Homeschool Week 20 | December 14

This week wasn’t much unlike last. We flowed through our learning goals, completing many of the same tasks while adding in a few of the others I suggested last week. 

Mondays, I usually work on finishing and editing the weekly post. Myles has started pulling out his laptop, and “working” with me. 

Myles working on math on Khan Academy while I wrote last week’s blog post

He worked through a section of math on Khan Academy and practiced one typing session. Then he told me he wanted to look for Minecraft to purchase. Because I was working, he had to look it up himself or wait until I was available. This led to him checking Steam and finding game suggestions like the one searched for, further leading him to find a similar free-to-play game, Cubic Castle.

After playing awhile, I suggested we make lunch, so he shut down his game. Then he realized he didn’t have anything to do while he waited and chose to practice more typing while he waited. I’ll highlight this below, but for now, let’s stick with the content we worked with this week. 

We looked around YouTube suggestions and were intrigued by a video called Why the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Don’t Mix. We moved on to our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia*, incorporating the previous lessons on the individual states of matter and exploring how matter changes between states. We split this into a couple different visits to our encyclopedia, exploring one aspect at a time, such as water through each state, and then other elements as well.  

One conversation led us to discussing precipitation, which we then attempted to look up on YouTube. We found several videos on the rain cycle, but they weren’t interesting enough to keep us pursuing more information there for long. I had intended to find a video on how hail is created, to show another aspect of matter changing within that same cycle. This is the beauty of homeschool and doing it at our pace. Instead of fragmented ideas, we find how the parts connect, how we connect with the world, and how it all ties together. 

*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 had requested our subscription to Kiwi Crate be switched over to the Atlas Crate, as mentioned in a previous post. It seems this last one may have already been in the shipping process, so we received one last Kiwi Crate for now on puppet engineering. Myles followed steps for making a marionette with animal faces, and had an opportunity to explore how gravity worked with the puppet. 

Myles with his Kiwi Crate marionette

We repeated math, science, and typing throughout the week, also continuing our current reading. 

Myles has started to fill in the gaps of his time with several of these things, going naturally to them out of habit and interest. That’s often how I slide through my day as well, and I love seeing him choosing things to do to keep him entertained. Sometimes they’re games, sometimes they’re academic. All the time, he is learning from the things around him. I’m not going to say the content doesn’t matter, but content of interest will make the biggest impact. 

We like to choose simple resources, often free, if that’s what we can find before looking for something to purchase. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive programs to give your child a whole world of information to interact with. Sometimes when you do that, you want to put a lot of pressure on them to get the most they can out of those resources instead of letting them take in information at their own pace. 

Investing in your learner over the resources will keep them absorbing knowledge from everything around them. It can be difficult to adopt this mindset, but I’ll share why I personally believe it’s crucial and continuously work toward it.

This is all based in trust, and it can be hard to feel comfortable with it when we live in a society that naturally distrusts children and has unfair practices toward their submission and obedience. 

I believe it’s my responsibility to help my child navigate through life. I see my role as a life coach, not a dictator. He has everything he needs to create his life, already within himself. I provide support, perspective, and offer clarity and guidance. He makes his decisions, learns to trust himself, finds his inner voice and learns to use intuition as his clearest guide. I try not to confuse that voice with my own experience, training, and trauma. 

From those beliefs, we create this homeschool and life as a team and as individuals. It’s a practice and a lifestyle that lets us all operate at our best.

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Homeschool Week 19 | December 7

Myles and one of our dogs, Maple, enjoying the sunshine

Some weeks, it feels like we didn’t really do anything noteworthy or much homeschooling at all. 

I start to think, “You have a blog to keep up with, what are you doing?!” And then I remember, this is the life I have intentionally set up.

This week it looked like  “…but you just took a vacation, you should be refreshed and jumping back in strong”

Then I quickly remember I no longer tolerate self-bullying, so I take a second to assess the situation away from the ingrained guilt – the kind I don’t want to instill in my own child, which is another huge part of why we do this to begin with. 

