Sunday, November 21, 2010


Enrichment is a word that schools use to describe those things the kids are exposed to during their school day that are outside of their curriculum. Field trips, concerts, special programming all fall under the heading of "enrichment". If kids are lucky, enrichment encompasses about 3-5% of their schooling time. The benefit of enrichment programs is that it exposes the kids to other living cultures, allows them to practice functioning in the real world, and provides an opportunity to bring classroom learning to life.

For many of us that homeschool, activities that would be considered "enrichment" in the schools is what makes up the bulk of our "curriculum", so you almost never hear homeschoolers talk about enrichment. (Except maybe those that do "school at home" -- strictly following a school-based curriculum to keep pace with in-school learning -- which is one very valid way of homeschooling. Just not our family's way.) Our kids lives don't need to be "enriched" -- every day the kids are exposed to the real world, they don't need time set aside to practice their role in it.

This past week was a great example of this in our family's life -- it was one of those weeks where our "desk time" equaled about 2 hours and our "life time" made up the rest.

We started the week with our Monday Homeschool Classes "Share Day". The class that I taught, "The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman," offered a stage presentation about Harriet's life. The kids all donned their burlap sacks and bandannas, and each read a passage about Harriet's life. (In the photo, J is returning to his on-stage seat after his turn at the mike.) Between passages, we sang the slave spirituals we learned in class.

Our class quilt was on display (behind me and my assistant, Zoo Boy, who were seated below the stage to one side -- Zoo Boy said that his stage fright kept him from joining the rest of the class on stage, but he was perfectly happy to wear the class outfit and follow along nearby), and the kids and the audience both seemed to really enjoy the performance. I thought it made a great wrap-up to our Harriet Tubman unit at home, too, even though we hardly spent any time at home this week.

We also got to pick up the posters that the boys had made during their "Planet Protection Project" class. This was a class that the museum (who so generously donates their space to us for our Monday classes) offered to our community during our Monday class time at their nearby Nature Center. (That where those photos from a few weeks ago of the kids' "outdoor classroom" were taken.) This is Zoo Boy's poster, he clearly spent a lot of time working on it.

J's poster from the same class.

Tuesday was a busy day -- it started with dentist appointments for the boys (which, although a necessity of life, didn't stop the kids from expanding on their knowledge of teeth and dental health!). Then we attended a Homeschooler's Open House at a new Athletic Facility -- the kids spent an hour playing organized sports games on the enormous indoor athletic field, then most of the group went on to spend an hour in the pool. (We didn't -- we get plenty of swim time and had other things to do.) This facility is going to be offering the homeschoolers a swimming program on Wednesdays and a general athletics program on Fridays. We're moving our homeschool sports program there, because playing sports on indoor fields is FAR more appealing than being stuck in a hot, smelly gym during the winter!

From there we headed to OT. I've decided to drop the Therapeutic Listening program (that I never really found time to blog about) -- I've given it a good 6 month trial, but am not seeing any real, lasting benefits from it, and there were a couple of things of concern that seemed to clear up once I stopped doing it. I think it's a program with value for some kids, mine just weren't benefiting enough from it. I've been promised Speech during December for Zoo Boy, so we'll stick out the OT until the end of the year and see what comes of that -- if we can make Speech a regular or at least semi-regular thing, we'll keep on going. But with $2000 a year in co-pays, not to mention the gas (and time!) to trek half way across the state and back, I need to see some fairly immediate benefit, otherwise I'm going to find a more beneficial way to spend that time and money.

At least we took advantage of being all the way over there on Tuesday by joining some friends at the Jump Zone in Canton. The kids jumped and bounced and slid and had a rollicking good time for several hours, before heading home exhausted.

Wednesday the farrier came out to trim the horses' feet, so the morning was spent on farm type stuff. We did read our final Harriet Tubman installment that morning (a follow-up to the previous story) and worked with that on Friday -- I'll post separately with those drawings. I had a Doctor's appointment for myself in the early afternoon, and the boys each read the next installment of their book series -- J is still working on "Secrets of Droon", while Zoo Boy is about mid-way through the "A-Z mysteries". Later in the afternoon, the kids had an art class on Printmaking at the local children's museum. Here's a collection of J's prints from that class.

And here's Zoo Boy's prints.

Thursday is always a busy out-of-the-house sort of day. We started with J's first guitar lesson, which he just loved. Then the boys got to play with their friend I, until we all left for swimming. After the always-fun pool time, we headed down to our Spanish class, then they spent an hour or so playing at the children's museum before heading over to J's busy busy night of dance, including a ballet class, a modern class, and rehearsal for a modern company's show that he's been invited to participate in.

Friday morning we actually DID spend a little time at home doing "school work", but Friday afternoon it was off to our Science Explorations at our friends' house. We did some corrosion experiments, and made lemonade. Then more dance. And, um, more dance.

Here's a quick photo from J's tap class. He's now dancing 8 times a week, and loving every minute of it. Honestly, I'm not sure how he would be able to do this if he was in school. When do schooled kids who are this involved in dance do their homework?? We're not getting home until 9:30 some nights -- how do schooled kids manage to get up in the morning? We just don't bother setting alarms the following mornings and let him sleep as long as he needs to. It's no big deal if he's not ready to start working at 8am, we can just as effectively (more effectively, since he's well rested!) start at 10 instead.

I tell you, I give credit to those parents who are willing to deal with school schedules and juggle homework and activities. I just don't have the stamina for that sort of thing! The very, very best part of homeschooling to me is that we don't have to sacrifice anything for the kids to be involved in whatever they want to be. We don't have to make time for "enrichment" -- their lives are already enriched!

No comments: