2021 Homeschool Week 17 | April 26

I took a much needed break this weekend from expectations and trying to keep up. I’m showing up to this space mentally refreshed and refocused on my purpose here. 

I’m reminded of what I know to be true for myself – that when I allow space, I end up achieving much more of what I want and balancing my time better than if I tried to plan every moment to a schedule. 

Lately, I have had a very unimposing schedule with babysitting a few days after school and one long day each weekend. Even then, the combination of that with time demands for – and I know we’ve been trained to believe this sounds ridiculous – reaching a major life goal, took over my life flow and had me feeling too close to burnout and survival mode.

This weekend, I was repeatedly reminded of why I choose this lifestyle and put in all the work required to maintain it. It’s not because it’s effortless, but because it creates the freedom my soul craves. It’s the only way for me to live. I compromise and sacrifice too much of myself when I try to live by rules that don’t fit me. So I’m committed to my responsibility to myself and the human in my care to continue to seek a lifestyle that benefits us to our core, not just to perpetuate our existence. 

With this refreshed sense of freedom, I’m sure next week will be more exciting to share. For now, here’s how we got through this last week. 

Not yet refreshed, I gave myself the space to not overwhelm myself with demands, while not quite feeling I had enough space to let my whole guard down while there were still expectations – that had to wait for the weekend as mentioned above, when my time and space could be fully reclaimed.  

I relied on classes from Varsity Tutors for stimulation and learning this week. I had already signed us up for them, and they came at the perfect time to let them take the lead.  

Myles took another session of Around the World with Google Earth, exploring different regions on the map. He spent time outside of class continuing to explore as he was interested. He found his dad’s house and worried that it had a sale sign! I explained how the photos are taken and updated over time, and that the photos must have been from the time before they moved in there. He said he was going to look for our house next.  

He continued a class he had started last week: Playing in the Parks. The instructor outlined the types of parks they would be looking at each class session, including national parks, theme parks, underwater parks, and more. Perfect timing with the purchase of our RV for him to be discovering places he would like to travel!

He also continued his class, Getting Bug-gy, exploring insects. One class this week focused on the praying mantis, and he learned lots of facts that kept him entertained while we worked on a jigsaw puzzle together.  

I let myself be drawn to connecting pieces when I needed to be doing something but not doing something that felt demanding. 

One morning while I was doing this, Myles set himself up with classes, finishing his audiobook The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire 1)* before it had to be returned to the library, and playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo Switch*. He listened to his audiobook before and between classes, and he played his game throughout. It worked perfectly for him. I could tell he wasn’t bored when class wasn’t moving at a pace that would keep him fully engaged, and he made responses to class from time to time that amused me, realizing how much of his attention it was also getting even if it may not have looked like it.  

*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 completed our last week of babysitting with lots more outdoor playtime and a couple extra afternoons together instead of the long weekend day. We will definitely have to continue to get these two together for adventures outside of babysitting needs.  

The previous weekend, Myles stayed with me so they could play together. He normally goes to his Dad’s house over the weekend, but both kiddos said it would be more fun if he stayed. We got out a ton of arts and craft supplies, they created a restaurant where they served each other food, and they made up plenty of other games with his toys.

Observing their interactions shows me how much trusting Myles with his own thoughts and perceptions has strengthened his ability to navigate personal interactions from authenticity. We did have a couple talks about choosing how we want others to feel while interacting with us and how we can be genuine and honest while also being kind – and how all of that is a choice for each individual to explore and balance.  

We went to the park with another friend again. Everyone goes to bed early for school, so showing up before dusk gives time to play with random kids and then wind down with all the equipment alone – best of both worlds! We discovered this by coincidence, but we may keep it on purpose.

That was our week: simple, relaxing, engaging without being overwhelming… It was what we needed this week. Next week will inevitably look different as we adjust to our time being fully our own again. We may fall into a new routine that lasts us a few weeks in a row, or we may continue to find each week brings new things. Some of the things that we’ve put off until we had more time will come back into focus. The weather warming up again will bring increased gardening, or maybe just garden planning if the rain forecast holds true. 

