2021 Homeschool Week 8 | February 22

Awhile back I made a post walking through one day of our homeschool, and I’ve been thinking about sharing something like that again. This week, we had two days in a row that were quite different, and both wonderful in their own ways. I thought it would be a great opportunity to show a couple examples of what our time spent can look like. 

I often share about the things we do, sometimes showing how topics overlap or how we multitask to keep our quick brains moving along. Because we don’t follow an all in one curriculum, I’m always sharing resources and how we interact with them. I’ve talked about classes we’ve taken; how our Kiwi Co. subscriptions have filled science and geography/culture exploration; our Science encyclopedia providing a great introduction and overview of concepts in a more interesting way than textbooks I remember; math on Khan Academy with video explanations and straight-forward simplicity; reading in many topics, styles, and at different “reading levels”; and other short-lived and recurring activities or interests. I’ll continue to share these things.

After last week’s snow, we had sunny, 70 degree days this week. It’s Arkansas, so of course we did. While we enjoyed the snow on the ground and taking advantage of a rare opportunity to play and sled in it, seeing the sun out inspired me to step outside to see how warm it was. I was hot in a long sleeve shirt, and I instantly knew this was a day to get outside. The previous day had been warmer, enough that the remaining snow melted, but everything was muddy and wet. I got a bonus project of washing mud-covered dogs, the same day I got a migraine. Ugh. 

Our morning started with me trying to catch up on last week’s blog post – I’ve been days behind the last couple weeks and trying to gently allow it instead of panicking. Myles hung out in his room and let me know he had finished The Cloud Searchers (Amulet 3)* and started The Last Council (Amulet 4)* from the Amulet 1-8 Box Set*  

*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 came out to chat, I reminded him I wasn’t quite done and suggested some other things he could choose from if he didn’t have any other ideas. He chose to pull a workbook off of his shelf, and look for words in a word search on “beginning blends”. I don’t push worksheets, and I don’t believe he has looked at this workbook in months. He ended up carrying it around and even took it in the car with him later in the week. 

When I felt satisfied with my progress and discovered the weather, I suggested we go downtown to walk around in a new environment and play Pokemon GO for an easy, fun activity. 

I haven’t mentioned my relationship because I haven’t talked about myself so much until recently. Is it on topic? Probably not, typically. In the context of how our day flowed today, I’d say it is. We picked up my…why does boyfriend feel like such an awkward word for someone I’m in a relationship with at this stage of my life…to enjoy our activities, and he participated in the rest of our day. 

We played our game, walked around a bit, and ultimately ended up in an open area to run around. Myles found a few remaining piles of snow, and they enjoyed throwing or punching at the snow in midair. He ran and climbed and made up stories about people nearby while claiming a secret hideout area. I sat and relaxed until the migraine tried to take over again. 

Punching the last of the snow. Why not?

We went home and made a quick pizza, and decided that we would watch Kiki’s Delivery Service,* one of our favorites that we haven’t seen in awhile. Before it was over, Myles pulled out his laptop and started playing Chuchel, a game I mentioned he just finished again last week. He gets attached to things and likes to repeat them. Very relatable!

He played for awhile after the movie, we talked, and casually hung out. When we were ready for new stimulation, we chose to continue watching the show we’ve all been watching together, Cobra Kai. I mentioned a couple months ago that we had watched all the Karate Kid movies after starting some karate lessons on YouTube, and Cobra Kai has been the follow up to all of this fun. 

(When it’s just Myles and me, we’ve been watching through the Arrowverse, which includes many shows now and lots for us to catch up on. We had watched some of Supergirl and The Flash when he was younger, but Arrow seemed a bit intense. When we did try it, he liked it, and we started watching through the shows in an order suggested by a fan’s guide.)

*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 next day was quite different, aside from me spending the morning finishing up the blog post late. Myles had a new class that he had missed the first session of Monday (oops). He decided to log in and try it out to see how he felt about it – that’s usually how we interact with new classes now, from a place of curiosity and not pressure to attend. 

There were lots of videos and things to catch his attention, and he seemed to enjoy it when there was enough going on. Occasionally it was too slow for him, and he would say it was boring. We’re learning how to manage the “boring” parts of life by adding the stimulation we need. If the class is otherwise entertaining, do I just need something to do with my hands while my ears and eyes are occupied? 

Nothing steals enjoyment like the level of stimulation not working for you in those moments. Learning how to identify and communicate these needs is crucial. Words like bored and lazy don’t encompass the depth of the needs not being met. With awareness, sometimes there’s a simple solution. Sometimes we lack interest, and that’s to be respected as well.

Since I was still working when class ended, Myles pulled up Khan Academy and worked through a math lesson. He informed me he had done a typing assignment before class as well. Then he decided to play Chuchel while I wrapped up the final details and hit publish. We had agreed we would make lunch and choose something to do together until his next class.   While I made us toasted ham sandwiches, we listened to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* and continued listening through and after eating, until we reached the end of the chapter.  

I asked him if he wanted to work on his Atlas Crate or look at the next science topic; he chose Science: A Visual Encyclopedia.*

We read the next pages on Water, putting together concepts previously explored such as the states of matter and how water behaves in ways we typically interact with unlike some of the other elements we had recently explored like hydrogen and oxygen, which both have extremely low boiling and melting points that we wouldn’t experience outside of a lab.

We finished moments before Magical Potions started, and Myles agreed he would watch without making the mess again this week. His teacher is expressive and entertaining, while sharing an abundance of interesting information verbally and by slides she shares with all of ingredients, science, and process for completion. This is likely the best session of this class we have attended, while others have also been quite enjoyable…and one was so annoying to Myles that he just instantly quit after hearing the teacher’s voice. Have you been there? 

*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.

I had a scheduled grocery pickup, so we went for it, dropped off some eggs from our chickens to my grandparents, and came home to realize most of our order wasn’t actually placed in the back of the vehicle. While I called and handled getting the items replaced, Myles went for one of his favorite new YouTube channels, JustJoeKing. 

He had his first Elementary Spanish class at 6:00, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to take it anymore. I suggested logging in to see what it was like before switching plans at the last minute, and he agreed he could do that. His instructor spoke constantly, repeating sounds, showing stuffed animals while stating the animal’s name, and making statements in Spanish as she went along. It seemed to keep his attention, and he tried repeating along after I suggested it. 

I was still busy dealing with groceries and planning to squeeze in a trip to pick up the rest between classes – not a day I needed an extra outing or scheduled item on my agenda, but then really, no day is for my personal preferences. So we did go back to the store to get the groceries they had left out, and we came back home just in time for his next class: Your Immune System at Work. Again, I had to put away groceries and organize, finally getting a chance to prepare dinner as well. I listened in as much as I could, and I continue to appreciate how this teacher presents information. I will look for her name for future classes and feel confident about signing up for them! 

We’ve really had a number of great teachers with Varsity Tutors, and I mention our classes often because we receive great value from them.

We had so much more going on this day, but it went pretty smoothly, even with the grocery mistake. I felt relief at finally being done with the delayed blog post, and we were refreshed from a fun day previously. 

We spent the last bit of the evening winding down with the next Arrowverse shows, as mentioned above, and stayed up a little late to decompress after a busy day. 

The next day flowed beautifully, and I personally spent most of the afternoon organizing and cleaning up around our home. Myles helped me clean up and played between times I asked for help. He’s really good about that, and I appreciate how willing he is to participate while also being able to entertain himself when there’s nothing immediately needing his attention. It wasn’t always this way, but the more we allow things to flow, the more this works for us. 

This particular day, he would show up and say “checking in!” to see if I had anything for him to do. When I’m in my own thoughts, I’m overwhelmed by someone talking at me before I’m ready to listen, which is how he would enthusiastically start. I asked him if he could address me first and give me a chance to be ready. It worked beautifully and turned out to be kind of cute too. I’m also really careful not to create shame for the behavior that I respond negatively to, instead asking for my needs to be supported. 

We had spent the morning finishing the last half of our final book in the Death Note manga and looking over the remaining Adventure Cards in our Atlas Crate. I mentioned both of these in detail in my post last week, including images of the Adventure Cards to show the information covered. I also mentioned feeling hesitant to share about Death Note because of the content, but as we were wrapping up the series, I realized what an interesting way this has been to explore some deep philosophical concepts.

I’m still contemplating the way I will share information here, which will likely shift with my interests from time to time as well, as it does in my day to day life. I plan to share the thoughts I culled from last week’s post if I get around to it without it feeling like too much pressure. 

Do you like it better when I share a walkthrough of our day instead of just the topics and content? A mix of both? 

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 7 | February 15

This week was nice, it flowed, it was imperfect, I was sad, I enjoyed fun moments. I embraced it. Myles embraced the times I wasn’t emotionally available and filled his own needs. He joined me when I asked – which frustratingly for me in the past, he would seem to resist at first, even if he started enjoying it. 

But what that tells me is that HE also has a better balance now to be instantly willing to join in things outside of his world of thoughts and goals. How much have I forced on him “for his own good” without considering his immediate needs and desires beyond furthering my agenda? Oof – that’s the sound of that realization hitting, isn’t it? I have more to say about this, soon.

Myles came back from his dad’s home early and got to stay extra days because of the snow. We were able to embrace the extra time together and consume more books and games than in a normal week!

On Valentine’s Day, he requested we start listening to The Hobbit,* while I made us heart shaped pancakes and he made us a pizza with a heart on it. I used to hate the holiday, but now I accept an invitation to add a theme to the day without attaching extra needs to it.  

