2021 Homeschool Week 8 | February 22

Awhile back I made a post walking through one day of our homeschool, and I’ve been thinking about sharing something like that again. This week, we had two days in a row that were quite different, and both wonderful in their own ways. I thought it would be a great opportunity to show a couple examples of what our time spent can look like. 

I often share about the things we do, sometimes showing how topics overlap or how we multitask to keep our quick brains moving along. Because we don’t follow an all in one curriculum, I’m always sharing resources and how we interact with them. I’ve talked about classes we’ve taken; how our Kiwi Co. subscriptions have filled science and geography/culture exploration; our Science encyclopedia providing a great introduction and overview of concepts in a more interesting way than textbooks I remember; math on Khan Academy with video explanations and straight-forward simplicity; reading in many topics, styles, and at different “reading levels”; and other short-lived and recurring activities or interests. I’ll continue to share these things.

After last week’s snow, we had sunny, 70 degree days this week. It’s Arkansas, so of course we did. While we enjoyed the snow on the ground and taking advantage of a rare opportunity to play and sled in it, seeing the sun out inspired me to step outside to see how warm it was. I was hot in a long sleeve shirt, and I instantly knew this was a day to get outside. The previous day had been warmer, enough that the remaining snow melted, but everything was muddy and wet. I got a bonus project of washing mud-covered dogs, the same day I got a migraine. Ugh. 

Our morning started with me trying to catch up on last week’s blog post – I’ve been days behind the last couple weeks and trying to gently allow it instead of panicking. Myles hung out in his room and let me know he had finished The Cloud Searchers (Amulet 3)* and started The Last Council (Amulet 4)* from the Amulet 1-8 Box Set*  

*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.

When he came out to chat, I reminded him I wasn’t quite done and suggested some other things he could choose from if he didn’t have any other ideas. He chose to pull a workbook off of his shelf, and look for words in a word search on “beginning blends”. I don’t push worksheets, and I don’t believe he has looked at this workbook in months. He ended up carrying it around and even took it in the car with him later in the week. 

When I felt satisfied with my progress and discovered the weather, I suggested we go downtown to walk around in a new environment and play Pokemon GO for an easy, fun activity. 

I haven’t mentioned my relationship because I haven’t talked about myself so much until recently. Is it on topic? Probably not, typically. In the context of how our day flowed today, I’d say it is. We picked up my…why does boyfriend feel like such an awkward word for someone I’m in a relationship with at this stage of my life…to enjoy our activities, and he participated in the rest of our day. 

We played our game, walked around a bit, and ultimately ended up in an open area to run around. Myles found a few remaining piles of snow, and they enjoyed throwing or punching at the snow in midair. He ran and climbed and made up stories about people nearby while claiming a secret hideout area. I sat and relaxed until the migraine tried to take over again. 

Punching the last of the snow. Why not?

We went home and made a quick pizza, and decided that we would watch Kiki’s Delivery Service,* one of our favorites that we haven’t seen in awhile. Before it was over, Myles pulled out his laptop and started playing Chuchel, a game I mentioned he just finished again last week. He gets attached to things and likes to repeat them. Very relatable!

He played for awhile after the movie, we talked, and casually hung out. When we were ready for new stimulation, we chose to continue watching the show we’ve all been watching together, Cobra Kai. I mentioned a couple months ago that we had watched all the Karate Kid movies after starting some karate lessons on YouTube, and Cobra Kai has been the follow up to all of this fun. 

(When it’s just Myles and me, we’ve been watching through the Arrowverse, which includes many shows now and lots for us to catch up on. We had watched some of Supergirl and The Flash when he was younger, but Arrow seemed a bit intense. When we did try it, he liked it, and we started watching through the shows in an order suggested by a fan’s guide.)

*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 next day was quite different, aside from me spending the morning finishing up the blog post late. Myles had a new class that he had missed the first session of Monday (oops). He decided to log in and try it out to see how he felt about it – that’s usually how we interact with new classes now, from a place of curiosity and not pressure to attend. 

There were lots of videos and things to catch his attention, and he seemed to enjoy it when there was enough going on. Occasionally it was too slow for him, and he would say it was boring. We’re learning how to manage the “boring” parts of life by adding the stimulation we need. If the class is otherwise entertaining, do I just need something to do with my hands while my ears and eyes are occupied? 

Nothing steals enjoyment like the level of stimulation not working for you in those moments. Learning how to identify and communicate these needs is crucial. Words like bored and lazy don’t encompass the depth of the needs not being met. With awareness, sometimes there’s a simple solution. Sometimes we lack interest, and that’s to be respected as well.

Since I was still working when class ended, Myles pulled up Khan Academy and worked through a math lesson. He informed me he had done a typing assignment before class as well. Then he decided to play Chuchel while I wrapped up the final details and hit publish. We had agreed we would make lunch and choose something to do together until his next class.   While I made us toasted ham sandwiches, we listened to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* and continued listening through and after eating, until we reached the end of the chapter.  

I asked him if he wanted to work on his Atlas Crate or look at the next science topic; he chose Science: A Visual Encyclopedia.*

We read the next pages on Water, putting together concepts previously explored such as the states of matter and how water behaves in ways we typically interact with unlike some of the other elements we had recently explored like hydrogen and oxygen, which both have extremely low boiling and melting points that we wouldn’t experience outside of a lab.

We finished moments before Magical Potions started, and Myles agreed he would watch without making the mess again this week. His teacher is expressive and entertaining, while sharing an abundance of interesting information verbally and by slides she shares with all of ingredients, science, and process for completion. This is likely the best session of this class we have attended, while others have also been quite enjoyable…and one was so annoying to Myles that he just instantly quit after hearing the teacher’s voice. Have you been there? 

