Jul 312016
 
Scene: The Byrd Theater, Richmond, Virginia, midnight.

Scene: The Byrd Theater, Richmond, Virginia, midnight.

After watching her children fill their summer reading logs with Harry Potter, the Briggs Mother scours the closets for Harry Potter-ish clothing, having a bit of luck that last year’s Halloween costumes included 2 Harry Potter characters.

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The Briggs children reluctantly slip into their costumes and are excited by the prospect of being out so late at night. The family loads into the minivan and drives south to Richmond, Virginia during an exciting thunderstorm. Heavy rain falls as thunder and lightning enliven the night sky. Along a country backroad, they encounter a black and white owl (Hedwig perhaps?), frogs are hopping in the puddles and deer hide in the meadows.

They arrive in Richmond just before midnight. The storm has stopped. At the Byrd Theater, a line of people stretches around the block. The crowd is full of Harry Potter fans, some in costume and some wearing more subtle costumes like Quidditch team T-shirts. As the children take their place in line, someone calls out from the crowd, “You are winning at parenting!” People walking by stop to chat with us and admire the costumes.

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A few people have these realistic looking stuffed owls.

A few people have these realistic looking stuffed owls.

If they are nice, they might even let you hold it for a minute.

If they are nice, they might even let you hold it for a minute.

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As midnight approaches, the Chop Suey bookshop owner appears in wizard robe and hat and counts down. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 .. . . the crowd erupts in cheers and bookstore workers cut open the boxes and start distributing books. Everyone starts reading in line.

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After a while, the Byrd Theater opens its doors and people stream in. The theater is a gorgeous historic gem, complete with velvet seats, curtains, paintings and carvings on the walls, a balcony and a piano and harp in the wings.

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The crowd settles in and after a short wait, a rotation of attendees begin reading from the first act of the book. The Briggs daughters listen to the performance, following along in the book. The youngest Briggs is too excited by the theater and runs through the empty back seats the entire time. The Briggs Mother follows closely behind.

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As the reading ends, people begin streaming out of the theater. The youngest Briggs daughter asks to purchase one of the delicious cupcakes being sold in the lobby. The Briggs Mother agrees to get one to share and as the daughter is selecting her cupcake, the cupcake purveyor inquires, “Would you like to try our sorting hat cupcake?” “Oh yes!” the Briggs daughter replies and is rewarded with a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.

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The family piles back into the minivan for the drive home with the oldest brother sulking that he wants his own cupcake. Everyone tastes the rich, gooey confection and discovers that the center appears to be peanut butter filled.

“Hufflepuff!” comes a cry from the backseat.

END SCENE

 Posted by on July 31, 2016 General Tagged with: , , , ,
May 192016
 
two girls wearing "smart is beautiful" T-shirts

Smart is beautiful, indeed!

When I posted a few weeks ago about finishing our math curriculum, I casually mentioned that we will move on to learning JavaScript. Readers Bertie and Mama Paul asked for details on what materials we are using to learn computer programming.

Per usual, I will give a long answer to a short question.

We decided last year that one of our goals for our children is that by the time they graduate high school, they should be proficient in computer programming in some way. Since increasing use of computers and technology is the way of the future, we feel that this is as important as being good at math or English. We haven’t nailed down the goal to a specific just yet and for now are just getting our feet wet in the world of learning computer programming.

My husband is one of those amazing self-taught people in computer programming. He will tell you that he is no expert but compared to the average person, he has mad skills in not just one but many computer languages. He learns by reading books.

I know almost nothing about computer programming. except for a little HTML. When I first moved to Washington, I tried learning C++ by reading a book during my commutes on the Metro. Since smart phones and tablets weren’t invented at that time, I was writing the exercises down on paper. When I told my husband this was how I was trying to learn C++, he told me that this was ridiculous and that there was no way to learn computer programming without sitting down and doing it at a computer. Sure enough, when he tested my knowledge by having me type one of my exercises into the computer, it was full of errors and didn’t work.

