Soccer? Ballet? Tap Dancing? Swimming? Drawing, painting, sculpting? Piano, violin?
As our kids grow through different stages, we tend to put them in age appropriate activities, according to what is offered in our communities.
That’s really the key, I’d found, as we moved around with the army- just what was offered in your community, or what you could start yourself.
Sometimes I’ve been frustrated that the girls get going in something they really like with great instruction and programs, then we move and it’s not to be found. I would start the hunt over for just what WAS offered in the community we moved to, that the girls might be interested in, or what I might be able to start up myself.
When Morgan was just five we joined soccer, which had a great program where we lived. She had fun, but didn’t really want to continue at that point. As we moved around both girls really wanted to play, but we were never in an area where it was really offered. A couple of places we lived we hear that it “had” been a big thing but the organizer’s kids had either grown up and moved on or had moved away. I found this to be the case with many programs I looked into as we explored our options. Since I know nothing about soccer, it wasn’t an option for me to start anything up. Morgan wasn’t interested in any other sports at the time, so we didn’t pursue softball or others.
When we lived in Maryland we found a wonderful dance program through the base rec. resources. The instructor had been extensively trained and danced with a renowned dance troupe and was just fabulous with the girls. Morgan had been in ballet before we moved with another wonderful instructor, and was able to add tap and jazz. Taylor was old enough to start ballet. Morgan was a talented dancer, but didn’t want to continue as she just didn’t enjoy it. Taylor really loved dn wanted to continue, but once we moved we didn’t have access to an affordable option. So I went on a search for the next “thing” we would try out.
Through a homeschool group at Ft Hood we found a wonderful gym who offered a greatly discounted gymnastic program. The girls both absolutely LOVED it and learned a lot. This would have been too expensive to continue, especially for two girls had we not been a part of the homeschool program. The instruction, however, was the same as regular gymnastics, so they got the “real deal” there. Once we moved from Ft. Hood, Taylor really wanted to continue, but we didn’t find a program we could afford to continue. I am so happy they were able to have the gymnastic experience, even though they would not be Olympic gymnasts. 🙂
The girl scout program at the Ft. Hood base was just amazing, and I was thrilled because I had been a scout. I wanted the girls to learn all about it because I had so much fun and huge opportunities as a girl scout. One of the main drives behind the program was our neighbor, who just did an outstanding job organizing and making camp-outs and activities happen. The girls sold beacoups of cookies, earned patches and badges to fill their vests, learned those memorable camp songs, and made some lifelong friends. When we moved from that base, we found another girl scout troop. It was not quite as active, but they did stay involved, selling cookies, going on trips, making some friends, and earning some badges and patches.
At this living location, we found a wonderful homeschool group as well. (We also had a wonderful homeschool group in Maryland, and one in Ft Hood which we did a few things with.) The homeschool group in Rockport was wonderful because we were able to be a part of amazing choir and band instruction. The instructor was a retired teacher, Mr. Peter, and had been a part of many bands and choirs including military ones. He was just a jewel. The girls both loved the choir and it was wonderful instruction! They also both learned violin which was taught by a student that had learned from Mr Peter and had graduated from homeschool. When we moved an hour away we continued to drive weekly, through the second year end concert when we learned they wouldn’t be having the program anymore. The girls are both very talented at violin, and I do believe will continue to play into adulthood. I found a wonderful bluegrass fiddle instructor, but he’s in Corpus and we haven’t had the chance to make time for lessons yet. I have intended to, but with other activities and me working a couple of days a week it hasn’t fit into our schedule to drive to Corpus weekly. I’m still praying about their continuing violin lessons, as I do think music is a vital part of their education. I’m sure God will provide just the right thing as He always does. I have relied heavily on God providing for us and showing us every one of the wonderful opportunities we have had the privilege to participate in thus far!
Once we bought property in South Texas and started figuring out the building process, I started looking at the community we were moving to for activities and clubs. We found a most fabulous cowboy church with a wonderful youth group, and playdays where they could participate riding horses. We also found a 4-H club where we could learn about showing animals in the fair, horse judging, and many other 4-H activities. Once we moved to our ranch and we were able to get more horses for the girls to ride and train, both girls have really enjoyed participating in riding, training their own horses, and showing. This year we finally got goats to show as well as rabbits and a little calf. It will be a really fun year at the fair! We have participated in the past, but only showed horses last year.