*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 had a scheduled grocery pickup, so we went for it, dropped off some eggs from our chickens to my grandparents, and came home to realize most of our order wasn’t actually placed in the back of the vehicle. While I called and handled getting the items replaced, Myles went for one of his favorite new YouTube channels, JustJoeKing. 

He had his first Elementary Spanish class at 6:00, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to take it anymore. I suggested logging in to see what it was like before switching plans at the last minute, and he agreed he could do that. His instructor spoke constantly, repeating sounds, showing stuffed animals while stating the animal’s name, and making statements in Spanish as she went along. It seemed to keep his attention, and he tried repeating along after I suggested it. 

I was still busy dealing with groceries and planning to squeeze in a trip to pick up the rest between classes – not a day I needed an extra outing or scheduled item on my agenda, but then really, no day is for my personal preferences. So we did go back to the store to get the groceries they had left out, and we came back home just in time for his next class: Your Immune System at Work. Again, I had to put away groceries and organize, finally getting a chance to prepare dinner as well. I listened in as much as I could, and I continue to appreciate how this teacher presents information. I will look for her name for future classes and feel confident about signing up for them! 

We’ve really had a number of great teachers with Varsity Tutors, and I mention our classes often because we receive great value from them.

We had so much more going on this day, but it went pretty smoothly, even with the grocery mistake. I felt relief at finally being done with the delayed blog post, and we were refreshed from a fun day previously. 

We spent the last bit of the evening winding down with the next Arrowverse shows, as mentioned above, and stayed up a little late to decompress after a busy day. 

The next day flowed beautifully, and I personally spent most of the afternoon organizing and cleaning up around our home. Myles helped me clean up and played between times I asked for help. He’s really good about that, and I appreciate how willing he is to participate while also being able to entertain himself when there’s nothing immediately needing his attention. It wasn’t always this way, but the more we allow things to flow, the more this works for us. 

This particular day, he would show up and say “checking in!” to see if I had anything for him to do. When I’m in my own thoughts, I’m overwhelmed by someone talking at me before I’m ready to listen, which is how he would enthusiastically start. I asked him if he could address me first and give me a chance to be ready. It worked beautifully and turned out to be kind of cute too. I’m also really careful not to create shame for the behavior that I respond negatively to, instead asking for my needs to be supported. 

We had spent the morning finishing the last half of our final book in the Death Note manga and looking over the remaining Adventure Cards in our Atlas Crate. I mentioned both of these in detail in my post last week, including images of the Adventure Cards to show the information covered. I also mentioned feeling hesitant to share about Death Note because of the content, but as we were wrapping up the series, I realized what an interesting way this has been to explore some deep philosophical concepts.

I’m still contemplating the way I will share information here, which will likely shift with my interests from time to time as well, as it does in my day to day life. I plan to share the thoughts I culled from last week’s post if I get around to it without it feeling like too much pressure. 

Do you like it better when I share a walkthrough of our day instead of just the topics and content? A mix of both? 

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.

2021 Homeschool Week 7 | February 15

This week was nice, it flowed, it was imperfect, I was sad, I enjoyed fun moments. I embraced it. Myles embraced the times I wasn’t emotionally available and filled his own needs. He joined me when I asked – which frustratingly for me in the past, he would seem to resist at first, even if he started enjoying it. 

But what that tells me is that HE also has a better balance now to be instantly willing to join in things outside of his world of thoughts and goals. How much have I forced on him “for his own good” without considering his immediate needs and desires beyond furthering my agenda? Oof – that’s the sound of that realization hitting, isn’t it? I have more to say about this, soon.

Myles came back from his dad’s home early and got to stay extra days because of the snow. We were able to embrace the extra time together and consume more books and games than in a normal week!

On Valentine’s Day, he requested we start listening to The Hobbit,* while I made us heart shaped pancakes and he made us a pizza with a heart on it. I used to hate the holiday, but now I accept an invitation to add a theme to the day without attaching extra needs to it.  

Myles sledding in the first real snow I can remember in years

We played in the snow at least once a day, and Myles made several trips outside by himself. My grandpa brought over a sled, and my sweet boy let me have a turn sledding for the first time! He took me on several rides. Eventually each time, my feet froze because I don’t have appropriate shoes for weather we don’t experience often in Arkansas. We would come inside and make cocoa – sometimes we would snuggle up with a book or activity, but more often I would keep moving to warm up. When we’re active around the house, we usually add in some music or an audiobook. 

We continued listening to The Hobbit a couple times throughout the week. We also paused it once to move forward with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* because we were still enthusiastic about progressing that story.  

We are so close to finishing our Death Note Complete Box Set.* I hesitate every time I share about this because in my upbringing it would have been so inappropriate to read at this age, or ever!   But I use my best judgement on these things.  

He had picked it up at the library while exploring the manga section. Of all the books he could have chosen, I was instantly excited to share a series I also loved. I proceeded with some caution and assessed his feelings as we read. He was intrigued, amused, and didn’t seem upset by any of the themes. That was last year, and we put it away for a while when life shifted with the seasons. We came back to it this Fall, and we’ve almost completed the main story. 

This next week, I’m sure we will finish the last half of the final manga. We’ve enjoyed it so much, we have some well-reviewed fan-fiction on the way! I don’t regret letting us dig into this, fueled only by his curiosity and whatever prompted him to pick up that book over others. 