Through a lot of trial and error, I have come to appreciate that computer programming requires 3 general abilities:

  1. Logical/big picture thinking ability. Knowing how to structure things in the right order or how to creatively achieve a result within the limitations of your available resources.
  2. Mathematical ability. There is definitely an “applied math” aspect to computer programming. Many exercises, even for kids, require knowledge of geometry, algebra and other mathematical functions.
  3. Detail orientation. One of the more frustrating aspects of computer programming is the attention to detail required. If you have a comma or a bracket out of place or if you misspell a word, your program can fail and often you won’t know why until you spend a good deal of time hunting for the mistake.

In my experience, there is a lot of material out there to teach children generally about computers and computer programming but not very much when you want to learn an actual programming language! Learning the actual languages is generally reserved for kids who are at least in junior high and high school or even those in college. So, we have to give a lot of credit and respect to people who have been coding for decades, they are all probably self-taught with not very helpful learning materials to work with.

With my children, we started learning code last year through the website learn.code.org. It is free and supported by major technology corporations. It is about as user-friendly as you can get. You code examples that move around characters from popular video games. The graphics and embedded videos are awesome…but it doesn’t teach actual programming languages. Learn.code.org teaches more of skill #1, logical/big picture thinking. You “code” with blocks of text and you need to know how each block works but the code you are generating isn’t code that really works in any computer language. Sometimes they call this “pseudocode.”

I had to learn along with my children on learn.code.org. It was tough going at first. Making the computer do anything requires a little mental gymnastics to figure out how you can express in code language what you want to achieve. Something like “Draw a circle” requires a lot more code than you might expect as well as knowledge of angles and degrees. We made it all the way through the available lessons on learn.code.org and they did get very challenging at the end!

screenshot of learn.code.org assignment

Example of a “free play” assignment on learn.code.org.

Another activity my children have been participating in is an amazing local program called FredX Coders. It is also completely free! A wonderful group of local people created a coder dojo along with our local university. On select Saturday mornings, usually once a month, kids come in to learn coding along with a parent. My husband takes our daughters. Sometimes my daughters are the only girls in the class. This program so far has taught the kids about Scratch, a free online program that seems similar to learn.code.org in that it teaches pseudocode. The kids LOVE Scratch and play on it for fun. FredX Coders also teaches real languages too, often walking kids through a page of code and teaching them how to tweak various parts of it.

My daughter's first Scratch  game: "Lion Hunter"

My daughter’s first Scratch game: “Lion Hunter”

For this year, I wanted to move us forward into actually coding something in a “real” language. My husband and I discussed which language would be best for the children to learn and settled on JavaScript. I read great reviews of the book JavaScript for Kids by Nick Morgan so thought we would try that.

book cover JavaScript for Kids

JavaScript for Kids by Nick Morgan on amazon.com

So far, we are about 100 pages in to the book. My 7 and 10 year old are handling it well and I am learning along with them. It seems to me that the book would work best for someone at least 12 years old. I was worried my 7 year old would find it too hard but she is advanced for her age and has been doing just fine. My 10 year old seems like a natural at computer programming.

The book is not perfect. For the age group I am teaching, I find that I have to paraphrase many of the pages and talk through each code example in much more detail than the book provides. I also have to take notes as we go and provide ways of reinforcing repetition and recall. For example, the book might just say: “Type var numbers” and I would say to them, “Write code that creates a variable called numbers.”

The early exercises are fairly simple but they are getting more and more challenging. Having a mentor (my husband) to guide us has kept us from giving up.

For example, when we needed to set up a JavaScript console, here is what happened:

screenshot of texts between two people about computer coding

The frustrations of coding

It turned out that it was there and his instructions were completely accurate, just missing one small but important step. You needed to click on a small blank window to the left. If you naturally would expect to have to do this, you are one with the computer! I am not. I need every little step spelled out.