Myles sledding in the first real snow I can remember in years

We played in the snow at least once a day, and Myles made several trips outside by himself. My grandpa brought over a sled, and my sweet boy let me have a turn sledding for the first time! He took me on several rides. Eventually each time, my feet froze because I don’t have appropriate shoes for weather we don’t experience often in Arkansas. We would come inside and make cocoa – sometimes we would snuggle up with a book or activity, but more often I would keep moving to warm up. When we’re active around the house, we usually add in some music or an audiobook. 

We continued listening to The Hobbit a couple times throughout the week. We also paused it once to move forward with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* because we were still enthusiastic about progressing that story.  

We are so close to finishing our Death Note Complete Box Set.* I hesitate every time I share about this because in my upbringing it would have been so inappropriate to read at this age, or ever!   But I use my best judgement on these things.  

He had picked it up at the library while exploring the manga section. Of all the books he could have chosen, I was instantly excited to share a series I also loved. I proceeded with some caution and assessed his feelings as we read. He was intrigued, amused, and didn’t seem upset by any of the themes. That was last year, and we put it away for a while when life shifted with the seasons. We came back to it this Fall, and we’ve almost completed the main story. 

This next week, I’m sure we will finish the last half of the final manga. We’ve enjoyed it so much, we have some well-reviewed fan-fiction on the way! I don’t regret letting us dig into this, fueled only by his curiosity and whatever prompted him to pick up that book over others. 

Since the time I started reading these to him to now, Myles has progressed so far in his own reading journey. He has always been interested in stories, but he did not want to read for himself. He resisted it strongly, and after my initial battle to do what we were “supposed” to, I pulled back and let it be. I continued reading to him. When he wanted to know what a word was on the tv captions (thanks auditory processing disorder!) or on a game, he would ask and then he started trying to figure them out. At one stage he started guessing a lot, and I had to check my attitude toward that. He still guesses words all the time, and now I simply state the correct word. He adjusts, and there are no uncomfortable emotions involved in this! 

He’s started reading books on his own as well. While I had encouraged him to read more after moving a shelf and books into his room, he surprised me when he got some new books for Christmas and has delved into the Amulet (1-8 Box Set)* completely unprovoked. He will emerge, telling me he has read more or started another book.

It’s rewarding to see the results after planting the trust. It’s also not instant, and there can be doubt in the interim. It’s okay to have those doubts. We can try not to let them push us into forcing an outcome. Those expectations can be so frustrating for all involved and usually don’t actually create “better progress”. Faster maybe sometimes, but is it worth the cost of resentment? Maybe a continued resistance or lack of interest?

Speaking of reading on his own, this was a week Myles grabbed quite a few books off his shelf to entertain himself while I was working on other things. I’ll list them below since they don’t require any explanation. 

Amazing Sharks! (I Can Read Level 2)*

National Geographic Readers: Sharks! (Science Reader Level 2)*

National Geographic Readers: Polar Bears*

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Things That Go (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)*

Star Wars ® Journey to Star Wars the Force Awakens Look and Find ®*

The Cloud Searchers (Amulet 3)

He also finished his audiobook, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,* which we borrowed from the library.

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

Another thing I noticed Myles going back to frequently this week was YouTube, where he watched videos primarily from the channels Lightning Lane and JustJoeKing. He has been really enjoying these as current interests, and it’s fun to see what he chooses independently and how he interacts with the world when I step back. 

He’s also been going to the PBS kids app, Play Games frequently between activities or in moments with nothing else already happening. This week, he told me he also explored the PBS Kids Play and Learn Science app, and he tried an old app he used to play, Moose Math, which he told me wasn’t really doing any math. I recall from the past that this fabulous Duck Duck Moose app (I recommend so many of them!) included activities like making smoothies by adding a certain number of each fruit to a blender or counting and interacting in ways to create something or solve a problem without “doing math” as he said. 

As for the PBS Kids games, he never knows the names when I ask him. He may describe the game a bit, but have you ever tried to talk to a human while they’re playing a game? – I mean, please don’t talk to me, I’m busy. Don’t make me put my headphones on! – The games seem interactive and enticing, and while they’re not intended for academic learning, so much is learned through play and interaction with new situations and environments. So much is unlocked by the awareness of what exists beyond our current parameters.

He also enjoys the game Chuchel on Steam. We did purchase this one because he had to have it after he watched someone play it on YouTube. I love when we can find free games worth playing, but I’m happy to buy a good one every once in a while too. He completed this game again for the second time, I believe, after playing through it originally last year. It’s a really adorable game with puzzles and problem solving. 

I almost forgot to mention his deep dive into language learning this week. I was practicing on DuoLingo when I received a 15 minute XP boost, so of course I was going to take advantage of it. I informed Myles, and he said he was going to try DuoLingo also. He practiced while I was playing, and later when I was taking a shower and doing other things, I found out he had been doing new lessons and practicing old ones for over an hour! He told me he is learning French, Japanese, and German. 

As usual, he kept up with his typing and math lessons on his own, with a quick report to let me know he had done them. 

Together, we explored a few more science concepts in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia.*

Continuing from the periodic table and groupings of elements, we learned about the category of nonmetals. Then we started learning about the individual elements of hydrogen and oxygen, including their uses, density, melting points, and interactions with other elements and us!

We’re almost through the “matter” section of the encyclopedia, and heading into the “materials” section soon. We may slow down a bit and further explore any of the topics so far on YouTube before pushing ahead. There have been some things I thought might be fun to watch on video that we haven’t gotten to yet, so that may be a good opportunity to check them out before moving forward.

We’re still catching up on the magazines we received around the holidays. We get Highlights for Children* and National Geographic Kids* which my grandparents have kindly sent Myles for years.  

We finished the December 2020 edition of Highlights and dug into the January 2021 edition of National Geographic Kids, where we found a 6 page spread on snowy owls. The timing seemed perfect with the rare snow on the ground here, and we enjoyed a discussion of how the owls and other birds care for their young. 

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

We started the new Atlas Crate this week. This month, our topic is Greece, and we started learning about it with the Adventure Cards and travel journal of Anya &Milo, the characters who lead us through their exploration of different cultures.

We read the introduction card with an overview of Greece, and by this point we were talking about where we had seen some of these things before. We decided we would watch the movie Hercules when we had completed the crate and look for any references to the things we had learned about!

One of the cards included was a recipe for tzatziki sauce. We were snowed in, but somehow my grandparents had brought a gyro with some sauce a few days before – so I was able to share it with him even though we couldn’t make our own yet.

I like to take it slow with these crates so we can really absorb the information instead of just rushing over it all at once. We will typically look at a card or two and then maybe look at an activity. Next time, we will look at another card and discuss what it includes.

Here is what the cards look like and how much information they include – lots, but in easily bite-sized pieces. This is why we explore a few at a time!

Front side of Adventure Cards for Greece Atlas Crate
Back side of Adventure Cards for Greece Atlas Crate

I mentioned our Kiwi Crate in greater detail last week and that we had set aside the Atlas Crate for when we had time to spend differently. This week, Myles finished the second craft that came with it, a submarine seek-and-find game. He assembled the submarine window shown below and used the template to draw the fish to be discovered with the paper flashlight.

Myles with the submarine seek-and-find project from the deep-sea discovery Kiwi Crate

If you’re interested in these or other crates Kiwi Co. has to offer, you can use our link to get a $10 credit (we will too, thanks!)

We started a couple of classes with Varsity Tutors and watched one more webinar featuring Temple Grandin. If you’re familiar with the world of neurodiversity, you’re likely already aware of her. While I’m aware she has some problematic history and views, I was interested in hearing from her directly to form my own perception of her. I have been meaning to look into some resources about her anyway, and this was a great introduction into how she thinks and feels. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. 

I asked Myles if he was interested in signing up for a new session of Magical Potions since it’s a fun, interactive class that’s often not just a repeat of the previous session. He agreed, and he was not disappointed with the current teacher and class content. 

The first day, they made homemade ice cream. We didn’t have milk, and we certainly weren’t going to get any during a snowstorm in Arkansas. If you know, you know. No milk or bread on the shelves for a week. 

The next class session, they added vinegar and baking soda to a sandwich bag to create an acid-base reaction that would expand to make the bag explode. Then they made “elephant toothpaste” in a soda bottle to watch it expand and run over. Myles and I were both content with him just watching instead of creating the messes ourselves this time. 

I had also signed us up for Your Immune System at Work and he lit up when it was taught by the same teacher as Magical Potions. I have to say, she is pretty great. I’m also pretty sure she has ADHD, and I love hearing her talk out her thoughts. It feels familiar, and she is FUN! 

So far, she has laid the groundwork for cell anatomy and function as well as organ systems of the body. I’m extremely impressed with the way she covers the content in an interesting way that is informative and not like the monotonous reading of textbook terms. Myles has said he’s bored a time or two, but he has also seemed intrigued. I suggested drawing or something to keep his hands occupied while he keeps his mind available for listening. He didn’t take me up on it this time. 

The classes described above were free, large group classes, with the addition of the free webinar with Temple Grandin. Varsity Tutors has small group classes, individual tutoring, and a new monthly membership I’ve been meaning to check out. If you’re interested in getting started with them, you’re welcome to use our link for 3 free hours (we get 3 hours too, thanks!)