Since the time I started reading these to him to now, Myles has progressed so far in his own reading journey. He has always been interested in stories, but he did not want to read for himself. He resisted it strongly, and after my initial battle to do what we were “supposed” to, I pulled back and let it be. I continued reading to him. When he wanted to know what a word was on the tv captions (thanks auditory processing disorder!) or on a game, he would ask and then he started trying to figure them out. At one stage he started guessing a lot, and I had to check my attitude toward that. He still guesses words all the time, and now I simply state the correct word. He adjusts, and there are no uncomfortable emotions involved in this! 

He’s started reading books on his own as well. While I had encouraged him to read more after moving a shelf and books into his room, he surprised me when he got some new books for Christmas and has delved into the Amulet (1-8 Box Set)* completely unprovoked. He will emerge, telling me he has read more or started another book.

It’s rewarding to see the results after planting the trust. It’s also not instant, and there can be doubt in the interim. It’s okay to have those doubts. We can try not to let them push us into forcing an outcome. Those expectations can be so frustrating for all involved and usually don’t actually create “better progress”. Faster maybe sometimes, but is it worth the cost of resentment? Maybe a continued resistance or lack of interest?

Speaking of reading on his own, this was a week Myles grabbed quite a few books off his shelf to entertain himself while I was working on other things. I’ll list them below since they don’t require any explanation. 

Amazing Sharks! (I Can Read Level 2)*

National Geographic Readers: Sharks! (Science Reader Level 2)*

National Geographic Readers: Polar Bears*

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Things That Go (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)*

Star Wars ® Journey to Star Wars the Force Awakens Look and Find ®*

The Cloud Searchers (Amulet 3)

He also finished his audiobook, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,* which we borrowed from the library.

*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.

Another thing I noticed Myles going back to frequently this week was YouTube, where he watched videos primarily from the channels Lightning Lane and JustJoeKing. He has been really enjoying these as current interests, and it’s fun to see what he chooses independently and how he interacts with the world when I step back. 

He’s also been going to the PBS kids app, Play Games frequently between activities or in moments with nothing else already happening. This week, he told me he also explored the PBS Kids Play and Learn Science app, and he tried an old app he used to play, Moose Math, which he told me wasn’t really doing any math. I recall from the past that this fabulous Duck Duck Moose app (I recommend so many of them!) included activities like making smoothies by adding a certain number of each fruit to a blender or counting and interacting in ways to create something or solve a problem without “doing math” as he said. 

As for the PBS Kids games, he never knows the names when I ask him. He may describe the game a bit, but have you ever tried to talk to a human while they’re playing a game? – I mean, please don’t talk to me, I’m busy. Don’t make me put my headphones on! – The games seem interactive and enticing, and while they’re not intended for academic learning, so much is learned through play and interaction with new situations and environments. So much is unlocked by the awareness of what exists beyond our current parameters.

He also enjoys the game Chuchel on Steam. We did purchase this one because he had to have it after he watched someone play it on YouTube. I love when we can find free games worth playing, but I’m happy to buy a good one every once in a while too. He completed this game again for the second time, I believe, after playing through it originally last year. It’s a really adorable game with puzzles and problem solving. 

I almost forgot to mention his deep dive into language learning this week. I was practicing on DuoLingo when I received a 15 minute XP boost, so of course I was going to take advantage of it. I informed Myles, and he said he was going to try DuoLingo also. He practiced while I was playing, and later when I was taking a shower and doing other things, I found out he had been doing new lessons and practicing old ones for over an hour! He told me he is learning French, Japanese, and German. 

As usual, he kept up with his typing and math lessons on his own, with a quick report to let me know he had done them. 

Together, we explored a few more science concepts in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia.*

Continuing from the periodic table and groupings of elements, we learned about the category of nonmetals. Then we started learning about the individual elements of hydrogen and oxygen, including their uses, density, melting points, and interactions with other elements and us!

We’re almost through the “matter” section of the encyclopedia, and heading into the “materials” section soon. We may slow down a bit and further explore any of the topics so far on YouTube before pushing ahead. There have been some things I thought might be fun to watch on video that we haven’t gotten to yet, so that may be a good opportunity to check them out before moving forward.

We’re still catching up on the magazines we received around the holidays. We get Highlights for Children* and National Geographic Kids* which my grandparents have kindly sent Myles for years.  

We finished the December 2020 edition of Highlights and dug into the January 2021 edition of National Geographic Kids, where we found a 6 page spread on snowy owls. The timing seemed perfect with the rare snow on the ground here, and we enjoyed a discussion of how the owls and other birds care for their young. 

*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 started the new Atlas Crate this week. This month, our topic is Greece, and we started learning about it with the Adventure Cards and travel journal of Anya &Milo, the characters who lead us through their exploration of different cultures.

We read the introduction card with an overview of Greece, and by this point we were talking about where we had seen some of these things before. We decided we would watch the movie Hercules when we had completed the crate and look for any references to the things we had learned about!

One of the cards included was a recipe for tzatziki sauce. We were snowed in, but somehow my grandparents had brought a gyro with some sauce a few days before – so I was able to share it with him even though we couldn’t make our own yet.

I like to take it slow with these crates so we can really absorb the information instead of just rushing over it all at once. We will typically look at a card or two and then maybe look at an activity. Next time, we will look at another card and discuss what it includes.

Here is what the cards look like and how much information they include – lots, but in easily bite-sized pieces. This is why we explore a few at a time!

Front side of Adventure Cards for Greece Atlas Crate
Back side of Adventure Cards for Greece Atlas Crate

I mentioned our Kiwi Crate in greater detail last week and that we had set aside the Atlas Crate for when we had time to spend differently. This week, Myles finished the second craft that came with it, a submarine seek-and-find game. He assembled the submarine window shown below and used the template to draw the fish to be discovered with the paper flashlight.

