Disney Schooling

How to turn a Disney Vacation into the ultimate homeschool field trip:

1. Epcot is your friend. So many people think Epcot isn’t for kids. I beg to differ. We took my son to Epcot for the first time at 3 years old and he loved it. There are so many areas that are made to stimulate their imagination.
A. Study the Oceans in your homeschool lessons and then use the Living Seas pavilion to reinforce what you’ve learned.
B. Start a garden and then head to the Land pavilion. There you can discuss plant life cycles, hybrid plants or hydroponics techniques, depending on the age of your child.
C. Study the 11 countries on the World Showcase. The age of your child will dictate how in-depth your study will be. With my kindergartener, locating them on the wall map, learning their continent, studying their language, environment, unique animals, and a small overview of their culture, history and religion is good enough. We plan about 10 days for each country.
2. Even Magic Kingdom presents opportunities for education. Most people don’t realize that most Disney movies are based on books, poems or stories from all around the world. For instance, Mulan is based on the Ballad of Mulan from early China. Reading the primary materials and comparing them to the Disney version can be great for not only providing your child with a great base of classic literature, poetry and mythos.
3. Animal Kingdom provides a unique opportunity to view animals in their habitats. It is also a chance to study African and Asian countries typically not covered in traditional schools.
4. Disney has a multitude of cultural experiences available to enrich your child’s understanding and exposure to the world. In each of the World Showcase countries, the cast members who work at the different pavilions are originally from the nations represented. This gives your child the chance to interact with the people you have been studying, practice their new language skills, and ask questions about things they have learned about in class.

In the coming weeks, I will post how we have incorporated the world showcase nations into our learning. I hope you enjoy!

20130703-122721.jpg

Advertisements

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

Our Classroom

Our Classroom

Whoever said this was going to be easy was lying through their teeth. That isn’t to say it isn’t enjoyable or worth it. I have never once questioned by decision to homeschool (since I got started, of course). But just because I know it is the right thing, does not by any means mean it is easy.
One of the hardest parts of homeschooling has honestly been keeping up with my son’s pace. He is smart. Smart as a whip. Every time I introduce a new learning concept, he picks it up in a matter of a lesson or two. Of course, he requires practice to hone the skill and develop it further, but I usually plan two to three days worth of simple instruction and then three to five days of practice. I find myself having to readjust the lesson plans just so he doesn’t get bored. He is easily annoyed with my questions such as “What continent is Norway on?” and “Can you show me China on the map?” After an eyeroll and a “Mom, you know where it is,” he effortlessly points it out or names the continent.

The real struggle here is not him, it is me. Between working full time and being a full time graduate student, finding time for lesson planning can be challenging. Library days are a must. He gets time to play with the materials at the library and I get time to research our next country. I also have pulled from the internet quite a bit. Superteacherworksheets.com has been indispensable for providing simple math and English worksheets to help cover a concept he has just learned. Especially when I haven’t had time to create one myself.
Mostly, I find that simple books from the library give us our best social studies, science and English lessons. Currently, we are working our way through 11 countries. Those countries are: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the USA, Japan, Morocco, France, the UK and Canada. The clever eye can spot the reason for the nation picks; they are the 11 countries on Epcot’s World Showcase. These studies will be punctuated with a “field trip” to those “countries.”
While this might seem like a cheap way of justifying a Disney trip, it is actually a great way to teach my son a little about the world. We have looked at each nation on the map (he can point out the ones we have studied), learned their continent, environment, architecture, culture, language (short phrases, obviously), religion, mythos, history and stories. For each nation, we are choosing a Disney movie that depicts or originated in the nation we are studying. Then we are reading the original text. My son was surprised to discover that Mulan was only a one page long poem. Or that the book that How to Train Your Dragon was based on was NOTHING at all like the movie.
Overall, I’d say it’s a win… most of the time.

Uneventful events

After almost a month since my last post, I have decided that I am wayyyyy to busy of a person. As it turns out, being a full time mom, full time student, full time teacher, full time worker and still keeping up with a new puppy, garden, chickens, laundry, dishes (no dishwasher) and other housework…. Well it is a lot more demanding than I had reasoned it would be. Sheesh.

