October 26, 2020
by Stephanie Hagen
Hagen Homeschool is back in session! Every year we evaluate how the year before went. Travis and I talk about how we feel Lou did, where he excelled and the areas he needs a little more work in. Lou and I talk about what his favorite parts of school were and what he’s looking forward to learning about the next school year. So far, no school year has looked exactly the same.
Last year, we tried a curriculum that was 100% online. It was student-led but I was able to play around with the different projects and due dates. It worked well for the first part of the year, but as the year progressed, we noticed that the internet would cause lagging or issues with the website and Lou didn’t seem to be taking in as much of the information. After much discussion, this year, we’re taking a different approach. Lou’s schoolwork is in the form of workbooks. It allows him to be self-sufficient in the areas that he rocks at and I’m able to walk him through areas that he doesn’t. Math is becoming a little more difficult too, so being off the computer has encouraged him to write out the problems as opposed to guess.
Previous years, we’ve been able to fill in arts and crafts with programs the campgrounds offer, our friends and even different groups that connect full-time RVing families. This year, programs have had a slow start and we haven’t seen a lot of them offered. So Lou decided that it would be fun to have an art contest and see who can draw the best picture. We set up the table so neither one of us would be able to see the other’s work and got started. It was a fun way to practice art and make a little competition out of it. At the end of the time, Travis judged that Lou’s was the best.
One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling on the road is the ability to make history and science come alive through museums and fun stops. Now that many different museums are opening back up, we’re starting to stretch out that way again. While we were in Beaumont, TX, we were able to swing into their Fire Museum of Texas. Lou enjoyed the field trip day instead of school and I enjoyed the uniqueness of what the museum had to offer.
This little museum is connected to the firehouse and offers a history of firefighters and their equipment over the years. Although it is a smaller museum, it was perfect for an afternoon outing. When we first walked in, Lou immediately noticed a horse and wagon. After reading a story about one of Beaumont’s beloved horses, we got to see firsthand an 1856 hand-drawn pumper with leather buckets.
As we continued on, we saw history come alive as we looked at how firefighters have overcome difficulties with taller buildings. We saw a 1909 ladder engine that could reach up to four stories tall! And did you know that the first fireman’s pole was created in Chicago to help the firefighters come down three stories quickly? I didn’t either until we were there.
We watched the fire engines become more complex as the years went on and also learned about the different types of ways that firefighters were able to extinguish the fires. We saw the history of the handheld fire extinguisher go from buckets of water to a baking soda and an acid mixture to the ones we know today. We were able to walk up to the Jeep that the Beaumont Fire Department frequently used until the 1980s to help put out brush fires. As a Jeep-loving family, this was extra special and fun. Lou even learned later that his grandpa had used one similar when he was a volunteer firefighter.
It was also neat to watch Lou be stumped at what a cabinet the size of a wall would do. When I explained to him how the switchboard would have operated back in the day, he could hardly believe just how far we’ve come! And honestly, I couldn’t either.
After exploring the inside of the museum, we walked back outside into the Texas heat to check out the world’s largest working fire hydrant. We were stunned at the size and didn’t even realize that it was a record-breaking fire hydrant - let alone a working one!
Memories like these continue to make homeschooling worth all the bumps that we may have along the way.
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