Farm Camp!

I found something exciting while driving down the 10 freeway. A billboard for Farm Camp in Cherry Valley! This week-long camp runs from the end of June and into July. There are day camp weeks and overnight weeks available.

The cost is $375 for the day camp and $550 for the overnight one. Wait! Before you balk at the price, remember what you are getting. A whole week of things to do that your child will never forget and such a great experience too, living and working on an organic farm! That’s $110 a day and it includes meals (that you won’t have to buy or make). We can easily spend that at an amusement park, water park, or the mall. And it’s nothing compared to sending your kids to a private school. This is why we work so hard throughout the year saving money by not having to buy school uniforms, expensive curriculum, and participate in school fundraisers. Things like this are worth the money!

If you’re having a hard time coming up with the money for this year, plan ahead for next year! If you set aside $50 a month until next year, it’ll be sitting there waiting for you next summer! Involve the kids that want to attend and show them how a budget works. The intrinsic rewards in that alone are worth the effort. And don’t think of it as an “extra-curricular” activity. For private homeschoolers, it’s all part of a well-rounded education. What better way to explore social studies, science (physical and biology), health education, life skills like cooking and caring for others, and more, than through a weeks’ worth of farm work?

Check out their website for details…FARM CAMP!

If you’re not sure if this is the kind of thing your child will enjoy, there’s an open house in April and May to come check out to the place and talk to the instructors! Click HERE for details.

Unconventional Education

Almost every town has a Parks & Recreation department, right? And there are city and community events planned as well, like summer concerts and holiday celebrations. This stuff is a gold mine for private homeschoolers!

I recently picked up Yucca Valley’s Activity and Events Guide while I was at the library. It made me wish my kids were little again! You can find it online by clicking HERE or drop by the Library or Community Center to pick up a printed one.

When I opened it up I thought of all the subjects the events listed inside would cover, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Private homeschooling in California can be cheap if you don’t buy a pre-made curriculum. Classes and events like these are a great way to offer the same subjects the public school’s offer but in a different way.

The Summer Music Festival is the first event I saw. Free live music all summer. Can you think of a better way to introduce your kids to some performing arts? Different styles of music. Live performance etiquette. They may find an instrument they’d like to learn to play or a new genre they love. When we’d go to concerts like this, I’d be looking up the music, where and when it came from, who was playing, etc. If they liked it, we’d usually find a CD for our collection. And there’s more music at “Chamber Music at the Museum” in June! This event does cost some money to attend, but you don’t hear classical music live much anymore. Pay up and support these folks! This could cover the subjects of music, performing arts, history, social studies, and math (music is totally math).

Earth Day celebration? Not much needs to be said about that! Science, social studies, a little history, all rolled into one day.

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum has an exhibit all about toys all summer. Yes, toys are education too! There’s some serious exploring to be done there! That’d be science, history, and even some language arts if you decide to write about it or read many of the signs and displays.

Dance classes, karate, yoga, there’s a ton of stuff to do that would cover P.E.

Did you know Yucca Valley has a Youth Commission? That sounds like a great way for a homeschooled kid to get involved in the town they live in. You may be raising the next mayor! Civics, economics, language arts…and social skills!

If you’re a little new to this homeschool idea you’re probably wondering how in the world do you document this type of learning, right? In the elementary years especially, tracking can be as easy as keeping a student calendar or a journal. At the end of the day, write about what you did that day. Take pictures and make a scrap book, blog, or just post it to Facebook. I urge you to write about daily activities even if you think you could never forget that glorious day. I’m looking back at my blog posts about my son’s activities from ten years ago wishing I had written more details! And many times I’ve looked back on the last weeks activities and thought it felt like we were laying around in the yard more than we really were. A look at my student calendar (the big notebook ones you find at Walmart or Target in September) showed that we were incredibly active after all!

One more thing, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is or what time of year. And it doesn’t matter what grade your child is in. Like I’ve said before, institutions need grade levels, homeschoolers don’t. If a California history event comes up when your child is 6 or 12, go experience it and then maybe experience it again in a couple years! If it’s Saturday morning when you head to the science center or go hiking in the national park, it’s still education for a homeschooler! That’s what makes it so great. That’s what makes it ok if you spent a week vegging in front of movies with a bucket of popcorn. We are educating our kids year-round, 24/7…but that’s another post!