So far homeschooling has been surprisingly easy. My son picks up on the lessons well. He is generally excited to get into the classroom and learn. His favorite subject I would say is currently science. He loves all of the science experiments we get to do. Our current one is 5 cups with different liquids. Each cup gets a marshmallow inside and we are making a hypothesis of which will dissolve the marshmallow first. Overall, it has been a very eventful spate of uneventful events. (ha! Say that 3 times fast).

Innovention on the Horizon

After my revolutionary decision to home school my son through kindergarten, my life has gotten somewhat more hectic. I have spent hours reading books, searching through curriculum and looking at worksheets and workbooks. I have completely moved two rooms around in my home and changed the fundamental use of those rooms. My onetime idea that my son’s room would be a place of quiet reflection, having only small, quiet-play toys and books has been replaced with all of the toys that lack educational use. The once overcrowded and loud playroom has been replaced with a quiet area of books, educational movies, blocks, musical instruments and globes. I have one entire unit planned and ready to go, lots of notebooks, pens, paper and art supplies on standby and new lamps, bins and baskets.

Also in the same timeframe, we have finally made our third annual Walt Disney World Resort reservations for the fall. Our party of 8 will be traveling in style at the Caribbean Beach Resort and having wonderful dinners at Cinderella’s Castle, the Tusker House, the Garden Grille, Narcoossee’s, the Coral Reef, the Liberty Inn and the brand new Be Our Guest Restaurant. My family will be spending 9 lovely days at the resort and 7 days park hopping through the worlds. Extended family will be spending 7 days at the resort and 4 days park hopping as well as one day at universal Studios. It is sure to be a wonderful trip! I can’t wait for new experiences such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot. I honestly wish that we were leaving right away!

Since the trip will take place after homeschooling has begun, the trip will be prefaced by animal and cultural studies that will coincide with animals and countries we will come into contact with at Disney’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom. We will also be reading some of the classic literature (not just the Disney version) that is associated with some of the rides at Magic Kingdom. This way, the learning will help build excitement for the trip and the trip will help reinforce the learning. Win-Win! With stories like Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, Through the Looking glass (the real version of Alice), Beauty and the Beast, Song of the South (the tale of Briar Rabbit [splash mountain]) and many other fairy tales, we should have plenty of literature to keep us busy. Not to mention Epcot’s many country representations, complete with cultural foods, videos, architecture, language and entertainment. Epcot also has the living seas and the land pavilions which teach about the environment and the animals and plants that live there. Innoventions East and West teach about weather, technology, engineering and other scientific topics in a fun way. Let’s not forget Spaceship earth which gives a great overview of the evolution of man. Animal Kingdom goes without saying. Life science is an easy find here. I can’t wait!

I have also managed to score tickets to an upcoming Heart concert complete with VIP package which includes a meet and greet with Ann and Nancy prior to the show. I will be giving one ticket to my partner in crime who really wanted to go but thought it was too expensive for her birthday. *shhhh*

With all this excitement, it is hard not to get started right away! But first, I have to finish building the bookshelves….

Full time Mom, Full time employee, Full time student, Full time teacher?

One of the hardest choices we have to make as parents is where to send our kids to school. That time is upon me. My first hope was to get my son into the local charter school. Unfortunately, when the lottery was drawn, we were not lucky enough to get selected. Sure, we are on the wait list and miracles can happen, but it is unlikely at best. My state is not eager or particularly willing to allow children to go to a school out of their zone, so that really isn’t on the table.

So I am in a bit of a predicament. Should I send my son to his zoned school or homesechool? Some background information, the school my son is zoned for is not a great school. It isn’t failing, but it does have a D-. 75% of the kids have free or reduced lunch (statistically proven to increase the chances of behavior problems) and all of the test scores are WAYYYY below average. But it’s just kindergarten. How bad can it really be, right? Well, it could be pretty bad if my son starts with bad classroom management and thinks that is the standard. Plus, my son already has accomplished half of the kindergarten goals for the year.

So, would it be better to homeschool him and keep him moving forward? I worry that he would miss out on that “school” experience. But he does play T-ball 3 days a week, we go to the library on a regular basis and attend storytime, he does gymnastics once a week, we go to the park regularly and other social experiences. He is very outgoing, very social. I am not sure he will be missing out on much.

On top of everything else I do, am I ready to be a full-time teacher too?