As I was starting this post, I wrote two pages of thoughts that I chose to remove from our weekly update, deciding that I may instead share them as a bonus article. I’m reconsidering an original goal and trying to sort out the best way to share information with you, and in a way that I can keep up with. 

I’ve debated writing about my thoughts around homeschooling and how and why we do it the way we do separately from our weekly updates. That way information is easy to access and digest, depending on what you’re looking for at the time. Originally this is what I had planned to do, but after spending the first few weeks catching up on writing about our first month of homeschool all at once, I hit burnout and then just worked to maintain a weekly post. 

As I go, I’m learning what this space is for me, and what I want to offer of myself to you. I’d also love feedback on what is enjoyable to read, what is helpful, and what you’d like more of. 

I want to be inspirational, accessible, and helpful, while encouraging you to give yourself permission to meet your needs and goals. Maybe I’ll share something that sparks an interest for your family as well. Maybe you’ll learn a term that describes something you’ve felt your whole life and leads you to further self-exploration. Maybe you come across ideas that help create a better flow for you and the learners in your life.

However I can work toward those goals, I’m constantly evaluating and attempting to improve. I’d love any comments about what you need.

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 6 | February 8

I was easily distractible this week. Things felt hard to accomplish before I’d even start them. I spent a lot of time trying to gently transition, and I’m grateful I’ve learned to give this to myself without the guilt trips that were previously ingrained. (Days late to finish and post this, I’m nodding along, grateful for the personal work I’ve done to not indulge in self-loathing for needing time.)

Looking back on our daily activities, I feel reassured that I wasn’t the failure I felt like. Even though I quickly quiet that voice in my mind these days, it lived here untamed for so long

This week I would have said we didn’t accomplish much. Lots of time was “wasted.” I didn’t push myself, I let things go, I could have done more… you know all these things you tell yourself when you’re constantly holding yourself to some unreasonable standard of perfection that only you’re supposed to achieve, but if you don’t, you can’t possibly be worthy?

This week, we seem to have done more than enough. Sometimes when I look back, I wonder how we did SO much, even. But then I know it’s because we can and we’ve created this to flow within our lifestyle, not take away from it. 

I have intentionally started to keep a list of what we do each day. It’s simple, and now that it’s becoming a habit, it doesn’t take much effort in upkeep. It’s a lot easier than wracking my brain later, trying to remember what we did and when, which is helpful for keeping up with the information I will share here as well!

For myself personally, it serves as both a reminder when glanced over quickly and also a tool to observe how our time was spent and how that ties in with how I feel about it. Are we balanced? Could we make adjustments that better serve us? Do I feel overwhelmed because I’m doing too much or the “wrong” things? Do I really need to spend some more time on our education and activities or do I need to calm that voice that tells me it’s not enough even though I have direct evidence that it is? I’m not free of self-doubt, but I don’t argue with my truth any longer. 

To make this easy for myself, I bought a clipboard with a compartment for holding additional papers/supplies. I keep the clipboard accessible, and I can easily write on the outside and store anything within that I may need to keep up with for the kiddo or sharing here. 

Not everyone needs this to stay organized, but I will make a point that finding solutions for your needs is significant in supporting you through your day. It took me a long time to believe I deserved any kind of reasonable accommodations after struggling undiagnosed (autistic, ADHD, PDA) and always needing to “just do better” for a lifetime. 

If you’re like me, I want to make sure to remind you that you deserve it. If you don’t understand why I’m saying this because it’s obvious, maybe it will be eye opening that for many of us, it really wasn’t.

When you live with invisible struggles, they’re often invalidated and you learn to further invalidate yourself. Awareness helps, but keeping a lifetime of mean voices in check can be easier with useful tools for support.

Yes, it’s “just a clipboard” but it symbolizes so much more in the way of small changes and allowances making life exponentially more manageable. 

Are you using tools to your advantage? What works for you?

I’ve had a habit of making lists, writing out many plans, getting things out of my head and onto a place I will see later…but then those papers usually stay in my way until they get piled up and put away to be ignored. It’s not effective.

I’m still interested in bullet journaling, but it can be a bit overwhelming to just jump into and feel confident with. I don’t do well with forced activities, even if I enjoy them, so I’m not pushing myself to hate this. I’m just not putting any pressure on the timeline while knowing once I do piece it together, I’ll likely enjoy the benefits. In the meantime, the clipboards give me a place to keep those pages organized and prioritize the pages that do need to stay accessible for my use.

The red case on the left is the one mentioned for Myles’ learning and activities – it’s his favorite color and has a compartment to store his documents. The “padfolio” is beautiful, but ultimately it gets closed and things are easy to stay hidden from an ADHDer – this will be great for some projects and not others! The swirly clipboard can keep any daily to do lists or pressing items I fear I’ll forget. I chose a clear binder with removable pages for learning bullet journaling without committing to a certain journal type or being stuck with pages I don’t enjoy!

I’m learning how to make these work for me, not telling myself I have to stay organized a certain way. In case it helps anyone find supplies they enjoy, I’ll quickly link them here in order from left to right:

Dexas 3517-J101 Slimcase 2 Storage Clipboard with Side Opening, Strawberry*

Hongri Plastic Clipboard, Teal Marble*

Padfolio Portfolio Folder with Pen – Geila, Blue*

A5 6-Ring Loose Leaf Binder Journal, Refillable*

*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.

Looking back over this week, it appears the majority of our intentional time was spent reading, playing a game, or watching a show. A couple weeks ago, I made myself a list of non-negotiables and a running to do list so I could let go of the things that didn’t really need to be done when I knew I wouldn’t feel like it. I embraced that again this week. We consumed a lot of media and let it be easy. We also threw in a bit of  science, math, and typing; watched a couple live webinars with Varsity Tutors; and started a new Kiwi Crate. 

We received new books from the Thriftbooks orders I mentioned here and here.

In the past, I had searched for books we had enjoyed from previous library checkouts. Knowing at the time I didn’t want to purchase them brand new or in “acceptable” condition, I added them to a wishlist so I could keep an eye on when they became available in like new or very good condition.  I just happened to go check while some were available, even though it had been years since they were added. I couldn’t pass them up!

We received:

That Is Not a Good Idea!*

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters*

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable*

Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World: A Leonardo, the Terrible Monster Companion*

Image of a few books we read, cocoa, and our dog Maple

We love Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers. LOVE! These are so fun to read, as a young kid, as an older kid, as an adult – I will even read them to another adult!

Myles continued listening to his audiobook of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.* I told him I had found out that the author’s daughter wrote two follow up books, and he was excited to have more of the story to explore later.

Together, we continued listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5.* We’ve read about 12 hours, with 14 to go. It’s long, but we don’t let that deter us from listening at our convenience.

We also read through the rest of our January 2021 edition of Highlights for Children* and even revisited a few stories we had skipped from December 2020. We may even start February’s before the month ends!

Myles found a sticker activity book we used to do together when he was young and found it fun to place stickers and look over the pages while he was listening to his audiobook. We often prefer doing something with our hands instead of sitting still. I know many of you will feel the same way. I always encourage rather than shame this behavior, especially now that I understand it.

The PBS play games app also has quite a few fun games he enjoys playing through while listening. I’ve mentioned these the last couple weeks as he started entertaining himself this way.

When he needs more of a challenge or is ready for a change, he moves on to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* on the Nintendo Switch* which he has been putting a bit of time into lately. Puzzles, problem solving, and exploration are valid skills. Fun is also significant, and we shouldn’t feel we’re only allowed to have it after being productive. Who else still struggles with this from a lifetime of having it ingrained?

*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.

I really don’t have much to report on math and typing except to repeat that he’s keeping up with them on his own still. I take a look at the progress every once in a while, but I’ve let him work at his own pace and determine what that is for himself. 

When he takes classes with Varsity Tutors, sometimes I attend, and sometimes it gives him something to do while I catch up in other areas. This week, we attended two webinars together.

Space Rocks: Moons of the Solar System with Raquel Nuno, Planetary Scientist and PhD candidate in Planetary Geology at UCLA

Myles with Raquel, posing for a photo

Stories of SUE, a Fantastic T. rex Fossil with Jeff, an educator and docent at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL.

Myles with instructor Jeff, who is holding fossilized poop

These are excellent opportunities to learn something you wouldn’t normally, with experts who put their energy into sharing their passions with you.

We’ve also taken weekly classes with instructors who teach on different subjects, and I’ve talked about many of those in past posts, especially last Fall. You can check out what classes are available here, and if you sign up for any hours beyond the free classes, you can get 3 free hours by using our link (we get three hours too and appreciate your support!)

We continued in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* this week with one lessons on metals and a follow up lesson on “strange metals” or metals with abnormal properties.

I enjoy how our science lessons typically don’t take long to explore, but they provide so much. We learn significant concepts in an interesting and concise way that builds a strong foundation for continued learning.

*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 ended the week with a Kiwi Crate craft after spending some time reading through the Explore! Magazine included. We read about the science and creatures of the deep sea, anglerfish, and subs used for research. Then Myles put together a chomping anglerfish with prey pieces for him to chomp up!

We skipped over our Atlas Crate this week, and we will probably check it out next week instead. We get them once a month, so it’s easy to do them at our convenience, when it adds to life instead of trying to cram it in. It’s easy to accidentally set them aside and let them pile up too, as we learned with Kiwi Crate last year – which is the reason even though we’ve switched our subscription, we’re still working through the old ones! I’m grateful though. They fit into our time now better than they did when we received them, and we’re enjoying having them available. 

