2021 Homeschool Week 12 | March 22

I want to highlight the flow of our homeschool this week. How naturally it happens upon the foundation I’ve laid and how that all works to keep our learning time peaceful and enticing instead of stressful and overwhelming. 

I can get overwhelmed easily, so this is extremely significant for me. I’m not one of those people who is just always calm and collected. I try to be. With heightened sensory processing, I’m often disarmed by my surroundings.

I’m aware of what it takes to keep my balance, and I do my best to maintain it as comfortably as possible.

This lifestyle has been carefully considered and it’s sacred to me. It meets my needs and I work within it without added stress. That doesn’t make it effortless, but the ways I support the flow almost makes it feel that way sometimes. 

Here’s an example of how our recent learning has taken shape, from the flow of interest to seeking materials to then discovering what they entail…

We started our week with a new book: DK Eyewitness Books: Wonders of the World: Take an Incredible Journey Around the World’s Most Awesome Sights*

When it came in, I quickly flipped through it, and the page on the Acropolis caught my attention. I left it open on the ottoman to show Myles. 

If you’ve been reading, you know that we recently started getting Atlas Crate from Kiwi Co. 

(We had been getting Kiwi Crates, but they piled up because of life focuses shifting for a bit, and I thought switching over to Atlas Crate would give us something new to explore while catching up on the Kiwi Crates in between.)

The first country featured by Atlas Crate was Greece. We read through the Adventure Cards and worked on the projects and crafts over the next few weeks. 

All this sparked an interest in Greek mythology, so we purchased a book: D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths*

A few weeks ago, we started reading through the stories, talking about the personification of the events that created the world and the other natural events described. 

Myles suggested we watch the Disney movie Hercules*, and while we watched he pointed out some of the gods he had already read about or referenced back to them when we got to their sections in the book later.  

Seemingly unrelated but you’ll soon see how it’s connected, we’ve been using Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* for months now. When it seems to fit into our balance, I’ll pull it out and read the next two page spread. The information is concise and multiple visual examples with brief explanations give a good feel for the topics. We can get an idea for the information without doing an elaborate “lesson” on it, and we can use YouTube or other resources if there’s a topic we do want to learn more about.  

Because we’ve consistently used this book and we keep going back to it because it’s interesting and useful, I took a look to see what other visual encyclopedias were available. I found quite a few, and while I’d love to have them all, I considered which ones would fit into where we are with life and learning right now. I saved a few to our wishlist for later, when maybe we need a spark again. I chose two for now. One I mentioned in more detail last week, which you can read about here.

The one I’ll point out today brings us back to the start: DK Eyewitness Books: Wonders of the World*

I thought this would tie in nicely with the Atlas Crates and continue to be a good resource any time we might come across a reference to any of the wonders.  

*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.

So we started the week with our opened copy on the ottoman, that I had left out to show Myles and connect to our current learning. He brought it to me on the couch, and he suggested we could read some more of our Greek myths after we read the section on the Acropolis.

Over the week, we read about Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Orion, and Hermes, picking up our book because of interest and not because of an expectation to learn something. 

Later in the week, after a morning of reading more Greek myths, we moved on to the science encyclopedia I mentioned above. We started a new section on materials (after having just finished the section on matter), and the first page showed the Parthenon! Myles perked up and asked to read that part himself.  

We also learned about plastics and glass, and their uses and limitations. 

I want to stop and emphasize how our “curriculum” comes together and how we flow through topics, finding new resources and information without spending hours trying to plan and then still having to do it – and then probably still having to do it with resistance. No thank you!

We seek learning from a place of intrigue and exploration. We’re open to what comes next instead of forcing the next lesson, and then the next.

We’ve explored Greece well beyond the great introduction the Atlas Crate provided. These connections between materials encourage memory and mastery beyond the “okay, we covered it, next” of traditional lessons. 

We will continue to connect future information we learn back to this foundation. True learning took place, not memorization or proof of the ability to pass tests before purging the memory.  

So what else did we do this week?

Our last ASL class was cancelled, and we were sad to miss the review and new words. But our interest was sparked, and we know how to pursue additional knowledge when it fits into our time. 