Myles with the submarine seek-and-find project from the deep-sea discovery Kiwi Crate

If you’re interested in these or other crates Kiwi Co. has to offer, you can use our link to get a $10 credit (we will too, thanks!)

We started a couple of classes with Varsity Tutors and watched one more webinar featuring Temple Grandin. If you’re familiar with the world of neurodiversity, you’re likely already aware of her. While I’m aware she has some problematic history and views, I was interested in hearing from her directly to form my own perception of her. I have been meaning to look into some resources about her anyway, and this was a great introduction into how she thinks and feels. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. 

I asked Myles if he was interested in signing up for a new session of Magical Potions since it’s a fun, interactive class that’s often not just a repeat of the previous session. He agreed, and he was not disappointed with the current teacher and class content. 

The first day, they made homemade ice cream. We didn’t have milk, and we certainly weren’t going to get any during a snowstorm in Arkansas. If you know, you know. No milk or bread on the shelves for a week. 

The next class session, they added vinegar and baking soda to a sandwich bag to create an acid-base reaction that would expand to make the bag explode. Then they made “elephant toothpaste” in a soda bottle to watch it expand and run over. Myles and I were both content with him just watching instead of creating the messes ourselves this time. 

I had also signed us up for Your Immune System at Work and he lit up when it was taught by the same teacher as Magical Potions. I have to say, she is pretty great. I’m also pretty sure she has ADHD, and I love hearing her talk out her thoughts. It feels familiar, and she is FUN! 

So far, she has laid the groundwork for cell anatomy and function as well as organ systems of the body. I’m extremely impressed with the way she covers the content in an interesting way that is informative and not like the monotonous reading of textbook terms. Myles has said he’s bored a time or two, but he has also seemed intrigued. I suggested drawing or something to keep his hands occupied while he keeps his mind available for listening. He didn’t take me up on it this time. 

The classes described above were free, large group classes, with the addition of the free webinar with Temple Grandin. Varsity Tutors has small group classes, individual tutoring, and a new monthly membership I’ve been meaning to check out. If you’re interested in getting started with them, you’re welcome to use our link for 3 free hours (we get 3 hours too, thanks!)

As I was starting this post, I wrote two pages of thoughts that I chose to remove from our weekly update, deciding that I may instead share them as a bonus article. I’m reconsidering an original goal and trying to sort out the best way to share information with you, and in a way that I can keep up with. 

I’ve debated writing about my thoughts around homeschooling and how and why we do it the way we do separately from our weekly updates. That way information is easy to access and digest, depending on what you’re looking for at the time. Originally this is what I had planned to do, but after spending the first few weeks catching up on writing about our first month of homeschool all at once, I hit burnout and then just worked to maintain a weekly post. 

As I go, I’m learning what this space is for me, and what I want to offer of myself to you. I’d also love feedback on what is enjoyable to read, what is helpful, and what you’d like more of. 

I want to be inspirational, accessible, and helpful, while encouraging you to give yourself permission to meet your needs and goals. Maybe I’ll share something that sparks an interest for your family as well. Maybe you’ll learn a term that describes something you’ve felt your whole life and leads you to further self-exploration. Maybe you come across ideas that help create a better flow for you and the learners in your life.

However I can work toward those goals, I’m constantly evaluating and attempting to improve. I’d love any comments about what you need.

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.

2021 Homeschool Week 6 | February 8

I was easily distractible this week. Things felt hard to accomplish before I’d even start them. I spent a lot of time trying to gently transition, and I’m grateful I’ve learned to give this to myself without the guilt trips that were previously ingrained. (Days late to finish and post this, I’m nodding along, grateful for the personal work I’ve done to not indulge in self-loathing for needing time.)

Looking back on our daily activities, I feel reassured that I wasn’t the failure I felt like. Even though I quickly quiet that voice in my mind these days, it lived here untamed for so long

This week I would have said we didn’t accomplish much. Lots of time was “wasted.” I didn’t push myself, I let things go, I could have done more… you know all these things you tell yourself when you’re constantly holding yourself to some unreasonable standard of perfection that only you’re supposed to achieve, but if you don’t, you can’t possibly be worthy?

This week, we seem to have done more than enough. Sometimes when I look back, I wonder how we did SO much, even. But then I know it’s because we can and we’ve created this to flow within our lifestyle, not take away from it. 

I have intentionally started to keep a list of what we do each day. It’s simple, and now that it’s becoming a habit, it doesn’t take much effort in upkeep. It’s a lot easier than wracking my brain later, trying to remember what we did and when, which is helpful for keeping up with the information I will share here as well!

For myself personally, it serves as both a reminder when glanced over quickly and also a tool to observe how our time was spent and how that ties in with how I feel about it. Are we balanced? Could we make adjustments that better serve us? Do I feel overwhelmed because I’m doing too much or the “wrong” things? Do I really need to spend some more time on our education and activities or do I need to calm that voice that tells me it’s not enough even though I have direct evidence that it is? I’m not free of self-doubt, but I don’t argue with my truth any longer. 

To make this easy for myself, I bought a clipboard with a compartment for holding additional papers/supplies. I keep the clipboard accessible, and I can easily write on the outside and store anything within that I may need to keep up with for the kiddo or sharing here. 

Not everyone needs this to stay organized, but I will make a point that finding solutions for your needs is significant in supporting you through your day. It took me a long time to believe I deserved any kind of reasonable accommodations after struggling undiagnosed (autistic, ADHD, PDA) and always needing to “just do better” for a lifetime. 

If you’re like me, I want to make sure to remind you that you deserve it. If you don’t understand why I’m saying this because it’s obvious, maybe it will be eye opening that for many of us, it really wasn’t.

