Archive for the ‘homeschoolings’ Category

Why do we even call it homeschooling at this point? I guess our home is still our base, the HQ of her education, but this year, more than ever, Z is ranging out far and wide to meet her educational needs. She is actually taking more classes outside of the house than in and I am only teaching five of her seventeen subjects.

Seventeen? Really? Wow! How are we managing that? I don’t know! I have been really lucky finding local resources that are a good fit for Z, especially her homeschooling school, which is she going to two full days a week this year. This year she is doing more subjects but spending less time on each of them. We will see how that works out.

Here they are:

Math: Holt Fuse Algebra app for the iPad  – 3 x wk

Piano: private lesson –  1 x wk + practice –  3-4 x wk

History/Geography : Post Revolution stuff I’m cobbling together/ Around the World in 180 Days – 2x wk

Current Events: OnlineG3 – 1x wk + homewrk (With Z’s favorite teacher Headmistress Guinevere.)

Reading: Right now we are reading The Great Gatsby and various poetry. After TGG we will start on Master Pieces of Short Fiction from The Great Courses.

Language Arts: Another one that I am teaching, we are still using Michael Clay Thompson Word within the Word, Advanced Academic Writing, Magic Lens, and Poetry– 2x wk

Odyssey of the Mind: a collaborative creative problem solving class she is taking at our local homeschool school. – 1x wk

Model U.N.: another collaborative class at her homeschool school where the students are doing hands-on/roleplaying learning about current events, international relations, diplomacy and problem solving. – 1x wk

Naturalist Training: Her 3rd class at the homeschooling school. Described online as teaching an awareness of the patterns of animal behavior and the key characteristics of plants, maintaining a nature journal, creating a plant and animal census, participating in a Hawk Watch, learning to use a variety of field guides, using a compass, making watercolors and sketches, and drawing maps. – 1x wk

Writing Workshop: Her 4th class at the school. This is the same class she took last year where the students made their own newspapers, wrote lots of poetry, participated in Nanowrimo, and wrote and performed a 45min play. I don’t know what they are going to do this year but I expect it will be great. – 1x wk

Biology: a high school class for homeschoolers. Most of it is stuff she already knows but it is cool for her to have access to labs.- 1x wk + homewrk

French: private lessons – 1x wk +homewrk

Musical Theater: Z is finally getting to fulfill a dream she had since she was 3 or 4 to be in Les Miserables. This is a local theater production for middle and high school students. – 1x wk

Circus Aerials: Z moved up to the advanced class this year. – 1x wk

Art: Another class I facilitate. We just do a lot of random projects. Zoe enjoys anything hands-on. – 1x wk

Girl’s Choir: This is Z’s second year at Girl Choir. – 1x wk

Hebrew/Religious School: When we changed temples I moved Zoe back a year (she was grade skipped) so that she (actually so I) would have another year to get ready for her Bat Mitzvah. The verdict is still out on this new Temple. . . but I feel like we just need to stick with it. We can’t keep changing communities this close to her Bat Mitzvah. – 2x wk

Don’t those classes look great?! Some of those might need to drop off in the Spring if, as I fear, we over-scheduled ourselves.  But, even with all those classes, I have managed to protect some free time for her every day. She uses it to write music or stories, read, swim, design outfits, hang out with her friends, play, etc. She is a creative girl and she needs that downtime to create, to be herself, find herself, create herself, etc.

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Hail to Camp – – – –
Hail to her colors true
Oh, cherished Camp – – – –
Our thought is all for you

Going to an all-girl camp that was founded in 1908 on the shore of a lake up in the mountainous woods of the Northeast is like joining a sisterhood that stretches back over a hundred years with very deep roots and wide far reaching branches, and also a little bit like joining a cult.

There are ceremonies of initiation, with special handshakes and mythological stories. The girls are inducted into one of two teams, which they will stay a member of for life. There is even a totem animal, the turtle.

