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?

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