Add This To Your Calendar!

Check off American History for weeks! Riley’s Farm is hosting it’s annual “Colonial Faire” in July! Tickets are only $12 to $15 and there is SO much to see! If you spent 6 hours at the fair, I’d say that’s about 9 days of “instruction” at least (if you’re the schooling and detailed record keeping type)!

Click HERE for details and tickets!

The Great Homeschool Convention

If you’re looking at using a curriculum for your homeschool, want to hear some great speakers, or looking to see what homeschoolers lo a k like in large group, The Great California Homeschool Convention may be a good start!

This convention is put on by a large national group that just does events like this. They aren’t a social group but if you just want to hear speakers and look at a large vendor hall, this is a great place. It is mostly Christian, but not all and even if you are not a one or someone homeschooling for religious reasons, you’ll find loads of great information and resources here.

Best part? It’s only a couple hours away in Ontario AND it’s only $50 for the whole family for two days. I think I might go, just to check it out!

Backyard Science!

I just received a reminder in my newsfeed about an awesome annual event. The Great Backyard Bird Count from the National Audubon Society! This is a great way to do real science at home with your kids and another great thing about technology in our age. We are all contributing to large-scale data collection that is helping real scientists. In fact, we ARE scientists! And best of all, it’s completely free!

My sons and I participated in this event several years in a row, both in the city and at our new desert home. Oh, who am I kidding? I did this several years in a row and told the boys all about it! They weren’t interested in sitting in the yard with a cup of tea for an hour, noting which birds and how many came by. I was very interested though! I printed off the data collection sheet from the website, grabbed a cup of hot tea and parked myself on the back porch for an hour, several days in a row. The boys would come out and ask me what I was doing, and I proudly told them, showing them the list of birds I had already seen. Sometimes they would sit for a minute and watch with me. They’d point out a bird or two, grow weary and head into the house for video games. Sometimes, I’d have to cut my session short over a battle between them or a request for lunch. If they were interested, I’m sure they would have been right there with me, asking me what bird it was or helping me look them up online. This kind of stuff just wasn’t their thing at the time. Fast forward years into the future, they now take pictures of birds they find where they are and message them to me, so they did get something out of it!

What did they get? Lot’s of things! They saw a small way an individual can participate in a large science endeavor. They learned that bird watching was a sport AND science and that there are people all over the world who are passionate about it. Best of all, they were witness to my real, honest love of learning in action every day.

That’s the best part about home education! It isn’t about following a set curriculum, having a long reading list, perfect penmanship, or great SAT scores. It’s not about keeping “at grade level” in school subjects. It’s about kids living and learning right alongside adults in ways that encourage them to explore the world around them and stay excited about learning new things their whole lives.

Before my sons were around twelve years old, most of the homeschooling at our house was me finding awesome stuff to do around our area and signing up for tours, field trips, and excursions of all kinds. I read up about each event before we went, sharing what I learned and how. I was the one asking questions. My boys were along for the ride. We kept it down to one organized event per week when they were little because it was generally something they weren’t interested in, but I thought they might be. If we got there and they just couldn’t sit still or hang through the whole thing, we’d leave early. That was hard for me sometimes, especially when it was something I really wanted to see or with friends I really liked. I had to remember that we were there for their sake, not mine. As they got older, they were more apt to sit through an art museum tour because I really wanted to see it with the offer of a kind reward for their efforts. As teens, they don’t need that reward anymore.

We also visited a lot of museums, parks, and zoos on our own schedule. We didn’t get the group discount or docent-led tour, but it was usually better for them because they could take their time exploring what they wanted and skip past things that didn’t excite them. It wasn’t the last time we’d be at any of these places, so I didn’t mind if they spent all their time at the playground at the local zoo instead of seeing all the animals. We bought annual passes and memberships to places they expressed real interest in.

Education in the elementary years was always fun, short and sweet. Sometimes it was directed by me and my interests and hopes of expanding their horizons. And sometimes it was directed by them and what they were interested in pursuing. It always focused on them and how they were responding. Getting antsy and a bit loud? They weren’t interested, we needed to leave. Quietly watching, having a great time? We’d stay. One interested, the other distracting people? I’d ask a friend to keep an eye on one, while I let the other find something else to do. It was all about watching them and knowing their limits.