Myles also practiced French and Japanese on DuoLingo after seeing me working on mine. He had said he was going to play Prodigy, an excellent math-based adventure game, but then he was inspired to practice language learning instead. 

He did play Prodigy at other times during the week. I think he skipped Khan math this week, even though he had said he still planned to do it. I’m curious to see what he will do since he set that intention. A past version of me would have been tempted to prod, but this version will sit back and see how things unfold. There’s no expectation he needs to live up to. This is his choice, and his set goal to pursue or adjust. 

Of course he practiced typing at least once this week. Sometimes I don’t even know he’s done it until he thinks to tell me about it later. This week, he was waiting for a class, and took the time before it started to squeeze in a lesson. Again, no prompting, he’s just learning how to manage his time and keep himself entertained. This is a result of trust, and of letting go of my conditioned need for control. (No, it wasn’t easy to get to this, but it’s been rewarding all around so I’ve continued to reset my expectations.)

We had another fun class with Varsity Tutors called A Piece of Your Mind. Holly at the Pacific Science Center presented a model of the brain with different areas highlighted and then used excellent examples to give a feel for what functions they performed. She used some activities and tests of the students’ abilities to follow directions or explore a process with her and connected those back to each region of the brain.  

Myles with the brain shown during Varsity Tutors class: A Piece of Your Mind

We spent some time looking through our seeds, assessing our current seedlings, and starting some new seeds. Soon it will be time to transplant them into our garden outside, and I’ll admit it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Watching plants grow and then enjoying what they produce is so rewarding to me. 

We took a couple of walks this week, one day venturing over to my grandparents’ house, where Myles found a lizard to observe for awhile.  

He also gained a new customer for his eggs this week, and we were invited in to play with kittens when he delivered the eggs. Play and observation are significant to learning, but most importantly – fun!

We decided to wait on our next Atlas Crate since we’ve still been pretty immersed in our Greek studies, so we grabbed one of our extra Kiwi Crates off the shelf. Myles chose Physics Carnival, and we looked through the explore! magazine that introduces the topics for the crate with comics, stories, and examples. 

These have gotten easier for Myles to do on his own, so he set out to do the projects throughout the week when I was occupied with something else. Then he would excitedly show me what he had created. 

You can see the videos on our Instagram page:  https://www.instagram.com/encouragingcuriosity/

If you’re interested in the Kiwi or Atlas Crate subscriptions, you’re welcome to use our link for a $10 credit (we get $10 also, thanks!)

Myles with his Balancing Acrobat from the Physics Carnival Kiwi Crate
Myles trying out his Carnival Catapult, also from the Physics Carnival Kiwi Crate
(watch our video on Instagram to see if he hits the target!)

After finishing our exciting mystery novel last week, we sat down with a book we received for Christmas. A few pages in, and hearing the cadence of Neil Gaimen’s voice despite me being the one reading, I looked for an audiobook copy to hear the lovely author read to us as we read along with the pages. The Graveyard Book* is intriguing, and definitely grabbed our interest quickly.  

We are still reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* and we gave our audiobook copy a little of our time while cleaning up around the house. We had also started The Hobbit*, but it hasn’t had our attention for a bit. As we start caring for plants and working in the garden, I bet we will carry audiobooks with us more and more.

*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 start a new adventure this week, so our available time and focus on the current materials may change a bit. I used to be weary of change because I was afraid I may not be able to handle the unknowns as they come, but now I welcome the changes in environment and inspiration that will fuel us forward into new areas of learning and experience.

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 11 | March 15

I don’t think I have any profoundly inspiring words this week, but I may prove myself wrong once I get started.

I’m rebuilding after abuse, and you know how we’re not supposed to talk about it? Well, that just keeps it happening without people being supported or others being held accountable. If you ever find yourself without support, please feel welcome to reach out to me. I will support you without judging or offering meaningless platitudes. Sometimes we just need to be heard and safe.

Emotional safety is a huge reason I’ve chosen homeschooling to begin with. Being neurodivergent gets us a lot of unwarranted hate for existing “wrong”. Our basic needs are treated as “special needs” if they’re acknowledged at all instead of being blamed as behavioral issues. 