Why do I feel this way? Do I need to make a change or do I need to check my expectations? 

Acceptance isn’t always instant, but it usually doesn’t take long to realize I’m on the path I have chosen, and it’s the pretty scenic route through the forest. We’re not driving to adulthood on the interstate – how boring! 

This was a plain, unexciting week. The kind that is just everyday life, neither good nor bad, though encompassing moments of both. We existed, did things we wanted to do, continued our learning goals without making a big deal out of them, and played extra video games.

As I look back, I realize two of those days I was working on blog posts. Myles got out his laptop, sat on the couch across from me, and worked on his typing and math. Of course, he also played CardLife. 

At one point, he was frustrated with math, and I suggested putting it away until it made sense again or I could offer more help. A little while later, we both took a break and started book 8 of Death Note Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-13 with Premium*.

Later in the day, I needed to give my post another read through before publishing, so I suggested Myles read some books in his room. He let me know he had been enjoying Dr Seuss, and that he had read Fox in Socks (Beginner Books)* and Are You My Mother ?*.

The next day I wanted to be more available the whole day, so I set out to make it a fun day. We didn’t start our homeschooling until after 11 PM. It worked perfectly, so why not? We played video games and hung out, cleaned up the house, made pizzas and watched a show, played more video games, and then….“Hey, let’s do some learning time!” followed by an enthusiastic “Okay!” 

It worked out so well. I asked Myles if he would show me what he was struggling with at math now that I could focus on it with him. It turns out he had made 100%, didn’t know how to get to the next section, and was frustrated about missing a question when redoing the same section he was ready to move past. We looked at the next unit together, watching the introduction videos and Myles insisting on doing several sections even though I was waiting with the science book. 

We finally pulled out our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* and looked at the pages about liquids, discussing in detail and adding our own examples. We even talked about how it applies to the fluidity of our lifestyle. Like how water molecules don’t change their distance from each other but can take the shape of their surroundings, a fluid structure helps me hold things together while letting them take whatever shape they need. Undeniably a water sign! We read a bit more of Death Note and went to bed.  

The next day we talked about gases, listened to our audiobook Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5*, and read a couple more chapters of Death Note. I suggested typing, and Myles pushed back that it was hard now. We took a look at it together, and found that he hadn’t logged into his account and had somehow stumbled into lessons above his skill. Once I signed him in, he wouldn’t do anything but practice for a while. He’s definitely improving, and I love that he feels it’s fun to learn while being as useful as it will be for him to know.  

*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.

One last thing to share, but I’m going to put it after my conclusion to make it easy to skip for anyone who may not want to to see it. Topic: processing meat, including a photo (not graphic)

What I could have accepted was a week we “didn’t do anything special” turned out in retrospect to be a week that our schooling flowed so effortlessly into a week that didn’t specifically focus on it. If this is the baseline for our new learning goals, I’ll call that a success. 

For next week, I’ll keep in mind that we could explore some YouTube videos together and start another Kiwi Crate. We have magazines to catch up on, and I’ll set these things in a little bin together as a simple reminder for things we can explore if we need a spark. If it happens to be a week that sends us in a different direction, we don’t have to resist the flow to try any of these ideas instead. 

If you’re also an ADHDer, does fluidity work best for you too? 

********

Early in the week, Myles got a call from his grandpa, asking if he would come help him process some deer meat. I’m putting this at the end of the post so you can easily stop here if it’s not something you want to read about. There is also a picture of Myles processing meat below if you need to skip that. 

I’m including this because it was a learning experience and something my child enjoyed getting to do. You already know I encourage learning in multiple forms, not just academic ones. I also try to follow Myles’ lead when it comes to what he wants to do. When he was invited to participate, he showed enthusiasm.

We’ve had conversations about whether or not he wants to kill animals for food and how he feels about eating meat that was once a living animal. While there are times I wish I had been given a choice before being fed meat, I do still mainly eat it out of habit and convenience. I’m not here to defend myself, just to be open while also being sensitive to others. I believe it’s a dialogue worth opening and listening to people on both sides. These are decisions our kids will make for themselves at some point in their lives, whether we help them with information and discussion during childhood or leave them to navigate them as adults. 