Wishing you a fantastic week of adventure and peace!

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2021 Homeschool Week 16 | April 19

After last week, I love that I have this example to balance it out. I felt the weight of things again this week. It wasn’t because I deferred last week’s responsibilities and they caught up with me. I did have extra sensory input over the weekend instead of peaceful calm – even then, I came out of it feeling happiness the next day instead of overwhelm. Then this week I had many new steps to take, and I get uneasy about the unknown, as many do, especially neurodivergent because we so often prepare in advance so we don’t get it wrong like we’re used to … I don’t like to be caught off guard when I’m constantly having to translate my natural state to how things around me work differently…

Anyway, I felt constantly behind, avoidant, and I wouldn’t fully let myself relax because there were things that needed to be done even if I wasn’t finding the fortitude I needed in that very moment to do them. I made it through a few uncomfortable days before I started feeling caught up again (and that didn’t last either!). I didn’t panic during those days. I didn’t hate them. I wasn’t miserable. I would have been in the past from expectations and shame I put on myself for not living up to standards of perfectionism attained from compiled judgements trying to please anyone and everyone who may happen to notice. These days, I think I’d be amused to hear a judgement about myself, just to know what others see versus how I feel. 

I could say this week was hard. It was less comfortable. It also brought a huge step forward toward life goals I’ve been passively seeking for years. Now we’re here! 

So I’m feeling discomfort?

I have the awareness that I need time to recover, to catch up, to not take too much on, or at least to not feel there are too many demands. If I take the pressure off and choose the work, I get so much done without feeling like I’ve over-extended myself. I know this now. Trying to follow my perception of everyone else’s expectations kept me in a performance waiting for my ratings from tough critics, and even when it was enough for some, it was never enough for me. I was so unkind to myself, seeking to prove myself to every person on the planet before I could believe I was worthy. 

You’re a part of your homeschool. How you feel matters in this. How you take care of yourself, allow yourself, talk to yourself…it all influences that. It’s all a part of how our kids see us interacting with the world as well, whether they become like us or resist it. 

We got through the week, Myles taking a few Varsity Tutors classes and playing games. Me, having plenty of extra responsibilities to juggle to get in place in a timely manner. We still had babysitting adventures, which meant lots of playing and fun together, too.

If you’d like to see the highlights, go check out our Instagram page. I’ll get back to sharing in more detail here, but for this week, I’m practicing kindness instead of burdening myself with lengthy descriptions when I’m all out of words.  

We also bought our RV this week (yes, the reason for so much extra juggling – insurance, mechanic, bank, schedules, phone tag…none of these autistic-friendly activities).

It’s also pictured on our Instagram, with “before” pictures of the inside coming soon. I can’t wait to clean it up, make it our own, and make plans for travel! The exhaustion will be well worth it, but until then, time to recover!

2021 Homeschool Week 15 | April 12

Oh no, we didn’t open any books again!

(We did listen to audiobooks, though – three, even)

Our available time and energy has shifted again. And with that, some habits have dissolved and are being replaced with new routines. I notice myself feeling like I haven’t done the things I’m used to, while reframing expectations to include all that’s been added. Are we balanced?

My effort in homeschooling this week felt minimal. It didn’t make a big impact on me. Looking back over the week to assess what we did, I started to think “oh no, did I forget to homeschool this week? Do I retroactively call this Spring Break? All we did was play in the pool… “ 

Then I look over the day to day list I keep clipped to the front of a clipboard to quickly track and recall what we’ve done – I write it in as we do it or at least when I take a break. This week, I had scribbled a few things on a scrap sheet of paper so I wouldn’t forget to record them neatly and in order, two days not even getting written down on the master sheet until part way through writing this. 

Yesterday I had asked, “hey kiddo, what did you do yesterday morning when you got up?” to which he replied “mom, I always do the same thing!” Then I had to acknowledge I meant AFTER he took care of his chickens. “Oh, Prodigy then Cubic Castles,” he replied. “I thought that’s what you did today?” I asked. “It is, and yesterday” he answered, going back to his game. (Further explanation of Prodigy math game and other thoughts below to keep a good flow through our week and my reflections on it).

