Homeschool Week 16 | November 16

After a couple weeks breaking out of our routine, we sat down to talk about what our upcoming weeks would look like. I like to have planning meetings with Myles so that he has a say in what will be happening in his life. I come prepared with ideas, ask questions, and make suggestions. I pay attention to when he lights up and when he makes the face that tells me he’s not into that idea. We explore and discuss. Then we make a plan. 

Not only does this create an intention around goals that we’ve made together, it also shows him HOW to set goals and plan for the future. 

What do you want to know? How are you going to get there? It also serves as a reminder as we practice that this is how we planned to spend our time. Adjustments can be made as needed. 

We agreed that writing skills are significant, and it would be worthwhile to spend some more time improving them again. I looked for some writing prompts and saved some that I thought he would enjoy. Examples include choosing a favorite animal or choosing between two options and expressing an opinion as to why. To keep it interesting, we could also write letters to family and friends. 

We acknowledged that typing can be just as significant as handwriting, if not more so these days, and Myles was very enthusiastic to start learning. I quickly researched free learning to type games, and he got started with typing.com right away. He was so pleased with the tutorials that I didn’t bother to look for any other resources yet. 

While written communication is important, I want to make sure to offer options that best suit my child’s needs in any given situation. Voice recording may be more useful when creating a rough draft for a story during play, for example. It’s okay to be creative and use the resources you have to your advantage. 

What’s going to be the most helpful in this situation? Do I really need to sit down and get a pencil and paper and think about how to structure my sentences? Or do I need to flow through my thoughts, creating as I go, and then see what I have to work with after the inspired moment. 

My goal is to teach, not to limit. Yes to handwriting, yes to typing, yes to any other methods and technologies that get any particular job done. This teaches so many skills in itself: planning, life skills, choosing, awareness, problem solving.

In our efforts as educators to impart the skills we were told were valuable, let’s be aware that the way we learned isn’t necessarily the best way. Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s ideal – or ideal for everyone. 

Having a toolbox full of tools for different projects is better than having just a hammer. You can do a lot with a hammer, but sometimes needle nose pliers are a bit more helpful. 

Tools should solve the problems we have. If we want to do something, what’s the best way to get it done? 

If you want your learner to practice writing, suggest writing that makes sense beyond busy work. Ask them to write your grocery list. Can they write you an email about that amazing YouTube video they just watched because you can’t listen right now? 

Practical learning will save the boredom of repetitive, busy tasks and the inevitable, “but why do I have to learn this?” followed by stumbling through the same excuses you were fed to keep you busy. They don’t make any more sense than they did before, so why continue the cycle?

By this philosophy, we’ve interacted with math concepts far before they were expected to be learned in school. Fractions, measurements, spacing, and quick calculations are frequently used in cooking and gardening, among other tasks. I’ve gauged Myles’ ability to interact with these concepts over the years. If it’s practical, he sees the solution easily. 

When he was younger, Duck Duck Moose apps were the pinnacle of fun focus, so he would spend time adding a certain number of fruits to a blender to make a smoothie or counting up to a certain number of animals to move on to the next level.

He blazed through the early math portion of Khan Academy years ago and reached a point that the next concepts were too advanced for him to grasp then. 

He has always been quick to answer word problems but will stare at a page of numbers in overwhelm. If it makes sense to him, he can see how the numbers relate and answer it. If he doesn’t answer it almost instantly, chances are he will get just as stuck as looking at bare numbers. 

We picked up Khan Academy again this week, as a part of our new learning goals. He sped through the addition, but struggled with certain subtraction problems. Others were solved effortlessly. 

Watching where he would get hung up, I suspect dyscalculia, though I am not trained in assessment. 

I am, however, a parent who is now aware of learning disabilities and who has experience with her own learning difficulties as well as frustrations with a system that always seemed less than logical. 

Side note: I performed well in school. I also suffered greatly because of it. 

I’ve had my convictions about homeschooling, methods, etc. for years, and it’s becoming more apparent why, as research catches up with those of us who were left behind. 

Why don’t I just follow a curriculum and slow down where needed?

We could. In some ways we do. We are going to continue working with Khan Academy for math for now. Tools are provided and accommodations are built in. 

But really, in general, I don’t want to make adjustments to a “normal” curriculum. I want learning that suits us from the very beginning, not something I have to modify to try to make it fit. One size fits all learning does not fit the neurodiverse. 

