Hello there friends. I’m so excited that you’re here today. Listening to the Live Free Creative Podcast, episode 102 Adventures In Homeschool. I am so excited to share some of my thoughts and ideas and plans with you as my family embarks on the 2020-2021 school year as a new homeschooling family. Before I jump into all the details and I can’t wait to share all of the things with you. I want to share a quick segment called Magical Adventure Moments.
Segment: Magical Adventure Moments
One day last week, it started raining this downpour in Richmond. The heavens opened and the faucets turned on and it was dusk. It wasn’t quite dark yet, but the sun had gone down. The lights in our backyard had turned on. My bistro lights are on a dusk to dawn timer. So they flipped on and they were shining like stars. You know, when the water glistens through the light and refracts it, so it turns into these stars all over the backyard?
And my kids, my kids looked out the back door, ran into their rooms. The boys peeled off their tops. Plum put on her swimsuit and they ran into the backyard to start playing in the rain. And they weren’t just running around and playing. They were sliding down the slide, Plum yelled “It’s our backyard waterpark!” sliding down the slide, swinging jumping on the trampoline, sliding around on the grass.
It looked like so much fun. I watched from inside. I wandered outside with an umbrella to video them a little bit and capture this beautiful moment. And as I was standing outside under my umbrella in the rain, I started to feel a little chill. The rain wasn’t super cold, but it had dropped the temperature outside to around 70 degrees, which lately here it’s been like nineties, high nineties and really humid and hot. And so having it just drop a little bit down into the seventies, felt so good and a little bit chilly.
And I thought this would be such a perfect time to get into the hot tub, which we haven’t used a lot since the spring, because it’s been so hot outside. We even turned the heat off on it and it still is 90 to a hundred degrees. Every day I ran upstairs and put on my own swimsuit and then went back outside and let the rain fall on my skin. I climbed into the hot tub and the kids saw me in my swimsuit and looked so excited that mom had come outside to join them in the rain.
They hopped into the hot tub with me, and we all sat underneath the glistening bistro lights with this pounding rain coming down on us. As we sat in the hot tub and laughed and chatted and looked around at our giant overgrown garden and the chickens bopping around, you know, on the grass, even though it was raining and it just felt like magic. It was this beautiful moment where I got to be with my kids and experience and everything else, any worries or troubles or everything just melted away as I realized that all that we need is to have this enthusiasm and curiosity and creativity and imagination and, and some gumption to enjoy and see is whatever happens, whatever comes that we can make the most of it, that we can turn a rainstorm into a water park that we can enjoy each other’s company and spend that time together.
After a little while the kids got tired of hanging in the hot tub and they went back to the trampoline and the swing set, and I sat there and watched them. And I was overcome by this peace. I felt my body fill up with hope and with a confidence that we’re going to be okay. That no matter what comes and happens and changes, and as we’re adapting and growing and trying to figure out and muddle through that, we’re going to be okay.
And that simple things like this dancing and playing and soaking in the rain are part of what makes life special. And these magical adventure moments are really all around us.
Adventures In Homeschooling Part 1: Values + Mindset
As I jumped into telling you more about our adventures in homeschool, I want to start by just sharing a couple things about my personal schooling philosophy in general.
I know that we are all coming at this fall, whether your kids are going back to school in person with modifications part day different days of the week, if your district has decided to do distance learning and you’re grappling with that, whether you’ve decided to do homeschooling as well, all of us are approaching and coming to this decision about what to do this fall with our kids and schooling from really unique ideas, philosophies, and values.
That is not unusual. We approach everything in life with our own set of perspectives and our own experience. And often we forget how important it is for us to look inside for the answers that feel right to us. It’s so easy in this age of social media and just general media to think that we should ask someone else what’s right, ask someone else, or look to someone else for all of the answers.
And as I share my personal choices and resources and ideas about this upcoming school year, I want you to just acknowledge how important it is for you to be approaching this topic. If it affects you, if you’re a mom or I’m an educator, or are in any way affected by the schooling choices coming up this year, I want you to remember that your path and your choices, what feels right for you and for your kids is right. Even if it’s different than what I have chosen or what your friends have chosen or what the other moms in your neighborhood have chosen, this is a great opportunity to practice going inside for what we need and what our kids need and what our families need, and trusting our ability to make good choices, even if they’re not the same as what other people may make.