I’m committed to talking about the uncomfortable things with honesty and authenticity so we can change the norm. I want our children to be able to say what’s happening to them without being blamed for “letting it happen” while being shushed. I want their needs to be included as general needs and not require special accommodations. I want more, and that’s why I’m here, teaching my child the way I am and sharing it with those who are looking for more as well. We get to create it!

I encourage a natural flow of life and learning, interacting with our interests and finding solutions for anything we need to accomplish. I do have an idea of some things we will do ahead of time, but I also like to leave plenty of room for the spontaneous experiences we couldn’t anticipate. 

At this point, we have resources we’re comfortable with and regularly revisit. We don’t have a schedule for when information has to be consumed. We do what works in the moment. Sometimes we have a few minutes before a class, so we will look over a quick section in our science encyclopedia, or we may have unlimited time and get sucked into pages and pages of mythology stories or read an entire book in one sitting. 

The fewer restrictions we have, the more we do. I thrive with freedom and interesting resources nearby, and the same seems to work well for Myles. If I take out a few books, we inevitably read them. I leave out a Kiwi Crate, and we explore it. 

My “lesson planning” is fluid, updated as we go, and always adapting to new materials and the time we have to work with. It’s as simple as assessing what we’re interested in and if we have a comfortable balance. I may ask myself if there’s anything we haven’t done in awhile that we want to revisit. Do we have new subscription boxes ready for attention? Are we feeling tired of anything that needs to be replaced or maybe just set aside for a bit? That’s it. 

I keep a bin with our regular books and activities nearby, so they’re in sight but neatly tucked aside. In a moment I’m unsure what to do, I’ll just flip through it and say, “hey what about…” until the kiddo agrees something sounds desirable to him too.  

It does take time to reach this level of comfort. Finding materials you enjoy is key. Do you have a curriculum you like? If not, why not piece together your favorites in each general area your child “should” learn?

We exceed expectations constantly, so I don’t worry about keeping track of checking off requirements, though I may occasionally take a look at what the school system expects just to have that awareness. Basically, once I realize we’ve more than covered the standard, I don’t think about it again until something sparks the thought. 

I didn’t start with this confidence, but I share it now to show what you can create. It does take time, energy, and doing it in less comfortable ways to find how to adjust to where you do want to be. I encourage you to give yourself that time. 

If you’re stressed and overwhelmed with homeschooling, WHY? Answer it honestly – acknowledge the things you think you’re not supposed to say, feel, or that you “have to do anyway”. Get honest with yourself. Then you get to use the answer to that question to help you rebuild something that actually works for your family!

I show what ours is like in case it gives you ideas or inspires an interest in similar things. I invite you to take what you like, ignore what you don’t, and explore what may work better in your world.  

We started a couple new things this week. I’ve heard people say they use Prodigy for math before, but I didn’t know it was a free game that’s extremely engaging and exciting to play! I presented it to Myles, and he received it with enthusiasm.  

He originally said it was way better than Khan Academy, but the next day he announced he would also be keeping up with his units in Khan Academy because he wants them to be completed. 

Once he started Prodigy, he played it every day, some days for a couple hours!

He also spent some time on a game called Cubic Castles, which he told me was about mining materials and building things, but no, it’s not like Minecraft, he scoffed. One day, I noticed he was playing Chuchel again. Even though he’s finished it several times, he seems to enjoy playing through it again.  

He’s also still been practicing his typing lessons on his own. Often, he will open his laptop, do one or two lessons, and then move on to something more exciting. I love seeing him pace himself and choose to do the less exciting goals without prompting or any pressure. 

It’s a useful skill to learn, and he pursues it for the benefit, without making it carry too much weight. It took me so long to find this kind of balance in my life, and he’s naturally rolled into it because he hasn’t had to fight against his natural inclination as much. This is one of the things I mean by homeschooling for freedom!

We also got a new visual encyclopedia since we’ve been using our other one regularly for months now. Our new one, Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom (Smithsonian)* is beautiful, which drew my attention to it to begin with. I can’t deny that I’m more likely to be drawn to something aesthetically pleasing, and it constantly catches my attention when it’s left out. Beyond the look, I’m looking forward to exploring the simple yet inclusive overview of plants.  