I don’t want accommodations. I want a world that matches my ability to process. 

Traditional learning goals cause frustration and struggling in those of us who cannot keep up instead of playing into our very strengths. Significant information is left unexplained and time is spent restating the same fact without any base in it’s conceptual understanding. How am I supposed to work with information that doesn’t have a purpose?

When allowed to learn at our pace, we love consuming information that we can grasp and explore and sometimes interact with. We’re fascinated by the way things work, the why, the how.

We want to learn – everything, all at once – but slow down, let me zoom in on this for a moment…okay! this is my new topic of interest for now. I will learn everything I want to know about it before moving on. 

We’re not doing it wrong, we’re just doing it differently. We’re not trying to be rebellious or refuse to comply, though it feels that way trying to have our needs met. Our brains are wired differently, and as such, we process information differently. We explore learning differently. 

This is becoming more acceptable, but I’m not slowing down our lives to wait until I’m given permission to be confident in what I already know to be true. I didn’t ask for the challenges that come with being neurodivergent. 

I didn’t ask to be different, never fit, be a troublemaker, need to work harder, or have to fight to have the same respect or not be questioned for my every choice. But I will do those things if that’s what it takes. 

I have an obligation to myself and my child to meet our needs in the best ways I can find. 

I always have an awareness of curricula expectations while weighing them with my own carefully thought out values and learning philosophy. 

I know I value life skills and useful information over busy work, always. I don’t mean to vilify curricula, they just don’t have my unquestioning faith. It’s not the be all and end all of my thoughts on learning. It can’t be. 

I’d say we cover what is expected by a typical curriculum in a fraction of the time instead of drawing it out, then we fill much more of our time going deeper into ideas, discussing them, really knowing why instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, but not really caring if it does before we move on. 

Myles has always pursued learning about animals on his own. He was enthralled with the Wild Kratts, and would excitedly rattle off facts he learned. He currently watches videos on YouTube of snakes hatching. (I’m confident his interest in animals fulfills a good bit of standard science curricula and well beyond.) 

To cover more science concepts at our own pace, I grabbed our copy of Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* and suggested we start working through the subjects at whatever pace feels comfortable. We can add in YouTube videos or search for more information about anything that needs further explanation or we feel like diving deeper into. Otherwise, we get a great overview of the most significant science concepts with examples and images for full understanding.  

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

We will continue learning with Kiwi Crate, and as I mentioned last week, I did follow through with switching our current subscription over to the Atlas Crate while we catch up on the extra Kiwi Crates we set aside this summer. 

If you use our Kiwi Co. link, you’ll get a $10 credit (and so will we – thanks!)

Myles finished his kit this week, building the treasure chest to go with his set of Treasure Hunt supplies. 

Myles, proudly holding the treasure chest he assembled

We already spend a lot of time reading, whether that’s sitting down with a physical book or listening to audiobooks. I included it on our list of learning goals, as I feel it should be there. It’s nice to see one thing that comes easily when trying to focus our awareness around a new list of goals. That being said, everything on our list can happen at our pace to keep peaceful, balanced learning with life. 

Some weeks we will do more focused learning and some weeks we will be busier with other parts of life. 

Some days/ weeks we will pursue more because we have the capacity or interest. Other days, honoring our most basic needs to adjust and unwind will keep us from forcing ourselves into more just to say we did. 

Burn out is not a skill I want to teach my child. 

I want to teach him to trust himself. I want to teach him to set goals and intentions and plan from them. I want to teach him how to use his interests and strengths to make his life worthwhile, not to try to cram those things into the moments between arbitrary responsibilities. I want to teach him how to live a balanced life, trusting himself. I want to teach him how to balance executive dysfunction and sensory overwhelm with accomplishing goals and pursuing interests. I want to help him find HIS balance and learn how to continue balancing himself throughout his lifetime. 

Encouraging Curiosity is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Homeschool Week 15 | November 9

Slowing down made a big impact. With awareness comes clarity and the ability to problem solve. 

While the feel of the designated vacation week wasn’t as smooth or joyful as I had imagined, it highlighted some attitudes and habits that we need to work through or move past. 

I’m reminded that when I set out, I knew I would need to adjust after a while. This was always meant to be temporary. I’ve been running at a faster pace than I can maintain for the length of the journey, and somehow I thought taking a short break would do more than help me catch my breath. 

