I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. With the exception of a few months living in a barn in Saint Gabriel, I’ve lived here my entire life. I love this city in a sentimental way. If someone asked should they move here, however, I’d shrug and say “meh, probably not”. I’m not the only one. Anytime you hear someone say “we just moved here” they are always met with a confused face and a resounding “why!? Husband’s job?” 98% of the time, their response is a glum “yeah.”
God bless the chemical plants.
Baton Rouge is a great city to live in if you love to shop, eat or sit in traffic listening to commercials about shopping and eating. Also, football. For anything else, however, you have to dig a little deeper.
Last year’s homeschooling was mostly about not giving up; any outings we took were just to get relief from the trailer. This year I want to enrich our school year more. Once a week, I want to get out of the house. Once a month, I want to take a break from our curriculum schedule and spend a day on one topic or holiday (i.e. make lots of crafts). Finding things to do, took a little bit of work. Part of my homeschool prep this past month has been finding fun, inexpensive things to do around town with the kids.
We’ve joined a local, Catholic homeschool group that I am very excited about. We’ll have the opportunity to meet up with them on park days twice a month. The group also organizes field trips, clubs and parties. The two oldest girls have joined their chapter of The Little Flowers Girls’ Club ; they’ll meet once a month, on a park day, with other homeschool girls age 5-10. The girls will get some extra catechesis and spend time in a group away from me. Me and the little two will get some relaxing social time playing at the park with the other homeschoolers. It’s a win-win and a guaranteed “outing” on one week each month.
For a few years now, we’ve maintained (through birthday monies) a family membership to our local Arts and Science Museum. In addition to the permanent displays, including a real mummy, the museum rotates art exhibits and boasts two hands-on science rooms: one for little tikes and a more science-heavy room for older kids. The little kid’s room is huge with all kinds of imaginative play things. There is a sectioned off part for toddlers and a fully stocked craft corner. They have suggestions of crafts to make, or you can just go crazy and make up your own. Oh and did I mention the planetarium and DINOSAUR HEAD?! If we time it right, we can see any of the IMAX shows too, included in our membership. It’s a great place to spend a day and since we have the membership, even if we go for an hour and just play in the kid room, we are still coming out ahead. It also has the benefit of being right on the levee near a river walk. This plus the trek from the parking garage means kids are fully worn out by the time we leave. Score.
I’ve been hunting around for more options like the museum for semi-regular visits. The Zoo costs $32 just to walk through the door; the fact that it is the complete opposite side of the parish also means lunch out. They do offer a discounted time, just before rush hour picks up on Wednesday. Only $7 to get us all in for an hour followed by 2 hours in traffic to get home? Not so inciting.
This spring, we finally went to The Bluebonnet Swamp. Two dollars a person to get in, 102 acres to tramp through plus a large indoor visitors center with reptiles galore to look at. They also offer different event days throughout the year. Oh and best of all, one of the three or four trails you can take leads you right to the Bluebonnet Library. Do you know what they have at the Bluebonnet Library? Books! A trip to the swamp, hike to the library and back means happy, exhausted kids. You can bet a family membership ($45 for a family of 6) will be on Evangeline’s birthday wish list this October.
The Bluebonnet Library is a good, every day library. But the Main Library on Goodwood is our fancy library. The wonderfully air conditioned library has one of, if not the, biggest children’s sections in the parish system. A lot of low stacks (and stacks and stacks) of books, plenty of computers and multiple comfortable reading areas. The “new” main library was finished a few years ago and now the BREC powers-that-be are focusing their attention to the surrounding acreage. Thankfully, they’ve left the Botanic Gardens alone with the calming Iris Pavillion and enchanting rose garden. The crepemyrtle prominade is also left in tact which now leads to a fully updated, up-to-code, mercifully shaded, playground. Again, spend a little time inside with books, a little time outside in nature and everyone goes home happy. Noticing a trend to what I look for when taking the kids out?
Speaking of nature, I’ve found the biggest Baton Rouge gem of them all: The Burden Center, Botanic Gardens and Rural Life Museum. Tucked away behind what’s become medical-metropolis on Essen Lane, the Burden Center is over 400 acres of gardens open to the public. We’ve been to the Rural Life Museum hidden in the very back for Halloween and Christmas events and had a blast. It would only be $18 for us to go to the museum during regular hours, but for one reason or another, we’ve never gone then. Now that I know the gardens are open and free, I expect we’ll be there a lot, especially when we start studying local plants.
Our homeschool will officially begin on September 4 and I’m hoping all this leg work I’ve done looking for fun outlets will pay off. If we can keep on the straight and narrow, this year can really be a lot of fun and very enriching. I can’t wait to start our routine at home and get out and do fun things around town.
What is it like homeschooling in your town? Where is your favorite place to bring your kids in Baton Rouge?