George Observatory – Life List

Last December I took the kids to the George Observatory.

It was not what I expected but it was not a terrible experience. The observatory is located in Needville Texas inside of the Brazos Bend State Park. We have been to the park many times but never to the observatory. Since it is roughly 30 miles outside of Houston there are no lights and the roads are pretty dark out there. Not a big deal but unnerving for the kids since they started to feel nervous being away from the bright city lights. All of that went away once we got into the park. The stars were absolutely beautiful and since there were no lights, aside from trail lights, the view was unobstructed.

Once we parked we had to make our way down a trail that crossed a swamp and lots of thick trees. The park is known for its varied wildlife and of course, its main resident the alligator, so we were pretty watchful. As we got closer to the entrance the trail lights turned from white to red. We read some signs that indicated this was necessary in order to see the stars from the telescope better. So, do not turn on your flashlight to see better or you will be told to turn it off.

We bought tickets to enter the observatory and took the picture at the opening of the article. I forgot I was not supposed to use a flash. Below is the non-flash photo.

No flash

Once upstairs where the telescopes were kept we had to stand in long lines. it didn’t help that it was cold outside. Most of the volunteers were happy to be there and were helpful. The kids went in to see the telescopes but the experience was ruined by the grumpy guy helping them with the device. After that, they didn’t want to see anymore, the lines were long and it was cold so we decided to get some pizza afterward.

I do have to say that even though I didn’t look through the telescopes I had more than enough time to star gaze. The sky was so clear and I saw constellations I would not have been able to view in the city.

So, there you have it. Another life list item knocked off.

Don’t take my word for it. Take a trip out there an see it for yourself, the drive and the night sky alone are worth it.

Choosing The Right Book

Buying a new book is so exciting! The kids love to visit bookstores and pick up a new adventure to dive into. Mav is really big into the Wimpy Kid books. It is a pretty big deal that he is reading since he would rather be on the couch playing video games. What teen wouldn’t like to do that? However, with the Wimpy Kid books, he really gets into them and that makes me smile.

One day, not too long ago, he picked up a copy we had of a Wimpy Kid book and just started reading out loud to me. I was in the middle of something but it occurred to me that he never read a book on his own and now here is even giving the characters life. I make every effort to pay attention when he reads to me and make sure I react when he puts extra effort. He started reading to me at night and it became a routine until we finished the book. Needless to say he was ready for the next book.

Decisions, decisions…

The girls, on the other hand, love to read and will devour most books. Bri ended up picking a book that I would not have chosen but it seemed cute enough. She chose a fictional book about a pair of dogs and their family. I haven’t asked her how she likes it so far but judging by the bookmark placement she is making good progress.

She knows what she wants.

Audy did not know what to pick and everything I suggested she shot down. We stumbled across a book about anxiety. It was a comic style book that the author had made to chronicle her life, in a humorous but serious way, dealing with anxiety. Audy didn’t want the book but she deals with anxiety on a daily basis and I felt it would be good for her to know there are others out there like her. what I didn’t know was how much that book would help me in terms of teaching myself how to help her when an anxiety attack strikes. She ended up really liking the book and it helped us have a great conversation of what she needs from me and what I can expect of her as learns to cope.

All in all, we had a good trip to the store and we got some good things. I purchased a list book that seems like lots of fun.

What are some of you favorite books to read? What would you recommend for school aged children?

Homeschool Blogs

I have noticed that there are not many homeschool blogs dedicated to talking about routines and learning strategies for older kids.

Our family started homeschooling when the twins were transitioning from public school out of third grade and our oldest out of sixth. There was a ton of information for pre-schoolers and kids under the fourth-grade level. I get it, most people begin homeschooling when their children are very young and make that decision early on and have a routine established. However, there are a few of us who get into the game late.

Homeschool has always been on my radar but I also felt the kids needed to get out there in the world and learn from other people. It turns out that while public school certainly did accomplish them being exposed to learning from other people it didn’t give them the quality I was looking for.

My kids love homeschool and at times they can be lazy and I have to get after them to do their work but that’s not uncommon in any setting.

I am hoping to add more blog posts around what a homeschool day is like for older kids. It’s not all cuddling on the couch with a book as you would with a four-year-old. It’s about keeping them engaged and excited to learn. Making sure they put their full effort into learning the material and to stay motivated.

My hope is that for any parents who are making that transition from public school to homeschooling older kids is that they know that it’s not going to be easy in the beginning and there will be struggles. But with the bad comes the good. Being present with your pre-teen or teenager will help forge new bonds and as a family, you will be surprised to see how much you can really learn from them as they become more comfortable sharing their hopes and dreams with you.

As you help them define their interests, you are setting them up on a path that could lead to a career that they will love and put their heart into.

Bri has decided she wanted to share her routine for the blog coming soon. So, look for that!

 

 

 

Year Three Begins

The Summer was full of fun and a lot of relaxation.

Recently, our daily home routine underwent a bit of change when I returned to work. It was a necessary move for the good of the family and thankfully it has been working out. My Husband has been able to be home with the kids until I get home from work before leaving for his shift.  That means he is the main one making sure they do all of their work!

All of this has created a different tone in the house and it is a process that has taken some time to get used to.  I am still the main one prepping all of the assignments and grading but my husband is ensuring the kids get the work done. A bit of teamwork going on more than before when I was solely handling the homeschooling.