If you’re interested in either of the crates we’ve talked about (or others they offer), you can see what subscriptions they have available here. We each receive a $10 credit if you sign up using the above link.

We’re spending the current week in and out of the snow, and I’m taking my time publishing last week’s (this) post. We’re having historical weather events for our area, and snow stuck to the ground to play in doesn’t happen consistently. We’re “enjoying” it as much as you can enjoy being frozen without proper gear!

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 5 | February 1

I updated our background! 

I had liked the demo of the other one when I was looking for themes last summer, but I didn’t feel it suited our space as I looked over the blog each week. This one feels like a better fit, at least for now. What do you think?

This week moved us into a much nicer balance. Life flowed again, and even though we didn’t chase after learning, we found ourselves in wonderful opportunities to listen and explore.

We started our week with new books from the library (online). Since he had finished The BFG* last week, I thought Myles might enjoy a new audiobook, and I hoped I could find something he would enjoy while I worked on the blog post. While looking to see what was available, I found several other books and later showed him some options that I had checked out in case he was interested. 

I enjoy his honesty and feedback, and I appreciate when he shares his opinions with me. He enjoyed most of the books but was incredibly bored with one. I suspect he wasn’t interested at the moment and couldn’t wait to get to the others.

We checked out:

National Geographic Readers: Wolves* – There were many readers available in different topics. I thought we might try others later, but this was the book he was incredibly bored with.

Box (Book One)* – I looked over this quickly after he read it, and it looks like a fun graphic novel of a boy on an adventure with a box and a lot of imagination.

I am Albert Einstein (Ordinary People Change the World) – This book was narrated and pretty cute, while giving an interesting overview of his life and history. Myles insisted we keep this one checked out as long as possible and even checked yesterday to make sure I still had it!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – As I hoped, this one was appreciated and held his attention for quite awhile. He was excited to pick it up again later. I haven’t read this one, so I may have to catch up later as well.  

*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.

Again, I’m including the amazon links for ease of access. While I do receive a small commission from purchases made through these links (thank you!), I encourage you to acquire books from the places best suited for your family. If that’s ordering from amazon, a used bookstore, or finding them at your local library, I’m just happy to share what we’ve done in case it sparks an interest for you. 

We read our books we had just received from Thriftbooks as well. I mentioned them last week, but I’ll quickly list them here as well as the others from our collection we were inspired to pull out and read alongside them. 

The Day the Crayons Quit*

The Day the Crayons Came Home*

Imaginary Fred*

Stuck*

Yes, we’re going through an Oliver Jeffers phase (again)!

We had checked out Every Day Is Exciting (Sofia Martinez)* from the library as well, and Myles discovered this one had no audio. While he could have read through it slowly, he preferred to wait and have me read it with him later. I’m glad he did because we got to talk about the Spanish words scattered throughout, and it was a lot of fun to read through together and discuss.  

Later in the week, we came across our Hilda series and decided we would read through it again as well. We started with Hilda and the Troll: Hilda Book 1 (Hildafolk)*, appreciating the art and creativity. I’m looking forward to reading through the rest of them (some again and a couple for the first time) and eventually seeing if the show is as good as the graphic novels.  

Myles started reading The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet 2)* from the Amulet series on his own. I’m also going to have to look through this series. I had planned to read it with him, but I love that he just couldn’t wait!  Amulet 1-8 Box Set

With all of the other reading this week, we still managed to put several hours into our Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* book as well. After a lull and listening in smaller fragments, we got invested in the story again and can’t wait to hear more. This is one reason I don’t try to force things. It’s been months and we went slowly with it, sometimes not at all. Now suddenly we’ve made it through hours and it fit perfectly into our day and how we spent our 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.

If we had done nothing else this week, I would feel it was full of learning and great moments. One reason I love audiobooks is that it leaves your hands and eyes free to complete another task if desired. I often use this as a way to motivate myself to do the dishes or pick up around the house, sometimes to push through a larger project like cleaning out the pool or weeding garden beds. Usually if I’m engrossed in the story, I’m grateful to be completing something at the same time. 

For Myles this week, he decided to use his listening time to build some airplanes and a construction truck I had bought him when he was much younger. We had built these together back then, but he found them on the shelf and decided to do them on his own. 

Later, he pulled out some of his larger Imaginext toys and played with them and the toys he constructed. He excitedly told me a bit about his imaginative play, and I love seeing him take the initiative to create these things. For a while, he was pretty attached to me and didn’t do as much alone. We allow phases that support everyone’s needs at the time. I can say that I love seeing him be more and more independent, and I also love the time that I get to nurture him more closely. 

I’m going to have to ask him why, but I found Myles playing his Chutes and Ladders Board Game by himself again this week. He hasn’t asked me to play it afterward, and I’m intrigued at his interest in playing it alone. I hope to remember to ask him if he would like to play it with me as well, and maybe find out the appeal in playing alone – is he imagining different people or characters playing? Is he just trying to win? What is going through his mind? I love knowing why other people are thinking what they are! This probably comes from a lifetime of feeling like people were mysteries – thanks Autism!

*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.

His creativity has been expressed so much lately. He also set up a restaurant in his room with a table to serve food for me and a kitchen area for him to prepare it. He drew a menu of items offered and delivered a private invitation by pretend mail to let me know about the restaurant’s opening. When I arrived, I was seated, presented the menu, and asked which smoothie I would like to order. Later, I was presented with a fruit plate, and of course, I had to send my compliments to the chef!

Between reading and playing, we went for a couple walks, Myles played some Switch and PBS kids games, and we watched some TV shows. After watching three Karate Kid movies, we wanted to see Cobra Kai this week and watched through the whole first season. We plan to continue our karate practice as well, we just didn’t find a time to fit it in this week.

We did start our tomato and pepper seeds as we planned, and we spent a little more time preparing our garden area this week. 

Myles continued pacing himself through his math and typing lessons. I continue to be proud of his dedication. 

We pulled out our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia for a lesson on chemical reactions. Lots of woooahs and cooools were exclaimed. This is definitely one to take to YouTube for even more of those emotional and chemical reactions. We like to keep it fun, and I truly believe we learn more when we’re engaged and enjoying it.  

When we received our new Atlas Crate this week, we realized we hadn’t quite completed the first one. There were so many great parts to the first crate that even though we had already constructed a globe, put together an Adventure Book, read through all of the Adventure Cards while putting each continent’s sticker on the globe; we still had a large map to fold out and use to look for clues. We received a foldout with information on map coordinates using latitude and longitude and several fun activities to find landmarks on the map, including shipwrecks with brief overviews of their history. 

The new crate is about Greece, and we will dive into that one next week. As much as I loved Kiwi Crate, Atlas Crate has been a fantastic experience so far as well. If you’re interested in a fun, hands on geography curriculum, this is the way I would go! If you sign up with our link, we both get a $10 credit. 

I have a feeling I’ll be talking about Kiwi Crate again next week, as we still have some put aside that we plan to pull out when we want the extra activities. Stay tuned!

I have a few other ideas in mind for next week as well, and I’m ready to flow into the week with intentions that carry us through smoothly and peacefully.

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 4 | January 25

This one is going to be lighter. It’s the best way to get through it. I feel better in ways. I’m still exhausted and struggling in others. My focus is destroyed, and my stability requires more energy in upkeep. I feel pretty decent, and I’m ready to build this back up. I’m aware and not avoiding, and I have an upbeat attitude to keep me moving. I’m genuinely excited about upcoming goals and projects. 

We’ve started planning our spring garden. Our seeds arrived a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to find our supplies and start working on getting things set up. This may be a good place to make a note that sometimes being forced to slow down really helps you prioritize your goals while letting go of the things you really can’t keep carrying while getting to the good stuff. 

We washed our seed trays, sorted our new seeds, and pulled some weeds out of the garden beds. I should have covered them, but intentions don’t always turn into reality. I do plan to pick up some mulch today to cover up what we’ve exposed and keep more from growing back before it’s warm and plantable. 

To avoid overwhelm, I’ve pulled out pepper and tomato seeds to start. I think I’ll do a few types of plants at a time, even if I do multiple varieties. Once I feel good about getting those established, I can move on and do a few more. I know my energy is sparse, and I also know my enthusiasm for creating a mess that future me may not have the capacity to handle. Anyone relate?

Wait, is this a gardening blog or was I here for homeschooling?

Gardening will be filling a good bit of our time and energy – and here, I think I’ll be sharing about it from the perspective of how it fits into our homeschool. Let’s not forget, our homeschool fits into our broader life, and I like to keep them flowing together, not as fragmented parts that are mutually exclusive.

There is so much to learn while gardening. As an adult, this is one area I continuously learn so much. Why not teach a useful, arguably crucial skill while we have time to focus on learning and pouring into our life?

As we focus on different parts of the gardening process, I’ll highlight the tasks and what skills were learned. I may mention how they fill in for traditional learning, but that’s not my main goal here either.

We aim for a balanced life that encompasses fun and learning without being overwhelmed with keeping up with curriculum goals or being on someone else’s timeline. It’s OUR life. I’m not asking permission to live it, as if someone else has authority over my creativity. 

If you’ve been reading, you know we don’t have a pre-made curriculum or a set schedule. We embrace life as it comes, and we take responsibility for the direction it takes while allowing it to flow freely. 