He also had a couple classes with Varsity Tutors this week that he completed on his own. His Under the Sea: Ocean Exploration Class wrapped up with one last class, and he started a new session of Around the World with Google Earth since we enjoyed the previous class. We didn’t make it to every class of either Google Earth session, but it’s easily a class to come in and out of – and also shows him how he can explore at his own interest in the future. 

Sometimes I listen in on classes, and sometimes I use it as an opportunity to do other things. This week, I’m in spring cleaning mode, swapping out winter wardrobes for summer pieces, finding swimsuits and which clothes fit, and discovering what we may need. 

While Myles played and I managed our lives and home, we listened to audiobooks as we typically do.

Life is best with the proper level of sensory input for any given moment. This has become a major awareness in how we find balance, adding or taking away as needed. (I have noise cancelling headphones, Myles has chew necklaces, we check in with each other about adding things like music…)

We finally finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5*! We listened to this one slowly over months, listening for hours at a time or not at all for several weeks. We purchased it through audible, so we can easily do this at our leisure as it fits around other things. When we check out books from the library, we attempt to prioritize finishing them quickly, but often we have to check them out more than once. 

Myles had started listening to The Dragonet Prophecy: Wings of Fire, Book 1* and didn’t make it too far before we got busy with other things. When it became available again this week, he decided to restart it. 

We picked up where we left off on The Hobbit*, trying to commit to finishing this one before we move on to the next book in the Harry Potter series. We may or may not keep to this plan. If you haven’t noticed by now, we do what we want when it causes no harm. 

*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 afternoons in the pool, taking our time filling it up while splashing around or floating on floats…making the most of each stage of the filling up process. It will be full for the rest of the summer. Filling it up is part of the fun!  

Our babysitting adventures continued with our friend’s first softball game and a sunny afternoon in the pool.

Myles played with another friend at the park, well after sunset and everyone else leaving. I made a note to myself this is a fantastic time to play at the park, though not such a great time to try to keep reading while they play!

At home, we tried out Myles’ new drone. He created a takeoff spot on top of an old coffee container. He called it the landing strip, but I assure you it never landed there!

Together, we opened a new Atlas Crate on Kenya.

We looked over the Adventure Cards, drawn to the vibibi (pancake) recipe and the mancala game I remember playing when I was a kid. We also explored the map of Kenya and some random facts provided. Myles is looking forward to doing the crafts, which I’ll likely get to show off next week!

I’ve been really impressed with the Atlas Crates so far, and I’m glad we tried these out. If you’re interested in getting your own crate, our link will give you a $10 credit (we get one too, thanks!).

We also had a conversation about taxes and why I needed to spend my time doing them, how they work, and why they’re taken. 

We watched a couple Disney movies and of course continued on our journey through the Arrowverse. 

I wanted to take a more in-depth look at what contributed to how I felt with a less hands on approach this week since I didn’t choose it intentionally or notice until reflecting back.

Life finally just flowed. That’s a time I want to slow down and notice how to continue supporting this in the future.

I mentioned that Myles has been playing a lot of Prodigy math game. It’s a math-based adventure game that is progressed by solving math problems, which causes damage toward enemy attacks and provides rewards.

He goes to it on his own, seeking the fun and personal reward it brings. He’s motivated to answer the questions and learn in order to progress the game. 

It’s almost like with proper motivation, humans pursue their desires.

Why then do we force so much on kids instead of giving them the freedom to find for themselves what motivates and drives them forward with passion? Why as a society do we have so little trust in children? Why do we rarely call them people, needing them to constantly be distinguished as less than adults? When kids challenge authority, we say they’re disrespectful and choose punishment before we even listen. Then we ask adults to come up with poor solutions to issues they can only see from their trained (brainwashed) perspective. Pat ourselves on the back and repeat. (This is a systemic issue, not a personal attack – though if you feel defensive, that’s your sign to examine your training and take back your control. You get to choose how you live this life.)