When you live with invisible struggles, they’re often invalidated and you learn to further invalidate yourself. Awareness helps, but keeping a lifetime of mean voices in check can be easier with useful tools for support.

Yes, it’s “just a clipboard” but it symbolizes so much more in the way of small changes and allowances making life exponentially more manageable. 

Are you using tools to your advantage? What works for you?

I’ve had a habit of making lists, writing out many plans, getting things out of my head and onto a place I will see later…but then those papers usually stay in my way until they get piled up and put away to be ignored. It’s not effective.

I’m still interested in bullet journaling, but it can be a bit overwhelming to just jump into and feel confident with. I don’t do well with forced activities, even if I enjoy them, so I’m not pushing myself to hate this. I’m just not putting any pressure on the timeline while knowing once I do piece it together, I’ll likely enjoy the benefits. In the meantime, the clipboards give me a place to keep those pages organized and prioritize the pages that do need to stay accessible for my use.

The red case on the left is the one mentioned for Myles’ learning and activities – it’s his favorite color and has a compartment to store his documents. The “padfolio” is beautiful, but ultimately it gets closed and things are easy to stay hidden from an ADHDer – this will be great for some projects and not others! The swirly clipboard can keep any daily to do lists or pressing items I fear I’ll forget. I chose a clear binder with removable pages for learning bullet journaling without committing to a certain journal type or being stuck with pages I don’t enjoy!

I’m learning how to make these work for me, not telling myself I have to stay organized a certain way. In case it helps anyone find supplies they enjoy, I’ll quickly link them here in order from left to right:

Dexas 3517-J101 Slimcase 2 Storage Clipboard with Side Opening, Strawberry*

Hongri Plastic Clipboard, Teal Marble*

Padfolio Portfolio Folder with Pen – Geila, Blue*

A5 6-Ring Loose Leaf Binder Journal, Refillable*

*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.

Looking back over this week, it appears the majority of our intentional time was spent reading, playing a game, or watching a show. A couple weeks ago, I made myself a list of non-negotiables and a running to do list so I could let go of the things that didn’t really need to be done when I knew I wouldn’t feel like it. I embraced that again this week. We consumed a lot of media and let it be easy. We also threw in a bit of  science, math, and typing; watched a couple live webinars with Varsity Tutors; and started a new Kiwi Crate. 

We received new books from the Thriftbooks orders I mentioned here and here.

In the past, I had searched for books we had enjoyed from previous library checkouts. Knowing at the time I didn’t want to purchase them brand new or in “acceptable” condition, I added them to a wishlist so I could keep an eye on when they became available in like new or very good condition.  I just happened to go check while some were available, even though it had been years since they were added. I couldn’t pass them up!

We received:

That Is Not a Good Idea!*

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters*

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable*

Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World: A Leonardo, the Terrible Monster Companion*

Image of a few books we read, cocoa, and our dog Maple

We love Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers. LOVE! These are so fun to read, as a young kid, as an older kid, as an adult – I will even read them to another adult!

Myles continued listening to his audiobook of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.* I told him I had found out that the author’s daughter wrote two follow up books, and he was excited to have more of the story to explore later.

Together, we continued listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5.* We’ve read about 12 hours, with 14 to go. It’s long, but we don’t let that deter us from listening at our convenience.

We also read through the rest of our January 2021 edition of Highlights for Children* and even revisited a few stories we had skipped from December 2020. We may even start February’s before the month ends!

Myles found a sticker activity book we used to do together when he was young and found it fun to place stickers and look over the pages while he was listening to his audiobook. We often prefer doing something with our hands instead of sitting still. I know many of you will feel the same way. I always encourage rather than shame this behavior, especially now that I understand it.

The PBS play games app also has quite a few fun games he enjoys playing through while listening. I’ve mentioned these the last couple weeks as he started entertaining himself this way.

When he needs more of a challenge or is ready for a change, he moves on to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* on the Nintendo Switch* which he has been putting a bit of time into lately. Puzzles, problem solving, and exploration are valid skills. Fun is also significant, and we shouldn’t feel we’re only allowed to have it after being productive. Who else still struggles with this from a lifetime of having it ingrained?

*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 really don’t have much to report on math and typing except to repeat that he’s keeping up with them on his own still. I take a look at the progress every once in a while, but I’ve let him work at his own pace and determine what that is for himself. 

When he takes classes with Varsity Tutors, sometimes I attend, and sometimes it gives him something to do while I catch up in other areas. This week, we attended two webinars together.

Space Rocks: Moons of the Solar System with Raquel Nuno, Planetary Scientist and PhD candidate in Planetary Geology at UCLA

Myles with Raquel, posing for a photo

Stories of SUE, a Fantastic T. rex Fossil with Jeff, an educator and docent at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL.

Myles with instructor Jeff, who is holding fossilized poop

These are excellent opportunities to learn something you wouldn’t normally, with experts who put their energy into sharing their passions with you.

We’ve also taken weekly classes with instructors who teach on different subjects, and I’ve talked about many of those in past posts, especially last Fall. You can check out what classes are available here, and if you sign up for any hours beyond the free classes, you can get 3 free hours by using our link (we get three hours too and appreciate your support!)

We continued in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* this week with one lessons on metals and a follow up lesson on “strange metals” or metals with abnormal properties.

I enjoy how our science lessons typically don’t take long to explore, but they provide so much. We learn significant concepts in an interesting and concise way that builds a strong foundation for continued learning.

*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 ended the week with a Kiwi Crate craft after spending some time reading through the Explore! Magazine included. We read about the science and creatures of the deep sea, anglerfish, and subs used for research. Then Myles put together a chomping anglerfish with prey pieces for him to chomp up!

