve started several posts that ended up rambling about one thing for way too long. So here are the digestible bites of what we’ve been up to:

Coming full circle: Kiki just took part in her first Destination Imagination tournament with a team from the school she attended last year. I helped out at the school’s coordinator and team co-manager (ie. coach). This was an especially emotional day for me, because of my long history with the program. The Headmaster and I were part of it in high school (back when it was still part of Odyssey of the Mind). Now I’ve been part of the organization as a volunteer judge, a school coordinator, a team manager and – for the first time last weekend – a parent of a competing team member.

I loved watching Kiki’s team’s performance – that adrenaline rush brought back memories from my own days as a team member. But my favorite part of the day was in the gym, just before the award ceremony. To keep the kids entertained, the organizers turn on dance music and all the kids competing flood the floor. They are relieved to be finished with their work for the day, and it’s time for pure fun. And I loved seeing Kiki right in there with some of the most creative, hardworking kids in the state. Her team didn’t get to states, but she’s still happy with her experience. I look forward to coming years.

Midwinter slump: Apparently lots of homeschoolers go through the doldrums in February. Actually, I’ve always felt like February and March were hard months, even in brick school. We’re tired of the snow at the point, and we’re waiting to see the first snowdrops and crocuses. For us, the many snow days and the school district’s winter break (when half of the state’s kids escape to Disney World) meant that the Boo was home – and keeping us from doing much active work. We also went through a round of colds and stomach viruses.

We pushed through it – and, yes, I made Kiki do schoolwork on the days most of her traditionally school friends were out. We are hoping to get a few weeks off in May, so we need to work and get through our material now. However, she did manage to get two sleepover and a third playdate out of that time.

Socializing and all that: I don’t buy into the theory that homeschoolers are suffering socially – and I certainly don’t think Kiki has been. She is part of the DI team and a Girl Scout troop (albeit a small one that will probably dissolve at the end of this year), and she consistently takes classes in gymnastics and ice skating, as well as a few homeschool groups that meet about once a month each.

That said, I have seen that her best friends are still girls she knew from school. I have no problem with that, of course. They are good girls (for the most part), and they have developed their friendship over years. Also, they live nearby – just a few minutes’ car ride away. If Kiki ever learns to ride her bike safely, she could probably bike to see them when she gets older.

I would like to see her build some deeper friendships with homeschooled kids, however. To that end, I’m exploring a co-op that is forming for next year. Some of the parents had a meeting over coffee, we shared a lot of good ideas. The hiccup for us will be the meeting time and place, but for the sake of consistent contact with other like-minded folks, we should be able to make it work.

Vacation anticipation: We have started the countdown to our spring getaway, which will take us across the ocean. I’m trying to decide whether to just abandon any semblance of schoolwork for that time (and just relying on occasional teachable moments) or actually plan for some active learning by reading about our destination and creating assignments for Kiki to do. While I don’t want to rain on her parade (or cloud up her vacation), I also see this as an opportunity to enforce that we have started a new type of educational experience, when there’s no set “school time” or “school days,” and we should all keep our eyes and our minds open to learning where ever we happen to be.