So far we’ve looked at the parts of a plant, how roots work, what makes up a stem, how seeds grow, and the introduction to moncots and dicots that make up the Plant Kingdom. 

We went through some of this fairly quickly because Myles has already been familiar with much of this just from observing and participating in gardening. We also discovered neat plants to further explore with Google, like the coco de mer trees and their seeds.

We were intrigued by these amazing living bridges, made from tree roots stretched across areas where rivers often flood for years until they could be rooted and secured on the other side.  

As we start our spring garden, this will be an excellent resource to learn about how and why things work the way they do. I’m a big fan of hands-on learning and experiencing the process. Following that up with a beautiful, interesting resource is a bonus!

We’ve been using the Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* in place of a curriculum. As I mentioned last week we just finished the first large section of the book on matter, broken down into two page spreads on each topic. We are moving into materials, with later sections covering forces and machines, energy, light, electricity and magnetism, living organisms, and great discoveries. We sometimes take our learning to YouTube if we have further inquiries or want a deeper understanding of the topic. With our new book to explore and having wrapped up our previous section, we didn’t use this one at all this week, though lately we do at least one topic a week if not two or three.  

We did spend some more time with our D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths* reviewing the stories of Hephaestus and Aphrodite we read last time, and reading about Ares and Athena.  

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

We continued our ASL class, which I’m realizing I may have completely forgotten to mention yet! We started taking Sign It: Introduction to ASL with Varsity Tutors a couple weeks ago. We’ve learned basics like the alphabet, numbers, colors, and some general expressions. I feel it’s significant to learn how to become more inclusive and help others have easier access.  

We also had session one of a two part class called Discovering Raptors with the World Center for Birds of Prey.  

Varsity Tutors has been a wonderful resource for us since we found it last year. We’ve participated in many free, large group classes and webinars. They also provide a monthly subscription and paid classes if there’s a topic you need help with or an extra focus on. You can get a $10 from our link, if you choose any of their paid services (we get $10 too, and we appreciate the support).

Myles with one of the birds shown for class

Myles brought me two stacks of books this week that he had read in his room. Each week, I write them down on a sheet, and I mark the ones he’s read individually vs the ones we read together. I enjoy keeping a record to look back over because it’s so easy to forget the small things like that. I also keep it really simple and don’t stress over it, so that it doesn’t become demanding or complicated or something to avoid out of overwhelm.

Here’s his book list for this week:

Nibbles: The Book Monster*

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide | Usborne Books*

Nibbles the Monster Hunt*

I Love My New Toy! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)*

A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)*

I Broke My Trunk! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)*

Scholastic Reader Level 1: Max Spaniel 2: Funny Lunch* (yes, he read this one again – he thinks it’s hilarious!)

This week, he also read some of his National Geographic Kids* magazine and shared some facts he found interesting as he was looking through it. We got really behind on magazines during the busy holiday season, but we realized that he enjoys reading a lot of the smaller sections of this one on his own, while he prefers I sit down and read the Highlights for Children* magazine with him.

*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 spent a little time keeping up with next steps for our spring garden. We’ve started tomatoes and transplanted the successful seedlings into larger containers. We’re waiting on squash and cucumbers to sprout, and it looks like we will need to try again with our peppers. We started small to get started, but I really need to pull out all of our seeds and make a plan to get us going with these upcoming longer, warm days.  

Do you have any fun Spring plans? Spring Break? Any projects that have been awaiting warmer weather? Just more time outdoors?

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 10 | March 8

This week really highlights the unschooling process. 

I’ll be honest. Personally, I didn’t have a great week. I had a birthday and a breakup, and I’m ready to feel comfortable again. Because of that need though, I didn’t force learning in any particular way nor did I try to keep things going in the previously comfortable ways they had been. 

You know the feeling when you don’t really want to do anything but you know you “should” do something, so you just feel guilty about not doing anything the whole time you avoid doing the things that feel like too much? 

Yeah, me too. I’m aware enough of this cycle to try to avoid it when possible now. If I already know I’m going to resist the things I need to do, I try to give myself something in between. Instead of just experiencing the emptiness of avoidance or the turmoil of procrastination guilt, I can give myself something to bridge the gap. 