Every morning Z and her five cabin mates had Cabin Inspections, which they were graded on. Besides the normal keeping the bathroom and cabin clean and tidy they had to make their beds with square corners and line up their shoes using a straight edge. The girls traded off jobs each day. Apparently lining up the shoes was the hardest thing. (I am going to have to make Zoe demonstrate this for me, because I just don’t see how lining up shoes could be that difficult.)

Actually, the one thing harder than lining up shoes were the warm-up laps at the beginning of each daily swim. Zoe, who is spoiled by the crystal clear waters of our heated pool, found the lake waters to be “gross” and “cold.” To warm the girls up they had to swim laps: freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke.

They built a lot of routine into camp life. The girls got up to the sound of a bugle horn at seven a.m. every morning, except Sundays. After breakfast and inspections they all met in the Lodge for assembly where they would sing camp songs, celebrate birthdays and listen to important announcements.

Then they had three activities before lunch, two were assigned but the third was their own choice. There is climbing tower, archery, camping skills, art and crafts, cooking, tennis, volleyball, kickball, soccer, hiking, field hockey, mountain biking, and yoga to choose from. Being on a lake there were also tons of waterfront sports like swimming, water-skiing, sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding, taking rides on the sea wasp or jumping on the water trampoline. Zoe’s favorites were the sea wasp, water trampoline, archery, and sailing.

After lunch in the lodge-like dining hall there was a built in rest hour. For the first half hour the girls had to stay silent and on their bunks in their cabin, the second half they were allowed to talk. Zoe seemed to treasure this time to read and write in her journal.

The afternoon had three more assigned activities, one of which was always swimming. Zoe is such a strong swimmer now and she is brown as a little nut.

At quarter to five it is time for the counselors to get a break and go swimming and the girls all run for the showers because there isn’t enough hot water for everyone. Zoe told me that only a third of her showers had hot water. It was not something she complained too much about though. Makes me wonder if she wasn’t really taking that many showers…

After supper was something different every night, like camp wide capture the flag, trivia contests, the masquerade, crafts, canoeing out for a sunset ride. They also had their plays, talent shows, and campfires.

Before the early taps the girls were all fed a bedtime snack of milk and cookies at the Milkline. Zoe and the other youngest girls had Milkline at the Crow’s Nest overlooking the river. Every night, somewhere not too far away on the lake, fireworks flashed and banged as the girls tried to fall asleep in their lakeside cabins.

I chose this camp after much research. There were many camps where Zoe might flourish. Theatre camp, French camp, music composition camp, math camp, science camp, CSI camp, circus camp and more. But Zoe devotes a lot of time during the school year to those things and I wanted her to have a different experience this summer. My main goal was for Zoe to experience independence, to get outdoors, and to get a sense of and grow in her capabilities. I decided a traditional outdoor camp was the place. This camp doesn’t have a state of the art gym or Olympic swimming pool. It has a trees and a lake. Not only do they not have computers, they don’t allow them, or cellphones or iPads, or anything that can get you online. The cabins aren’t air-conditioned, the lake isn’t heated, and the music you hear you are making yourself. It is life unplugged.

One of the things I think this camp did extremely well was to create a sense of belonging  and camaraderie. The history is thick and palatable and it gives the girls the feeling that they are joining something special. There are so many traditions, like signing the walls and ceiling of the cabins, the pageant, songs with hand gestures, and the milkline . There was also the experience of being at a camp where all the decision makers are girls, and all the winners are girls. There was plenty of competition but Zoe said it was friendly, with a lot of fun being had dressing up in your teams colors and cheering for your side. She also said that the losing team didn’t feel bad because the whole thing was just too much fun. But it wasn’t all lighthearted. Zoe pushed herself hard to qualify for and move up to higher levels in various sports. She was testing herself, literally, proving she could tread water, work the tiller on the sailboat, tie knots and light a campfire.

As far as she could tell Zoe was the only PG girl, the only home schooled girl, the only geeky girl, and the only Jewish girl. But this W.A.S.P.y sisterhood was more than welcoming. When we came to pick her up on Saturday she took us on a tour of the camp and everywhere we went girls, her age and older, and counselors were calling out “Zoe!”, “Hi Zoe!” “Zoooooeeeee!” I asked, “How does everyone know you??” and she answered, with a wink, “I’m kind of a big deal.” LOL! She was joking. Probably. She has gotten pretty good at those pop-culture referencing one-liners.