While Taylor really enjoys riding more than judging (and is a natural-born horse woman I’d have to say), Morgan has certainly found her talent in judging. The horse judging team was brand new three years ago when we started out with them, and just learning how it all worked when Morgan just took off with it. She spent a lot of time looking through the A&M horse judging website for help, and any other instruction she could find. We bought many horse books and a few used livestock judging books. We had manuals to learn from, but no real followup when we went to the contests. But that didn’t stop Morgan. She came home with second place from the San Antonio Livestock show last year which was just a huge accomplishment. She realized that winning scholarships was just a year away and a very realistic goal this upcoming year as she will be old enough for senior division. This was a huge step in her exploring her talents and ambitions!! This is one of the moments a homeschool parent thrives upon, when you see your child excited and exploring their talents and ambitions!
As I started up the 4-H Vet Science Club last year, Morgan really became more interested in Veterinary Medicine as a career. I was very reluctant to “push” her in this direction, and really wanted her to find her interests on her own. But she had always been interested in knowing and listening to vet medicine, and had a lot of questions about large animal medicine. Even though I don’t officially practice on large animals, I did take a lot of extra electives in horse medicine and even a cattle birthing rotation that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I have talked to her quite a bit about it. I’ve also had quite a bit of “moonlighting” experience with neighbors and friends cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and you-name-it. 🙂 After our tour of the A&M vet school she really became fired up about it and we spent several days at the computer looking at classes- high school, pre-vet requirements, A&M college requirements, etc. That was another of those times I began to feel encouraged in our journey!
Taylor is still leaning towards marine biology or marine vet medicine. She is really excited about being certified for scuba diving as Daddy has gotten us the learning materials and the girls have been through much of the material as well as dvd’s several times, but there has not been time or space in the schedule for the hands-on with Daddy’s dive team instructor he has lined up to teach them. Maybe we will be able to fit that into the schedule this year…?
As I’ve talked to and gotten to know many other homeschool moms and families (mostly through my Crew Mates!) I have identified one thing we all have in common, and that’s a feeling that every day counts when we are leading our kids in God’s direction. WE are responsible for their learning, for guiding them and directing their ambitions, providing them opportunities, and praying over them constantly- for God to show us and guide us and lead us and direct us and them in the direction He would have us going in. We don’t just send them away in the morning with a hug and a “have a great day” and leave the firing-up of their neurons to someone else. And I reluctantly say that there are certainly days when we all question if we are doing enough, “doing it ‘right'”, maybe most days, even. But if you were to sit in the classroom of any elementary, jr high, or high school- I believe you would be asking the same questions. When they drop their main courses of study to prep for TAKS testing, I think you would have a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that your children are not being “set on fire”. After years of homeschooling, I know days go by when we feel a bit burned out- when we have to stop and remember that the clock is ticking. We have to find new ways of firing them up, keeping them excited about learning. New ways of helping them take charge of their own learning- not just filling out worksheets and turning them in to see a grade on a piece of paper. I tell them a letter on a paper doesn’t matter. Not right now. Someday in college, the letter will matter, but it will be different. Right now, it’s what you can teach back to me that counts. When you get to college, that letter will be earned from your self directed study. I give grades according to the narration of what they’ve learned back to me and oral testing mostly. I pop a grade out of the air when I hear them explaining something to a friend or answering questions in a group at church, or talking about something they’ve learned to an adult or relative. Once they get to college, I hope they will be prepped to find a study group to learn with, and the material they are learning will be self-motivating because it’s something they WANT to learn. Yes, I know, there are “general” class requirements, but that’s another story. This year will be the beginning of grades that “matter” for Morgan in her high school journey. But the methodology won’t be much different as she has matured greatly in study skills and self motivation.
After taking a break for a couple of months from school, I’m feeling ready to sit down and make schedules and put together our year. I hope this will be the best year so far as I have one beginning high school, one beginning jr high and one beginning Kindergarten. I hope to make this a year of super-charged new beginnings, and my goal is to keep them fired up for learning!!
Your love’s like a brand new morning!
Your love’s like a brand new day!
Your mercy is new, every morning!!!