Then, later, when we had to write our own code for one of the code challenge assignments (for which, as far as I can tell, there are no answers provided), we got completely stuck. We wrote some of it and just had no idea where to go with it to finish the challenge. When my husband got home from work, we showed it to him in frustration. He looked at it for a few minutes and then said, “Oh, you made a basic programming mistake of using = versus ==” He then went on to describe how we needed to restructure the program to add in another variable. When you see the answer, it makes complete sense but generating it yourself is excruciatingly hard.

screenshot of JavaScript computer code

The solution to one of our coding challenges. We definitely required help to get this done!

So, that is what we are doing and the book we are using! I need more time with the book before I know if I would recommend it to anyone else. We are definitely learning from it and it is well written and fairly amusing for a programming book, we just wish learning programming languages could be easier!

Are you or your kids learning to code? Do you have experience with any of the above programming resources? Please share in the comments.

 Posted by on May 19, 2016 General Tagged with: ,
Mar 252016
 
This year's math curriculum .... a little worse for wear!

This year’s math curriculum …. a little worse for wear!

Despite all of the messy bits of March, including a monster cold that has overtaken all of us this week, we can claim victory on one to do list item . . . . WE FINISHED MATH!!!

For us, math is the most time consuming part of our homeschool schedule. The curriculum we are using has to be taught individually to each child. My eldest does 5th grade math, my second daughter completed 3rd grade math and my preschooler is making progress on his Pre-K/kindergarten math.

In general, the math curriculum is the one we struggle the most to finish each year. It is always a dash to the finish in June, with a lot of crunch time at the end. It is so stressful. Up until I got sick with flu and pneumonia in November, we had been doing so well to stay on track with the math. Then we didn’t do math for almost a month! When December rolled around, we doubled up and did twice the lessons each day so that we could finish the first half by Christmas and even proudly displayed our completed math books for Santa.

Celebrating Christmas and the halfway point in our math studies!

Celebrating Christmas and the halfway point in our math studies!

After Christmas, we had ski class to look forward to on Fridays so we knew we were going to miss math at least once a week. So, we kept going with the two lessons a day. There was often a lot of grumbling but here we are at the end of March ALL DONE!

Fifth grade math was the first year where math began to get hard for me as a teacher. There were several story problems I had to Google to find out how to solve them. Fortunately, many other parents had the same problem and there are many supremely mathematically skilled people on the Internet who are willing to give answers and excellent explanations! Singapore Math likes to throw in tricks from time to time and the problems I was getting stuck on were usually of the type where you thought you didn’t have enough information to solve the problem until you saw some hidden trick or pattern. People who are great at math have genius skills in seeing hidden patterns.

As a quick summary of what we learned this year.

3rd Grade Math = 681 pages plus 1 ½ notebooks worth of scratch paper

  • Multiplying up to the 10 times tables (I have noticed this is a huge difference between US and foreign math curricula. In the US we tend to go up to 12 because we often need to know 12 times when we measure in feet. In other countries, 12 is less important, because their measurement systems are based on multiples of 10, so going up to 10 is enough. They have tricks for multiplying above 10 that they use instead of memorizing the 11 and 12 times tables.)
  • Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying and Dividing Numbers in the Thousands
  • Long division
  • Measurements in US and International Units (inches, feet, yards, cm, m, kg, lb, oz, etc.)
  • Money – Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing
  • Fractions
  • Telling time to the minute
  • Geometry – identifying right angles, calculating area, perimeter and volume
  • Story problems may require as many as 4 steps
One organizing trick for homeschool math papers that only took me about 4 years to learn is that if you can do all of the assignments, teaching and scratch paper in one composition book, you have a lot fewer papers to keep track of.  So, it takes a little time to copy down the math problems into the notebook but in the end makes a clean, neat record that is easy to store.