Instead of trying to keep up with everything, maintaining small and big habits alike, we broke our routine. 

This week, we didn’t try to pick it back up the way we left it behind. It served us well in the transitional period in which it was adopted, but then it stuck and it was easier to continue with imperfection than to slow down and fix it…or so it seemed. 

I didn’t set any parameters for this week and basically let it become a second week of vacation. 

Almost more of a vacation in retrospect, not realizing that when I had arbitrarily picked the first week of November, we had ongoing classes that would span vacation and conclude at the beginning of the following week.

Our last class session of Mystery Book Club was cancelled. Myles skipped Inside the Brain as I suspected, and he finished the last class session of Comics, Cartoons, and Concept Art. He watched and listened while eating breakfast. As I’ve mentioned in much more detail in the past, these were free, large-group classes with Varsity Tutors. (Signing up through our referral link gives us each 3 free hours of tutoring. Classes we have shared about have been free.)

Myles waiting for Comics, Cartoons, and Concept Art class

The most requested thing to do this week was reading together.

We started reading the Death Note manga last week, and continued reading through books 2, 3, and 4.  Death Note Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-13 with Premium (not recommended for young kids, use your discretion)

We read a couple more chapters of The BFG* before I requested we check for an audiobook. While it’s a fun read, I would rather let someone else manage those tongue twisters! I asked the kiddo if we could wait until the audiobook was ready through the library, and we listened to a sample to make sure we would enjoy the narration. We can always keep reading if we get impatient while waiting.  

We finally finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Book 4*. I’ve been trying to recall when we first started reading it since I was surprised at how much longer it took us to get through than the others. I do remember the length of this book was what sparked our membership with audible vs library checkout, having over 20 hours of listening time, whereas the first three were between 8-12 hours each. As we received our 4th audible credit, it must have taken us the first three months of our membership to read this one.  

 We just used this month’s credit to purchase Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5*, and earlier this week Myles asked to use a spare credit on The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection: All 22 Stories*, though we haven’t started listening yet.

We had been reading the Wizard of Oz series through the library before the pandemic, and Myles was so excited to hear there was an audio version he could ask Alexa to play for him. The version we bought (linked above) has the original 14 books in the series as well as an additional 8 short stories.

There are other great collections available on Audible, providing 50 or more hours of listening, which is a great value per credit. I’ve noticed there are several other collections included free with the membership as well.

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

I stand by Libby and your local library being an excellent source for checking out books without any cost. Shorter books like The BFG, mentioned above, we still check out instead of using an audible credit.

In contrast, the book I’m currently listening to is over 45 hours long. I would not enjoy cramming that into a two week library checkout, and often, it would be impossible for me to listen without sacrificing too much otherwise. 

Some questions to consider in choosing:
Do I want to read it immediately? Is it going to be worth the time spent listening? Am I going to listen again?

To celebrate the end of our fourth book, we finally watched movies 1-3, ready to watch the fourth anytime. 

Book 5 is over 26 hours long, so we will have a lot of listening before we start another movie. We’ve been borrowing this set from my sister: Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection*

While I worked on cleaning and putting away our large, above ground pool – as mentioned when I skipped stressing over having last week’s post ready on time – I asked Myles to choose some books and tell me what he learned. He read the following books and shared facts about each.

DK Readers L0: Meet the Dinosaurs (DK Readers Pre-Level 1)* (we have an older edition)

Where Do Frogs Come From? (Green Light Readers Level 2)*

Animals of Africa (Planet Earth Growing Readers, Level 3)*

Sometime in the week, he came out of his room, telling me he had read The Missing Piece*. Happy he had picked up a book to read on his own, I responded “oh good,” to which he replied “Why would you say that?! It just made me sad.”   He was cautious about me recommending this to anyone, concerned it might also make them sad. He has a point.

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

Later in the week he watched some videos on his own. We’ve created two YouTube accounts for him so the suggested videos would stay in line with his goals for watching: one for learning time and one for Myles time. 

He enjoys Dr Binocs, which is a great program for answering all kinds of curiosities such as “what if we stopped brushing our teeth?”. Myles watched more videos about carnivorous plants, sharks, and coronavirus, and then told me about what he had watched later. 

We got some extra time together this week, so even though I spent an afternoon putting away our pool, we still had time to start a Kiwi Crate. 

