The In-Between

Our house is packed up and we’re surrounded by furniture that isn’t ours.

I’m so thankful that the military here in Hawaii provides us with “aloha” furniture – temporary seating, tables, beds, dressers, lamps and kitchen appliances that allow us to stay in our home until closer to our move date. Can you imagine a hotel room (or, two hotel rooms!) with 2 adults, 4 kids, and 4 animals? I’d officially lose whatever marbles I have left.

So thank you, aloha furniture. The kids are still in their rooms at night, we’re cooking meals as normal, eating dinner together around a table. Our beds might be wrapped in 10 layers of plastic, but it’s home.

I consider us to be one of those “lucky” military families that have really gotten an awesome deal when it comes to where we’ve been stationed. Out of 20 years active-duty, 12 of those have been here at Pearl Harbor. Geno and I met here when I was in college and he was fresh outta bootcamp. We’ve come back and forth several times, but we’ve lived in Hawaii more than anywhere else in our adult lives. It’s been so good to us.

We had a wedding here. Three of our 4 kids were born here and the baby was born in Virginia on Dec. 7 – (Pearl Harbor day). We have such a deep connection to these islands and they’ve called us “home” more than once. So maybe that’s why there’s no big rush to check-off a “bucket list” before we go. We’re not anxious to do it all/ see it all because 1. we already have 😆, and 2. something tells me –– as it always has –– that we’ll be back. If not to live, then to spend time. And there’s a sense of calmness that comes with that.

We’ll fly to Washington mid-June and until then, we’re just here. Enjoying our time and knowing that life will pick up pace soon enough. So we can just sit tight for now, look around, take it all in, and be present.

The kids are finishing the school year and loving their last few weeks with teachers + friends. We’re spending time outside, walking our neighborhood like always, eating at our favorite spots, visiting our favorite places, holding gratitude for everything that we’ve experienced here, and just feeling the love that we have for this place.

Enjoying the moment, I guess you could say. Trying not to wish the time away because the time will be here soon enough and I know we’ll miss it when we’re gone. Of course we will – we always do. This is home.

CO-OP! (A homeschool enrichment opportunity)

The more I’ve shared about our plans to home educate in the fall, the more I’ve heard, “YOU’VE GOTTA FIND A GOOD CO-OP!”

I’ve heard of farming co-ops and housing co-ops, but homeschooling co-ops were new to me. So I took to the internet to read up on them a bit and see if there were any offered in our new town.

A homeschool co-op is a group of families who meet together once a week (sometimes less, sometimes more), and work cooperatively to achieve common goals. They can be organized around academics, social time, the arts, service work, projects – or a combination of these, and they may meet in homes, churches, libraries, or community centers. The children in these co-ops typically do most of their learning outside of the co-op, but it’s one more experience that builds their knowledge and provides them with a chance to be with friends and do something interesting.

With us moving to a new state and not knowing any other homeschooling families yet, I’ve been working really hard to find enrichment opportunities for the kids (and myself as a new homeschooling parent). After some narrowing down, we applied to a co-op last month and were put on their wait list. I was so excited last week when we got word that our application had been accepted and we were all set to register.

Since the co-op will be an enrichment and social experience and not the bulk of their academic learning (although they do offer these types of classes), I wanted them to choose their own classes based on what sparked their interests. Baby B is also enrolled in preschool-age classes (fun!) and I was required to sign up for a few jobs within the co-op for my contribution, so we’ll all be involved and have the opportunity to participate for 3 hours, one day a week.

Some examples of the age-level classes that the kids chose are: Brain Busters (math games), Book Club, sensory play, Middle-Ages history, PE (outdoor games), art and poetry. They’ll also be eating lunch and attending chapel with their friends.

I’m really looking forward to this experience (for them – and for me!), and grateful to all of the homeschooling families who shared what a co-op was and why we should join one!

GETTING STARTED

Hi! I’m Karissa. If we haven’t met yet, it’s nice to meet you 🙂 And thanks for stopping by.