Now, I think it’s great to get different opinions into and to be informed and look around at what other people are doing, and also to make sure that the final decision rests within your own heart and with your, your own immediate family.
My Personal Educational Philosophy
Last week in the introduction, I shared a little bit about our particular situation, and I want to just start by talking about my school or education philosophy in general, which is that I really believe that the most important pieces of a traditional education for my kids are to develop a love of learning, to understand a growth mindset and to be committed to continual progression in their lives, to believe in the process over results. And I want them of course, to be able to function as successful happy individuals that said, I don’t personally subscribe to much of our country’s philosophy surrounding what success has to look like.
I think if you’ve listened to this podcast for awhile, you have an idea of where I vary a little bit from the achievement oriented mindset over a fulfillment and sort of happiness in your everyday life mindset.
My goal is that my children learn to interact with other people to be empathetic, to be creative and to trust themselves. And of course, in order to function in society, it is important to have some basic structural education. And I think that we oversell the importance of a classical or traditional education as it correlates to a perceived success as an adult, whether that’s status or financial or ability to get a job or any of those things. I don’t believe that there’s a lot of correlation between the quote unquote smartest kid in the class, or there earlier you learn to read the more happy you are in your life or the, you know, number one student doesn’t go on to become the most successful adult.
High Achieving Student Does Not Equal Successful Adult
There’s just not a lot of correlation between these sort of traditional structural ideas of educational achievement as they relate to traditional models of adult success. And that of course just relies on a traditional model of adult success, where I think that success is so subjective. And in my mind living a really fulfilling, purposeful life is success. Whether or not you work at a fortune 500 company, for example.
So just to start off, I know that you kind of jumped into the defender, but I think that these sort of really wide lens perspectives are helpful as we’re trying to wrap our minds around the idea that our first or second or third grader might not be in the classroom learning in the direct way that we expected this year and how maybe just maybe the repercussions of that are not as dramatic as we will, as we think. As our emotions are telling us as, as our heart rate goes up and we get anxious and sweaty palms thinking about our kids getting “behind.” Let’s put quotes around this idea of behind because all of that is subjective.
Standard Milestones In Traditional Learning Are For Ease Of Management
Anyway, the milestones created in traditional schooling are set for the ease of a group learning environment. There has to be some sort of one size fits all in order to be able to manage the masses of students that go through the public education system every year. And even the private education system I’ve had to stop. And just ask myself some questions about the general, my own personal general feelings about progress along the linear timeline of an academic school year.
Would I feel differently than I do now if my kids all went back to school and let’s say at the end of next school year, the end of the 2021 school year, one of the teachers let me know that my child was progressing, progressing, but progressing slower compared to his or her classmates. And that we would need to maybe do some supplementary education at home or hire a tutor, or, you know, do some additional work.
If, hypothetically, they would move on to the next grade, but they weren’t necessarily at or above all of the grade level requirements. What I feel like the year had been wasted? Would I feel like it’s okay for my children to progress through each year at their own pace if I knew that they were engaged and committed and working hard and enjoying school? Would I feel like something had gone terribly wrong if they weren’t always in the 90th percentile of their classroom, or if they weren’t always bringing home the highest test scores?
It’s just interesting to try to gauge my own mindset surrounding their educational endeavors. And also what I believe their attendance at school is supposed to do. Why do I send my kids to school? What do I hope that they get out of it? Is it that I want them to know everything exactly the way that they need to know it, to perform well on a test? Or is it because I want to engage their mind and curiosity and innovation?
Is it because I’d like them to interact with other students? Is it because I want them to bring home A’s so that they can get into a good college so that they can go to an Ivy League graduate school so that they can make a million dollars?
What Are My Goals For My Kids Education?
It’s interesting to just back up a little bit and just think, what are my goals for my kids? My personal goals for my kids in school has always been for them to be progressing and to develop a love of learning. And I love them learning about other people and cultures and socializing among their friends at school as well, and learning from their teachers. But for the most part progression, curiosity, and developing a love of learning have been high on my list of what I hope my kids get from attending school.