I have a confession to make. We love Kiwi Crate*, but at some point when life felt a bit overwhelming, I put them on a shelf when they came in instead of planning to work on them right away or even soon. Why? I think I may have been trying to keep them put away in my big Kon Mari purge that came before starting this blog.

When we started focusing on a new school year, the next two that came in took priority, and I wondered why I had denied us this fun in the meantime! We have several months worth of them put away, so I’ve paused our subscription for a couple months to catch back up at our own pace, while enjoying the ones we have. I’m considering switching our subscription over to Atlas Crate so we can continue working on the Kiwi Crates we have while having another focus from the Atlas Crate material to balance out what we’re learning. 

I can and have spent all day on Pinterest planning projects or crafts, and I’ve decided that I don’t need to do it myself to be happy with the results. Writing a blog of new projects constantly would overwhelm me. I’m impressed with and appreciative of those who do it. That’s not my strength. I used to think I had to be good at anything and everything, and I am so glad I let that go along the way. 

My favorite thing about the Kiwi Crate is that everything you need is included, down to a small marker you may need for part of a project or even a dab of glue. 

Having a fun kit with planned out information and activities on geography and culture sounds like a great reason to try Atlas Crate as well. It sounds a lot more fun than a typical geography curriculum, and as usual, I’m sure we will be inspired to seek out additional information once the interest is sparked. 

This week, we started a new Kiwi Crate from the stacked-up boxes mentioned above. I read out the names of the available kits and Myles chose Treasure Hunt. We started by learning about maps and then creating our own by following directions in the included magazine. Myles wanted to try the projects on his own, so I gave him space while being close by to help, if needed. He put together some embossed coins, using a template and gold stickers, and then he skipped to the final project which was making a treasure map.

Kiwi Crate provided map paper, a ruler, and red X stickers, but Myles was nervous he would mess up, so I suggested starting with some plain paper and then using the included supplies when he felt like it. He spent the evening creating map after map with different hiding places he marked with a red colored pencil. He enjoyed drawing me and the dogs in various positions on the couch as part of his maps.  

If you’re interested in the Kiwi or Atlas crates, you can find more information here. Using our referral link will give you a $10 credit toward your order, and gives us one as well – thanks!

Myles’ first treasure map of our living room with the coins he made

The awareness the last couple of weeks brought, inspired a solution to some of our issues. When it struck me, I set it up immediately, and we’ve spent a few days trying it out now. It seems to really help – more than I expected – and I’d like to highlight it in a separate post, soon. 

Wishing you a good week, as always!

Encouraging Curiosity is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Vacation Week | November 2

I had intended to publish this post a day late due to working around the weather for putting our pool away. Instead of taking away from our current week, I’m going to go live life, then edit and post when there’s a good time. We will have new book suggestions and more next time I update!

***

This week has come with more ups and downs than I expected. 

I’m not going to sugar coat it, and some won’t like me for that. That’s okay. Integrity is a high priority for me. Being genuine is as well. 

I’m not the mom who effortlessly does all the things perfectly or even the one who tries to look that way. 

I’m persevering and stronger than I want to be. I can appreciate my strengths without wanting to flex them. I’m tired. 

I’ve been tired. 

I also carry with me a drive to move into the future with optimism and curiosity, ready to discover more things that make life interesting and worth living. 

Life usually isn’t just one thing or encompassed by one feeling. 

Sometimes one thing stands out because it’s asking for our focus, like when we’re shoveling hot food in our mouths while putting a couple things away and checking our notifications for the first time in hours and – ouch it burns, slow down – you’re hurting yourself! Those are the things we need to notice immediately, so they take our focus. 

You are also more than one thing. Your exhaustion doesn’t invalidate the things you may feel it’s suppressing. They’re still there, and you still have value. 

When we flatten ourselves, our feelings, or even other people down to one thing, we forget the nuance and we squash creative solutions with the lack of attention. 

When we focus on the good without letting ourselves see the “bad,” we ignore a small fire that can become consuming. 

So I’m not going to sit here and smile and say that we had a lovely vacation full of laughs and tickle fights and magic. Because we didn’t. Let’s be clear, I think Myles had a fine week. I had a rough, eye-opening week “off” that made more apparent the things that have already been weighing on me.

I didn’t think I could escape from reality, I just thought if I gave us a break, the present would slow down and we would embrace it, happily. 