While Myles was playing, I was taking care of various things around our home, keeping up, planning ahead, getting the details handled before it feels like last minute chaos so it runs smoothly – what a luxury! (For once, this is not sarcasm, just single parent reality!)

Because he was able to learn independently, it was extremely low impact for me, and I almost forgot it happened – exactly why I record a day to day list of activities for my convenience.

The list I keep is easy, not a micromanagement tool, which I point out because I know how easy it is to become obsessed with lists as if they’re going to suddenly be the thing that fixes your life….when you’re trying to live it by standards that don’t work for you. In this case, this list is a quick tool for my memory and it’s useful in that regard. It’s extremely easy to keep up with, and it adds more than it takes from me to keep up with. 

This may seem obvious to some, but if just existing in this world has taken more effort than you typically have to give, you’re not alone. Keeping up with norms for the sake of being normal will cause burn out for the neurodivergent. It’s not easy to rid yourself of the expectations that have forever been imposed upon you. From this side, I’d argue it’s worth it, and remind you it doesn’t happen all at once. I haven’t forgotten how impossible it felt to get here, but it also felt impossible to live on that side of things. Often, I didn’t want to live at all…not because I wanted to die, I just didn’t want to live…like that. 

So this week I lived a life I want to live, didn’t feel the impact of “work”, and kept it going smoothly. One thing I enjoy about sharing our week is that it brings me to reflect over it. Sometimes we only notice when things aren’t going well and forget to be grateful for the smooth times that feel more effortless. 

This week was busy enough, but balanced well. 

Looking over the week from a past mindset, it’s almost like I’m living someone else’s life. Saying that, I realize what that means for the past version of myself that made the commitment to get here one step at a time. 

It’s not effortless or accidental. It has taken so much awareness, unlearning, and growth to get here; and I refuse to sit on this side of things making anyone feel like their current place on this journey is anything less than where they should be right now. (We don’t do ableism or toxic positivity here.)

I hope to inspire you, showing you it wasn’t always this way for me, so you know it’s attainable and not just luck that brought me here. I’ve finally made it where I set out to be, when I knew I wanted freedom but didn’t know how to let go of expectations to get there. When I still thought it was more about adding things to be “better” than taking away the things that were in the way.

I realize it in seemingly insignificant moments or short reflections. I am grateful for where I am, and I appreciate myself for doing the work to get here. I appreciate the reality I have created and now get to live. It’s a journey worth taking.

I encourage you to create the life you want to live. It doesn’t need to look like mine. It gets to feel like peace and freedom to you. What would that be like for you?

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 14 | April 5

As I sit down to write this, last week’s blog post is still unpublished. I’ve felt behind all week, while feeling optimistically hopeful for the next free time to catch up.

As I look over the simple log of our activities this week, I’m noticing we didn’t pick up a single book to explore any of our ongoing topics. No Greek myths, no world wonders, no science encyclopedia, no plant studies. No subscription boxes, either.  

And none of those are problems! 

We have freedom to have our weeks flow as they will, with our intentional guidance and our lack of rigid control.

This week was just as perfect as any other. It was also just as disorganized as any other. The way you feel about that second statement depends on your perspective. For me, it doesn’t contrast with the first, but plays nicely with it.

We didn’t “do nothing” just because it looked different than it has lately, and I could easily see the lack of past habits as defeat. 

But all of these things came to be because we chose them as experience nudged us in their direction. None of it was chosen to be “correct” or the only path we could take.

That’s the beauty of it; we get off road and explore it all. Sometimes we come back to the path, sometimes we find another one. Sometimes we make a new one entirely!

So here’s what this short week in our lifetime of adventures looked like:

Monday we did our egg hunt because it was too dark Sunday after Myles came home from his dad’s house.

Sunday evening, we prioritized going to see my grandparents and finding the eggs they hid, by request to be very difficult to find. They were, and it took us quite a while to discover them all, while Myles’ attitude went from skeptical they wouldn’t be too easy to find to a bit frustrated it was harder than he had expected. He was quite pleased when he opened them and received his Easter basket, so all was well after the hard work was done.

So Monday morning, Myles got up and took care of his chickens and dogs as usual, read some books on his own, and played some more of the new game he found recently, Wordscapes. 

