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.

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