We’re officially doing summer break!

I wasn’t sure we would. We usually just flow and adapt as things in our life change, and that can be influenced by seasons but usually not schedules. 

I wouldn’t have intentionally stopped anything to start a break, but we have had a lot of major changes to our routine lately that have made me realize there’s also no reason to cling onto what we’ve been doing just to say we’re doing it – or otherwise fail to adapt smoothly. 

Instead of coming up with what we’re doing next, we’re just going to take all of the pressure and expectations off and see where life takes us. We always get to decide if we want to make intentional adjustments. I don’t need or want the control to try to manipulate anything into my reality right now. 

Let it happen. Let my mind rest. I work best when I’m calm and internally aware. These days, I trust my intuition even when everything else is all noise. I’m healing. I’m adjusting. I’m letting something amazing unfold. There’s enough going on without forcing anything else. 

Time to soak it in. When it’s time to plan again, I know I’ll be ready and excited to pursue the next steps. 

I’m exactly where I need to be, and I’m reminding myself that expectations can be adjusted to be where you’ve ended up instead of where you may have projected. It’s a different destination, not one we got wrong. 

Acknowledging all of this, I’m going to intentionally take a break from weekly updates of our activities focused around homeschool. I may show up to talk about what’s on my mind during this transition. I fully intend to be back with more of the same or some adaptation in the future. We’ll see what happens!

2021 Homeschool weeks 22 & 23

The week I chose to take off was filled with great activities I wanted to write about as they were happening. As I mentioned last week, I ended up inundated with social interaction; and when it came to writing or moving forward, I honored my need for easing into the new week over trying to force communication, even just by writing. Not much blog-worthy content took place the next week, but we gave ourselves permission to go with the flow.  

We started with a rainy Monday and Studio Ghibli films since I removed the need to push myself. We spent an evening playing cards with my grandparents, and we went for a fun swim where Sammy decided he needed to jump in to make sure we were okay!

The previous week rolled into the holiday weekend with an all night catch up with a friend who was in town. We spent the previous evening around the fire pit talking and continually googling the answers to Myles’ infinite questions about various topics that came up. I sat back and listened, realizing this is exactly why I’m comfortable taking the unschooling approach most of the time. A Sunday evening full of new concepts will always supersede trying to stay on track with a schedule for me.  

Myles ended up finding out he had also acquired a Minecraft buddy, and I “let” him stay up until 4am playing. At that point, I suggested he get some sleep, and he happily went to bed. The ADHD adults continued talking until Myles woke up again and showed off his chickens and their eggs. 

The next few days, Myles continued taking classes with Varsity Tutors. He finished:

Fun-damentals of Fractions, Multiplication, & Division 

Jurassic Class: All About Dinosaurs

Getting Bug-gy! Class

Primates of the World Class

Later in the week, we went berry picking with friends, which has become a yearly adventure for us. The berries are delicious, and it’s a lot of fun!

What may not seem like a week full of learning includes so much of real life without stopping to make it a contrived lesson. Beyond the information consumed,  we’re modeling how to learn, how to adjust, self-awareness, and growth.

Late update acknowledging transitions

Last week, I decided to give myself a break from my usual weekly updates. This week, I didn’t even write down our daily activities like I normally do. I went out of town one evening, and I let life move forward differently. 

This won’t be the first time I’ve mentioned expectations, and I’ll happily repeat that I try my best not to have them. I like to have the awareness to set intentions, check in, and adjust as needed. Over and over again. When much is changing, this process becomes more exhausting; even though it’s mostly passive, there’s more information to process, and often more unknowns. 

I let go of expectations and routine this week. It was uncomfortable. I wish I could say I handled it more gracefully because that means I would have felt better about it, but I feel my entire reality adjusting and it’s not easy to let go of a comfort zone. With awareness and perspective, I see I’m making necessary shifts in my life and the “comfort” I found to protect what I could of myself within an abusive relationship isn’t going to serve me long term. I’ve popped that bubble and reentered social life, and I’m finding my way. 

This changes how I show up for life, how I show up to write, the perspective I reflect and share from… That’s why I’m mentioning all this here. We’re not doing “business as usual” when usual keeps changing, and I think it often does for neurodivergent individuals. We’re fed a narrative of mental health depending on consistency, and it seems tied to external factors more than the internal ones. 

My personal consistency is growth which means changes happen internally and externally often. I’m not here to stay the same. I’m here to heal, to grow, to create, to embrace life, and let myself be free. 

Expectations that I tried to model have caused so much hurt and dissonance. I’m not following the unspoken rules anymore. I AM free. From societal expectations – and when I can work through my mind, from myself as well. I set intentions, and I don’t know if they’re all going to come along. Where am I headed now? I don’t know. This is the transition. Let’s see!