One organizing trick for homeschool math papers that only took me about 4 years to learn is that if you can do all of the assignments, teaching and scratch paper in one composition book, you have a lot fewer papers to keep track of. So, it takes a little time to copy down the math problems into the notebook but in the end makes a clean, neat record that is easy to store.

5th Grade Math – 621 pages! Plus 1 ½ notebooks worth of scratch paper

  • Multiplying and dividing by 2-digit numbers
  • Adding, subtracting, *multiplying and *dividing fractions
  • Order of operations – i.e. parentheses first, then multiplication and division left to right then addition and subtraction left to right
  • Perimeter, Area, Volume
  • Equivalent Ratios
  • Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals
  • *Converting fractions to percentages
  • *Geometry – finding unknown angles in complex diagrams using principles of isosceles and equilateral triangles, parallelograms, rhombuses and trapezoids
  • Calculating averages – finding average, median and mode
  • Interpreting pie charts and line graphs
  • *Beginning Algebraic expressions, graphing equations
  • Story problems may require numerous steps, sometimes as many as 7 calculations!

*indicates concepts not taught in our local school system for 5th grade

The scratch paper also serves as a medium of expression for boredom and frustration!

The scratch paper also serves as a medium of expression for boredom and frustration!

The geometry and algebra in the fifth grade stunned me. My husband and I didn’t learn any of this until about 7th grade or so. I checked around with other smart parents and they say the same. We are pushing down so much material to the younger grades. My kids so far are handling it well but I consider them “above average” (a la Lake Wobegon). I hope there aren’t too many children out there who think they are no good at math when really they might just do better on the older, more relaxed schedule.

When I compare the curriculum we are using to the concepts taught in our local school district, it seems we map fairly closely up until the end of 3rd grade. Beginning in the 4th grade, Singapore Math seems to push about 1 grade higher than the school district. Many of the concepts listed for 5th grade math we covered in 4th grade.

I read an article recently praising the Finnish mathematical system for being less pressured. Yet, when I cross-referenced the Finnish standards with what we learned they seemed to be right on track with us for 5th grade math. So, perhaps the Finns slow down sometime after 5th grade but up until then I wouldn’t call their math education programs “relaxed.”

So, what now that we are “finished” with math? We will keep reviewing some things until we take our standardized tests for the year but we are moving on to focus on a kids JavaScript computer programming book. I know nothing about JavaScript but I am learning as we go.

Does our math experience compare to yours? What do you remember about your own math education? Please share in the comments.

Done!  I will be glad to store these books away.  One less thing to have to keep track of.

Done! I will be glad to store these books away. One less thing to have to keep track of.

 Posted by on March 25, 2016 General Tagged with: ,
Mar 022016
 
We all love the sunshine so much we don't mind squinting.

We all love the sunshine so much we don’t mind squinting.

As everyone knows, yesterday was Super Tuesday in Virginia. We are one of the 12 states that have a huge impact on the selection of the presidential candidates.

This year in our homeschooling, we are studying U.S. History. When the presidential primaries began, we started a chart in our living room to track all the candidates and their progress. Our household has a variety of political opinions so we aren’t all rooting for the same candidates.

Results aren't official until they are recorded on our chart!

Results aren’t official until they are recorded on our chart!

I wrote up a short overview of the general ideas that guide the Republican and Democratic party. I read them to my girls. One of them got fired up about the idea of low taxes and announced herself a Republican. The other quietly said she was a Democrat. So, each girl is responsible for tracking the progress of her party. After each primary, they write down the percentages each candidate received and the number of delegates. When candidates drop out, we X them out in red crayon.

Our chart has each candidate’s picture, a picture of their spouse (and ex-spouses) and their children. You would think that this was a fairly mundane piece of information but there were some interesting stories generated pulling this together.

We also color in a map of the United States showing which states are next in the primary contests. It is a great way to review geography, math and history at the same time.

