Hello! This is our story….about a single mom who is raising her gifted daughter as a homeschooler. By traveling around the country in our spare time, we hope to inspire other parents and homeschoolers to take advantage of all that the USA has to offer.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I wanted the best for my child…isn’t that what all parents want for their children. I come from a long line of teachers. My maternal grandparents were both teachers, my mother and three of her siblings had their degrees in teaching, some their masters’. My father’s sister and her two daughters are in education, my aunt a principal and her daughters teach at private Jewish schools. And even my step dad and cousin are teachers. I believe I came by it naturally.
Although I am not a teacher, I have substitute taught at many schools in many states, and I work seasonally as a National Park Service, Ranger in the Education and Interpretation division. I have degrees in English Literature and Parks and Recreation. I also started to earn a degree in American Sign Language Interpretation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
From day one, I was reading to my daughter. I think reading to children is by far the most important thing that anyone can do. That child comes out absorbing everything it comes into contact with, with all of its senses. A child who is read to has a jump on communication, be it verbally or otherwise.
We participated in a national program called Parents as Teachers which did home visits which makes it easier, especially for new parents. They would provide us with developmental goals, games, and information that we could use to make more educated decisions.
We went to the library OFTEN, especially after 2-3 yro, we got obsessively involved with the many libraries of the Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri areas. Our favorite is the Kansas City Kansas Public Library. That branch had five buildings in various areas of town, and we especially liked the Main library. You can’t top the librarians there. These ladies, especially Miss Kellie, knew children by sight and really made you feel welcome. They had the best summer reading program I have ever seen. I give a lot of credit to those ladies for really improving the lives of MANY children and parents in that community.
So then my daughter, almost 5 yro, decided she wanted to attend school. We attempted to get her into one Montessori with no luck, but how it normally works in life, you think something bad is happening, and it is really a blessing in disguise. We were able to get her enrolled in The Children’s Garden in Roeland Park. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of people to teach my daughter. She took off! Learning geography, reading, writing, math, history, culture, and life skills.
In addition to school, she participated in 4H with the Brauer Beavers. We LOVED the group we belonged to, they included everyone regardless of age. They worked as a team, fundraising, and then all shared in the activities. They let her grow as an individual letting her join in all aspects of the club.
She graduated in about a year and a half from school when we decided that it was time to return to my work as a park ranger.
We hopped in our moving van and moved cross country. I returned to a position in Fees for a season, and as luck would have it, another blessing in disguise. I missed my application deadline the following year because of restructuring in upper management. I decided to volunteer for the winter season and was able to get hired on as a ranger in the interpretive division.
My DD now 7 1/2 was having a hard time in school, not because of the work, rather because the work was too easy. Prior to us moving we had asked for her to be tested so that she would be put into the correct grade for her abilities. The school failed to do this, and after a year of begging, I found out that all I had to do was request testing (which I HAD done, numerous times). I was apologized to, profusely. She was tested and scored a 141 composite on her KBIT2 with a 99.7%. They agreed to move her into 3rd grade at the beginning of the new school year, but because we changed houses, they wanted us to change schools. I fought this and eventually won. However, the ‘win’ wasn’t worth celebrating. Her 3rd grade year was more struggles that surfaced as sensory processing issues. For 9 months my DD refused to wear socks, underwear, pants or shorts. I resigned myself to make her very long skirts and she wore slip on shoes. She would wear sneakers with no socks on gym day.
I asked for assistance from doctors, psychologists, occupational therapists…the latter two helped where they could, but the school district wouldn’t budge. ‘She’s making straight A’s’ they didn’t see a problem. So at the end of 3rd grade, I had made up my mind. All of my friends were surprised that I wasn’t already homeschooling, but I had now decided that I didn’t have a choice. I could no longer watch my daughter 8 1/4 suffer any longer.
Three weeks after I informed her of my decision, she was wearing shorts, then pants, then underwear, and on occasion SOCKS!
I had always supplemented her education at home or on trips/vacations. During 3rd grade, I went almost everyday to have lunch with her and to play games or to read together. I did this towards the end of 1st grade as well, so much so that the lunch ladies had me go from table to table reading to the other kids. Now it would be full time. I decided I would write up my own curriculum. We already did a lot of reading, used a lot of books on CD, and I set up an account on Dreambox so that she can keep ahead on her math. We have a lot of TV shows that focus on science and history, and there are a ton of documentaries and historically based movies available to buy, rent or watch on Netflix. We even set her up a homeschooling icon for specifically educational based shows and movies. We visited a lot of interesting places, museums, planetariums, and historical sites. I got a National Parks Pass ($80) also called the ‘America the Beautiful’ Pass. And we started off by visiting parks near where we were already visiting. We went to Shenandoah, Independence Hall, Tall Grass Prairie. This was all before I had decided to homeschool and I will take the next few blogs to catch you up on our travels. My season as a park ranger is now coming to an end, so I have more adventures planned for us.
My hope is that you can see what we are doing as a homeschooling family and use what you can and discard what you can’t…I would also love to read your comments about things you have done and places that you have gone, maybe you can make some suggests that we can incorporate into our travels. I will end each post with where we HOPE to go next, but these next few posts will be playing catch up to all the places we have gone so far.