Homeschool Review: Record Keeping and Not-At-Home Schooling
I haven’t blogged a weekly review in a few weeks. We’ve been travelling quite a lot, taking little day trips here and there as the opportunities arise. It’s funny, because I’ve written a whole book about how to control your schedule and not let things interfere with your homeschool, but I completely over-scheduled the month of October and early November. My war cry was: “But this fits our educational goals!” Yes, everything did. But now we’re all down sick with colds from being so exhausted. Oops.
We’ve also been schooling hard for 9 straight weeks, which I never do. My philosophy for many years has been 6 weeks on, 1 week off. But we were sick when I planned to start, so I’ve been trying to catch up (whatever that means). We could all really feel it this week. So even though it’s Thanksgiving in three weeks, we’ll be taking next week off. I know we all need it.
For years, I wrote our weekly reviews out by hand on some templates I’d created. Each week, I’d go through by subject and list all the things the kids had done in that subject that week.
This year, I decided I wanted to do all of that online so I could easily compile a nice yearly review at the end. After a bit of research, I decided to go with Evernote. I have the app on my phone, tablet, and computer, so I can easily fill things in from anywhere. It lets you add pictures and tags, and clip notes to save into different “notebooks” which I’ve been taking full advantage of. Did I mention it’s also free? I’m really happy with this change so far.
As I started looking for pictures to attach to each week’s review, I noticed a function in Picasa that I hadn’t played with before. You can easily make collages of groups of photos. Many of the photos I’ve been sharing lately are these collages, and they only take a few seconds. Click, click, collage! I used to be an avid digital scrapbooker, so this feels like cheating. Oh well. I can’t do everything.
What We’ve Been Up To
So, what were those field trips, you might ask? First of all, we spent a weekend at the Tournament of the Phoenix in San Diego. This is a Jousting tournament that is a real live sporting event, complete with armored knights on horses. I thought it would be a lot like Medieval Times, but I was so wrong. This was far more anxiety-inducing since these guys were all in it for real. We watched one of the knights get taken away in an ambulance after getting a lance to the face. That was intense.
They also have history camps that span the medieval era (through the 1500s) which this year included the Romans, the Celts/Gauls, Medieval England, and the Borders people (between Scotland and England). The people in the camps live and dress in their era, and are such huge history buffs that they’ll talk anyone’s ear off about their particular culture and its place in history. They also had a falconer this year who brought several birds of prey, which was awesome. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a fantastic event. We all learned a lot.
The following week was my son’s 12th birthday, so we took him up to Griffith Observatory for his special day. He’s our science buff, so he loved it. The show they put on there was quite incredible, too — lots of great information on the stars, the stories people have told about them, and the scientists who have added to our knowledge of the universe over the centuries. If it wasn’t in a really congested part of Los Angeles, I’d probably go there a lot more often (especially since it’s free!).
My favorite part of Griffith Observatory was probably the giant wall they have, called The Big Picture, which is the largest astronomical image created. We realized as we got closer to it that we could even see faint stars behind all the visible stars. We spent quite a lot of time looking for the different kinds of galaxies we’d learned about.
This week, we had a field trip planned that was only a few minutes from home, and it was just as good as the others. The city of San Buenaventura used to have a flourishing Chinatown which has entirely disappeared, but they offered a field trip with historic photos and hands-on projects to teach the kids about the life of Chinese immigrants in the 1800s and early 1900s. Both of my kids have talked a lot about the laundry they did that day, but they also learned about Tai-Chi, the significance of the color red, the different types of clothing people would wear, Chinese New Year, and many of the things invented in China. We’ve spent the last several days talking more about it.
One of the things I’ve realized is how much learning can be crammed into field trips like these. We’re still unpacking so many of the concepts we’ve learned over the last few weeks. I’m glad we have had these opportunities, even though they’ve taken a lot of time and energy away from our usual curriculum.
I do have to say that I’m looking forward to staying home for a few weeks, though.
How are things going in your homeschool life? How often do you take breaks? And have you been on any really great field trips lately?