Yesterday, I took all the children with me to vote so they could see how the actual process works.

We observed some interesting organizational things about Virginia’s primary:

1) There were no political campaign signs anywhere to be seen! Not a single candidate had a yard sign or any presence at the polls. The only person at the polls was one person petitioning for fairer redistricting laws.

This lone "Vote Here" sign is all there was to be seen of campaign activity on Tuesday.  It kind of fits Virginia's reputation for understatement.

This lone “Vote Here” sign is all there was to be seen of campaign activity on Tuesday. It kind of fits Virginia’s reputation for understatement.

2) Virginia used to vote on touch screen computers but we have gone backward to paper! I was surprised to be handed a paper ballot, told to blacken in a circle and feed it into a machine. The machine told me my ballot had been received but did not confirm that it recorded my vote correctly for my candidate. One of the election workers said that the change to paper was due to a recent Senate election where the vote was very close. When the election workers went to verify the results, because they were all done on computer, there was nothing to verify. With paper voting, “at least there is a record” she said. She said the paper method will be used for the presidential election in November. I am not sure if this is an improvement.

3) As far as campaigning by any the candidates, we saw very little of anything! Here is what finally reached us:

Marco Rubio’s campaign blew up the phones. We got two Robocalls from Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina on his behalf. (While South Carolina is one of our neighbors, it was odd he didn’t use a Virginia endorsement.) The phones were ringing nonstop (which is irritating) but nobody left any messages (even more irritating!). So, we might have been called by other campaigns but only Marco Rubio’s campaign actually left messages.

The grand total of Hilary Clinton’s campaign efforts consisted of one mass mailed piece from Planned Parenthood.

I was hoping more of the candidates would mail things as it gives us free pictures of them and they make great teaching materials.

I was hoping more of the candidates would mail things as it gives us free pictures of them and they make great teaching materials.

Bernie Sanders campaign sent me a text on my cell phone (addressed to my husband) and I also received a few emails on his behalf.

Bernie's text to me.  I don't know how his campaign got my cell phone number.

Bernie’s text to me. I don’t know how his campaign got my cell phone number.

Ted Cruz showed up in one YouTube video advertisement.

And that was it! For such an important contest, it was surprising that there was almost nothing. Nobody campaigned in the Fredericksburg area. My experience has been that candidates largely ignore Virginia and then want to turn to us at the last minute when they discover we are almost always a battleground state that can go either way.

Here is how Virginia voted yesterday. Since we are a battleground state with a good diversity of opinion, there is probably a good chance that Trump and Clinton will go head to head in November.

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We are having great fun learning about the election. The learning environment is even spilling down to my preschooler. At the polls yesterday, one of the election workers gave him a sticker that says, “I voted!” He really liked that sticker and has been sticking it to a lot of different things. Today, he brought me his own self-assigned copywork:

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 Posted by on March 2, 2016 General Tagged with: ,
Mar 082015
 
Ready to ski!

Ready to ski!

For the past two years, we have enrolled the children in ski lessons during the winter months. We learned that they LOVE skiing. This year, as we were deciding when to start lessons, it was a particularly cold week due to a “polar vortex” and temperatures were in the low digits.

Temperature doesn't mean much in Virginia.  When you add in humidity and wind chill, you have to subtract between 5 and 10 degrees from the temperature.  15 is frigid!

Temperature doesn’t mean much in Virginia. When you add in humidity and wind chill, you have to subtract between 5 and 10 degrees from the temperature. 15 is frigid!

“It’s going to be really cold this week. Do you still want to ski?”
“YES!”
“But, we’ll have to get up really early in the morning.”
“That’s OK.”
“And it will be really, really cold.”
“Our ski coats and gloves will keep us warm!”

There was no excuse in the book that would keep them from skiing. They overrode my reluctance. So, once a week, we altered our homeschooling schedule to allow for “ski day.” We got up super early to make it to the resort for the 9 a.m. lesson time.