We discuss learning goals and areas of focus as a team, and we adapt as needed. Some things become commonplace for a time, and like the stages of gardening, the rest of our life works in steps of setup and tending to what we’ve created, sometimes with the focus shifting to meet the most immediate needs. 

Before I mention more “schooling,” I’m going to admit Myles spent quite a bit of time playing Super Mario Odyssey* on the Nintendo Switchâ„¢* this week.

*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.

Last week I shared about having a shutdown and recovering, and I’ve been transparent with how I’m feeling this week as well. I do this to support you in your varying emotional states and remind you that you don’t have to be “perfect” or feel a certain way to be parenting or homeschooling your children well. If anything, it shows our kids that they also don’t have to feel shame for their different moods. 

During the hours – yes hours – this kiddo played his game, I watched him become excited and irritated. He got to experience perseverance and learning to regulate his emotions while frustrated. Life skills are crucial, and I can’t imagine thinking knowing how to solve a geometry problem would be more significant – it can always be researched and learned! Even in a career where certain skills are needed, emotional regulation is still relevant. 

Time regulation is also important, and if you’re here because of neurodivergence, you may struggle with it the way many of us do. With that being said, I continue to be impressed when Myles chooses to invest his time into his math and typing lessons without being asked. He has made this a personal goal, and he works on his own to fill it. He doesn’t do it every single day, but many days, intentionally, as a real goal. Unlike setting a hard goal, there’s no shame in missing a day or not feeling like it or even just forgetting. It’s not hard to get started again when your goal is pursuit, not a set number or time expectation.

We continued our science “curriculum” by the same (lack of) expectations. We reviewed the previous weeks of mixtures and solutions before moving on to a new section on pH. We use Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* as a guide to lead us through topics, and we add on with YouTube videos when we want further explanation or depth.  

*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.

Myles did participate in a few classes this week, but he didn’t attend most of what he was signed up for over the last couple of weeks. When we did more classes with Varsity Tutors in the Fall, he attended each class regularly and we had made time to work around them. 

Many of the classes he’s in now are repeats, and I don’t see much point in pushing him to show up when he has other entertainment and learning opportunities. They were meant to fill time and give him something he might enjoy to do, so when they meet those goals, that’s great. When they don’t, why push? Having awareness around why we make the choices we do helps us be aware of how to prioritize and balance. 

I had signed him up for additional sessions of the story classes Fun Fairytales and Fables and Tall Tales. He attended a couple sessions of Fun Fairytales but skipped out on Fables and Tall Tales this week. He had attended regularly the first week, though he has experienced many of the stories already. I had also signed him up for some art classes and theater in case they added something to his day. He declined to take these. 

The timing wasn’t ideal these weeks, and we adapted, as I always recommend. The classes mentioned were free, large group classes, so nothing monetary was lost in skipping them. We just chose not to trade the stress of trying to force them into our schedule for the opportunity they presented. We have gotten a lot out of these classes in the past, and I definitely recommend them. If you need private tutoring or prefer smaller classes, you can sign up for paid courses and other options. Using our link gives us both 3 hours free, and we appreciate the support if you do decide to go that route. 

Because I haven’t been at my best, my grandpa picked Myles up a couple times this week to go to the park. It was thoughtful and kind to both of us, and I very much appreciated it. Myles got to play, interact with someone who wasn’t me, and use up some physical and mental energy!

We listened to a little more of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5 and Myles finished The BFG* finally. You may have heard me say before that I appreciate using the library to check out audiobooks, but it can also take awhile to finish a book when you have to wait for it to become available again.  

We use both the Libby app with our library membership, and sometimes we have a subscription at Audible – currently it’s paused so we have some time to catch up. 

We’re always adding to our book collection, and by always, I mean in spurts when I feel like it. Have we mentioned hyperfocus yet? I may get excited about ordering books for a while, then get bored waiting for what I want to be available, and wait until I get another burst of enthusiasm for it. 

I recently revisited our wishlist on Thriftbooks to see if any of the previous books I had saved were available. Sometimes I’ll add a book to our wishlist and wait for a copy in the quality I prefer. We ended up finding 3 books in like new or very good condition, and I snatched them up while I had the chance. 

I absolutely recommend Thriftbooks if you don’t mind a used copy. They don’t always have a book in stock or in the quality you may want, so I’m including the Amazon links for ease of access. I do get an affiliate bonus from Amazon, but I encourage you to shop for your family’s needs/preferences.

These are the books we added:

The Day the Crayons Quit* – We read this one from library before and purchased the sequel previously when I found a good deal.

Imaginary Fred* – We love everything by Oliver Jeffers so far, even when it’s just his illustration. His collaborations are always as excellent as his own work. (He does the illustration for the previous book as well)

Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! (A Click Clack Book)* – We just love this silly series, so I’m happy to add a like new copy to our collection, even if Christmas is quite a few months away! If you’re just getting started with this series, you can get the full holiday pack instead of tracking them down one by one: Click, Clack, Holiday Pack: Click, Clack, Moo I Love You!; Click, Clack, Peep!; Click, Clack, Boo!; Click, Clack, Ho, Ho, Ho!*

Any of these should be available at your local library as well!

For awhile, we exclusively added audiobooks to our personal collection while occasionally picking up older picture books we already owned like the Elephant & Piggie: The Complete Collection* series or other favorites. We love everything by Mo Willems as well!

Most often when we were reading a physical copy of a book lately, it’s been our manga series, Death Note Complete Box Set*.

We really don’t limit ourselves by genre or age recommendations (to a point). 

Myles also received a nice stack of books for Christmas as well, and I have my eye on a few I can’t wait to start. 

He started reading the Amulet* series on his own, the week before, and read the first book. In case I never go back to update, I’ll go ahead and include that here.  

We also started reading the Zoey and Sassafras* series again. We have the first 6 books, and I think we had read 4 or 5 of them previously. They’re very lighthearted and enjoyable while encompassing both fantasy and using the scientific method for discovery and learning. No argument from me when the kiddo asked to repeat these!

*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.

Talking about it, sharing my thoughts and opinions – it seems we did a lot more this week than in my mind I was giving myself credit for.

I’ll acknowledge again, some weeks are more active, others more a conceptual flow, and some more fragmented pieces that intermix in a multitude of ways.

I don’t do consistency by others’ standards, and I don’t try to force it anymore. If there’s not a reason to do something on a certain schedule, I don’t add any shame to my lack of appearance in scheduling.

How often do you discredit yourself?

…Because your expectations were set for an outcome that wasn’t the only or maybe even the best choice once events start to unfold…

I also believe its important to be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling beyond how you think you “should” feel.

Before starting this post, I made sure to assess my feelings and energy. I needed to check in with myself in order to share myself in a genuine way that shows a realistic overview of this week of life events and feelings. I included that assessment at the beginning to be authentic and transparent.

Personal awareness also helps tell us how to care for ourselves. We need to do that for ourselves and for those who depend on us – it’s not selfish.

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 3 | January 18

As I write this, I’m recovering. It takes an annoying amount of time when you have all these other ideas of what you’d rather be doing if you were okay…but you’re not okay…because you got pushed to a full shutdown and you don’t just “snap out of it.” You come out cautiously and you hope you don’t get pushed right back in.  

I’ve been teetering on the edge of overwhelm, balancing and juggling the best I can. Aware of keeping it moving while not pushing too hard. Benefiting my future by not giving up, but without destroying my path to it by doing more than I can do. I think it’s fair to acknowledge this is relevant to general life stressors, parenthood, single parent life, having lots of moving parts, etc. and I know people will tell me such any time I mention my feelings.    

In knowing those are factors, let’s not overlook a major one I deal with that IS relevant – and honestly is the most relevant to this for me, in my experience that I’m sharing. 

I deal with this beyond “normal” factors, so please listen instead of minimizing. 

I am extra sensitive to everything around me. Some days this seems like a gift, when I can tap in and use all my senses and my ability to observe and recognize patterns to simplify and then create magic from it all. In stressful times, it’s my downfall. 

When I’m too empty or too overwhelmed, stress will shut me down completely. I try not to let myself get to this point. I know how much harder it is to recover. I know it isn’t good for myself or anyone around me for me to fall apart completely because I pushed too hard. I’ve learned this over time. Sometimes external factors surprise us or we don’t get the time to put ourselves back together before the next thing hits. 

I’d like to talk about my experience with meltdowns and shutdowns here, but I don’t have the emotional resources. I may edit them in later, but you can also find experiences from actually autistic people who have already shared. Steer away from anything using puzzle pieces or talking about curing autistics. We don’t really appreciate that kind of thinking nor trust the opinions attached to such.

In these recovery moments, I don’t know what to do. Everything feels draining, and I just need to recuperate. 

Thinking, planning, and then doing is just way too much. 

Realizing that, I’m intentionally making a list of things that I CAN do if I feel like it so i don’t have to further strain my brain to think. So I can work through those in stages and then DO later when I feel like doing.  

My ability to DO is often stopped by my need to THINK first. It can be overwhelming.

I’ve already made a list of activities for the kiddo so decisions don’t always have to be made. I’d like to share more about this soon. 

My lists seem to be ever-changing. I have seeds to start, containers to wash, dogs to bathe, even my dryer stopped working in the midst of this. If I put them on a “can do” list, I can review it and do something if it doesn’t seem too overwhelming at the time, instead of just forgetting about it or putting it off until “I’m better” and can focus on things again.  