I’ve been waiting to post this until I had summarized our weekly update, intending to include weeks 22 and 23 together since I had given myself that week off in the last post. Now I’m just going to post this as it’s own update from a week ago, finish those summaries as I get to them, and then post about our next steps to get caught up!  I’m in a transition, and it makes sense that my personal writing would reflect that as well. Authenticity and transparency have been major goals from the beginning, and they won’t be compromised to keep up any appearances. Let’s normalize neurodivergent needs and preferred lifestyles instead of continuing to cause harm.

Weekly homeschool update paused for reflection…

I’m taking a week off from writing.  

I’ve had much more social interaction over the last week than I’m used to, and it has been wonderfully exhausting. 

Being autistic, it doesn’t matter how much I crave human connection, it will catch up with me if I don’t give myself proper time to rest. It doesn’t matter how pleasant the encounters, I still need ample time to myself to level back out. 

I am writing this, happily tired, honest, and grateful. It’s not a complaint. There’s no negativity. There is truth here that many seem to automatically jump to label as those things I had to make a point to say aren’t present here – and that’s exactly why I’m sharing this. 

This blog is about homeschooling. It’s about our lifestyle. And it’s about how neurodivergence doesn’t just play a role in our lives, it is the core of our existence. I talk about it because it IS who I am. It’s not a chosen identity; it’s inherent. 

Learning how neurodivergence affects my life changed my entire existence. There’s no shame for me in how I naturally operate. I no longer see my needs as “wrong” as I was trained from the beginning. I’m learning how to stand up for myself, where my limits are, and how to be kind to myself. I’m learning how to let things be, how to work with what I have, and how to prioritize my needs and goals. 

I woke up today aware that if I were to sit down and try to write a post about our week in my state of social exhaustion, I’d be putting on a mask to pull it off. It wouldn’t be fake, but it wouldn’t be from the intimate state of expression where writing I value comes from. It wouldn’t be from the flow that I’m effortlessly drawing from to express these thoughts now. 

It feels about like what I did last week, when I was following my routine to get it done and knew I didn’t have a ton of extra intimacy to give away with my words. I don’t think it was a terrible update, but it’s not my standard. 

Anybody can write “5 facts that keep neurodivergents feeling left out and unrepresented”. That’s the norm. I aim to create a space where there’s truth that breeds familiarity, comfort, and belonging. I want to bring our most basic needs to life in a way that removes the ingrained assumptions that everything we do is wrong because we operate differently. I want to share ways that work for us because we are supporting our needs. I want to offer encouragement that inspires hope instead of further longing to find something that feels right. 

I’m taking a break from writing our weekly update so I don’t fall into the trap of going through the motions, reporting on it as if it were someone else’s life when I feel so removed from what has happened even a week ago. The more social interactions I pile up without time between, the more time I’m going to need to process them all. I hesitated to say I’m overwhelmed because I always associated that with panic, by the time I’d admit it to myself. I have more to process than I can keep up with if I keep my current pace. 

I’m sharing this instead because I know it’s relatable. I see homeschool parents express overwhelm often. I see them trying to uphold expectations and figure out how to meet their needs after the fact. I don’t miss trying to operate my life that way. I won’t do it again because I’ve found my freedom. I hope to inspire others to do the same. I’m also never going to stand here in this beautiful space I’ve created for myself and tell you that if you “just” do this thing that it all improves. I will tell you that unlearning and going inward to discover what hurts can set you free. 

I’m writing about not writing because we don’t always have to do it all. Or we can choose to do it in a different way. Expectations are a useful tool for setting goals and preparing for the future. They can become dangerous when we stick to them harder than our own inner guidance. Resistance is a sign for me that I have other needs to prioritize. Awareness helps me determine what I need to take care of. Permission allows me to choose. 

Some of us still struggle with giving ourselves permission because we never realized we could take back our power. I want to raise a child who never has to give his away. He’s free now, not once he’s legally a certain age. (I am not going to preemptively entertain extreme arguments after this statement. If you feel a need to argue, you probably haven’t set yourself free and you don’t want others to have what you couldn’t. Look within.)

I’ll leave you with this: I spent years seeking. Adding. Learning how to fix. When I started examining the reasons adding new things wasn’t working, I started peeling off layers and eventually letting them go. 

When I woke up today (Monday) feeling like writing about our week was going to be arduous and take more from our new week than the value provided by pushing myself, I gave myself permission to adjust expectations.  

With past practice, it didn’t take long at all to feel out what was right for me today. Even then, after deciding not to write, I wrote and let it flow. I adjusted again. I gave myself permission to trust what felt right more than a rigid expectation, even a new one I’d just set. Here we are. I feel free. I feel I created something better than if I’d forced myself to stick to the norm. I also created my freedom because now I’m done – with minimal effort, maximum connection, and fluid authenticity.

I could say so much more about any of these topics, but for now, here’s how they intertwine. If you’re left with any questions, please ask!

2021 Homeschool Week 21 | May 25

We had a busy week! Myles has recently asked for lots of different classes, and several new ones started this week alongside the math fundamentals class I suggested and the one time webinars we’ve been enjoying. We finally got to spend some more time in the pool, and we even tried out one of our webinar classes while floating around in it.  