We skipped over our Atlas Crate this week, and we will probably check it out next week instead. We get them once a month, so it’s easy to do them at our convenience, when it adds to life instead of trying to cram it in. It’s easy to accidentally set them aside and let them pile up too, as we learned with Kiwi Crate last year – which is the reason even though we’ve switched our subscription, we’re still working through the old ones! I’m grateful though. They fit into our time now better than they did when we received them, and we’re enjoying having them available. 

If you’re interested in either of the crates we’ve talked about (or others they offer), you can see what subscriptions they have available here. We each receive a $10 credit if you sign up using the above link.

We’re spending the current week in and out of the snow, and I’m taking my time publishing last week’s (this) post. We’re having historical weather events for our area, and snow stuck to the ground to play in doesn’t happen consistently. We’re “enjoying” it as much as you can enjoy being frozen without proper gear!

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.

2021 Homeschool Week 5 | February 1

I updated our background! 

I had liked the demo of the other one when I was looking for themes last summer, but I didn’t feel it suited our space as I looked over the blog each week. This one feels like a better fit, at least for now. What do you think?

This week moved us into a much nicer balance. Life flowed again, and even though we didn’t chase after learning, we found ourselves in wonderful opportunities to listen and explore.

We started our week with new books from the library (online). Since he had finished The BFG* last week, I thought Myles might enjoy a new audiobook, and I hoped I could find something he would enjoy while I worked on the blog post. While looking to see what was available, I found several other books and later showed him some options that I had checked out in case he was interested. 

I enjoy his honesty and feedback, and I appreciate when he shares his opinions with me. He enjoyed most of the books but was incredibly bored with one. I suspect he wasn’t interested at the moment and couldn’t wait to get to the others.

We checked out:

National Geographic Readers: Wolves* – There were many readers available in different topics. I thought we might try others later, but this was the book he was incredibly bored with.

Box (Book One)* – I looked over this quickly after he read it, and it looks like a fun graphic novel of a boy on an adventure with a box and a lot of imagination.

I am Albert Einstein (Ordinary People Change the World) – This book was narrated and pretty cute, while giving an interesting overview of his life and history. Myles insisted we keep this one checked out as long as possible and even checked yesterday to make sure I still had it!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – As I hoped, this one was appreciated and held his attention for quite awhile. He was excited to pick it up again later. I haven’t read this one, so I may have to catch up later 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.

Again, I’m including the amazon links for ease of access. While I do receive a small commission from purchases made through these links (thank you!), I encourage you to acquire books from the places best suited for your family. If that’s ordering from amazon, a used bookstore, or finding them at your local library, I’m just happy to share what we’ve done in case it sparks an interest for you. 

We read our books we had just received from Thriftbooks as well. I mentioned them last week, but I’ll quickly list them here as well as the others from our collection we were inspired to pull out and read alongside them. 

The Day the Crayons Quit*

The Day the Crayons Came Home*

Imaginary Fred*

Stuck*

Yes, we’re going through an Oliver Jeffers phase (again)!

We had checked out Every Day Is Exciting (Sofia Martinez)* from the library as well, and Myles discovered this one had no audio. While he could have read through it slowly, he preferred to wait and have me read it with him later. I’m glad he did because we got to talk about the Spanish words scattered throughout, and it was a lot of fun to read through together and discuss.  

Later in the week, we came across our Hilda series and decided we would read through it again as well. We started with Hilda and the Troll: Hilda Book 1 (Hildafolk)*, appreciating the art and creativity. I’m looking forward to reading through the rest of them (some again and a couple for the first time) and eventually seeing if the show is as good as the graphic novels.  

Myles started reading The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet 2)* from the Amulet series on his own. I’m also going to have to look through this series. I had planned to read it with him, but I love that he just couldn’t wait!  Amulet 1-8 Box Set

With all of the other reading this week, we still managed to put several hours into our Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* book as well. After a lull and listening in smaller fragments, we got invested in the story again and can’t wait to hear more. This is one reason I don’t try to force things. It’s been months and we went slowly with it, sometimes not at all. Now suddenly we’ve made it through hours and it fit perfectly into our day and how we spent our time.  

*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 we had done nothing else this week, I would feel it was full of learning and great moments. One reason I love audiobooks is that it leaves your hands and eyes free to complete another task if desired. I often use this as a way to motivate myself to do the dishes or pick up around the house, sometimes to push through a larger project like cleaning out the pool or weeding garden beds. Usually if I’m engrossed in the story, I’m grateful to be completing something at the same time. 

For Myles this week, he decided to use his listening time to build some airplanes and a construction truck I had bought him when he was much younger. We had built these together back then, but he found them on the shelf and decided to do them on his own. 

Later, he pulled out some of his larger Imaginext toys and played with them and the toys he constructed. He excitedly told me a bit about his imaginative play, and I love seeing him take the initiative to create these things. For a while, he was pretty attached to me and didn’t do as much alone. We allow phases that support everyone’s needs at the time. I can say that I love seeing him be more and more independent, and I also love the time that I get to nurture him more closely. 

I’m going to have to ask him why, but I found Myles playing his Chutes and Ladders Board Game by himself again this week. He hasn’t asked me to play it afterward, and I’m intrigued at his interest in playing it alone. I hope to remember to ask him if he would like to play it with me as well, and maybe find out the appeal in playing alone – is he imagining different people or characters playing? Is he just trying to win? What is going through his mind? I love knowing why other people are thinking what they are! This probably comes from a lifetime of feeling like people were mysteries – thanks Autism!

*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.