I make and keep lists when I feel like it. I also often forget about my lists or know they’re there when I want them. I no longer attach guilt to not using them. Sometimes just making the list is what I needed. I got to brain dump and move forward. It was a tool. When you assume the list was to have the list later, that’s when not using it later is “bad”. 

I constantly have to work to reframe neurotypical values that create ableist shame.

This is tiring in itself, and it puts me one step closer to a meltdown, so on top of my challenges to exist in this world’s structure, I’m also challenged to always keep myself at least a step away from breaking at all times too. 

It’s exhausting, and I require more rest, whether that is physical rest or mental. It’s why I’ve created the structure I’ve been explaining lately. It keeps me going without using further mental load to propel myself forward. I don’t have to stop and get depressed, and I don’t have to push and get burnt out. It’s a challenging balance, and I’m also grateful to have become aware enough of my needs to attempt to keep finding it. 

Normally, I’d write about our week here, and I may come back and update it. 

Today I need to be nice to myself.

2021 Homeschool Week 2 | January 11

Remember last week when I said this isn’t how every week looks? We don’t always do this much?

I found myself procrastinating getting started on this post. Last week was so full; this week we didn’t do much. Last week, I expressed myself so well; this week I don’t have as much to give. Last week it was good enough to share and start putting myself out there; this week…maybe it wouldn’t be.

Expectations. Why do I continue to pick them up? I know they only create dissonance between reality and my emotions. 

Realization: 

This week was different. My sweet boy turned 8, we had a birthday party, our focuses shifted due to intentional choices, and we made time for fun together. 

Sometimes I feel disconnected…even when I feel like I should be present or there’s “no reason” to be. 

If anything, I’m missing fluidity. I don’t always know how I feel, especially when things aren’t “normal”. I also hate being bored, so normal is just my baseline for knowing how far my feelings extend from my natural, comfortable state of being. It’s not my goal, it’s my place of neutrality. 

I’ve noticed I have a tendency to dissociate** when: things are different, there are new expectations, I have to go somewhere, something goes “wrong”, I haven’t slept enough, or I haven’t prepared myself mentally (which helps me center myself in the newness). 

I hadn’t really prepared myself for what the new week would bring, and I felt a bit frazzled going into it, honestly. I knew my focus was on helping the kiddo have a fantastic birthday week and being as available for it as I could be. This week needed to be more about him and less about my goals. 

Also, if I’m being honest, the week was fine, I was not, (and really, that was only in my mind). I just wasn’t able to be as present as I prefer for a number of reasons – and no they are not excuses. I respond to real stimuli in real life, and I’m not making it up. 

If you have any advice for this that starts with “just…” or “have you tried…” please don’t. Awareness of emotional states is extremely important, and every moment doesn’t have to meet some predetermined standard of perfection. Despite my awareness, I still have to keep my expectations in check. Despite my unlearning of harmful and ableist tropes, I still have to make sure I’m not holding myself to them. 

Keep in mind, ADHD Autistic here. These concepts are the very culture our shared experiences are built around. We grew up shamed into internalizing ableism that harmed us, and many of us still repeat what we were taught about ourselves because we were eventually broken down enough to accept it. In moments of dissociation, I’m much more likely to default to those outdated internalizations than I am when I’m fully present. 

**Dissociation is a break in how your mind handles information. You may feel disconnected from your thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. It can affect your sense of identity and your perception of time. Source: WebMD

Now that I’ve been honest about the behind the scenes feelings, I can confidently say:

We had a beautiful week, filled with birthday celebrations, fun moments, and lots of learning opportunities. 

Myles took more classes again instead of us having as much focused time learning together, we connected over games of Exploding Kittens, and there were times I read while he was playing video games. 

(Exploding Kittens Card Game – Party Pack for Up to 10 Players – Family-Friendly Party Games – Card Games for Adults, Teens & Kids* is a super fun, easy to play card game that matches our style with open, creative play instead of restrictive rules.)

He continued choosing typing lessons and Khan Academy math sections to go through on his own. I think he enjoys the sense of fulfilled responsibility and having some control over choosing in the moment. Overall, his learning goals were chosen in an interactive process between the two of us and not just dictated to him. Still, he seems to really enjoy this freedom. 

He also played a multiplayer board game by himself, played outside, and found new games on PBS kids including weather and sketching. 

He pursued more interests on his own this week, and I will always support that more than trying to cling to a norm. It’s rewarding seeing him fill up the spaces of free time when I’m otherwise occupied, or even just because he wants to. I always want to give him the space to trust himself.

Photo of Myles’ digital sketch

He started a new class this week with Varsity Tutors and chose his own creative path forward there as well. In Recycled Art Masterpieces, the class put together journals with recycled cardboard for the front and back covers and paper cut to size to fit inside. Myles heard acrylic paint was on the list of supplies they would eventually be needing, and he ended up just painting while watching the instructor teach the course. Really, there was no reason for him to create the journal if he preferred to paint.

The next class session, they learned that they could print a template of the back of a postcard and attach it to a piece of cardboard, while decorating the front. The instructor cut images from a magazine and showed them how to collage the front. Myles cut photos from our seed catalogue to use for his collage, and we may finish up his postcards this next week. 

He continued with Fables and Tall Tales class, discussing the stories and their morals; started Jurassic Class: All About Dinosaurs; and he also got to participate in a single class of the Science of Slime, which took place after he left for his dad’s house, so I haven’t heard about it yet. I may update next week, if he shares anything with me that’s worth mentioning.

So far we’ve participated in the free, large group classes provided by Varsity Tutors. If you use our referral link, we both receive 3 free hours that can be used toward tutoring or small group classes. 

When I was editing last week’s blog post, Myles had me look on YouTube for the second part of the series on Native Americans that he had started the week before. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the second or third parts. We settled for another video on the same topic, but he said it wasn’t as interesting. 

After reading about mixtures in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* last week, I had saved several YouTube videos comparing mixtures and solutions. We watched those during our lunch break, and they nicely bridged the conversation to our next page in the encyclopedia on solutions and solvents.  

*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 resumed our Atlas Crate, placing the remaining stickers on the globe and reading the Atlas cards for Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. Once those were finished, we completed the globe stand and assembled the Adventure Book for the Atlas cards.

Myles showing off his globe and Adventure Book

If you use our link for Kiwi Co to sign up for the Atlas Crate or one of their other crates (we have also gotten Kiwi Crate), we both get a $10 credit. Thanks for the support!

I mentioned it was birthday week, and that was worth celebrating multiple times throughout the week. We spent one evening roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, and another night having a pizza party with our closest family.

We baked his traditional birthday cupcake, and this weekend, I found pictures of that tradition starting with a birthday gift. 4 year old Myles needed that cake pan more than he wanted any toys at the time. 

Myles receiving his cupcake pan for his 4th birthday

Really, we didn’t have as many fillers this week because we had an overarching birthday theme that had our attention instead. In the moments we may have picked up a magazine or sat down with our manga, we were playing games, baking a cake, or having an intentional celebration. I’m grateful I’m able to look back on it and realize I played the role I intended in keeping things running smoothly to support him this week, and I’m sure others will relate to the disconnect in keeping it going versus feeling present within the moments. I’m looking forward to connecting back in this week now that I’ve explored all of those feelings and realized I’m okay and mentally caught up. 

With that, I encourage you to lean into your feelings and identify what you need instead of being upset that you have emotions that don’t match your expectations. 

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 1 | January 4

Welcome to our 2021 Homeschool!

Without other obligations or distractions, we really leapt back in and created a full week of exploration, learning, and fun. If this is your first post to read through, know that not every week looks like this. We let our weeks flow and embrace what comes, with some intentions and direction in mind on my part, beforehand. Honestly, the only reason I try to have an idea of where I’ll lead us in advance is so that I’m prepared if my executive functioning revolts, as usual. Did I mention we’re a neurodiverse household? I’m autistic with ADHD, and the kiddo has ADHD as well as dyslexia and dyscalculia. 

Because of our neurotypes, we don’t follow standard curriculum the typical way or force ourselves to fit into learning methods that weren’t created with us in mind. Instead, we adapt, we explore, we feel things out, and we continue to pursue information with creativity, intention, and balance. I’ll explain what that means to me, and you’ll see examples of it weekly, woven throughout our experiences.

It’s significant for me to have our life, including our homeschooling and all other endeavors, flow smoothly, not being interrupted by arbitrary “should do’s”. I’ve woken up to enough alarms, forced myself to do enough work, pushed myself past my basic needs, and reached burn out enough times in my life. If I don’t absolutely have to, why would I do that anymore? Why would I choose it intentionally? And if I wouldn’t, then what would I choose instead? What do I actually need? 

And that’s what inspires our daily homeschool and life, with our goals and lifestyle intertwined. We meet our needs, seek our goals, learn to trust our intuition while creating a strong inner guidance system, and we reevaluate and make sure it all makes sense anytime we feel a need for a new balance. 

As I’ve mentioned before, we thrive in a loose structure that’s open instead of restrictive. It allows our needs to be met while giving us the freedom to be who and how we are and for that to look the same or different any days in a row. We don’t feel the same every day, and we don’t adhere to arbitrary rules about when meals should be served or when classes or materials have to be completed. While we don’t have strict bedtimes, we consider factors that may matter to us like daylight, pet needs, and interaction with other family members; and we set intentions around supporting those. 

Knowing that I prefer to ease into my day, gaining clarity or pursuing a personal goal in silence, I’m less likely to melt into the couch until 3am trying to recuperate from a chaotic day. I know my future needs will be supported, so I’m able to relax a bit, go to bed, and start the next day feeling comfortable and ready instead of like I have to cope all over again. I used to live that way too regularly. 