Myles enjoyed his role as the meat grinder, carefully adding meat and then adorably posing for a photo. His grandpa weighed the meat, he pushed it into shape for packaging, and then I got to wrap it up and vacuum seal it. We were helpful, and Myles gained some life experience. 

Myles helping grind meat with his grandpa

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.

Week 18 Homeschool Insights and a real vacation | Nov 30

If you thought a few days of “no pressure” at-home-time was a sufficient vacation for me, we were both wrong. After a short, but away-from-home vacation, I feel more refreshed and alive, with renewed purpose.  I’m ready to bring more insight and perspective as I sort out how to let this space encompass what I have to share.

Many times I’ve been asked questions about homeschooling, and my answers are less than traditional. We don’t follow a curriculum, we don’t quite unschool, we have a structure but not a schedule. Simplicity is at the core of our homeschool values, but it’s not always simple to explain what you do when there’s no frame of reference for others to draw on; and while it’s fluid, it doesn’t always look the same. 

Then if you’re anything like me, when people say what they do, you may still wonder how. What does it look like? How does it fit together? How does it feel?

I heard complaints from other parents similar to the ones that I had, but I never saw solutions that felt like a good fit or were innovative beyond trying the same thing a slightly different way. 

Those were my motivations for starting this blog – to show what we do and how the flow of it fits nicely into a life we want to create and live. 

To highlight what goes into that creation, I’m restating the closing of my last post:

I prefer to create a structure that allows instead of restricts. If we set loose expectations based on our goals, and then we keep those in mind as we do what we want to do, we create a life we want to live while also ending up where we wanted to go…and the journey is so much better than when we feel like we’re failing to follow a rigid system correctly. 

Also, if you set it up to be fluid, you don’t have to worry about it being perfect because it will take the shape it needs in that time. If this is done with yours and your children’s needs in mind, you all thrive instead of struggling through it. This goes for homeschool and life. I encourage you to live, not just in the moments between the things you have to do. 

I’ll admit for a while, I started wondering why I was even sharing what we do. It started feeling routine and stale. I addressed it and took some time to reevaluate our current habits. A few weeks ago, I shared our updated learning goals, and we couldn’t have chosen a better time to make an adjustment with the holidays also factoring in to how our time is spent. 

It has already been on my mind that the blog is adapting much in the way I encourage us both to adapt our own homeschooling methods to fit our needs and goals. With experience and continued learning, I’m seeing more clarity in the original vision and how to create it.  

Realizing this isn’t necessarily as simple as “how we homeschool” but how and why we homeschool in a way that embraces our neurodiversity, I want to provide a fresh view of my goals and vision for this space and how it may help and include you. 

If doing things “the normal way” never caused discomfort for you, there may be no reason for you to seek changes. You’re absolutely welcome here if you like what you read and crave something different from mainstream offerings. I hope you find useful ideas and maybe learn something about diversity while you’re here. 

For many of us, we could have thrived in the right environment, but it wasn’t available for us. 

I’m creating the homelife my kiddo and I need.

School doesn’t have to be a struggle. Learning comes naturally, biologically programmed into kids, whether their brains are wired to be neurotypical or neurodiverse. My goal is to support natural learning and allow a space for comfortable exploration of strengths and skills while encouraging my child to find his own confidence and inner trust. That goes way beyond a typical education, and I wouldn’t accept any less. 

If you’re used to having to adapt how things are normally done or trying to reshape yourself to fit a world that wasn’t made with you in mind, you don’t have to do that here. You can consider anything provided here as it fits with YOU. Our differences from the norm may also be different from each other. I share our experience, hoping it can provide insight into how we work with our learning and life needs and inspire you to find what’s best for you as well. 