His creativity has been expressed so much lately. He also set up a restaurant in his room with a table to serve food for me and a kitchen area for him to prepare it. He drew a menu of items offered and delivered a private invitation by pretend mail to let me know about the restaurant’s opening. When I arrived, I was seated, presented the menu, and asked which smoothie I would like to order. Later, I was presented with a fruit plate, and of course, I had to send my compliments to the chef!

Between reading and playing, we went for a couple walks, Myles played some Switch and PBS kids games, and we watched some TV shows. After watching three Karate Kid movies, we wanted to see Cobra Kai this week and watched through the whole first season. We plan to continue our karate practice as well, we just didn’t find a time to fit it in this week.

We did start our tomato and pepper seeds as we planned, and we spent a little more time preparing our garden area this week. 

Myles continued pacing himself through his math and typing lessons. I continue to be proud of his dedication. 

We pulled out our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia for a lesson on chemical reactions. Lots of woooahs and cooools were exclaimed. This is definitely one to take to YouTube for even more of those emotional and chemical reactions. We like to keep it fun, and I truly believe we learn more when we’re engaged and enjoying it.  

When we received our new Atlas Crate this week, we realized we hadn’t quite completed the first one. There were so many great parts to the first crate that even though we had already constructed a globe, put together an Adventure Book, read through all of the Adventure Cards while putting each continent’s sticker on the globe; we still had a large map to fold out and use to look for clues. We received a foldout with information on map coordinates using latitude and longitude and several fun activities to find landmarks on the map, including shipwrecks with brief overviews of their history. 

The new crate is about Greece, and we will dive into that one next week. As much as I loved Kiwi Crate, Atlas Crate has been a fantastic experience so far as well. If you’re interested in a fun, hands on geography curriculum, this is the way I would go! If you sign up with our link, we both get a $10 credit. 

I have a feeling I’ll be talking about Kiwi Crate again next week, as we still have some put aside that we plan to pull out when we want the extra activities. Stay tuned!

I have a few other ideas in mind for next week as well, and I’m ready to flow into the week with intentions that carry us through smoothly and peacefully.

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.

2021 Homeschool Week 4 | January 25

This one is going to be lighter. It’s the best way to get through it. I feel better in ways. I’m still exhausted and struggling in others. My focus is destroyed, and my stability requires more energy in upkeep. I feel pretty decent, and I’m ready to build this back up. I’m aware and not avoiding, and I have an upbeat attitude to keep me moving. I’m genuinely excited about upcoming goals and projects. 

We’ve started planning our spring garden. Our seeds arrived a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to find our supplies and start working on getting things set up. This may be a good place to make a note that sometimes being forced to slow down really helps you prioritize your goals while letting go of the things you really can’t keep carrying while getting to the good stuff. 

We washed our seed trays, sorted our new seeds, and pulled some weeds out of the garden beds. I should have covered them, but intentions don’t always turn into reality. I do plan to pick up some mulch today to cover up what we’ve exposed and keep more from growing back before it’s warm and plantable. 

To avoid overwhelm, I’ve pulled out pepper and tomato seeds to start. I think I’ll do a few types of plants at a time, even if I do multiple varieties. Once I feel good about getting those established, I can move on and do a few more. I know my energy is sparse, and I also know my enthusiasm for creating a mess that future me may not have the capacity to handle. Anyone relate?

Wait, is this a gardening blog or was I here for homeschooling?

Gardening will be filling a good bit of our time and energy – and here, I think I’ll be sharing about it from the perspective of how it fits into our homeschool. Let’s not forget, our homeschool fits into our broader life, and I like to keep them flowing together, not as fragmented parts that are mutually exclusive.

There is so much to learn while gardening. As an adult, this is one area I continuously learn so much. Why not teach a useful, arguably crucial skill while we have time to focus on learning and pouring into our life?

As we focus on different parts of the gardening process, I’ll highlight the tasks and what skills were learned. I may mention how they fill in for traditional learning, but that’s not my main goal here either.

We aim for a balanced life that encompasses fun and learning without being overwhelmed with keeping up with curriculum goals or being on someone else’s timeline. It’s OUR life. I’m not asking permission to live it, as if someone else has authority over my creativity. 

If you’ve been reading, you know we don’t have a pre-made curriculum or a set schedule. We embrace life as it comes, and we take responsibility for the direction it takes while allowing it to flow freely. 

We discuss learning goals and areas of focus as a team, and we adapt as needed. Some things become commonplace for a time, and like the stages of gardening, the rest of our life works in steps of setup and tending to what we’ve created, sometimes with the focus shifting to meet the most immediate needs. 

Before I mention more “schooling,” I’m going to admit Myles spent quite a bit of time playing Super Mario Odyssey* on the Nintendo Switchâ„¢* this week.

*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.

Last week I shared about having a shutdown and recovering, and I’ve been transparent with how I’m feeling this week as well. I do this to support you in your varying emotional states and remind you that you don’t have to be “perfect” or feel a certain way to be parenting or homeschooling your children well. If anything, it shows our kids that they also don’t have to feel shame for their different moods. 

During the hours – yes hours – this kiddo played his game, I watched him become excited and irritated. He got to experience perseverance and learning to regulate his emotions while frustrated. Life skills are crucial, and I can’t imagine thinking knowing how to solve a geometry problem would be more significant – it can always be researched and learned! Even in a career where certain skills are needed, emotional regulation is still relevant. 

Time regulation is also important, and if you’re here because of neurodivergence, you may struggle with it the way many of us do. With that being said, I continue to be impressed when Myles chooses to invest his time into his math and typing lessons without being asked. He has made this a personal goal, and he works on his own to fill it. He doesn’t do it every single day, but many days, intentionally, as a real goal. Unlike setting a hard goal, there’s no shame in missing a day or not feeling like it or even just forgetting. It’s not hard to get started again when your goal is pursuit, not a set number or time expectation.