This is that loose structure for me, knowing that I’ve created a system that has all of my needs considered but isn’t restrictive of their variation or unpredictable external demands. This allowance gives me both the grace and freedom I need while supporting me in my challenges. Instead of punishment, there’s room to breathe. Instead of shame, there’s built in space for self-care. If I’m accountable for my life and time, why would I have it any other way?

If you’re neurotypical, wondering why the heck I’m so worried about having my needs met and being comfortable instead of just getting it together and being a grown up, well, I’m autistic and my needs are different than yours. 

If you relate to this strongly, whether you’ve found ways to help yourself overcome your own challenges or still feel like you’re drowning in it, or possibly pulled between what you want and what you think you’re supposed to need…

You’ve got this. 

You’re not alone. 

If I have to figure this out for myself, why then keep it to myself?

I’ve realized I don’t have to be alone either.

We’re in this together, and I’m here to support and encourage you. 

Let’s get into our week. Remember, this was a full week and not necessarily our norm. We had plenty of time to focus and pursue goals without outside distractions or other obligations. We accomplished a lot, which is not how I measure success anymore, and is more a statement of showing awareness that it’s not what I expect from us or others to maintain. 

We started the week off focused and digging into information together. We read magazines, pulled up videos on interests expressed over the last couple weeks, and I offered some new ideas for physical activity and incorporating in fun that there hadn’t yet been extra time for.

I considered our learning goals, which I laid out in this post last year when we chose them together. 

Later in the week, when I hadn’t yet made myself readily available, Myles started some of his goals on his own. He immediately started his day with taking care of his pets and then practicing typing and working through a math section on Khan Academy. I can check his progress and results to see how he’s doing, and he can work through it at his own pace. After those, he found a Cosmic Kids Yoga video and started that on his own as well. 

I try to keep a running mental list of things we will enjoy so I have suggestions to move us forward intentionally but without over-planning. Balance, supported by both preparation and allowing. He’s started to become aware of the same. That in itself is so valuable, learning to live intentionally from a young age and not just by rules or resistance to them. 

We had agreed that writing skills were significant, even though Myles doesn’t always show an interest in practicing. I do my best to keep it as interesting as possible, and I’ve found writing prompts he can print and work on at his own pace. Lately, this includes opinion writing, and he will take the worksheet to his room and use Siri to help spell words – some for confidence and some for words he doesn’t know how to spell yet. I don’t stress over which words he currently knows how to spell. He learns as he wants to know something, and I don’t feel a need to further interfere. 

I make suggestions and offer guidance when it comes to trying new things that he may feel averse to just because he doesn’t have the confidence in his skills yet. I do encourage him not to instantly discredit trying something new, but I also try to be aware of not imposing my desire for him to want to do something on him as well. 

This week, I suggested writing thank you letters to family. Any time we get the chance to use our skills in real life situations versus simulated ones, it’s preferred. He grumbled about why does he have to do that anyway, and I responded that he didn’t have to but it would be kind and it would be a good way to practice writing. Once he started, he got excited about it and drew a picture as well. He was really proud of himself and happy with his effort until I asked him to write a second card. I think it’s significant to be aware that kids budget their energy too, and sometimes it really feels like too much because they gave it all on the first attempt, in this case, creatively. 

Funny I mentioned last week that we unintentionally stopped reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5* because we just picked it up again this week. We didn’t make it too much further, but I love that we’re able to listen to a bit here and there as it fits in. We finished Book 10 of Death Note Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-13 with Premium* and we’re down to the last two books in the story.  

One morning, I asked Myles to occupy himself for a bit, so he chose a few books to look through or read on his own: Star Wars ® Journey to Star Wars the Force Awakens Look and Find ®*, Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook: The Need-to-Know Stats and Facts on Over 700 Pokémon*, If You Give a Dog a Donut* I adore his selection here.

*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 read magazines together as well, usually looking through Highlights for Children* and National Geographic Kids* in moments we’re looking for something new to explore or have a few moments to dig into something. Sometimes we read over things like weird facts or Guinness World Records and other times we may read a story or two. Occasionally, we find information that brings up a broader discussion, which happened last week when we read about a Native American tribe and wanted to expand our understanding.  

I had intended to look up information pertaining to the Blackfeet Nation and Blood Tribe but ended up finding an hour and a half long video on Native Americans that caught my  attention. Myles was also interested, and though it started slow, he got hooked and wanted to complete it. I didn’t give it my focus, but Myles was interested enough to ask me to find parts two and three for the future. 

Later in the week, I looked up more videos on the table of elements as I had searched for last week. We had watched the Most Deadly Elements on Earth, and didn’t look any further at the time. So this week, we watched The Genesis of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table; Solving the Puzzle of the Periodic Table; and Crash Course Chemistry’s The Periodic Table.

We also moved onto the section covering mixtures in our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia* and I saved some videos to provide a good explanation of that too. I plan to show those next week before moving on to the next section. I try to provide a mix of reading, talking, and a visual representation to tie it all together.

*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.

I love when those pieces flow together unintentionally and support what I aim to create better than in the past when I used to try to control every detail. 

This week, our Atlas Crate came in, and we started to slowly explore the parts. It came with a cute story to introduce us to the characters who would take us along on their travels, a globe to assemble and place each country’s sticker on, and an adventure book to assemble and add the included country cards to each month. Because we get them once a month, we’re taking our time with the material. Myles started assembling the globe, and as we put each sticker on, we read the included Atlas Card to talk about the continent and what it included. The first sticker in the book was for Greenland, then moving to North and South Americas. 

The next day, we were reading our Highlights magazine, when the story we came across featured Greenland at a time it was too cold for families and food sources to thrive. Myles held his globe as we talked about it, and he was able to see the country on the flat map with included information in Highlights. Greenland was the only continent that didn’t have its own Atlas Card included so I had intended to find some more information to share to fill in that gap, but we stumbled right into it on our own. This is the magic of allowing. Had we not found it, we could have just as easily sought it out ourselves, but either way I didn’t stress and deplete all my energy over forcing pieces together a certain way. 

We also placed the Europe and Asia sticker on the globe and read the facts from their Atlas Cards. Next week we will finish up with the remaining continents and then assemble the book to hold our cards. I’m very pleased with this crate, what it offers, and how we get to interact with the provided information. I’m already looking forward to our next one. 

We received Kiwi Crates for over a year, and I let quite a few of them pile up, despite how wonderful they were. We were doing a lot of projects around the house, and more pieces being out and unpredictable time and energy needs led to them being put on a shelf for later. Real life, right? The positive side of this is that we have plenty of Kiwi Crates to keep enjoying now as well, even though I’ve switched our subscription over to the Atlas Crate. If you’re interested in signing up for any of their crates, you’re welcome to use our referral link, which gives us each $10 in credit (thank you!)

Last week, Myles finished his Kiwi Crate on puppet engineering, as I showed in our weekly post. We had put together a box theater last year in an online theater class we took with Varsity Tutors**, so we skipped the directions to create one out of our Kiwi Crate box. Myles performed an excellent puppet show, and kept us laughing with his performance. 

Coincidentally, for the first time in months, I checked out which classes Varsity Tutors was currently offering and signed Myles up for the ones that seemed interesting, of course giving him the choice to attend or not. Fables and Tall Tales was available this week, and Myles decided he would check it out. He had taken a section of the same class previously with another instructor and usually enjoyed the stories, though sometimes sitting still through a class becomes a challenge. Really though, we’re at home, and he can find stimmy ways to pay attention to a class and meet his own needs. I rarely attend a Zoom meeting sitting still. Why would I expect him to? 

During the first class period, he colored in a simple color by number page, and other times he will have lunch during class. We got out our kinetic sand this week, and Myles spent quite a while playing with it one day. With a little forethought, he could play with something like this during class as well. I may even suggest it today when class continues!

This is similar, but isn’t the exact kit we bought years ago: Kinetic Sand, Sandisfying Set with 2lbs of Sand and 10 Tools, for Kids Aged 3 and up*

**Varsity Tutors offers paid small group classes as well as the large group classes we’ve previously taken. If you use our referral link, we each get three hours of credit. So far, we’ve only participated in the free classes provided, and I’ve shared information on those as we’ve taken them.

Recently, we sparked an interest in karate and decided to look for lessons on YouTube. It’s great to have a physical activity we can do inside this time of year. The weather did clear up a few days and Myles was able to spend some time running around the yard, and we also took a couple of walks around the neighborhood. 

He also found his first egg from his new chicks and our older chickens started laying eggs again….right outside our back door, how thoughtful!

We enjoyed learning some basic karate kicks and punches while also stretching and getting our heart rates elevated. We had mentioned picking up yoga and karate, and found that many of the yoga positions I’ve practiced for years are incorporated in warming up for karate as well. This didn’t deter us from also practicing yoga during the week. In fact, Myles remembered how much he loved Cosmic Kids Yoga and started it several times on his own. 

It feels really good to move again, and sometimes I forget to pursue physical movement. I refuse to do it out of guilt or pressure to incorporate a healthy goal – if it’s healthy, it’s that way emotionally, mentally, and physically. So I embrace the opportunity for awareness that movement can be so helpful, and I’m excited my team is ready to pursue something with interest and not guilt. 