Despite all the information we learned and interacted with this week, I have a feeling this one isn’t going to be too long. I won’t be relaying all the information shared in class or reading the hours of books to you, after all. We may have used a half hour break between classes to clean up or catch up on something, but we didn’t have the same flow of open days that turn into interest-led adventure. While Myles is happy with the structure and information he asked to learn about, I’m not going to get in his way!

I can’t remember if he had asked for another session of Getting Bug-gy or if I had signed up for more than one, not knowing how our ability to show up might work out. Either way, he started a new session this week. With different instructors, a new session of the class may focus on completely different material, which often makes it rewarding to repeat classes of interest. 

Myles had asked for Jurassic Class: All About Dinosaurs, which I think he took some time late last summer or in the Fall. Repetition means getting a more solid grasp on the basics and building depth in understanding. This sets a foundation for learning how to learn, and those concepts will be grasped much easier with a topic of interest than one that’s a struggle to stay focused on. 

Usually Myles chooses his own classes, and I may suggest ones I think he would be interested in. Sometimes he agrees, sometimes he’s not in a mood to take any classes at all. For awhile, we didn’t, but lately he’s been asking for them. I asked him to take one class, Fun-damentals of Fractions, Multiplication, & Division, and he ended up with a fantastic teacher who explains so much visually and in easy to process ways. Myles loved the class, and I’m so glad he’s had an opportunity to have math presented to him in a way he can understand. This is often a struggle for neurodivergent kids, though when it comes to using math practically, we never seem to have problems – we just think it through and find the solution!

His Primates of the World Class only meets once a week, and continued this week for the second week in a row of three consecutive weeks. I enjoy hearing him share bits of information he has picked up with others as they converse. 

He continued his Coding Games: Computer Science for Elementary School class, but skipped the last session for a webinar that aired live at the same time. He had a great introduction to Scratch and how to start coding. He has played around with it some on his own, and I suspect he will take another class in the future for more direction again. For now, the sound effects and putting together odd characters is entertaining.  

Of the webinars we watched this week, Live from Omaha Children’s Museum: Bug Squad’s Mission Possible was an extremely fun and well-performed informational show. I’ve never seen one quite like this. It should be available on the Varsity Tutors YouTube page, if you’re looking for entertaining ways to learn about bugs!

We also joined Science and Spies from our pool floats to learn about how secret messages were sent during the Revolutionary War.  

Outside of classes, we spend some more time in the yard, preparing garden beds and taking care of seedlings. We’re behind when we could have started, but “behind” is a standard I don’t like to put too much pressure on. We’re tending to our garden slowly and in a manageable way for this particular season. 

We’ve continued listening to our Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Book 7* audiobook and our puzzle got a little more of our attention, but not enough to finish it off yet! I enjoy knowing it’s there when I do feel like searching for a piece or two. It can provide a nice transition between activities, the cool down from one task to another, staying focused without the demand of the next task colliding too intensely with the previous one. It adds no pressure, and lets the thoughts flow freely while occupying a different layer of my attention.  

In the past, I would have seen this as avoidance instead of a transition. Now I know how and why my brain processes and how I function best, I don’t add the same guilt or push myself past the things that actually help me move forward better. I’m also much less likely to avoid moving forward because I’m giving myself what I need to get there. Our kids may need transitions or routines that help them keep moving too. 

Myles started a new Minecraft audiobook on his own The Endermen Invasion*. This one is included with an Audible membership, and we’ve been so focused on books we’ve sought out, that we haven’t spend much time listening to others that we have access to while we’re subscribed. I think we may pause our membership for a bit to catch up on our intentional listens, like finishing Harry Potter and The Hobbit and moving through the Lord of the Rings series. We often don’t have time to listen to the extras while listening to what we’ve already chosen, and it makes access to the included catalogue feel like a waste.  We both chose books last week to listen to before our current membership is up.

He also read some books in his room – this time not all or even any of them by Mo Willems! (if you’ve been following along)

This week, he told me he had chosen to read:
Iggy Peck, Architect (The Questioneers)
Rosie Revere, Engineer (The Questioneers)
Lost and Found
Up and Down
The Day the Crayons Quit

We started the second book of Amulet The Stonekeeper’s Curse*, and I love that he is enthusiastic to suggest reading this to me when he sees we have free 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.

Our friends got new kittens this week, and we got a chance to visit, chat, and play games with them. It was a much needed reunion and reminder of how important fulfilling relationships can be, even just for short visits

There were a few things I meant to get to that didn’t fit into our week, and looking back, I see how full and involved it was without much effort on my part beyond keeping it moving. A couple weeks ago, I mentioned setting intentions but also allowing flow, and I feel we’ve continued that nicely. We don’t always get to everything. Sometimes ideas get put off for weeks, but when they’re flexible, they’ll still be there waiting for us when we do need something to do again!

How do you handle changes in plans or expectations? Is it stressful when things don’t go how you’ve intended, or do you allow yourself to adjust with grace? (or both)

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