Usually I’m already in an energy deficit or there’s demand overwhelm, so this gives me time to fill myself up a bit. Then I can do the thing, or maybe realize my expectations could be adjusted to accommodate where I am presently instead of where past me projected I might be. 

Most mornings this week, we woke up and started reading purely for enjoyment. I didn’t feel like doing anything, and that awareness brought about so much more than I would have had the inspiration to plan instead. This led to some interesting accidental learning, so let’s talk about it!  

Sandwiched in the middle of our week were two days we started with Death Note: Another Note – The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases*. One of those, in hammock swings, we started to read, stopped to discuss, picked it back up, paused for another thought… The character development was getting pretty good, and we talked about why the author would reveal certain information as the narrator or from the character’s view. Why wait until half way through the book to stop and explain information that could have been presented at the beginning? What makes these things interesting – more interesting than if they had been done differently? It was a great discussion!  

*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 finally made it through a few pages in a row before we stopped short of the end of the chapter. Satisfied with our conversation despite a lack of reading progress, we went inside for bathroom breaks and lunch. After eating, I wanted to finish the chapter. I thought we would read the next few pages and move on with something else in our day. Then we came across a metaphor that took us down a completely different path. 

Not only did we have a conversation about the writing and characters, we ended up on YouTube watching Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about Mobia strips and Klein bottles.  

When I picked up a fanfiction novel to read because anything forced seemed like too much pressure, I definitely didn’t expect to be discussing writing techniques and science concepts. I point this out to show what can happen when we remove the pressure of expectations and allow other things to happen. 

And no, every time we read just for enjoyment, it doesn’t end up the same way. Sometimes we just enjoy a story, relax, breathe, get engaged in thoughts outside our norm – all of those are acceptable results as well. Not everything needs to be “educational” to be worthwhile, and we’re always learning, even when it doesn’t check off academic criteria.

We do choose intentional learning also, and while I have an idea of traditional expectations, we learn because we’re interested, because we want to know. And we learn so much more in a space created for seeking instead of forcing. 

One way we do this is keeping resources available that spark interest and discussion. We’ve ordered a few visual encyclopedias lately after regularly going back to our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia*. It gives us topics, and we do it at our own pace. I don’t make lesson plans. We add information as we come across the need for it.

Do we have extra time? Do we want to know more? Video? Follow up books? Trip to the library? If we sense a need for more, we look for the best way to fill that need with our current energy and resources. Otherwise I end up with many more planned things that never happen, feel we have to put off spontaneity to keep up with them, or sometimes we wouldn’t even start because I didn’t already have a plan. I didn’t like doing it those ways, so I quit.

This week we covered the last topics in the matter section of the visual encyclopedia, starting with air early in the week and finishing with carbon and an organic chemistry overview with the carbon cycle.  

*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 morning of my birthday and the first day of our week, I carried a coffee outside and attempted to finish a personal book. It ended up being a day of constant interruptions and stressors instead of relaxing and enjoyable like the previous days outside. That’s okay, and at least we had had quite a few nice days in a row leading up to the actual day, so I didn’t feel as terribly disappointed as I would have otherwise. 

Sometime in the afternoon, we checked the mail and realized we had received our D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths*. It seemed like a great opportunity to reign in the chaos for a focused reading time, so we did. We read over the introduction and looked at the illustrated map to identify places we had already discussed with our Greece Atlas Crate (more on this below).  

While we were reading, we talked about how these personified versions of nature explained natural events and gave people a way to talk about and share their experiences with future generations. We can merge new scientific understandings with the old gods and enjoy putting the pieces together while experiencing the magic of storytelling.  

Later in the week, we picked up this book to start our day, reviewing the basic stories of creation and placing the gods in the family tree on the first page as we read over the summarized descriptions of the major gods and their placement around Zeus on Mount Olympus. 

I remember information best when I understand how it all fits together, so it’s important to me to lay a strong foundation when pursuing a new topic. I’ll spend extra time establishing the basics in my mind so that I can build from them and have clear connections between their parts. School always seemed too fast for this, and everyone just had instant memory retrieval – I don’t. I remember if I’m interested or if I intimately understand connections. 