I hid eggs in the yard, and he insisted he was ready for them to be hard, so there were a few good challenges. I had assembled our above ground pool over the weekend as a surprise, so I hid his Easter basket along the closest wall where he wouldn’t be able to see it until he really looked in, and I hid an egg in the middle to draw him in.  

Can you see the excitement and surprise?

Not only was he excited to notice the pool, but then he found the drone he has been wanting in his Easter basket! We had to rush off to babysit before we could find batteries that weren’t corroded or used up, and we somehow didn’t make it back to the drone this week with the rainy weather and other activities we had planned. Pictures coming next week, I’m sure!

We spent two afternoons playing with a friend outside again, swinging, walking through the woods, and imagining all kinds of scenarios to play out.  

Freedom, fun, and dirty fingernails!

Remember how I mentioned I was behind all week? Myles spent mornings playing games or watching YouTube while I attempted to catch up on last week’s blog post and other things. He spent a good bit of time on Prodigy math game again as well as a little time on Cubic Castles and CardLife. I also found him playing a few games of chess online between other games.  

We started a new class with Varsity Tutors from their Spring Break Series, Travel the World with Google Earth. The instructor took time to interact with students, asking where they were from and what places they would like to visit.

He encouraged downloading the Google Earth software, and he showed how they could use the street view to explore new locations, so long as they had street view available. He mentioned how some countries didn’t make that information available and pointed out a few that didn’t, while encouraging students to look for new places to visit on the map. They looked at historic landmarks as well as simple details like buses parked on the street or what a bank or store might look like in that area. Overall, they got a great feel for how other places are similar and different to their norm.

We weren’t able to make every day of class, so I looked for a future session to try it again. This is the kind of class you could take multiple times and it would be different every time, as well. I’m sure you’ll see me mention it again in the upcoming weeks. This class was a free, large group class, as the others I’ve previously mentioned have been. If you are looking for a particular subject, tutoring, or even monthly access to an array of classes, you can use our link to sign up with a $10 credit (we get one also, thank you).

Now that Myles’ chickens are consistently laying eggs, he’s been working on getting a few regular customers. This has added friendship and opportunities as well. Kittens, pool invitation, friends stopping by to hand eggs into their vehicles or coming into the yard to see the whole setup – and maybe be invited into a backyard game of real life Minecraft.  

We kept our Harry Potter book moving forward this week, listening while I continued to tackle house needs and Myles helped or played games. He brought the Switch out again this week for some Minecraft and Fortnite one evening. 

Thursday, we went to Garvan Woodland Gardens. As my grandmother was looking for a map, the woman pointing her to them prompted Myles to grab a nature bingo sheet we had overlooked on the way in. He looked it over, suddenly ready to go on his own mission.

Myles with his nature bingo sheet, stickers, and a map!

We explored the gardens, walking down long paths lined with tulips, several waterfalls, many rocks to skip across, and bridges made from different materials and designs. We made our way to the Evans Adventure Garden with a fascinating “Tree House” and found a model train garden, among other neat features.

The Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House at Garvan Woodland Gardens

For more photos of the gardens and our adventures as they take place, you can follow us on Instagram, here.

Overall, it was a full but very different week for us.  

I will admit I’m looking forward to the days we will pull out our visual encyclopedias and dive into the next Atlas Crate, but I didn’t feel they were missing from the flow of this week and where it took us.

I look forward to adventures, gardening, travel….too many things to fit into one week, which I’d argue is good since we have many of them to live. They don’t all have to look the same. Allowing freedom is so empowering…and freeing!

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 13 | March 29

Last week, I mentioned starting a new adventure this week. We’re spending time with another kiddo while her mom works, which means breaking up our current routine and getting to do some new things! 

So far, we’ve spent a lot of time playing outside and going on little outdoor adventures together. We’ll have plenty of time together this month, and I’m looking forward to all the new experiences we will find to entertain ourselves. 

The beauty of this lifestyle with its flexibility and freedom is that we can embrace each change as it comes. In the past I may have dreaded the impact on my schedule or worried how we would continue to get everything done. Instead, I see opportunity and fresh fun to create. 