I have never had an interest in my kids getting all A’s. I’m not as interested in their achievement as I am in their progression. For example, one of my children learns in a traditional school environment very easily and is able to hear something, understand it, repeat it, mark it down on a test and bring home all A’s. And it’s a little bit more challenging for him to dig in and really like get super interested in something in a way that I feel like he’s, he’s developing his curiosity rather than just being really good at going to school. Where another of my children doesn’t have the same ability to hear, understand, and mark the correct answer on a test, but is really good at engaging in specific topics that he loves and is interested in and both are good.
They both know that I don’t think an all A report card is better than a B’s and C’s report card, because what matters to me is that they’re progressing and that they’re trying, and that they’re interested in the world around them. And that includes in school and out of school.
Maybe it’s because I’m not as achievement focused on my kids’ education, that the idea of doing homeschool this year, once I made that decision has been really exciting for me, because I don’t feel a lot of pressure for them to hit any specific milestones.
This Year Is Simply Part Of A Pathway
I am thinking of this year as part of the pathway of their education that started before they ever went to school before they started preschool, they began learning. And after they graduate from college, they will continue learning. This is all part of a spectrum.
I have learned so much in my life over the last several years that I never learned in school. And it is just as valuable now for me to continue to love, to learn and love to progress this upcoming school year. I don’t believe that it is going to be make-or-break for life success for any children: the ones who go to school with a mask; the ones that go to school without a mask; the ones that stay home and do the online distance learning provided by their schools; the ones that are being pulled from public school and put into private school so they can attend in person; the ones that are staying home and doing homeschool.
Even if a family decided to unenroll their kids and just do an unschooling year where they just let the kids play and read and discover, and didn’t have any sort of a structure. I still don’t believe that this year is going to be make-or-break for anyone.
I think that we have to just have such a wider lens than that and understand that this is just a small piece of experience and it will absolutely be a memorable one. It’s something that we will look back on and we can look back on it with appreciation and gratitude for our perspective, or maybe in a few years, some of us will look back and think, “I wish I would have given myself a little bit more grace than had a little more perspective and not stressed out quite so much.”
Do I think that it’s important and these decisions are important? Yes. And I also think that what’s more important than which decision you make is making one so that then you can move forward and enjoy the process of planning and discovering, and that the same process that we hope for our kids of curiosity and, and flexibility. That’s what we’re doing right now, exploring those same attributes and values.
Distance Learning vs. Homeschooling
So just to define a little bit, as I get sharing some more about our personal homeschool plan, homeschooling is different than distance learning. As a lot of homeschoolers told us in the spring, when all of the sudden the entire country was doing distance learning at once, I had lots of friends who homeschool say, “Well, what you’re doing, isn’t exactly homeschooling because the distance learning involves having the public school system, or I guess any school system give you the programming and have the same sort of guidelines and timeframes and assignments that are all checked by a teacher at school.”
Maybe you still had quizzes or tests. Maybe there were expectations surrounding showing up online, live for certain meetings and all of that factored into the regular sort of school system. For example, in Richmond, this upcoming semester has decided to do a full distance learning program and they’re passing out laptop computers and wifi hotspots to every student in the entire district so that everyone has standardized equipment, which then makes it so much easier for the teachers to use a standard program.
I think that they’re going with Google classrooms and create a compilation of zoom live teaching, where the kids will be expected to log on for a specific timeframe to watch their teacher teach them live. And then alternate that with some hands on worksheets, with a playlist of prerecorded lessons, and then their assignments will all be online as well. I don’t know yet exactly what the time timeframe as far as the school day is going to look like, because I don’t think they’ve decided exactly yet.
However, just based on our experience in the spring where my children were doing these sort of combinations of live zoom teachings and their offline and online playlists and workbooks and worksheets, it was taking a really long time each day. It didn’t feel super effective because I kind of jumped in midway to help manage each of them staying on their own schedules. They just weren’t quite as engaged. And of course it was all brand new. And so I’m sure that there, that the district is doing everything they can for this distance learning program to just be phenomenal, they’re putting a ton of resources into it.
