So this school year we will be doing things a little differently. We wanted to make everything that we learn come alive for the kids. I spent all summer researching and figuring out how to engage them in a way that would stimulate their senses to work with their Sensory Processing Disorder, create visual real world situations and visualizations so they see what we are learning is all tied into Real Life, and go in-depth into the things we are studying in a way that is new and exciting for them.
This is not an easy task with 4 Autistic kids ages 7, 6, 4 and 3. We decided on a schedule after months of research that we believe is best for the kids. We are having Sit Down school room times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 11am and then 2pm to 4pm. There is 20 minuets spent on each subject with 10 minuet breaks for free times, sensory times, and your choice education times. Tuesday and Thursdays are our Library or YMCA days. We do school for 3 weeks and then take a week off for a fun field trip to make what they learned worth the effort. The field trip is tied into what we were learning for the month and each month has a theme. The month of September is for the Water Cycle and Water Erosion.
We went for a 3 day camping/hiking trip at the Red River Gorge her in Kentucky. It is about 2 hours away from our home which is about our limit right now. It only cost us $5 total to do primitive camping anywhere inside the Massive State Park. We woke and hiked very early to be able to go high enough and early enough to catch the clouds low on the Smokey Mountain valleys. We stayed long enough to actually watch the clouds rising and forming clouds. The kids were inthralled. They were mesmerized by what they were seeing.
We then have spent all this month learning about the water cycle. We have done experiments, worksheets, watched Magic School bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes on the water cycle, we even found cool Water Cycle Songs on youtube that we listened to. The kids are now charting different types of clouds and loving it. I being a documentary photographer and Nature photographer was able to get some amazing images as we did all of this. Some of which from the Gorge are sell worthy. Yipee!!
We even stopped off at our local library on our way out of town to pick up a DVD series called "Liberty Kids" and a few nature and outdoor adventure books for the kids. The Liberty Kids series was so exciting for the kids that they watched it the entire way to and from the Gorge. They loved it so much and learned all about the revolutionary war that they were at one point digging in the dirt with ants and caterpillars creating Battle Field and recreating scenes from the show calling the ant Red Coats and the caterpillars Blue Coats. AWESOME!! Ammon loved showing me his "Blue Coat Caperpikers."
The funny part (although not at the time) was that it ended up raining for a full 3 hours while we were there camping and even though we were trapped in the tent, luckily we had one this time and we weren't just in our usual hammocks with a simply tarp set up, we were able to visual see, feel and hear (it was thundering during the storm) the full Water Cycle from beginning to end on this one camping/hiking family field trip. the whole trip only cost us the gas, $5 camping and we took the food we normally eat so nothing extra except Marshmallows and Ice was bought so it was a super cheap trip.
Oh yeah, we did get some Gluten free pizza at this awesome place we always visit when we are at the Gorge because they have GLUTEN FREE PIZZA (wow) for a serially cheap price and it tastes great. The name of the place is Miguel's Pizza and all the Rock Climbers in the area camp and hang out there because it is the home of the Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition. The Gorge is the 4th best ranked climbing area in the USA and we are lucky enough to live only 2 hours away from it. Everyone that camps, lives, or works there is super friendly and have always been amazing with my kids. One one of the employees was using these cool ball on a string martial arts thing and the kids were really interested in it and asking him all kinds of questions. He not only answered every question they had but he went as far to go retrieve one of these things (I can't remember the name of it) for each of the kids to learn on and practice with while we were there. WOW!! they have been talking about the cool guy from the awesome pizza place ever since. The kids were even able to try out a Slack Line they had set up in the camping area. So much fun.
All in all we believe we have come up with a fun and exciting new way of homeschooling for our family. So far so good. The really cool things about all this is that I find the 7 and 6 year old teaching the 4 and 3 year old more and more. It is pushing all 4 kids way past where I believed they would be in their education. They now tell everyone they come into contact with ALL about what they are learning and going to be learning. Everyone can really SEE how excited my kids are about their education and what they are doing. It is amazing to watch and we are all having so much fun and creating life long memories that we will all cherish for the rest of our lives.
Never forget....."If it isn't fun, then it's just work!"