I’m new to blogging and it feels a bit overwhelming, but I’m telling myself that none of this has to be perfect and whatever is shared here will be GOOD ENOUGH. Especially since it will be shared with a good heart and the best of intentions.

My husband Geno and I have four kids, ages preschool through elementary (3, 6, 8 and 10), and this upcoming school year (2021-2022) will be our first year homeschooling. I don’t really count our distance-learning experience as “homeschooling”… that was just bananas. What we’re committing to here is involved, home education run by me (their mom). And dad when he’s not at sea. It may seem a bit of a departure, seeing as though 3 of our 4 kids have attended public school up until this point. But we have a handful of reasons why we’ve chosen this new path and I’ll share a few with you here today.

First, we simply want to spend more time with our kids. As it stands, they wake up before 7am, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and are out the door by 7:45. They spend all day at school and we (their parents) have very little say in their day-to-day education. The exception being homework, which is just stressful for everyone. By the time they walk through the door at 3pm they’re exhausted and hungry. We simply want to spend the best parts of their day with them.

This summer we’re moving from Hawaii to Washington (state) and we want to explore, learn, and create memories with our kids without being tied to the confines of a traditional school day. Math, history, science – these subjects are usually attached to a textbook. We want to get outside and LIVE them with our kids. If we want to study birds and recite multiplication tables while hiking Mt. Olympus, we can do it.

Honestly, we want more control over the subject areas covered in our kids’ education. There were so many hidden figures that I never met in school; men and women who built our nation, those who were already here when it was “discovered”, men and women who weren’t afraid to stand up against injustice all over the world and those who are currently making a difference. Maybe their names were grazed over somewhere in a textbook at some point, but I never got a chance to KNOW them. I want my kids to.

We want our kids to be excited about learning for learning’s sake. Not learning to pass a test, not cramming to make a grade. Oh, how I wish that subjects like algebra would’ve COME ALIVE for me in my time. That biology or chemistry might have jumped off the page and led me into a world of wonder instead of leaving me grappled with frustration. It actually took me becoming a school teacher myself to understand these subjects well enough to teach them to others. We want to lay the foundation for a lifelong love of learning in our kids early. Something that neither of us received in the public school system.

A few years ago I was introduced to Miss Charlotte Mason, British educator and reformer in England at the turn of the twentieth century. Miss Mason held a firm belief that each child is a born person, and we must educate the entire person, not just his mind. She proposed an education inspired by the writings of the Bible, rich literature and “living books”, rather than traditional textbooks or “watered down twaddle”. Charlotte emphasized respecting each child as a born person and giving him a broad education. She presents a generous curriculum including nature study, art & music appreciation, musical instruments and handicrafts, as well as the usual academic subjects of math, reading, writing, science and history.

I’ve been busy preparing Term 1 (of 3) for the fall semester following Ambleside Online’s curriculum recommendations and boy, what a job! There’s been so much for me to learn in planning what they’ll be learning, but I feel like my feet are finally on solid ground and we have a great foundation to start with.

Our house gets packed up next week and we’ll move mid-June, so I really wanted to nail down as much as I could before everything goes into boxes. I bought most of our books and materials second-hand on eBay and have spent about $120 per child for the entire school year – which is SO MUCH LESS than I was anticipating. If I had bought everything new we’d probably be in for at least double or triple that amount, so thumbs-up for savings! I was also excited to learn that some of the recommended living texts were books we already have on our shelves. Further encouragement that we’re on the right track and that we’ve already been supporting a living education here at-home.

I feel prepared – at least to start. And I know we’ll figure out what’s working and what’s not as we go. This year we’ll have a preschooler (Baby B), a 1st grader (Big B), a 4th grader (Miss A), and a 5th grader (J). Each child will be following their own grade-level studies in math, reading, and writing, but we will be studying history, science, poetry, nature, art, music and handicrafts as a family – which I really like and think will be fun for us all.

That’s about it for now! A quick intro to what we’re planning to do and my first blog post here at Lights of Wonder. Not so bad! Thanks for reading 🙂

-Karissa