This is a huge mindset shift, and no matter how much I wanted to be a relaxed go with the flow person, my previous expectations didn’t support it. 

Looking back, it seems odd to choose a checklist or inflexible goals over a balanced flow that brings with spontaneity and ease more than we could imagine to plan. 

How much did I miss out on? I cringe thinking about it. 

I don’t regret giving myself permission to make things more comfortable for myself and to create a new lifestyle that fits my needs and keeps my life feeling like I want to participate in it. 

This week, it brought about lots of imaginative play, almost falling in a creek, and meeting a new dog. The kiddos played baseball with old apples that had been thrown out into the yard. There was lots of swinging, laughter, and occasional outbursts calling out unfair play, which they quickly resolved.

When you find a tossed out apple, you might get in some batting practice

A bonus to spending time outside of the house is seeing our home differently when we’re back here. 

Do you feel like that too? Where being out of your norm shows you your surroundings differently than when you’ve become accustomed to them? When you’re in a routine, everything fades into the background instead of being obviously available to interact with? Habits take precedence over the stacks of things you set aside to get to when there was another focus taking the top priority?

It’s efficient! It also makes for accidental messiness. 

This may be an ADHD thing. Now that I think about it, I believe I did see a conversation in the ADHD community involving objects fading into the background and out of our immediate focus. Anyway, it is MY reality, regardless. 

I’ve had enough of the judgement from those who don’t naturally function this way. And the labels we’re given because we’re only seen from the neurotypical expectation instead of honoring differences in literal brain functioning, processing, awareness, focus. We’re not broken individuals, and I’m so grateful for the community binding us together over shared experiences. 

I’m not going to edit out my extra thoughts here or derail them as being sidetracked or add any such negativity to them. I will get back to my initial point, though – while not apologizing for how I share information in a space I’ve created to share – myself! (How good does that feel? Are you an over-apologizer? We can talk about that later.)

With our extra time out and about, efficient focus on unintentional routines was broken and redirected to fresh interaction with our environment. I noticed things I would get to “later” and I felt I had the available energy to tackle some of them instead of further putting them off. 

You know how we always put things off because we’re lazy, right? Or possibly because of an awareness that the extras have to be budgeted into our available energy to do not only them but also the usual day to day maintenance and moving forward with life without reaching overwhelm or burnout. 

Simple, right? “Just do the things” and of course, “If you just give up tv, you can…” …never wind down so that I end up more broken than if I’d rested? No thanks… I will never prioritize neatness over my mental health, while also acknowledging neatness also helps my mental health. When I define this by my own needs and not by what’s been forced on me, suddenly it doesn’t seem so paradoxical or wrong, it just is. 

Did I get off topic again? No, not really. This is the purpose of it all. It’s important. This matters more than where your kid sat at a desk and wrote down some words. This is the core of why we’re doing what we do and how it impacts our entire lives. It’s not homeschool versus extracurriculars versus other unnamed expectations. It’s LIFE. The whole thing is all wrapped up together, and the way we interact with ourselves and our expectations is the most effective way to enjoy or loathe the life we’re living!

This is the part of the conversation where the neurodivergent person breaking through norms and acknowledging truth then starts to apologize or discredit their words. I will not do it! I am not sorry, and I will not apologize for reclaiming a space in this world that I felt I had to give up because I was made to feel uncomfortable for being different. 

If you’re a neurodivergent parent, I would love to hear your thoughts about all this. If you’re a neurotypical parent of a neurodivergent child, this is a fantastic opportunity for you to see an honest account of neurodivergent experience in this world. When you say, “I wish I understood”, here is your chance! Usually we follow our training to shrink, apologize, and do it the “normal” way as best we can. Not here.

– What a roundabout way to say I did some deep cleaning of my house, huh?   – 

See, this is the kind of transition we expect, where I call myself out on not having a linear focus (because my thoughts are much more like a complex interconnected web than a line of subway stops) and sheepishly call myself back to the point.  Again, no, not here. 