A few updates as to what is going on with the kids and their progress:

Bri is now learning at a ninth-grade level and she is super excited about all of the new things she is learning. She even got her own Notebook to complete her work on. It is just a starter device to see how responsible she will be with it. I have to admit that the high school work is fun and even I have learned some new things.  We both particularity enjoy the Oceanography class. Currently I am having to refresh my brain concerning Algebra, a subject I never thought I would encounter again. Yet, here I am trying to teach it to my child so she gains a good grasp on it in a way that I never did.

Mav has really improved this year with his writing. I have struggled a lot with getting him to write in complete sentences and fully forming his thoughts on paper. This year seems to be different in that he is taking more pride in his work. Although the length of the subject I have him writing about needs some work, he is putting forth the effort and that is what makes me proud. So far he does not have a favorite subject but he seems to be enjoying to classes more this year.

Audy is taking this year more seriously than she did last. Her alarm is always set to wake up on time and she is chipper and excited to get the work done. She has greatly improved her penmanship. It used to be like pulling teeth to get her to write anything. Thankfully this struggle is over and she is also very proud of her work. She is most interested in Science is always looking for extra work to do outside of what is assigned to her.

When I began homeschooling I had this nagging doubt in my head that I was not doing a good job. This is our third year and the first year where I feel completely confident in the direction we are going.  I feel like homeschooling is one of the best choices I could have ever made. It really gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can allow my kids to explore their interests but I can make sure they get the quality education that I felt I never really had.

Cheers to the beginning of a new school year that is already off to a great start!

Staying Busy Over Summer Break

The kids have been enjoying their summer break and honestly so am I. This school year had some bumps in the road but we were able to pull through. We appreciate this break!

Since the beginning of the summer break, we pretty much let loose and did not keep a schedule or work on any busy work.

However, after a few weeks, it seemed as if we were losing our minds a bit. Aside from visiting the beach and family time, it was boring around the house.

The kids and I sat down to create a loose schedule of how each day would work. It has been a welcomed change. The schedule allows for sleeping in, tidying the house, light school work and most importantly free time!

Here is the very loose Summer schedule the kids follow:

  • 9:30 am: Morning routine begins
  • 10:00 am: Breakfast
  • 10:30 am: Reading and then writing a small summary of what was learned
  • 11:00 am: P.E. using available equipment or Youtube videos
  • 12:00 pm: Lunchtime
  • 1:00 pm: Math Worksheets or videos
  • 2:00 pm: Free time

What are some ways you keep your kids busy during summer?

 

Guest Blog Post – How Being Homeschooled Ruined My Life

It’s true, my life is forever ruined as a result of being homeschooled.  Due to the freedom I had to learn from practically any location during my formative years, I now suffer from a pesky wanderlust that keeps me adding more and more countries and experiences to my bucket list each year.  My family’s adventures all started before my homeschooling years, truth be told.  My brave parents took me on an extended journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad when I was only a few years old, and they tell me I slept on the floor in the train bunk rooms without much complaining.  Though I was too young to remember that ride, at least I have fun pictures to look back on like this one where we rented a van after finishing our journey on the Railroad and heading to explore Germany.

Emily Pic 1

Thanks to my parents’ desire to teach English while sharing the Gospel, they moved our family to China when I was 5 years old.  My homeschooling life started there, mainly out of necessity due to the lack of English schools in our area.  There were a few other American families in our city, so it was nice being able to spend time with their kids to quell the feelings of homesickness that hit from time to time.

Emily Pic 2

I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to grow up in another country, and because of being homeschooled, the ability to travel and explore so many places throughout Asia.  My cultural lessons included things like attending the Peking Opera, and adding some geography knowledge by taking a cruise on the Yangtze River.  When not traveling,   learning Mandarin was probably my most frequent and effortless “class” as I played with the local children!

Emily Pic 3

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

In addition to being able to learn in a non-traditional setting, I love the flexibility that homeschooling affords you to set your own schedule. If it’s a nice day outside and you want to take a “field trip” to the park, you can do that and just work more on other subjects the next day.  If your family is wanting to take a vacation during the week, you can take your schoolwork with you and not be tied to any physical location or timetable.   Life was definitely flexible, but it wasn’t without oversight as I still had to take standardized tests each year.  My Mom also had to turn in records of my performance to our state each month, but there was significant freedom to use the curriculum of our own choosing.

When we returned back to the US after living in China, my Mom continued to homeschool me until the 8th grade.   I’m glad to have experienced both types of schooling to compare the pros and cons – the main reason I switched in 8th grade was to be able to play sports.  I realize that homeschooling is definitely not the right fit for everyone, but if it does end up being what you choose for any period of time, rest assured your life will be forever “ruined” by a relentless pursuit of adventure, flexibility, and freedom to learn in the way that best suits your needs and personality.

I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts on homeschooling as it relates to travel.  You can read more about my adventures on my blog, Facebook page, or Instagram.    Thank you for reading!

About the Author

34035351_10105766194596769_7676865566103044096_nHi! I’m Emily Adams, a military brat and missionary kid who decided to combine two of my biggest passions (travel and wellness) to create my blog, The Planking Traveler.   Over the years, many of my trips have been ruined by my own sickness because I would throw “healthy” out the window once I left for vacation.  Though everyone needs some time to indulge, I realized that being healthy is a lifestyle to embrace and not something to abandon while on the go.  The goal of my blog is to share ways to thoroughly enjoy your travels in healthy and fit ways.