And can you really start taking karate lessons without then having a week of Karate Kid movie nights? Maybe, but why would you? We haven’t started the new Cobra Kai show yet, so this feels like good prep work. 😉

I made a point to intentionally embrace fun this week as well. Sometimes life gets depressing and keeping it rolling while taking all of the needed breaks and doing your best to just stay neutral is all you can manage. If you’ve been reading, I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear me say I was experiencing depression and burnout more than I was letting myself realize. I’m grateful I was able to navigate it so well this time until I got through it. 

I’m sure that relief also has something to do with how much we suddenly accomplished this week and how energetic I was in pursuit of it. Neurodiverse individuals are disproportionately likely to struggle with their mental health, and I want to be open and authentic with all aspects. 

This is why I allow a flow, have loose expectations to guide but not overwhelm, and allow time to do what we need, whether that’s pursuing more interests and filling our time with hyper-focused fun or just sitting back and recuperating when needed. It all flows the best way it can to support our needs as we go. And we get everything we need out of each phase of life. 

Balance isn’t something we achieve once and then hold our breath to maintain. We can learn to be aware of our needs, honor our desires, and support ourselves in pursuit and maintenance of all parts that encompass us. 

We can learn how to breathe life into ourselves instead of draining it while desperately seeking to be refilled, and we can teach our kids how to fill themselves up as well. 

Homeschooling for neurodiversity means I can teach my child academically and also how to navigate life for himself and find balance in each moment and the overall picture so that he doesn’t face as many of the same struggles.

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.

Homeschool Weeks 21 & 22 | Wrapping up 2020

Wishing you a Happy New Year while I sum up the past two weeks!

We typically work at our own pace, so some weeks are less inclusive of academic learning, though we never really stop absorbing from our interactions. Interpersonal relationships, communication, appreciation, change of environment or expectations all influence learning about how we fit into this world.

The week after Christmas, we dug into some materials that sparked an interest to pursue them further. Sometimes we dive deep and others we just skip across the surface. The week of Christmas, we indulged in little bits as we had time between other expectations and enjoyments.

We receive Highlights for Children* and National Geographic Kids* magazines monthly. Typically, we sift through the content over the month, but lately, we’re catching up on past issues. We’re still going through the November 2020 edition of Highlights, and we found several articles that brought up deeper conversations and the ability to go further with the information presented.

I was happily surprised to find an article on dyslexia, though it didn’t provide a very thorough picture of the challenges. It did include noteworthy individuals and their accomplishments, with encouragement for overcoming challenges to become stronger. We are a household working with learning disabilities including dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Another story brought up the topic of Native Americans, with the featured fashion designer honoring her ancestors and heritage. This lead to a broader discussion of colonization and an interest to learn more about the Blackfeet Nation and Blood Tribe featured, as well as exploring what other tribes may be like. I saved some videos on YouTube for our upcoming weeks.

I would love to provide (and even learn for myself) a more complete picture of Native American life, including cultural and spiritual perspectives and practices, commonalities, and differences. I also believe it’s significant to be aware of the impact humans make on the earth and their interactions with each other.

I try not to add my own judgement so much as present the information, asking as neutral as possible questions, while allowing space for evaluation. This is how we learn to learn, which I believe is much more valuable than specific knowledge.

Another topic we expanded to YouTube from our current default resources had to do with the Periodic Table of Elements. In our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia*, we reached the section on the elements, read through the provided information and examples, and looked at the table with the key.

We thought more examples would be interesting to explore, so I typed in “table of elements” to see what we may find. For fun, we chose the video called Most Deadly Elements on Earth, and saw how reactionary and rare some of the elements can be. As we pursue further pages in our encyclopedia, we will explore particular types of elements, and I expect we will seek out more video explanations to go beyond the surface.

*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.

Myles continued working independently through math on Khan Academy. He’s able to do this because there are video presentations that explain each concept while giving examples. It takes the pressure off of me to be in the midst of all of his learning while I may need to start a load of laundry or make lunch. If he needs me, he knows I’m nearby to help clarify. On several occasions, I’ve caught him re-watching the video examples before asking for help. Trust breeds confidence!

We sat down together to choose writing prompts from a google image search of his “grade level”. Second grade seems to be a good fit for now, though we don’t limit ourselves to content by grade level. I saved images for printouts he showed interest in and printed out the one he was ready to work on immediately. He worked on this one alone, with the help of Siri to spell when needed, and I really enjoyed his perspective.

Myles’ writing narrative on the steps of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

We dug back into our Kiwi Crate on Puppet Engineering, looking through the science explained in the included catalog and finishing the last project, decorating and assembling talking puppets with a pull handle for the mouth. We also learned about different types of puppets and how they have been used culturally, around the world.

Myles with the puppets he assembled

We took out our Lego Classics set again this week, which was a fantastic gift from Myles’ grandparents last year. LEGO Classic Creative Fun 11005 Building Kit, New 2020 (900 Pieces)*

He built a house with a couch and a lego person enjoying a salad with a carrot, and even included a cake inside the oven. I was impressed with his attention to detail and creativity in designing what he imagined.

Image of Myles’ lego house

Myles listened to more of the The BFG* but we didn’t manage to finish it before it was due again – the downfall to audiobooks from the library, but I put it on hold again and he doesn’t seem to mind. Can’t complain much about free access to books!

We finished book 9 of Death Note Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-13 with Premium*, and decided to wait for a new week before starting the next book. He spends the weekends with his dad, so there is an obvious break in our weeks, influencing how we pursue information and entertainment sometimes.

We’ve unintentionally taken a break from reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5*, but I know we will pick it up again when it fits into our lives better. We purchased it from audible due to the length and value.

*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.

Holidays are always transitional times as we consider family time, gifts (but can we not?), get-togethers, celebration, and then planning for the new year. I try not to over plan learning and activities that aren’t necessary during this time, instead letting the flow of our other needs allow me to see which spaces we can fill with less overwhelming goals.

This year, I’m attempting to be patient enough with myself and mediated desire for perfectionism to integrate bullet journaling into my creativity, planning, and flow. I think once I master it, I’ll benefit greatly.

Did you set any goals? I’d love to know what they are.

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.

Homeschool Week 20 | December 14

This week wasn’t much unlike last. We flowed through our learning goals, completing many of the same tasks while adding in a few of the others I suggested last week. 

Mondays, I usually work on finishing and editing the weekly post. Myles has started pulling out his laptop, and “working” with me. 

Myles working on math on Khan Academy while I wrote last week’s blog post

He worked through a section of math on Khan Academy and practiced one typing session. Then he told me he wanted to look for Minecraft to purchase. Because I was working, he had to look it up himself or wait until I was available. This led to him checking Steam and finding game suggestions like the one searched for, further leading him to find a similar free-to-play game, Cubic Castle.

After playing awhile, I suggested we make lunch, so he shut down his game. Then he realized he didn’t have anything to do while he waited and chose to practice more typing while he waited. I’ll highlight this below, but for now, let’s stick with the content we worked with this week. 

We looked around YouTube suggestions and were intrigued by a video called Why the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Don’t Mix. We moved on to our Science: A Visual Encyclopedia*, incorporating the previous lessons on the individual states of matter and exploring how matter changes between states. We split this into a couple different visits to our encyclopedia, exploring one aspect at a time, such as water through each state, and then other elements as well.  

One conversation led us to discussing precipitation, which we then attempted to look up on YouTube. We found several videos on the rain cycle, but they weren’t interesting enough to keep us pursuing more information there for long. I had intended to find a video on how hail is created, to show another aspect of matter changing within that same cycle. This is the beauty of homeschool and doing it at our pace. Instead of fragmented ideas, we find how the parts connect, how we connect with the world, and how it all ties together. 

*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 had requested our subscription to Kiwi Crate be switched over to the Atlas Crate, as mentioned in a previous post. It seems this last one may have already been in the shipping process, so we received one last Kiwi Crate for now on puppet engineering. Myles followed steps for making a marionette with animal faces, and had an opportunity to explore how gravity worked with the puppet. 

Myles with his Kiwi Crate marionette

We repeated math, science, and typing throughout the week, also continuing our current reading. 

Myles has started to fill in the gaps of his time with several of these things, going naturally to them out of habit and interest. That’s often how I slide through my day as well, and I love seeing him choosing things to do to keep him entertained. Sometimes they’re games, sometimes they’re academic. All the time, he is learning from the things around him. I’m not going to say the content doesn’t matter, but content of interest will make the biggest impact. 

We like to choose simple resources, often free, if that’s what we can find before looking for something to purchase. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive programs to give your child a whole world of information to interact with. Sometimes when you do that, you want to put a lot of pressure on them to get the most they can out of those resources instead of letting them take in information at their own pace. 

Investing in your learner over the resources will keep them absorbing knowledge from everything around them. It can be difficult to adopt this mindset, but I’ll share why I personally believe it’s crucial and continuously work toward it.

This is all based in trust, and it can be hard to feel comfortable with it when we live in a society that naturally distrusts children and has unfair practices toward their submission and obedience. 

I believe it’s my responsibility to help my child navigate through life. I see my role as a life coach, not a dictator. He has everything he needs to create his life, already within himself. I provide support, perspective, and offer clarity and guidance. He makes his decisions, learns to trust himself, finds his inner voice and learns to use intuition as his clearest guide. I try not to confuse that voice with my own experience, training, and trauma. 

From those beliefs, we create this homeschool and life as a team and as individuals. It’s a practice and a lifestyle that lets us all operate at our best.

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.