She taught her cabin mates Pink Fluffy Unicorns and they taught her The Sprinkler and Motorcycle Cat. She bonded with a geeky counselor from Britain over Doctor Who, Firefly, and Buffy. She got a little homesick, especially when she and the other youngest girls spent the night in an old creepy house on Lake Wallenpaupack the night the derecho storm blew through Pennsylvania. The Spyglass house had no electricity, only a fireplace to offer a sense of protection from the hair-raising thunder and lightning.

Zoe was happy to see us and come home after two weeks, but she already asked if she can go back for three weeks next year. I’d love to send her and maybe that will be the best place for her to go, year after year. But I can’t say for sure at this point. Summer is an exciting time to try new things.  Or maybe it’s a time for traditions and seeing old friends.

Remember beside the campfire
Beneath the mountains blue
That you’re part of Camp – – – –
And it is part of you.

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Went on a bike ride in the Wissahickon this morning. The weather was crisp, cool, perfect. The wind was blowing up and knocking leaves down. We passed people running, biking, walking with strollers and even a guy fly fishing, with the wading boots and everything.

There were several people painting by this little falls.








We rode all the way to this old covered bridge.









It is one of five that used to cross the Wissahickon and the only one left in Philadelphia now.










It is also the only covered bridge in a major US city.











We stopped for a quick bit of dirt and stick geometry.









By these falls









We rode, and sometimes walked, for almost 2 hours. I didn’t expect to be out for so long but we had such a wonderful time, I don’t regret it. I had some vague plans about getting to science and geography this afternoon.  But, I feel making these memories has to be as important as school work. I’m sure of it.

But, if I had needed convincing, this plaque on a bench next to the Covered Bridge, would have done it.

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We’ve been residents of Philadelphia for almost a month now. We are still in that “breaking in new shoes” stage, where we are not totally comfortable but we are happy with our choice and enjoying the process (not too many blisters so far.)

Zoe is almost set up in all her new homeschooling classes.

She is taking piano at Settlement Music School – Founded in 1908, it is the largest community school of the arts in the United States. I love walked down the halls at Settlement and hearing the low tones of the oboe coming from one room, the tin-tin of the drums from another, and piano from another. The school has two informal recitals, open to all students, twice a month. And several formal recitals a year. So my performing loving daughter will have lots of opportunities to play to the crowd, if she wants.

Zoe takes a writing class at the homeschooling co-op in a little stone building, built sometime before 1818, and used as a school house. It is on the grounds of a 150 year old church, and surrounded by a cemetery with graves from from the 1700s. (Can you tell I love the history here??)

So far, the writing class is Zoe’s favorite, along with her Circus Arts Class.

I am inspired to lose weight so I can take a class there too!

We found a nice homeschool group that meets at a nearby park and Z has made friends with a gaggle of girls around her age. She is already getting invited to play dates, hang outs, and sleep-overs.

I’ve met some people too. Mostly other homeschooling parents, but some neighbors, and people from synagogue. I am looking forward to seeing them again. But I am not nearly as social as Zoe, so I don’t need to have all my free time filled with other people. I am finding my “friends” in the trees and the river in the Wissahickon.


I am really happy with our neighborhood. Not only can we walk to the Wissahickon but I can walk to the library, several coffee shops, three organic markets, numerous restaurants, antique shops, two toy stores, and many other helpful (albeit expensive) shops. Pretty much every day I could walk somewhere, and I usually do.

My husband is happy with his job, the one that brought us out here. He is is very busy and the work is more intense but he likes that. Mental challenges energize him and there are a lot of opportunities for that here.

We are all still finding our way, seeing where we fit, trying things on for size, and exploring. It is an exciting time, because it looks like we are finding Philadelphia fits us very well.



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I don’t plan to just post pictures. I will have other content, I swear!


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