I thought a vacation would allow the space to have more fun and freedom, but instead I found it showed me everything I’ve been glossing over while trying to keep pushing forward. It made me present, and I don’t like where I am. 

But it made me feel. 

It made me notice.

It got my attention in the uncomfortable way that pain usually does to tell us to hurry up and stop hurting ourselves. 

It grabbed me by my feelings and reminded me that expectations are just one possibility and holding onto them too firmly just brings disappointment. 

I am disappointed. I’m also refreshed. I see needs I can set goals around. I see adjustments that need to be made. 

I don’t have all the answers or solutions, but I know what I don’t want, and I can do something with that. 

It wasn’t all bad; most of it was mediocre. 

We had plenty of okay moments, it was just the mood and feel that was off. It felt like too much work, and we weren’t naturally happy or cheerful.

I guess I was expecting some wild and free, being-alive-feels-magical, break in our routine. Instead I felt like the simplest things required too much effort, and too much time dragged between deciding and doing. Transitions were not smooth, and I hate feeling like time is wasted when I have so much weighing on me to do. I wanted to make the absolute most of our time if I was going to put everything else on hold for a week. 

I just wanted it to be GOOD, and the disappointment feels worse than the week itself felt. You’ll see below there was plenty of enjoyment too. 

That’s how the week felt; here’s what we did. 

Myles has been dying to watch The Hunger Games in 4 movie set movies since I started listening to the books. I hadn’t set out to listen to them, but the first one showed up in the “available audiobooks” section of Libby while I was scrolling, and it caught my attention. I figured I could listen for a bit and return it if I wasn’t enjoying it, but three days later it was complete, and I was waiting for the next book in the series to be available! When the kiddo asked if we could watch The Hunger Games, we got our Halloween candy and watched all four movies over the next three evenings.  (We watched them free on IMDb!) You can also find The Hunger Games: Complete 4 Film Collection* at Amazon.

We talked about watching Harry Potter, but Myles decided he wasn’t ready yet. We have watched maybe half of the first one and all of the third, after reading of course! I suggested we could watch the first two or three fully, but he requested we listen to more of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Book 4* through Audible on Alexa, so that’s what we did. I think we’re likely to finish it in the next week or two.  

We have one audible credit ready to use on the next book, and I’m patiently waiting to see what kind of Black Friday sales audible may offer for current members. I have read that they have some nice discounts for new members, so if you’ve been thinking about trying it out, a few weeks from now may be a great time!

As I mentioned last week, Myles had asked if there was a movie to go with the book he read in his first Mystery Book Club, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler*.

I found there was a version made in 1973 called The Hideaways and another version with the book’s namesake made in 1995. We watched them both and found that the liberties they took with the story were very much set in their time periods. Overall enjoyable, but quite a few, “that’s not what happened!” roars from us, as the audience. We both agreed that reading the book was more enjoyable, but we didn’t regret the time spent watching. (We found The Hideaways on YouTube and the 1995 version on TubiTV.)

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

We continued some of our classes with Varsity Tutors even though it was supposed to be our vacation week. (Sign up with the link above gives us each 3 free hours of tutoring. The classes mentioned here were free.)

Each session of Magical Potions has been fun and informative. This week, they talked about density, adding items to a glass of water to see which were heavier or lighter. Before combining, they made a chart with two columns: one to write in their predictions and the other to record the results.

Myles’ density predictions

Next, they checked the acidity of their Halloween candy, adding it to a vinegar solution to see what happened. They made a chart to record which items fell into the acidic or basic categories.

Myles’ results: acidic vs basic

Other classes we skipped out on. Since this session of Mystery Book Club has focused on short stories, we didn’t worry about missing a couple class periods. We will jump back in this week for the final class, hoping they’re not in the middle of a story. 

I’m not sure Myles will want to continue with Inside the Brain, but it looks like there’s only one class left either way. He seems to learn much like I do, so lots of information without any hands on work or connections between the parts before moving on loses us. I don’t absorb facts without understanding how they connect to the big picture. I need a model I can reference back to and put it all in perspective. When we feel curious again, I may seek out additional resources to learn together in a way more suited for us. 

We started a new session of Comics, Cartoons, and Concept Art, a class we had already taken with a different instructor. It probably wasn’t the best time to start a class that took place every day for an hour, that also wasn’t taught by the teacher Myles had loved so much as to be the only authority on art from now on. However, this teacher has been fantastic in considering concepts well beyond our current skill in drawing and planning for the art styles mentioned. While it was beyond Myles’ current interest in making comics, I think he would have loved it last year. We may take a break from structured art classes for a while, but I’ll follow his lead in requesting new classes. 