That is going to be so exciting for the people who do it. I’m sure it will be fantastic.
For our family, when I realized my kids would be home with me all day, I decided to take advantage of what pieces of that are good. Now there’s a lot of things that I don’t love about that because I love working. I love working outside of my home. I have an office nearby that I go to for several hours a day when my kids are in school. And there’s lots of things about my normal life that are going to be different with my kids home all day.
Some of the Benefits of Homeschool
But if they are going to be home and they don’t have the option of going in the classroom for all of the benefits of in-person schooling, then I determined that it was better for our personal family to have the flexibility of creating our own schedule, totally independent of the distance learning program. Now, some of the benefits that I have learned about homeschooling as I’ve jumped into learning all about it, as much as I can in the last couple of weeks, since I made this decision are that it’s very, very flexible.
You can choose what works for your family individually, what works for your kids, the timing that you need, the curriculum that you want to have so much of it is flexible, and you don’t even need to be hitting any particular milestones. A lot of homeschool families decide to follow their state standard curriculum.
That’s usually determined by some sort of standardized testing here in Virginia, it’s called the SOL. Those are all available online, where you can go in and see what the curriculum for the year is for each grade. And some homeschool families that homeschool all the way through until, you know, later higher grades don’t even worry about that so much because they know that it’s also fluid, that the things that you learn in early grades get reinforced a little bit later in later grades and, and the basics build upon each other. And so when exactly in a timeline you learned some specific facts and figures might not matter as much as we think that it does.
This is Live Free Creative Podcast. I talk a lot about freedom, about choices, about creativity, about adventure. These are some of my highest, most highly regarded values. This feels like what homeschool can really emulate the ability to provide connection and curiosity and determination and progress and flexibility.
I think it just aligns really fully with the things that I already believe about encouraging my kids love of learning and giving them some choices in regards to their learning environment as well. There’s a great podcast where Jeanette Landsbury from the Unruffled podcast interviews, Rick Ackerly. He’s the author of a book called The Genius In Every Child. One of the quotes that I loved is that Rick mentioned that we don’t necessarily need to be educating our kids as far as like feeding them facts, figures, and information. What is more important is to “create the conditions that facilitate kids educating themselves.”
Create conditions where children are interested, where they are excited to learn where they’re discovering themes. He also says in this interview that kids are natural. Born scientists mean meaning that they experiment all day long and for better or for worse. Right?
I know that my older boys love to experiment with testing the boundaries on family rules and regulations and things like that as well. But even that all contributes to their learning. I really believe that kids can be learning all day long every day. And my hope as we go into homeschooling is to continue to facilitate that.
Get Clear On Your Values
All of that said, I want to dive in to sharing some of the resources that I have chosen to use this upcoming homeschooling year with my kids. And I just want to reiterate one more time that I think a great place to start as you’re making decisions about schooling in general, no matter what you decide. I think it’s really helpful to get clear on what your personal values surrounding schooling and education are. I mentioned five of mine and I’m using these five values to guide our school year.
This coming year, my five values for education are: curiosity, connection, determination, progress, and freedom. Those are the values that I’m going to come back to as I’m making choices about how each day goes and really hope to instill the importance of these things over this next year with my kids.
Our Basic Homeschool Schedule
Okay. So I am still working on the actual schedule of our homeschooling weeks with specifics of like plugging in assignments and things to work on and topics for the week and things like that. But I have determined a basic outline that I want to share with you.
We love our morning walk. I think I’ve mentioned in other episodes that as a family, at least me with the kids, Dave usually is off to work before 8:30, but we love to go on a walk every day. And during a normal school year, one of the reasons that we live, where we do was specifically so that we could walk to school every day.
Well, once school was canceled in the spring, we started going on a daily walk in the morning. I love just getting up, getting out, having the kids with me, moving our bodies a little bit, starting the day with some connection and conversation. And so we are going to do that this upcoming year as well. I mentioned we do it year round. So even in the middle of the winter, when it’s cold, we bundle up and walk to school.