Now that they are in their late teens, I can see the reflection of those early days in the way they pursue their passions and share them with me through texts and social media posts.

Civil War Days at Calico Ghost Town

Here’s a great day trip coming up on February 17-19, 2018!

Calico Ghost Town in Yermo is a great way to live some history! And a Civil War Reenactment only adds to the day! Check out some age-appropriate books, websites, and maybe a movie before you go and then spend the day (or the weekend) in Calico!

Click HERE for the details!

Enrichment Club Schedule – Yucca Valley

Enrichment Club Update – Thanks to those who came and helped plan our next couple months of meetings! It’s so much fun to work with you guys and come up with exciting stuff to do with our kids. Here is the outline we came up with! Mark your calendars! Reminders will come out weekly on Tuesday on the Morongo Basin Homeschoolers Facebook Page and in the Friday Newsletters.

September 28 – No class – McCallum’s “Chinese Acrobats” is playing.

October 5 – 11am to 3pm “Little Free Library” project build!
This gathering is essentially free but donations will be accepted to cover building expenses. Annie and Tony will be leading the kids in building a small box for our little library. The box will be planted at the Yucca Mesa Community Center and listed on the “Little Free Library” website and app. We’ll be accepting donations of any books as well! If you’re interested in the details of the project please visit Little Free Library.

October 12 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30pm Felting with Katie
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

October 19 – No class – There is a free Homeschool Day at the La Brea Tar Pits! Get together and carpool! Details are on their website here.

October 26 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30pm “Gratefulness” project with Christa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

October 27 – Halloween Potluck/Party 5:30pm to 8pm
Costume parade? Bobbing for apples? Bounce house? Everyone pitch in where they can on decorations, food, and games! Let’s have an old-fashioned (small child-friendly, read “not too scary and gory”, sorry) Halloween Party! An “Event” will be created to RSVP!

November 2 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30 Fabric Art with Loisa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

November 9 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30 Fabric Art with Loisa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

November 16 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan & Fun Napkin Folding to show off at Thanksgiving!
12:30 “Thanksgiving History” with Christa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

December 7 – 12 to 4pm – Winter Holiday (politically correct to include everyone) Potluck and Crafting Party!
We’ll be building “gingerbread” houses so bring some candy decorations, graham crackers, gingerbread walls, and frosting to share.
Also, we’ll have crafting stations headed up by our awesome parents so that kids (and parents) can come around and learn how to make something cute for the holidays. If you’d like to have one of these tables to share at, chime in on the event page when it comes up!And then we’ll be taking a LONG break from each other until after New Year’s Day!

And then we’ll be taking a LONG break from each other until after New Year’s Day!

As per the Homeschooler Creed, all times are approximate AND the day will be generally free flowing and organic. The best thing to do is bring a lunch, some toys or games to share, and expect to be there all day. Kids flow in and out of activities as they have interest and are welcome to play in and around the property as they wish. You are responsible for your own children’s behavior and we all need to be aware of what our kids are up to so that we don’t damage anyone else’s person or property. This is not a “drop off” activity.

The  cost for these events is as follows.

$35 per family if you pay all at once, this includes all 7 days!

$6 per family if you just want to drop into a few of them.

This covers the cost of renting the room for the day but not the materials. There may be additional costs for each class or requests to bring supplies with you. Personally, I think it’s a pretty sweet deal!

Email info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com with any questions, including the exact location. We hope to see you there!

Fall/Winter Activities in Yucca Valley

The city’s parks and recreation department has posted it’s Fall/Winter activity guide! There are lots of great things to do in town. Octoberfest, Gourd Festival, Halloween Party, and lots more.

Riley’s Stone Soup Farm Homeschool Day

There’s another Homeschool Day coming up in Oak Glen! Riley’s Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Farm has announced its own Homeschool Day, October 6 & November 9th.  For more information and to make your own reservations, click HERE!

Friday’s at Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym

Come climb with a great group of Homeschool families every Friday from 11am – 1pm. All ages are welcome to come with a parent.


Only $10 per child for climbing and equipment!


Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym
19160 McLane Street
North Palm Springs. (760) 671-1101
climbdesertrocks.com