Wild + Free conference inspiration

wild + free conference I had such an amazing time at the Wild + Free conference. Inspiration, learning, feeling connected, and basically just that feeling of "these are my people."

If you haven't discovered the Wild + Free community yet, take a sec to peek at their website and see what this homeschool community is all about. 

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(I fell in love with the melodic harmonies of the band Branches, who admittedly were playing their first gig at a homeschool conference and thought we were probably the "nicest" crowed (being moms) that they'd ever played for.) :)

I had never been to the Queen Mary after all these years (even after going to school and working in Long Beach for three years), and stepping onto the ship was a bit of a step back into time. There was lots of wood, beautiful ornate design, and nautical details that in a modern setting might seem kitsch-y but that here nostalgically represented a by-gone era.  The conference went by in a flash, and I only wish I'd had more time to explore the setting.

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As for the conference itself, it was really unlike anything I'd every experienced in my homeschooling career. I felt encouraged, and my vision was renewed in a way that gave me strength to finish the school year strong, and get excited for the year(s) to come.

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By and large, I took two main takeaways from the conference. As I looked at my notes from the various sessions, I realized I wrote down the same things multiple times, as I listened to speakers Lynsey Kramer, Sarah Mackenzie, Bethany Douglass, Jodi Mockabee, Emily Waechtler and Toni Weber, and Stephanie Beaty.

First, I was reminded to know why I'm doing this {strange, counter-cultural, crazy} way of education for my kids. Having a vision and a purpose behind what we're doing will help me push through the hard days and take risks.

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And secondly, I was encouraged to get back the heart, literally. To focus on relationship-building in our family, and on character, and not let the curriculum and the checklist whip me into a frenzy. This is where being part of a charter school can actually be a bit of a hindrance, because I have standards, lessons, and a calendar laid out for me. While those can be a help and a blessing at times (and there is certainly blessing in the two school days my kids get to go to each week #praise hands), it does mean I have to fight to little harder to maintain that peaceful, "wild and free" atmosphere that I want so much for my kids in our home.

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Practical things I want to implement in the coming year:

-prioritizing our time around the table and helpers in the kitchen more

-speaking blessings over my children --Bethany Douglass was a big inspiration in this and the whole 'life-around-the-table' realm

-teaching and singing The Doxology with my kids-- Sarah Mackenzie led us all in singing this a capella and it was beautiful

-chuck it all and have occasional "Just Because We Can Days"

-incorporate letters of affirmation between siblings into our discipline and reconciliation (building up what was lost in conflict)-- this was an idea shared by Jodi Mockabee

-making home a priority and establishing a good rhythm

-nurturing the kids in what they love

-Treasuring the "doing" more than the "getting it done" -- this was based on a quote by Anna Quindlen as shared by Stephanie Beatty

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As with the blog conferences I have been to in the past, there was lots of joy here in connecting Instagram avatars to real faces and sharing hugs with mamas with whom I had already connected  and been inspired by online, and mixing that with quality time with real-life friends (some of whom thought this whole meeting-people-from-the-internet was a bit funny) was a wonderful blend.

And now that I have connected with a local Wild + Free group, I am excited to continue the mutual encouragement and inspiration as we explore the outdoors with our kids together, geek out over school stuff, and grow closer together as mama friends. Contact me if you are a local mama who is interested in joining us!

Thank you, Ainsley and the W+F crew for such an amazing time of respite and rejuvenation. <3

 

 

February: our homeschool in pictures, books, and a few thoughts

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lots of school on the go (coffee shops and the library are my fave)

a new school for Gigi and feeling challenged to get into a new routine

Hallee (4) decided to pick up reading lessons again and is loving it

handmade valentines for friends

dogsitting for my parents

exploring a new park (with trails!) and working on Bobcat level of Wild Explorers Club

reading lessons (and running free) at the beach

sewing class for Gigi where she made a felt teddy bear

lots of fights over schoolwork, and hopefully even more grace and reconciliation

a new softball season (baseball starts this week!) means the best kind of P.E.

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This month, we started Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has been super fun, and we just finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which completely enchanted our kids. The littles got new handwriting books this month finally, and Brody is on the verge of finishing Math U See's Primer and beginning Alpha.

Brody has discovered graphic novels -- Pokemon and Geronimo Stilton (these come in funky little novel-form and entertaining audiobooks, too) are faves.

Hallee and I have less one-on-one time together but we are still slowly working through the cheeky Stuart Little's adventures.

Gigi seems to have rekindled her love of American Girl books, discovering Maryellen Larkin's books (who she shares a birthday with!), and also a newly found series about Liberty Porter, First Daughter (about the 9-year old daughter of the president, which seems like a timely read in an election year). Gigi asked me if I'd like to read the first Libery book, which I thought was cute, so I just started it. :)

We did a unit on the Revolutionary War, which included reading a book we enjoyed called Liberty!: How the Revolutionary War began. Since the kids had already seen most of Liberty's Kids, they were familiar with many of the names and events.

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It hasn't been an easy transition, having two kids and two different charter schools. We are struggling to adjust and I find myself with my eyes set on the hope of having a more regular schedule next year. My hope is to have all three in class on the same two full days (please, Lord, may it be!) so that we have three full days at home to enjoy homeschooling and feel like we are running less ragged. But in the meantime, a little more driving does have its benefits, namely more time for podcasts and listening to my Bible reading plan, and accidental naps for the littles. ;)

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This post was inspired by Bethany at Cloistered Away, (and includes affiliate links).

 

Realities must trump ideals

recognize reality I have a lot of ideals about homeschooling. But as it turns out, we don't live in an ideal world. We live in reality. So this year, I've made a few changes that while maybe not ideal in my own eyes, have made our homeschool a bit more realistic for where we are right now.

I'm still keeping those ideals tucked away in my heart-- they are not abandoned-- but I'm not letting them weigh me down and tell me our homeschool is a failure because we aren't living up to them. 

I'll apply aspects of them to areas where I can, and I'll let them influence my decisions and function as more of a filter in my homeschool planning than a game plan.

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What this looks like right now

As second semester began at the beginning of this month, Gigi began attending classes at a new charter school. There were a lot of reasons for this change, but the biggest result of this change is that now we are loosely following lesson plans that are given by the charter school for our at-home time.

I have balked at this type of system since we began homeschooling three and a half years ago, but the truth is, while it does not fall into the category of ideal for me, there are a lot of benefits to it, especially for Gigi.

For example, being more accountable to the school, and less to only me is something that relieves a little of the tension between the two of us. And we can still add in whatever extra stuff we want like memory work, nature study, cursive, etc. It still lets us function as an eclectic mostly-classical, Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool.

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And I do still have the ability to substitute my own curriculum where desired (we are doing most of our own math still for example), but as it turns out, I'm actually loving the school's literature unit that we are doing that's based around reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and so are the kids, which is the best part).

Thinking ahead to next year, while I would ideally like my younger kids to stay where Brody is (the charter school where we've been since we started homeschooling), for at least the primary grades, reality tells me that having all my kids at the same school, would be better for my sanity and our family's functioning.

We'll see how it all shakes out, but for now I'm feeling at peace about recognizing our reality instead of being frustrated that we're not living up to my ideals. 

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