Now that we are learning at our own pace, fueled by interest and not because someone was grading my ability to hold information in my brain before I could attempt to successfully complete the scribble-it-out-on-the-paper-as quickly as possible-before-I-forget-it-forever challenge, I’m looking forward to having a grasp of how Greek myths connect and how the stories of the gods intertwine and flow throughout. 

I’ve heard most of these stories in disjointed ways, but I was never able to make the kind of connections that make information make sense in my mind. Teachers skipped over information quickly or expected us to grasp just enough to learn more on our own – for me, this just overwhelmed and made me feel so lost. If the pieces couldn’t connect, I may as well have dropped them all. If they could be linked together, I could take most of them with me.  

But hey, I stressed myself out enough to make A’s, so I must be doing fine. Anyone else? Is this one of your reasons to help your child learn at their own pace, with support?

As we were reading this day, Myles asked a question that led us to the section on minor gods, nymphs, etc and we ended up reading through quite a few stories before coming back to the major gods. We explored Prometheus, Pandora, and the story of Hera and Io before reading about Hephaestus and Aphrodite.

Keep in mind, we bought this book as an extension of our Greece Atlas Crate, after we had started. I didn’t plan this ahead, stress over lesson plans, or try to find resources to connect all the dots.  

Past me would have felt the need to do those things. I appreciate those connections, as I mentioned above. In this case – and what I’ve learned with time, trying it both ways – the pieces flowed together because we allowed them to. We left space for discovery and pursuit, and we filled it from curiosity and interest. We chose this in our leisure time, which happened to fill our academic requirements while we were relaxed and finding enjoyment in our “studies”. 

We did finish the last Atlas Crate craft this week as well, wrapping up our Greece box. Myles followed the instructions for the Santorini collage and worked on it throughout the day since layers of glue needed to dry. He assembled it, finished a word scavenger hunt as we looked over all of the materials, and we took this picture of all the parts complete.  

I was impressed with the introductory crate, but this has been such a wonderfully immersive experience, I can’t say enough about it. We’ve also received the Kiwi Crate, and while I thought those were also amazing, I feel like we’re getting so much more out of the Atlas Crate than I could have expected. If I’ve piqued your interest, you can use our referral link for $10 off (we also get $10, thank you). I wouldn’t go through this much hassle to persuade you to get a crate. This is my genuine enthusiasm for a product we love!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were going to watch Hercules when we finished the crate, and we did! (I also showed the Adventure Cards that come with the Atlas Crate, if you want to take a look at those.)

As we watched, Myles gasped and pointed out many references from our Atlas Crate and Greek Myths book. He was of course also inspired the next morning to create Chickules and Pegasus.  

Not bad for a not-so-great week!

Oh, and I almost forgot, so I’m not going to attempt to go interrupt the flow above to squeeze this in somewhere. Myles read quite a few books on his own and brought them to show me and let me write them down. I enjoy keeping a running list of what he and I read and marking which books he has consumed on his own. It’s a simple, easy way to look back on what we’ve experienced.

I’m thinking about creating a section to share a running list of what we’re currently reading for fun.

In the meantime, here’s his list of read books this week:

DK Readers L0: Meet the Dinosaurs (DK Readers Pre-Level 1)*

Amazing Sharks! (I Can Read Level 2)*

Ugly Animals (Scholastic Reader – Level 3 (Quality)) Berger, Gilda ( Author ) Oct-01-2011 Paperback* – this is the one he read, but it looks like the price may reflect it’s lack of availability, so I’m including a book that looks similar and is much more affordable as the next link

National Geographic Readers: Ugly Animals* (haven’t personally read this one though now I’m intrigued, see above)

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

Scholastic Reader Level 1: Max Spaniel 2: Funny Lunch*

Would you enjoy a recurring list of books as we’re reading them?

*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.

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 9 | March 1

This week we slowed down and soaked it in. We spent several days outside in the beautiful weather, and we didn’t set any expectations for a pace to keep up with. 

One day, I threw a blanket, pillow, books, and devices onto the trampoline; and we spent the day outside. 

We read in our hammock swings or atop monkey bars. We were wild and free – or relaxed and free, depending on the moment. 

We received more new books this week, continuing our obsessions with both Oliver Jeffers and the Death Note series (yes, quite different from each other). 