We had to be on the road by sunrise and sometimes a little before.

We had to be on the road by sunrise and sometimes a little before.

Just in time for class to start!

Just in time for class to start!

My pregnant body would no longer fit in my winter coat so I told my husband I needed to use his ski coat and pants. He handed them over without complaint. He was surprised the pants weren’t dragging on the ground on me….until I pointed out how high I was pulling them up around my belly.

My husband had no idea that his ski clothes double as maternity ski wear.

My husband had no idea that his ski clothes double as maternity ski wear.

The ski class is grouped by age and ability. It ran from 9:30 – 2:00 p.m. and included lunch. The kids in the class come from all over the world, especially during peak winter holidays. It is a great chance for my kids to interact with all sorts of children.

“Mom, there were some girls speaking Spanish and taking selfies at lunch.”

“Mom, I met a friend today!”

One time, Fairfax County schools were out for teacher work day and it seemed like every kid in the county headed to the ski resort. When I went to pick up my children at the end of the day, my 6-year old was engaged in a cute staring contest with another child.

The ski instructors are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Being around their positive and encouraging personalities has a wonderful impact on my children as well.

The girls spent the entire ski season in the “green” class. The green class is one below the highest level “purple” class. To graduate from the green class, you need to be doing mostly parallel skiing all of the time with very little snowplow/wedge. It is a hard level to get out of. Even my own skiing skills took a long time to get past this level!

Progress on a parallel stance!

Progress on a parallel stance!

Wide parallel turns are the transition from wedging.

Wide parallel turns are the transition from wedging.

Waiting for the ski lift.

Waiting for the ski lift.

This one sometimes skis with a snowball so she can hit you on the run.

This one sometimes skis with a snowball so she can hit you on the run.

Starting to put a little edging into her turns.

Starting to put a little edging into her turns.

Leaning back is still a problem we are working to correct.

Leaning back is still a problem we are working to correct.

Favorite trail this year: Geronimo!

Favorite trail this year: Geronimo!

Favorite trail: Lower Mak Attack!

Favorite trail: Lower Mak Attack!

While the girls skied, my son and I generally headed back to the car to take a nap and sip on hot chocolate until it was time to pick them up.

Relaxing in the car with some hot chocolate.

Relaxing in the car with some hot chocolate.

Last year, he and I had done some simple skiing together but that was impossible this year as pregnant ladies don’t ski. However, one day while registering the girls for class, the ski instructors asked how old my son was. They then informed me that next year he too would be eligible to enroll in the ski class! With that in mind, we wanted to make sure he had at least some exposure to skiing this year so next year wouldn’t be a rude surprise.

Suited up and ready to ski!

Suited up and ready to ski!

I signed him up for a private lesson. He seemed kind of excited at first but as soon as we had to put on all the ski gear, including boots and helmet, the tears and tantrums came out. All of that gear was just sensory overload. When he finally settled down from the gear, more tears and tantrums came when I left him with the instructor.

Not going so well at first.

Not going so well at first.

“Do you want to build a snowman? How about we play in the snow?”

My son just wailed.

I suggested they try to put his skis on and get him moving as he likes skiing once he gets moving. They tried but my son would not cooperate. A more senior instructor came out to help and after about 5-10 minutes, they came over to me,

“You know, not all 3 year olds are ready for ski lessons. We can’t work with him like this.”

Since I had already paid for my non-refundable hour of lesson, I asked if I could work with him a little and see if we could at least get his skis on and then the instructor could finish up with whatever time was left in the lesson.

“Go ahead and try,” they said dubiously.

I went over and gave my crying son a big hug. We walked around the ski learning area for a bit. He stopped crying and looked up at me and said:

“Mom, do you want to build a snowman?”

Even through his crying, he had heard and understood every word they said to him.

“Sure!” I said and we proceeded to build a small snowman.