I did however hyperfocus on my home after the above mentioned shift that got my attention while compelling me to continue giving it my attention. Oh how I cherish a good hyperfocus. I leaned in, turned on our Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* audiobook, and we did the things. I fixed my dryer, put the back panel back on, cleaned behind it while it was pulled out for the first time in 9 or 10 years. 

Myles jumped in and cleaned behind the washing machine, reclaiming a lightsaber that had fallen behind it yeeears ago. We reorganized and cleaned surfaces that get ignored in the usual routine, moving while listening, which brought an excellent balance of sensory stimulation. 

Myles helped scrub the floor after I tackled some neglected tools and gardening supplies that had become intermixed as we had to set them aside to focus on other things. 

I finished a project that had forced several things to stay in my way, but couldn’t be completed earlier due to my helper being absent for a surgery and recovery time. It’s not always so straightforward as we’re lazy and messy with a bunch of excuses, is it?

All of this took place while we listened to our audiobook and enjoyed it. When Myles saw that there wasn’t currently some way for him to obviously help, he went to his laptop and played Prodigy Math. If I found something I needed help with, I’d ask, and he would come help and then go back to it. The flow I talk about? This is an excellent example of one way it can take place. 

Another way? When I’m occupied in the mornings writing or getting some other work done, Myles often chooses between several activities he knows he can easily do on his own. While these were things I suggested at one point, he chooses them on his own with no prompting, and he wasn’t told he had to do that, just that I need to focus.

Often, he will choose something to read on his own. I’ve talked about how reluctant he was to read for so long, but he has gained confidence with the freedom to explore it on his terms. I keep sharing the books he’s chosen to show what that looks like and how it develops. 

Lately, he’s been on a Mo Willems book binge. He brought me a stack of 18 books he read over two mornings. While I usually link a quick list of his books, this one would take over the entire post! I’m going to link the sets that encompass a majority of the books read and maybe include a few extras that we probably also have and have read. 

Elephant & Piggie Series Entire Complete 25 Books Set Collection Bundle by Mo Willems*

Mo Willems Knuffle Bunny Book Set of 3 – [Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Guest]*

Don’t Let the Pigeon Series 6 Books Collection Set by Mo Willems (Pigeon Drive the Bus, Stay Up Late, Ducking Gets a Cookie, Finds a Hot Dog, Needs a Bath & Wants a Puppy)*

*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.

When he’s not reading, he may play a computer or phone game. I’ve noticed him playing Wordscapes several times over the last couple weeks. He said he discovered it from an ad on DuoLingo and downloaded it for fun. He also practiced German on DuoLingo this week when I was practicing on mine. He played CardLife on his laptop this week as well, which includes building and exploring. 

We started a new class with Varsity Tutors, Under the Sea: Ocean Exploration Class. Among others I likely missed, they studied sea otters, sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and jellyfish while looking at a great mix of picture slides and videos their instructor had put together. 

Under the Sea: Ocean Exploration class

We also found time for one topic in the materials section of our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* looking at Ceramics and a few pages in Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom (Smithsonian)* reviewing seed types and how they’re distributed and looking at the life cycle of a plant. 

We watched the entire season of Wanda Vision for fun and relaxation. I don’t always talk about our downtime, but sometimes I throw it in here too. Really, our “learning time” vs “relaxing time” is basically just different resources in some sort of loose routine we fell into for morning vs evening. 

We feel pretty relaxed throughout the day most days, and our learning isn’t limited to a certain time of day or certain resources, though some may focus on more traditionally praised forms of learning. If anything, we’re typically busier during the day and more restful in the evenings – but this is not always true!

As I was looking through photos to add to this post, I found the perfect example I had almost overlooked from our week. We started one morning reading our next story in D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths*, getting cozy for a bit while eating breakfast. I remember an evening in the past that we opened books for the first time that day at 11:30pm. Unless we have a particular reason to prioritize something else, we do what we feel like in the moment.

*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.

Eating breakfast while reading stories of Hades and Persephone

Have a great week – or whatever I’m supposed to say to signal this post is over! 

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 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.

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.

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.