None of our current classes extend past next Tuesday, and we don’t have any new ones starting. Unless Myles specifically asks to look at the courses available or for another session of a specific class, I don’t plan to suggest any. We may take it easy again next week, with a focus on reading, relaxing, and setting a better tone. 

We started reading The BFG*, enjoying the beautiful weather in our hammock swings. I’m not sure if Myles realizes there’s also a movie. I suspect we will finish reading the book and watch the movie in the next couple weeks as well.  

Reading The BFG outside

Last year, we started reading Death Note. Myles was very into manga and graphic novels, choosing books at the library that offered shorter groupings of words along with pictures. This sparked his interest in reading, beyond wanting to know what video game text was saying. When he picked Death Note off the shelf, I was both excited and cautious, prompting him to let me know if it was scary to him at any point. He doesn’t scare easily, especially when there is logic and well thought out execution of plans, like in Death Note. Instead, he is waiting to see what will happen next and often laughing along with the story’s comic relief character. 

We made it through 8 of the 12 books before setting it down during the busy holidays, and regretfully, we didn’t pick it back up afterward. While we both remember a good bit of the main story, it takes so many twists and turns that we decided it would be more enjoyable to read through it from the beginning than potentially missing something while trying to piece together our memories. With mystery and suspense, Death Note will certainly fill the space our Mystery Book Club classes have offered so far. We read the first book and the beginning of the second this week. There are several sets available, but this is the one we chose last year: Death Note Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-13 with Premium*

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

If you’re looking for homeschooling ideas for little kids, you may want to skip this one. If you have older kids, they may enjoy reading it on their own. This is a good time to note that I don’t often mention age groups because much of what we do can be appreciated because of interest beyond age. 

We played video games less than I expected, though we did spend a little time running around Super Mario Odyssey together. We also took turns playing Breath of the Wild, me picking up my old game and Myles starting over. 

Image of our dog Maple, game controllers, coffee, and Myles snacking to represent vacation

As you can see, we enjoyed quite a bit of media this week. I don’t really try to limit it so much as make sure we fit in our priorities and needs. 

The next post shares insights gained from this week’s feelings. I wrote this one immediately following the week it represents and stepped away while being present with the next week. Taking the time pressure away helped me share vulnerably without over-editing the real life stuff that’s easily skipped or innocently omitted. 

I needed it both for myself and for keeping it realistic. 

Thanks for being patient with me. Don’t forget you can give yourself the same grace. 

Encouraging Curiosity is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Homeschool Week 13 | October 26

This week went by so quickly! Usually weeks spent in anticipation don’t, but we kept ourselves busy enough, preparing. 

Next week, we’re taking a week off from our usual routine. I’ll still be here to talk about it, but the content may be a bit different. Consider it more of an unschooling vacation. I’m saying yes to any requests for video games , YouTube, etc. without trying to fit them around other responsibilities. 

We’ve had a lot on our plate, and Myles has been such a helpful teammate while I’ve started this up, started a new school year with him, and continued working on adding comfort, shelving, and organization to our home. I promised a break after a couple focused weeks of getting as much accomplished as we could. I’m grateful for the weeks of motivation and now the upcoming one to relax. 

While we clean or do projects around the house, we usually listen to music or an audiobook. We made it through a couple more chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Book 4.* Myles has also been listening to Quest for the Diamond Sword: A Minecraft Gamer’s Adventure,* through our Audible membership.

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

For the first time in awhile, we sat down with some physical books to dig into our spooky reading list I created last week.

You can check out the full recommendation list at the bottom of last week’s post, which includes a couple of fantastic gift sets for the upcoming holidays. Book collections are an excellent gift for birthdays or “just because“ gifts (my favorite type!) as well.

We went through our Highlights for Children* magazine, cover to cover, to look at anything we had missed when picking out the pieces that caught our interest over the month. We looked at animals in costume and read about dinosaurs in National Geographic Kids.*

When we’re finished, I file them away in Evelots Magazine File Holder-Organizer-Full 4″ W-White-with Labels-Set/12* Sometimes we pull out past years’ magazines during the month of their release to enjoy the seasonal themes again. Sometimes we go back and do projects or follow recipes we didn’t complete at the time of receiving the magazine, or we do them again!

