It’s that time of year again – Halloween! The kids are beyond excited at the prospect of costumes, trick or treating, and – of course – candy. Here at our house, we started the preparations exceptionally early this year, with the kid discussing costume choices while they were still running through the sprinkler in August. We take Halloween seriously in this house, and so the kids take their costume choices seriously as well. Add to that the additional consideration of who has grown out of what, and the necessity of starting the costume choices early becomes all the more clear.

I made the annual trip to the basement family room to find our bin of Halloween costumes. Since I have a girl and 3 boys (in that order), the boys usually just pass costumes down the line to each other as they grow. My daughter usually has a few costumes to choose from, and since she tends to grow more slowly than the boys we don’t often have to buy her a new one. This year, however, she rejected her pirate and witch costumes in favor of being Selena Gomez, the teen tv and music star. Homeschooling has definitely not affected her ability to be tuned into what other kids her age are into, so she chose the teen star as her costume this year. This proved to be a challenging costume, because Selena Gomez dresses like most teenage girls. So my daughter and I spent some time Googling images of Selena, and she finally settled on an outfit she wore in one of her videos. From there, we had to put the outfit together without spending too much money, which wasn’t that hard once I was able to locate stores online that had reasonable facsimiles of the shirts she wore. All that was needed at that point was a microphone, and voila: teen pop star Halloween costume.

My oldest son was heartbroken to discover that he had grown out of not only his Jango Fett costume – beloved costume of the last 3 Halloweens – but also his Darth Vader costume. Being a diehard Star Wars fan, he took it quite hard. However, down in the bin we found a Spiderman costume that was too big last year, but this year fits quite nicely. He warmed to the idea and so his costume was set. Coincidentally, he had grown out of a Spiderman costume 2 years ago that we still have, so his younger brother decided to wear that, and so we had matching Spidermen.

That only left the baby, the two year old. He has inherited so many hand-me-down costumes that we had a hard choice. He made the most adorable Yoda anyone has ever seen, but ultimately he settled on being a knight, complete with foam sword, axe, and shield. And it turned out to be a fantastic choice: he looked great.

Our homeschooled children visited 3 different Halloween celebrations – including Halloween itself – 2 of which were with their public schooled friends. I’d like to think they got even more “socialization” than their friends, simply by virtue of having more flexible schedules to attend all the festivities.

Happy Halloween!

Those OTHER subjects

Those OTHER subjects – you know the ones I mean, right? Music, art, computer, physical education … these are the subjects that so often get left behind in even the most well-intentioned homeschool curriculum. I can remember telling friends and family alike that our kids would have the best teaching in these particular subjects because my husband and I are both self-avowed “computer geeks,” he’s an artist so that should cover art, I play piano so music should be a cinch, and kids play outside, so that covers physical education, right? Well, as I’m learning lately, not so much. Fast forward a few years, and I think we’ve been neglecting some areas of these subjects.

Art, I think, hasn’t been neglected, at least with my daughter. She has exhibited natural ability in this area, so I guess instead of teaching art I’ve kind of let her follow her own path in this area, which was actually a very good choice. She is always building, drawing, creating, crocheting, I can’t even begin to name all the ways in which she artistically expresses herself. It’s amazing to watch. Still, an actual art curriculum is never a bad thing to add.

On the other hand, my son dislikes art, and so I haven’t really pushed him to do much in the way of art. In his younger years he wouldn’t even finish coloring a picture because he disliked it so much. I realized recently that I’ve done him a disservice in this area by not encouraging him to find a mode of expression he enjoys.

Computer skills, in our home, have definitely been one area where we’ve done well. With 7 computers in the home and one in each child’s bedroom, they couldn’t avoid learning how to use the computer. In this area I feel confident that they’ve learned as much or more than they would have in a public school setting.

Music is another story. Although I play piano I haven’t yet brought my piano from my dad’s house where it is, so without realizing it I used that as the ever present excuse to not start any formal music training, or even singing songs, unless you count singing along with the radio. Again, here is an area that I’ve allowed to slide by the wayside, and that needs to change.

And then there’s physical education. I deluded myself into thinking the kids could play in the backyard and that would be enough. They also play sports in the community, but since they only play baseball and softball, that’s only in the spring and early summer. Our daughter went to her first school dance the other night with some of her friends from the public school, and her legs hurt for days after from the two hours of dancing. That made me realize that perhaps they need a little more structured physical activity if dancing hurt her leg muscles.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m feeling that the other subjects need some attention from our homeschool program as well. And perhaps this will add some needed variety to our days!