We’re planning to do that same thing, even though we’re just going to walk around a few blocks and come back to our house for school, it’s also a nice reset kind of a touchstone for, okay. The morning has begun. We are putting on our thinking hats for getting ready to learn some fun things. Today, our daily walk will probably be around 8:30 to 9 because that’s when we would be walking to school, and so that’s when we’re going to plan doing our walk.
Core Learning Block
After that, I plan on our homeschooling, our formal homeschooling at home, doing worksheets, working on projects, things like that to be from 9 to noon every day. This feels like a really good block of time where I can divide it up into smaller chunks for individual subjects or individual projects. I will have time both to work with my kids individually because they are at different ages.
I have a first grader, I have a fourth grader and a sixth grader. So as far as like reading and spelling and writing literacy, things like that, and math definitely, we’re going to be on a little bit different levels as far as learning and understanding some things I plan to do altogether, which will be really fun because there’s so many subjects that we can learn about as a family and definitely art and cooking. And some of those more hands on things we’ll be able to do as a group, which will also be great. But nine to noon is my planned homeschooling day. We’ll have lunch after that and then jump into quiet time.
And this is when I plan to do my work time. That’s kind of like reverting to a schedule like I had when my kids were young and had nap time or quiet time. I always used to work during nap time. It’s only been in the last year that I worked while my kids were in school because they just started all going to school recently. So after homeschool time, we will have quiet time, which will involve reading, playing outside, playing quietly with toys, whatever they want to do is great with me. We’ll probably do some days that are screened free, quiet time, and some days where they can jump in and watch a show if they want, while I get some work done.
And then in the early evening, the sort of three to fiveish zone, I plan to do what we normally do after school, which is some outings and field trips, maybe some hands on projects, like some sewing or having the kids help me bake something that because the school can be so flexible, it doesn’t necessarily have to be built in specifically to a curriculum of any sort. It is just facilitating a love of learning as well, which are, these are all parts of our normal life, which is really nice to kind of integrate them into what will be our schooling.
And then of course, dinner and bed time. So that’s kind of a general overview of the schedule that I have in mind for our own family. And like I mentioned, I am going to go in and create a specific schedule so that each week, week by week, we can know what lesson we’re working on for math or reading, what read aloud book we’re going to do, um, which different aspect of science or, or which art project we’re going to be working on.
I’m going to make those choices ahead of time, at least a month or two at a time. And then of course I can be flexible in how well it’s going, or if we want to spend a little more time on something. I, thing that we have, we have the flexibility to do that, right. But that will keep us all on track.
I love the idea of just having our basic weekly schedule outlined and up so that the kids can see it. That way we all kind of know what’s coming those of you for as much as it’s kind of an ironic, sort of a paradox thing I have going on where I really love freedom and flexibility. And one of the things that gives me freedom and flexibility is a schedule like a pretty set schedule because when I know what’s coming, it frees up all of my creative abilities and time and spontaneity and energy to do other things at different times.
So for example, my minimal meal plan makes it, so I don’t ever think what’s for dinner tonight. And that gives so much freedom to other parts of my life. And so I think that the homeschooling will be somewhat like this, that if we have a general framework and a schedule planned, we always can deviate from the schedule as necessary. And once I have kind of a baseline, then we always know what to go back to. It’s really helpful for kids, especially to know what’s coming. In some senses is to have a routine and develop some good habits and things like that.
So I am planning on sort of creating a more robust framework and I’ll share more about that on the blog in the next couple of weeks as I actually start plugging things in. Okay, for the next few minutes, I want to tell you about the specific resources that our family is going to use this upcoming year.
Homeschooling Resources and Programs
I have to preface this by saying there are a million resources and programs and curriculums. There are free resources. There are paid resources, there are subscription resources. There are more coming. I’m sure now that the education system in America has been so turned on its head with COVID. I think that you will only continue to see an emergence of new programs, new possibilities, new courses. That is so wonderful. And it’s really great that there’s going to be something for everyone.
And I feel the way about educational resources right now, as I do about material goods in my daily life, that there comes a point where more is not better. At least personally more out in the world is fine, but I want to choose the ones that work for me. And that matter to me and that I love and that I’m excited about and consciously disregard the rest.