“Do you want to put your skis on?” I asked him.

“I can’t balance on my skis,” he said

“Well, let me help you!” I said. We got the skis on and I started pulling him around the ski area. The ski instructor saw him and came over.

“Do you want me to put my skis on too?” she asked him.

She put her skis on and within less than a minute, my son went from holding my hands to holding hers and they went off to ride up the gentle hill on the ski escalators.

Finally!  A smooth transition with no tears.

Finally! A smooth transition with no tears.

“What did you do to make him cooperate?” the senior ski instructor asked me after they skied off.

I told her that he just needed a little reassurance. While common practice for preschoolers is to have mom drop off the kid and then disappear while the kid “cries it out” for a bit and then calms down, my son doesn’t like this pattern. He likes to have me there to help him gradually transition to new situations.

Next thing I know, he is high-fiving the lift operator!

Next thing I know, he is high-fiving the lift operator!

And smiling!

And smiling!

After the lesson ended, he still wanted to ski! He was “shuffling” off on his own power.

Unfortunately, we had to stop. He looked forward to getting out of his ski boots and back into his “car shoes.”

And the next week, he transitioned much easier and had his full one hour lesson!

Smiles from the start this time!

Smiles from the start this time!

Having a great time!

Having a great time!

As I was filming my son from afar, some mothers nearby commented, "Look at that itty bitty on the lift!"

As I was filming my son from afar, some mothers nearby commented, “Look at that itty bitty on the lift!”

He looked forward to his “skedding” lessons.

The other big change in our ski lessons this year was that the girls had the chance to ski in Utah at one of the major resorts. I always wondered how our Virginia ski lessons (which I find to be excellent) would compare to those of the major ski resorts.

To our delight, the girls did very well in their Utah skiing. The slopes were steeper and the altitude thinner but they didn’t think it was any harder than their Virginia skiing. They received excellent reports from their Utah ski instructors too.

The gorgeous Utah mountains.

The gorgeous Utah mountains.

2015-03-07-utah-trail

My daughter got her first lesson in using ski poles from her Utah instructors.

My daughter got her first lesson in using ski poles from her Utah instructors.

Utah skiers!

Utah skiers!

After ski class was over, the kids always loved to have a little time to play in the snow. They were plenty tired but loved to slide down the small ski slopes, especially my son!

Some apres-ski sledding!

Some apres-ski sledding!

My daughter collapsing after lessons.  While this looks painful, she is just naturally this flexible.

My daughter collapsing after lessons. While this looks painful, she is just naturally this flexible.

2015-01-09-apresski

Organizational Tips for Skiing

  1. There is a LOT of gear involved in skiing. After 3 years of practice, we finally have this down to a system. Each child needs: ski coat, ski pants, helmet, balaclava (full face hat), goggles, ski gloves and ski socks.
  2. We store the goggles, balaclava and ski gloves in each child’s helmet and make each child carry his/her helmet to and from class.
  3. The night before we lay out all the gear and pack a lunch.
  4. The morning of our expedition, we boil water and put it in a big thermos, usually mixed with hot chocolate.
  5. Each child wears rubber rain boots to and from class, changing into ski boots at the lesson site. This makes walking through the parking lot much safer and faster and minimizes the weight of the boots that mom has to carry.
  6. After lessons are done, we make sure we have goggles, balaclava, 2 ski gloves and the helmet packed back up.

Next year, we might add to our gear challenges by purchasing skis and boots for each child. We have done well with renting so far but it would make the check-in process for lessons much smoother to avoid the equipment rental process, particularly if we will be adding a third skier. We bought the used skis and boots my son was using for $50. They paid for themselves in saved rental fees.

Our 2015 ski team photo.

Our 2015 ski team photo.

Anyone else skiing this year? Any tips to share on managing gear for gear-intensive sports? Please share in the comments.

 Posted by on March 8, 2015 General Tagged with: ,