Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homeschooling: From McDonalds to Mountaintop

Looking up on Stone Mountain
Looking up on Stone Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are camping at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia this week. It was raining this morning, and I knew my husband had to get some work done. Getting the kids outside wasn't much of an option with the rain, so I decided to remove them from the premises. After a couple shopping errands, we landed at a McDonalds for lunch. I brought coloring books and my homeschool materials with us. After eating, we had a homeschool session right there in the McDonald's. It went very well. We talked about the parts of a book and what an author and illustrator means. We also talked about the idea of personification and what it means to boast, which were in the story we read. I could tell Jonah was understanding and enjoying the lesson even as he drew an Octopus on a a piece of notebook paper. 

After reading another book or two, the sun started shining so we headed back to the RV..... except I decided to take the long way and find the other entrance to Stone Mountain Park. I enjoy taking unexplored detours. 

Upon entering the gate, I saw a sign for a historic trail. Not knowing exactly what that was I asked the kids if they wanted to take a "little" hike - thinking we would investigate a future excursion. Once out of the car, I realized the sign identified a trail going up Stone Mountain. After hiking a little ways, I was indeed convinced that the trail eventually took you to the summit. I decided we would go as far as the kids were willing and possibly come back with daddy one evening to complete the whole thing. I would periodically ask the kids if they were ready to head back to the car to which they they indicated a desire to keep going. We eventually came to a bare rocky spot that I thought may mark the halfway point. I asked them again if they wanted to head back. Perhaps thinking they were almost to the top, they again said that they wanted to keep going.  And so we kept on. Elisabeth was so cute hopping over rocks and seemed to enjoy finding the hardest route with the most rocks. They both would stop here and there to investigate a bug or some other interesting item, while I enjoyed reading the engravings along the rocky surface beneath our feet - some dating back to the 1800's.  
Taking a break
Finally, I knew we were getting close to actually reaching the top. Of course, this was the point where the kids started to complain of being tired. Keep in mind this was not a planned hike; I had nothing on me - no water, no snacks, no money - just my keys and my phone. So close to the summit, there was no way I would turn around now. So, I reminded Jonah about what he learned about boasting. As a means to motivate them to get to the top, I asked if they wouldn't like to boast to daddy that they made it all the way to the top all by themselves. They both said yeah and Elisabeth even stopped holding my hand so that she could take full credit for her own accomplishment. I had to use that ploy about three times, but it did the trick. We all successfully made it to the top of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Yeah! I was very proud of them as you can tell. I thought their accomplishment was pretty good considering that they are only 3 and 5 years old; it was certainly beyond my expectations. We called daddy from the top where thankfully there was a water fountain and bathroom (and a full-blown visitor center with concessions - here's where the money would been useful). We were able to see the campground and even make out our RV from our vantage point and my husband was able to see us through the binoculars.  
Looking down toward the campground
So we had a mountain top experience today....  It's good to know that some times it's easier getting to the top than it would seem looking up from the bottom. The hope of the end being just around the corner and being able to share the experience with others is a helpful motivation for continuing on until you reach the goal.  
Atop Stone Mountain Georgia with the Atlanta skyline in the background
Going down
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