*This is not a trap; it is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from its use. Thank you for supporting the time and effort I put into providing this content. I only recommend products I have used.

Image of our magazines in the file holders mentioned above

Varsity Tutors continues to provide classes that add fun learning opportunities to our week without me having to use the mental energy necessary to seek out ideas and put them into motion. Because we’ve taken the free, large group classes, most are usually an introduction to a subject on its surface. This is such a great way to know if we enjoy a topic and wish to pursue it further. Once the interest is sparked, we can build from the foundation set in class, and seek out more information until we’re satisfied. 

That’s another thing I love about homeschool and the way we choose to do it. Scheduled curriculum doesn’t leave space for as much creativity and exploration when you have to keep moving forward. Anything extra can feel like moving sideways or backwards, and that’s not the tone I like to set. We let our path unfold as we move along it. 

This isn’t to say our schooling is unorganized chaos; it’s that instead it’s based in confidence around our values, principles, and goals. We prefer a structure that houses our interests over a schedule that dictates exactly what we must do. 

We didn’t start out in this flow. We’ve found it over time. Sometimes a schedule is the best way to find out what you like and don’t like for yourself. Adapt as needed!

The most exciting of our new classes was Magical Potions. Before the mess began, the class reviewed states of matter and spent some time examining physical versus chemical changes. Then they took a few minutes to gather supplies and get set up for potion making. I’ll include a couple of the recipes here in case you want to do them with your kiddos. 

Fizzing Witch’s Potion

Ingredients:
-Vinegar
-Baking soda
-Food coloring
-Small glass jar
-Dish soap
-Glitter
-Spoon or wand
-Baking sheet to contain the mess

Directions:
Add vinegar to a small glass jar (the smaller the better to use less of the ingredients). Add in food coloring and glitter, if desired. Then add a squirt of dish soap. When you’re ready for the mess, put a scoop of baking soda into the concoction, and enjoy the results! You can stir it to encourage more fizzing. 

Image of Myles stirring his Fizzing Witch’s Potion

Color Changing Magic Milk

Ingredients:
Milk
Shallow plate
Food coloring
Dish soap
Q-tips

Directions:
Cover the bottom of a shallow dish with milk. Next you’ll drip food dye into the milk. You can use any colors here, but I would recommend 2 primary colors, so your experiment has a more pleasant color. Once you have a few drops on the surface, dip your Q-tip into dish soap, and then swirl it through the colors, across the surface of the milk

Image of Myles swirling his color changing magic milk

The next classes focused on the gaseous state of matter and then colors of the rainbow, respectively. There are great resources for finding other experiments by Google or YouTube search. You can also look for a class session on Varsity Tutors like we did. This class was free, as I mentioned above. If you use our link and go on to purchase tutoring hours, you’ll get 3 hours free (we do too, thanks!). 

We had the opportunity to sign up for another session of Mystery Book Club, so we decided to see what this one would entail. 

Instead of reading one longer book like our last class, this one has introduced shorter stories the class reads together. I’ve really enjoyed the way this teacher leads, asking students to read a section of text, explaining any difficult words or context, and then reading it again smoothly, himself to keep the story going. Students have a chance to absorb and experience the story differently than rushing over it, though it’s not slow paced to the point of losing interest. They got a taste for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes during the first class period and then followed students on a field trip into a discovery of the past during the next class. 

By the way, we finished From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler* this week! Myles asked if there was a movie, and it looks like there are two! If I can find a way to stream them, we will probably watch them soon. The DVD is available online for $200, so I don’t think we will be choosing that option.  

Kawaii! Drawing Anime & Manga continued this week with a different drawing style each class period. 

The first involved drawing cute animals, with one fun example using a circle for the body and then showing how to make different features for each animal. We then moved into the anime section, learning how to draw heads and facial features as we practiced from three examples. 

For our final class this week, we got the chance to take Inside the Brain, which you may remember we had previously scheduled and then swapped out for another class that took place at the same time. This has been a fast-paced overview into structures of the brain and how they connect, highlighting examples of which parts control which functions. Myles says Mayim Bialik taught neuroscience better, and I don’t think we can fault his current teacher for that.

Image of Myles with past neuroscience instructor Mayim Bialik

I hope you have a great week. I’m looking forward to ours!

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