When your day starts like this, how can it not go well?

IMG_6304

Izzy and Atwood are the best. It’s hard to not feel cheerful in the morning when a chicken is having its breakfast right beside you. I think they were inspiring even to Noah, who zipped through his reading practice like a pro, and Leila, whose cutting skills were approaching that of Edward Scissorhands this morning (in quantity if not in quality).

After Zahra completed a cross-numbers puzzle, she moved on to the Draw Bot kit she received from her grandma for her birthday. Noah and I were working again at his medieval launcher, and I told Zahra to give it her best. The Draw Bot was a kit from Tinker Crate, which is geared to 9 to 14 years old and involves little motors and such. They can be quite challenging, but she gave it a go—and completed it by herself. I was really proud of her.

IMG_6305

There are three markers in a board and a little motor that makes it vibrate to create random art. After getting it to work, she did a few experiments, changing the position of the motor, the amount of clay on the spindle (both for weight and balance), the height of the markers, and more.

 

The cool thing about Tinker Crate (and all of the brands in the same family) is that each box is really a mini curriculum. The “Tinker Zine” in this box has pages upon pages of information on how robots and computers create art, as well as more tinkering ideas. Zahra practiced some “random art” of her own with an exercise using graph paper and a die to determine which squares she coloured in and which she left blank.

IMG_6311IMG_6312

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s still more she can do with that.

After lunch, we met up with friends in that great park we discovered yesterday. The kids played there for nearly three hours before we headed home for a bathroom break and early dinner. Our last stop of the day was yet another Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile-Perrot park for Christmas-themed festivities. Santa Claus, hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows, and a gift raffle. Two out of three kids won a gift (and the one who didn’t win is the lovely, mature one who could take it in stride—phew!).

IMG_6315IMG_6314

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6313Well, loyal readers, I think this may be my last blog post of 2015. Thank you so much for reading this blog, encouraging me through the bad days and cheering us on for the good ones, giving me all sorts of great ideas and resources. I can’t stress enough the importance this community has for me. It takes a village, and you have been the most supportive village there is. Many of you have contributed directly and indirectly to me and my children’s education (and lives!), and for that I thank you.

We’re officially on Christmas break, and now is the time for me to reflect on our first semester of homeschooling. I can say a few things with certainty. First off, this was absolutely the best decision for our family. We took a huge amount of stress off our plates: the morning rush, homework demands, tests—just to name a few. We added a huge amount of educational and cultural opportunities to those plates: museum visits, plays and orchestra performances, days at the farm, road trips and more. We moved: hiking in the woods, park play dates, bike rides, etc. We gave ourselves the gift of time, and it’s so obvious how the children have blossomed. Zahra has developed a new interest of hers (birdwatching) to a level she would have otherwise not had time for. Noah’s self-esteem has skyrocketed and he’s made great progress in self-control. Leila has taken on more responsibility in regards to chores around the house. We have time to care about and work on all these things. There are no arbitrary standards, so the kids are more inclined to try their best at everything. They know themselves better and can better express themselves. I know them better—the things that make them tick, that light them up, that make them happy and inspired little people. And while some days are better than others, this educational decision (which is also very much a lifestyle decision) is a feel-good fit for us.

And so with that, I head into the new year with a renewed sense of adventure and a calming confidence on our chosen path.