Since we finished the Death Note Complete Box Set* manga last week, we started reading the fanfiction novel: Death Note: Another Note – The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases* while our enthusiasm was fresh. We can’t get enough. Fortunately we have another novel waiting as well.  

I’m currently looking for our next manga, considering several options we’ve saved in the past. 

As for our Oliver Jeffers books, these are the new ones we received:

A Child of Books*

The Great Paper Caper*

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth*

Myles continued with his Varsity Tutors classes, wrapping up Your Immune System at Work and continuing with Space: The Final Frontier.

I didn’t listen in, so I can’t report on these classes, but he seemed to enjoy them. He opted out of Spanish this week. It didn’t really suit our schedule, and we didn’t interrupt our life flow to cram it in. 

After classes, Myles often pulls up YouTube while waiting for me to finish whatever I’m doing while he’s occupied. We’ve learned to work together well in this regard. Often, I’ll use it as an opportunity to mentally prepare for the next few steps if there are things we need to do, or I’ll suggest we transition to a book or activity when he’s done. 

I’ve noticed now that he freely chooses to watch YouTube in his spare time, there’s really no resistance to pause and join me when I may ask something like, “do you want to grab the science encyclopedia, and check out the next section?” He just pauses it, knowing he will go back when he feels like it, and we engage in something together. 

This week, we looked over the section on Nitrogen in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia*.

I’m considering purchasing the Britannica All New Kids’ Encyclopedia: What We Know & What We Don’t* as well. I’ll let you know if we get it, and what we think. I’m also aware we may be spending less time inside in front of encyclopedias this time of year and more time out in the garden and exploring outdoors, so we may set aside this purchase for the fall/winter.  

The Chickenology: The Ultimate Encyclopedia* on my wishlist may be a better resource for Spring. I didn’t mean to find this, but I’m convinced I need it in my life.  

*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 also stumbled into watching the Dr Dolittle movies from the 90s. I mentioned wanting to watch the newer one sometime, and Myles was determined to watch those first. We saw the first two, and then got hung up without Disney Plus for the third one. 

The next evening, we decided to try out the Netflix live action Death Note since we had finished the series. It’s not that I regret watching it, I just regret that it was ever made. How can you get so many things wrong (and yes, I mean wrong, not just creatively different – going opposite of direct rules the story hinges on is a failure). I will save the paragraphs of ranting I could add here for a more appropriate space. Myles seemed okay with it. 

We watched a few episodes of the anime as a palate cleanser. Much better. 

We pulled out our Greece Atlas Crate again to work on one of the craft projects included. Myles read the story about the Trojan Horse and followed the steps to create his own. He was proud to tell me the story and show me the hidden compartment in his horse – which he commented wouldn’t hold very much, but found the lever was fun to karate chop to open.

We left the house for a nice trail walk, overlooking the water, and of course, throwing rocks and sticks into it. I think it may be time to compile a list of places we’d like to explore when we see there’s a beautiful day.

I think my favorite day this week was the one we spent in our yard, relaxing, reading, playing, letting the dogs run around (especially enjoyable after a week of rain and almost constantly wet yard). 

We read a few more chapters of Monsters and Mold (Zoey and Sassafras)* while Myles climbed and hung from the monkey bars.  

Myles had also taken advantage of the warm day to clean out his chicken coop. He takes care of his chickens, including cleaning up after them, feeding them, and collecting their eggs. Now that his youngest chickens are laying eggs, he is looking for customers!

Previously, he has sold eggs to my grandparents and recorded his income on a spreadsheet. He purchases their food (of course I help when needed) and he even bought his new chicks last summer with the money he had saved up in his “business”. Obviously this teaches money management, counting, preparation, and other useful life skills.

We had a beautiful week.

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Bonus Thoughts, PDA edition

I sat down to write for the blog a couple weeks ago, and this flowed out of me instead. Ultimately, I culled it from our weekly post, but I wanted to save the thoughts to share separately. I won’t over-edit the original flow, so it starts with what took me through this thought process to begin with.  