We can then embrace our kids with meeting their needs instead of molding them to fit into the spaces that would limit them. This is one way we make the world more accessible and create humans who aren’t afraid to show up as they are. We give them the permission they need to exist as themselves each step of the way. If you’re still struggling with how you fit in, I give you permission to just be yourself and feel it out. You can get along with others without having to change who you are to accommodate. Read that again if you need to. 

I’ll be focusing on and acknowledging these differences a little more as I’ve become more aware that why I do things differently is to support us in this way. My goal is the same as when I started, my audience may narrow slightly, and my insights may be filtered through the appropriate lens instead of more broadly offering help that was always meant for this audience

The unavoidable truth is that I am a neurodiverse parent of a neurodiverse kid, and my perspective is very much colored by my past needs and the perceived and stated needs of my child. I want to share transparently from that experience. I wasn’t not doing that before, but with more personal awareness, I want to provide more clarity. 

Maybe you haven’t found names for your struggles or frustrations yet, and you’ll see something here that adds a concept to or puts a name on an uncomfortable feeling you’ve had your whole life.   Many of us flew under the radar because what we could do was good enough. The right information can be eye-opening and answers can be life-changing.  

I’ve done a lot of work to understand myself, allow myself to be, and give myself permission to live life differently than I had originally perceived I was “supposed to”. 

If I can use my experience to be a beacon for others searching for help with those same struggles, it makes my personal struggles more meaningful and hopefully saves you some.  

Maybe you have a child who is diagnosed and you want better help for them than you received. Maybe you did just fine, but you don’t know how to accommodate their needs. 

I am not here to tell you what you should do or advise you from a mainstream, professional viewpoint. But isn’t that the point?

I’m a parent committed to figuring it out. I’m years into my homeschool journey, and not so long in my neurotype discovery. I’m committed to creating comfortable learning, academically, socially, and otherwise. 

Our homeschool is a fluid part of our lives, not something we set our lives aside to do. I’ve aimed to create that in my working life as well. 

If you relate to neurodiversity, you’ve probably also experienced burnout and overwhelm. We try to limit that by allowing. You can revisit my statement on how I use a loose structure to keep all the moving parts running as smoothly as possible. It’s the best way I’ve found to work with executive dysfunction and burnout instead of ineffectively fighting against it.

Anyone can choose to homeschool differently. Those who have disabilities or other challenges, can’t necessarily do it the “normal” way and succeed, or if they do, it’s at great cost to their mental and overall health. 

I want to provide a place for support, suggestions, encouragement, and an honest view of life with disabilities and neurodiversity. 

So instead of just being an eclectic free-spirited homeschooler, that’s not quite an unschooler but wholly appreciates the culture and philosophy – I’m all of that and an advocate for neurodiversity. 

I didn’t set out to be here. I didn’t realize how much I truly adapted because of learning disabilities and differences. I somewhat believed what I was told by others that I was rebellious or making it harder than it needed to be, while knowing somewhere deeper that I was searching for what I needed to be happy being alive. Now I realize why. The normal way didn’t work, and I was seeking a way that did. 

Survival is not my life goal. It becomes the goal sometimes when I can’t do any better, and I’m not ashamed to say that here. Overall, the point is creating a life worth living, that’s comfortable and safe for the needs that aren’t always met in the greater world, while being exciting enough to want to live within. 

Since we didn’t have a homeschool week with me gone on vacation and the kiddo spending time with his dad, I thought I would take the time I would have taken to summarize our week to instead acknowledge these points. It’s fairly apparent in the last few posts that my thoughts have been heading in this direction, and I wanted to address them directly while also making an intentional statement on the evolution of this space and what I hope it represents. 

How can I support you? Any questions? Topics you’d like to see me focus on? Perspective you’d like from my outlook?

Homeschool Week 17 | November 23 (Thanksgiving Week)

This was a short week, so let’s approach it with a walkthrough of one day…and my excuse for why it’s late!

I had intended to write about our short holiday week from the beach or maybe in the car as we traveled there. Plans changed, and I went with it. I’ll share more about my thoughts in a follow-up post, and stick to this particular week – or just one day of it – here. 

