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.

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