We’ve hit a good stride. As I look over my notes (the list I mentioned starting here) it seems much the same as the past couple weeks now. For sharing, that seems uninteresting; but when I step back and think about it, I realize that means we’re easily keeping it rolling. We’ve set habits that are benefiting us, and the routine feels good enough that we don’t need to resist or fight against it.  

Myles is effortlessly entertaining himself, while also keeping up with learning goals outside of what we do together. This tells me that his needs are being met, and he’s learning how to fulfill them on his own as well. This has always been my goal, long term, and I’m amazed at how far he’s come already. He’s 8, and he knows how to manage his time quite well. I feel like better than many kids have reported they did when going off to college – this is a fault of the system and not the individuals.  

We homeschool to learn how to live, not just to learn about a topic. With ADHD, we both hyperfocus on any topic of interest we’re intrigued by at the time. Pursuing information will never be something that has to be forced on us, though force it, and we will certainly resist – even if we previously wanted to do it. 

Myles constantly rattles off facts that I have never shared with him. I don’t know where he picks it all up, honestly. He watches videos on YouTube that seem absolutely pointless to my conditioned mind of what makes up a valuable resource. 

Sometimes we will sit down to do a “lesson” together, and he lights up and tells me what he knows at a greater depth than our resource had to share. It’s so rewarding to see the enthusiasm as he can’t contain himself and has to tell me something he knows that relates. 

He’s encouraged to pursue his interests and work at a pace that feels comfortable. That’s the goal, learning to trust yourself and be aware of your personal needs. 

The way we were raised, it was all forced on us. We had to figure ourselves out in the moments around what had to be done: homework, chores, demands, demands, demands. They may not have even been so bad if we could have been aware of them and chosen to do them as they fit into our time. 

At least that’s what I’ve discovered in adulthood. Maybe I’d be content to never wash dishes again, but I don’t mind fitting it into a moment that I want a break from thinking and already plan to listen to an audiobook that has my interest.   It gives my hands something to do, it doesn’t require much from me beyond repetitive movement, and it’s beneficial to my environment. But tell me (even me telling myself) that I have to do the dishes or else, I will put it off as long as I can. I’ll even feel awful that I’m not doing it while actively resisting doing it!  

This benefits me in no way, but I still can’t just “do it.” 

When our kids are like this, it’s easy to tell them there are things they just have to do, it’s how it is, stop being lazy… We were given the same treatment. (Lucky if this doesn’t apply to you!)

At some point I had to stop and ask myself if there was a way to be less miserable. If I’m honest – and I had to get really honest with myself to have this breakthrough – I didn’t want to be here anymore. If I was committed to staying on earth because the thought of putting my absence on my child seemed more unfair than my own burdens, I had to find ways to make it manageable to be here. I can “break the rules” or I can be dead. Okay, maybe letting myself out of this cage is worth a try. 

I never want my child to feel this way! I also know that what works for me may not be what works for him. Instead of trying to find the exact right thing and market some fix that everyone can benefit from, I believe in freedom. People know themselves best – sometimes this takes deconstructing old patterns and fear-based training to even get to a point of self-trust. It’s a challenging process to go through. I also never want that for my child. 

It’s crucial to me that he finds his own path, that his inner voice is strong and trustworthy, that he takes comfort in navigating the imperfections of our flawed world. The goal isn’t to cast aside emotions, but to learn how to process them. It isn’t to have a precise schedule or a fully carefree never-schedule. It’s not to follow steps or have an external system designed by someone else, though maybe with personal awareness and insight, we develop our own systems that work for us. 

And that’s it! Allowing. Trusting. Guiding…but letting go. There’s magic in letting go. 

I didn’t know I was going to write about this. I just showed up, glanced at my notes and thought “hmm, looks like last week…” – and then started with the truth, which was just that. The rest flowed from observation, awareness, and trust in my feelings. Authenticity is powerful. Why do we try so hard to cover it up with systems and expectations? (I could share some answers to this, but that’s not my goal here)

I could have panicked that I didn’t have anything unique to share, and for a moment my brain entertained the thought, but it was just in passing. What I’ve allowed myself in validation but not living in the thoughts I don’t need to keep gives me so much freedom. 

I want you all to feel freedom and peace instead of what we’ve been burdened with. That’s why I’m here. That’s why we pursue learning the way we do. That’s why I choose to share it.