Monday morning, November 23rd

My sweet boy gets up and takes out the dogs and feeds his chickens. 

I sit down to review my blog post with fresh eyes, and he sneaks in a pile of books he places on the ottoman. I haven’t seen them yet. 

He sits on the couch, when I remind him that we both know he’s not a still and quiet boy. No matter how much he wants to “behave”, he’s just not that boy. He has a fast brain that doesn’t do quiet and still – and that’s (more than) okay!

I remind him that instead of trying to do something unnecessary that’s hard, don’t start with hard. Why don’t you go in your room where naturally being you won’t interfere with my sensitive brain while I need my focus?

He tells me that he has a stomach ache so he doesn’t feel like moving. I know the stillness will be short lived, and I’m aware this time that I’m close enough to being finished that I can divert my focus when needed. 

Moments later he’s scooted across the couch and stolen my blanket. He loves me, he says sweetly. “I’m going to read you The Missing Piece*, Press Here*, and The Giving Tree*.”  

I finish what I’m looking at and close my laptop. Fortunately I’m almost caught up and can embrace the moment without feeling stressed about what I’m setting aside. 

He reads all three books, rhythmically, in sing-song, to the tunes of other songs, adding in his silliness. He tells me when he thinks the sad parts may make me cry. He adds his commentary. He goes back and adds his thoughts or asks questions. He acts like he’s my dad during Press Here so I’ll participate in the role he has chosen for me. 

Then he asked me to set the books back on the ottoman and pick up our manga. We keep reading Death Note for an hour and a half until we’re so hungry we have to stop and make lunch. 

In a sensory seeking mood – likely for me knowing I have unfinished tasks and need to stay alert – we ask Alexa to play Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5*.   We listen through preparing and eating lunch.  

*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.

Myles pipes up, “can I do Khan Academy now?” 

I mentally prepare myself to be supportive through his impending frustration. 

If you can’t relate to dyscalculia, can you imagine loving to read but not being able to know what’s going on when you read it yourself?

We started the math section he hadn’t passed last week, and suddenly he got every answer right, almost instantly. The difference? I printed a number line, which had seemed to help last week when we wrote it out for each problem. 

We were shamed in school for needing tools. “They’re not always going to be there!…” *eye roll*

What is it proving to not use help? I learned how to fight my disability and stress myself out instead of getting it done as needed and then enjoying my life! Anyone relate?

He solved mixed addition and subtraction word problems, while talking to me about them, as I’m lightly scrolling on my phone to be present but not impatient.

“I’m pretty much undefeatable with this number line!” he proudly exclaims.

He was satisfied with completing one section so well, and told me he was going to practice his typing next. Proud and relieved for him, I accepted the win. No frustration on either part.

Seeing him making decisions and having confidence in his skills while getting the support he needs is exactly why we’ve chosen this path. Adapting until it works is truly the way I believe in. 

When he decided he was finished with typing, he moved on to CardLife, an “online multiplayer survival game set in a cardboard Science Fantasy world.”

I read to myself while he played, then I had to ask him to come along on an errand with me. We ended up finding a small disaster I needed to help my mom with, and Myles calmly listened to The BFG* on audiobook in the car until we were finished. Then we picked up our groceries and spent a little time cleaning up around the house before reading together again before bed.  

*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.

The flow of this day was so nice. Not every day is so simple or accidentally full of the best things. Some days we fight against our needs, some days moods create barriers, sometimes we just have to do things we don’t want to do and it breaks up the flow of what we could otherwise allow to fall into place. 

This day was a good example of the lifestyle I aim to create. 

I prefer to create a structure that allows instead of restricts. If we set loose expectations based on our goals, and then we keep those in mind as we do what we want to do, we create a life we want to live while also ending up where we wanted to go…and the journey is so much better than when we feel like we’re failing to follow a rigid system correctly. 

I may repeat that in my next post, as I address how what I’ve learned to this point of blogging about our experiences and in our education journey is going to shape a slightly different focus – or highlight that focus more by directly acknowledging it.

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.