We continued our science “curriculum” by the same (lack of) expectations. We reviewed the previous weeks of mixtures and solutions before moving on to a new section on pH. We use Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* as a guide to lead us through topics, and we add on with YouTube videos when we want further explanation or depth.  

*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 did participate in a few classes this week, but he didn’t attend most of what he was signed up for over the last couple of weeks. When we did more classes with Varsity Tutors in the Fall, he attended each class regularly and we had made time to work around them. 

Many of the classes he’s in now are repeats, and I don’t see much point in pushing him to show up when he has other entertainment and learning opportunities. They were meant to fill time and give him something he might enjoy to do, so when they meet those goals, that’s great. When they don’t, why push? Having awareness around why we make the choices we do helps us be aware of how to prioritize and balance. 

I had signed him up for additional sessions of the story classes Fun Fairytales and Fables and Tall Tales. He attended a couple sessions of Fun Fairytales but skipped out on Fables and Tall Tales this week. He had attended regularly the first week, though he has experienced many of the stories already. I had also signed him up for some art classes and theater in case they added something to his day. He declined to take these. 

The timing wasn’t ideal these weeks, and we adapted, as I always recommend. The classes mentioned were free, large group classes, so nothing monetary was lost in skipping them. We just chose not to trade the stress of trying to force them into our schedule for the opportunity they presented. We have gotten a lot out of these classes in the past, and I definitely recommend them. If you need private tutoring or prefer smaller classes, you can sign up for paid courses and other options. Using our link gives us both 3 hours free, and we appreciate the support if you do decide to go that route. 

Because I haven’t been at my best, my grandpa picked Myles up a couple times this week to go to the park. It was thoughtful and kind to both of us, and I very much appreciated it. Myles got to play, interact with someone who wasn’t me, and use up some physical and mental energy!

We listened to a little more of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5 and Myles finished The BFG* finally. You may have heard me say before that I appreciate using the library to check out audiobooks, but it can also take awhile to finish a book when you have to wait for it to become available again.  

We use both the Libby app with our library membership, and sometimes we have a subscription at Audible – currently it’s paused so we have some time to catch up. 

We’re always adding to our book collection, and by always, I mean in spurts when I feel like it. Have we mentioned hyperfocus yet? I may get excited about ordering books for a while, then get bored waiting for what I want to be available, and wait until I get another burst of enthusiasm for it. 

I recently revisited our wishlist on Thriftbooks to see if any of the previous books I had saved were available. Sometimes I’ll add a book to our wishlist and wait for a copy in the quality I prefer. We ended up finding 3 books in like new or very good condition, and I snatched them up while I had the chance. 

I absolutely recommend Thriftbooks if you don’t mind a used copy. They don’t always have a book in stock or in the quality you may want, so I’m including the Amazon links for ease of access. I do get an affiliate bonus from Amazon, but I encourage you to shop for your family’s needs/preferences.

These are the books we added:

The Day the Crayons Quit* – We read this one from library before and purchased the sequel previously when I found a good deal.

Imaginary Fred* – We love everything by Oliver Jeffers so far, even when it’s just his illustration. His collaborations are always as excellent as his own work. (He does the illustration for the previous book as well)

Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! (A Click Clack Book)* – We just love this silly series, so I’m happy to add a like new copy to our collection, even if Christmas is quite a few months away! If you’re just getting started with this series, you can get the full holiday pack instead of tracking them down one by one: Click, Clack, Holiday Pack: Click, Clack, Moo I Love You!; Click, Clack, Peep!; Click, Clack, Boo!; Click, Clack, Ho, Ho, Ho!*

Any of these should be available at your local library as well!

For awhile, we exclusively added audiobooks to our personal collection while occasionally picking up older picture books we already owned like the Elephant & Piggie: The Complete Collection* series or other favorites. We love everything by Mo Willems as well!

Most often when we were reading a physical copy of a book lately, it’s been our manga series, Death Note Complete Box Set*.

We really don’t limit ourselves by genre or age recommendations (to a point). 

Myles also received a nice stack of books for Christmas as well, and I have my eye on a few I can’t wait to start. 

He started reading the Amulet* series on his own, the week before, and read the first book. In case I never go back to update, I’ll go ahead and include that here.  

We also started reading the Zoey and Sassafras* series again. We have the first 6 books, and I think we had read 4 or 5 of them previously. They’re very lighthearted and enjoyable while encompassing both fantasy and using the scientific method for discovery and learning. No argument from me when the kiddo asked to repeat these!

*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.

Talking about it, sharing my thoughts and opinions – it seems we did a lot more this week than in my mind I was giving myself credit for.

I’ll acknowledge again, some weeks are more active, others more a conceptual flow, and some more fragmented pieces that intermix in a multitude of ways.

I don’t do consistency by others’ standards, and I don’t try to force it anymore. If there’s not a reason to do something on a certain schedule, I don’t add any shame to my lack of appearance in scheduling.

How often do you discredit yourself?

…Because your expectations were set for an outcome that wasn’t the only or maybe even the best choice once events start to unfold…

I also believe its important to be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling beyond how you think you “should” feel.

Before starting this post, I made sure to assess my feelings and energy. I needed to check in with myself in order to share myself in a genuine way that shows a realistic overview of this week of life events and feelings. I included that assessment at the beginning to be authentic and transparent.

Personal awareness also helps tell us how to care for ourselves. We need to do that for ourselves and for those who depend on us – it’s not selfish.

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.