If you’ve been following us during the summer, you’ll know that we like to go hiking.
All the time.
So I started a homeschooling hiking group called Hike it Homeschoolers and we have had a ton of fun exploring a few new trails, visiting a couple oldies but goodies, and meeting some really amazing homeschooling families.
But, we officially started “school” two days ago. And the weekly hikes just have to come to an end. I’ve still got two bigger hikes planned for HiH Fall Edition, so don’t you worry! But I figured I’d better do my recap of the last half of our summer adventures before I really harness the children into their chairs and make them sit still all day long instead of forcing them to lace up their hiking boots and run the trails!!
Just kidding. We’re homeschoolers, remember? Obviously we don’t actually sit in our chairs most the time. That’s just part of the beauty!
(And they don’t actually have hiking boots. Sometimes they go in sandals.)
(And they LIKE hiking – they don’t have to be forced to go.)
All right, here we go!
Provo River Trail from Bridal Veil Falls, past Upper Falls a bit. This time, probably because it was the day before the 4th of July, it was just me and my kids! It was nice to have a paved trail. I’m plan to sometime get back up and hike up to Upper Falls, but not with the kids.
Red Ledges Picnic Area. This is up Diamond Fork Canyon – and they don’t call it Diamond Fork for nothing! Watch out for rattlesnakes!! We didn’t actually see any. But I’m not complaining. There are a bunch of little trails back behind the picnic tables, a natural arch just off to the side, and some pioneer stone carvings if you’re willing to do a (very) little rock climbing. Half our group decided to go adventuring up and over the rocks and cliffs, come back down the other side, and jump in the river across the road – while the other half played in the sand and visited for awhile, talking all things “homeschool.”
Scout Falls up American Fork Canyon. I had never heard of these waterfalls, but now I think this is one of my very favorite semi local hikes. We hiked at the peak of wildflower season, through a little valley, up the sides of the valley, over many little waterfalls and streams that crossed the trail, until we got to the REAL waterfalls we had come to see! Wow! Stunning views! And the weather was pretty cooperative, too! I tend to melt in the heat, so the cloud covering was really nice.
Stewart Falls near Aspen Grove. This is the twin sister of Scout Falls. Just kidding. I just made that up. But Stewart Falls is only a few miles – as the crow flies – from Scout Falls, although to drive there you have to tackle the canyon from the entire other side. Well, I do at least. This is my second time this summer taking this trail. This year the water level is REALLY high. I’ve never seen Stewart Falls so full. But apparently that wasn’t enough water, because it rained on us almost the entire hike! (Except of course on our way back when we were close to the cars.) Still, a little rain doesn’t hurt. It just makes it more memorable.
Spanish Fork River Trail. Another paved hike… but this one turned in to a bug hunt. We caught American Dagger Moth Caterpillars (watch out! I learned they are poisonous), LOTS of grasshoppers, Box Elder Beetles, a Praying Mantis, a big black unidentified beetle, and probably a few other things, too. We didn’t end up “hiking” very far, but we spent a lot of time up close and personal with nature. (And I still have bugs in jars in my kitchen.)
The Grotto Falls. Yes, we already did this one near the beginning of the summer. But it is such a popular little trail around here, I wanted to give others a chance to do it if they missed the first time. Super short. Super easy. Super fun. Super waterfall at the end. The kids decided to build waterways and dams out of the rocks and reroute the water into the stream. They were so sad when it was time to go. But I bribed them with snow cones. (Man! Snow cones have come a long way since I was a kid. I hadn’t had a snow cone in probably close to 30 years! These things were amazing. But sadly, no pictures.)
With each hike (besides the Provo River Trail hike) we averaged about 2 other families with us. These women and kids I have met are amazing people. They seem so solid, so reasonable, so responsible, and so friendly and welcoming. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from seasoned homeschooling moms and also give advice and tips to newbies just starting out this fall. No matter where we are on the homeschool path, I’ve always felt like an equal with them. I feel like I’ve become friends with some really wonderful people.
As a homeschooler, one of the questions you often get is about socialization. Really, people want to know if your kids are going to be socially awkward because they don’t know how to act around other children. If you are worried about that, too, find a group to join. If you can’t find one, create a group. I always feel like I am in the best company when I am in the company of homeschooling families. (My kids don’t pick up bad habits and I am always welcomed with open arms.) What a comfortable place to be.
For us, it was hiking. Sometimes we attend park days with another group, too. For others, there are book clubs, or homeschooling science fairs (or any other sort of monthly or quarterly show and tell sort of thing.) I know groups who go on outdoor adventures throughout the entire year. There are groups that get together just for field trips. I just recently found out about groups of families who all use the same curriculum, and the moms and kids get together to share what they have done and how they have tackled the same topics, but in their own unique and creative way.
I also spent the first 4 years of my homeschooling “career” staying away from all groups entirely. That was good for me. It was just all so much and I needed to get the basics down, get a rhythm, figure out how in the world this was all going to work out for us, before I added more to the mix. Groups were just more, and I couldn’t take on any more for years. And now, during the school year, that is still mostly good for me, too. I need a little space – and having been at this homeschooling thing again for a whole two days now – I’m reminded that we do A LOT and it takes up A LOT of my time. I just don’t have a ton of time to get together weekly or monthly for something more.
But I know other moms who wanted and needed those groups from day one. And that is awesome. Groups like these make life better. They make homeschooling easier – when you are ready for it, of course. They lessen your mother-in-law’s worries about you ruining her grandkids’ social skills. They lend support. They share ideas. They understand when you are in a slump, but they remind you that you will get out of it in time. They remind you that you don’t have to do everything all at once and that some things can go on the back burner for a while – or you can just chuck them out the window and you and your kids will turn out just as well.
I am so grateful to associate with these wonderful people.
I hope you also have the opportunity to mix and mingle with other homeschoolers – when you are ready. I hope you feel the support and approval and comfort I feel when I am with people who keep their kids close, but show them the entire world. And if you don’t have that yet, I will try to be that for you until you do. When I supplicate God at night, I pray that something I will type or share someday will reach someone who could benefit from it. (It’s probably not anything that has to do with hiking – but I just really like those photos and memories 🙂 .) I try to show how real this is. How hard it is. How sometimes my heart isn’t in it. How much the children whine. How good they are at complaining. The temper tantrums. The failed science experiments. The disappointment that things just aren’g going the way I so neatly planned on my cute little notebook!!!
And I try to show how good this is. How blessed I feel. How close our family has become. How much these kids know! How intelligent and knowledgable they are becoming, because they have a more appropriate opportunity to gain knowledge and experience. How much love we are experiencing. How much fun we have together. How enriched our lives are. How good this really is!
Hopefully, you get that sense – and some fun ideas and tips – and some good laughs – from these blog posts.
It’s not all A+s, gold stars, and recess. But it is full of wonder, growth, and it is life changing for the better.
Now – go find a trail to hike!