If you are homeschooling, or if you’re doing distance learning, or if you’re doing regular school in sending your kids to school, there are always going to be people doing things a little different than you do. Maybe people do homework different, or maybe they supplement with a tutor on some things. Or I know even when my kids go to school regularly, there are a couple education programs that we use at home anyway, because my kids love them and it supplements their education in a fun way.
And like I mentioned, I love to facilitate that love of learning. And so if they’re interested in it, great, let’s continue doing it. I’m going to share the things that we either have used personally, or that I’ve researched and decided are gonna work well for us, for our own schedule and for my own kids. I hope that some of these can be helpful to you and also don’t feel like they need to be, you can create your own program, your own educational program that works for you.
You can find a curriculum that you love that you just want to use a whole curriculum. I saw one today, someone sent to me, it was like $800 for a full year curriculum that included all of the core subjects and some additional subjects and all of the books and all of the resources like supplies for everything. And it made my heart rate accelerate immediately. Aye, aye, saw this pre-packaged structured program and was like, “Oh, that feels like so much work to me!” Which is so funny because I think it’s meant to be the opposite. It’s meant to be a one size fits all. Here you go. Here’s everything you need. Like you don’t have to do any planning. You don’t have to think you just start. And here’s how you kind of cookie cutter your way through this. It’s meant to be a resource that really alleviates stress for, for parents. And it did the opposite for me.
It had the opposite effect on me because of my personal values and my own personality. I would have a really hard time implementing someone else’s one size fits all program because it takes a while way that flexibility and the individual sort of creativity building a program that I love. There’s a reason that I always want to customize things. Dave laughs because I always want to customize an order on a menu or, you know, we buy a house and I immediately want to change something about it and renovate it. Or a lot of times I buy clothes that I love, but then I tailor them to fit me a little better.
It’s just part of my makeup that I like to make things just a little bit fit a little bit better. And that’s just maybe a part of the intentional way that I’m like, “Oh, well this is great, but let’s change it a little bit so that it like works a little better for us personally.”
Take Stress Into Account
I do know that stress in a learning environment dramatically decreases the amount of learning that happens. And so that’s something to take into account. The, having a really stressful learning environment at home or with distance learning is no matter what is going to reduce the effectiveness of the learning that happens. And that was something that I needed to take into account.
As I worked on our own program, what would help me feel low stress? Because I know that as the mom, that my emotions sort of set the tone for the emotional resilience in my home and the more stressed out I am, the more stressed out everyone tends to be. And the more resilient and calm and peaceful and excited, enthusiastic and confident I am that sort of emotion sort of bleeds out to my kids as well. So that’s something to take into account as well as you’re choosing resources or thinking about things. What are the things that make you excited and that feel like so fun, don’t choose something that already stresses you out.
And this was again, went into my decision for homeschooling versus distance learning because homeschooling felt like a relief, like, “Oh, this’ll be fun and different and creative. And we can kind of take or leave the things that we want to do.” Where the distance learning felt like a lot of pressure on me that otherwise isn’t there to facilitate the adherence to all of the schedule and the program and the assignments and things that a lot of that normally happens at school. And the teacher’s the one who’s sort of managing the classroom where the distance learning, it felt like I would be the one managing all of the kids, doing the things they need to do at the right times.
And homeschool just felt like it was going to be a lot better fit personality wise for me and my kids. Okay. So let me tell you about some of the resources. We are going to be doing math and reading and writing every single day. And then the other subjects that we’ve chosen are going to be rotated throughout the week. And then there’s some sort of bonus subjects that we’re going to be doing a lot on weekends or on outings, like field trips, where we’ll dive into something a little more detail.
I want you to know that all of these resources, these homeschooling resources are available on my blog. And I will link in the show notes for today. Straight to that blog post, you can go to livefreecreative.co/podcast. Look for episode 102 and find the link. It’ll just be right at the top for the homeschooling resources. You can also just scroll down and find the link in your show notes like right in your podcast app, I’m going to link directly to my homeschooling resources and that post will stay live. You can search “homeschool” at any time.
Subject By Subject Resources
I’d go through a subject by subject and I’m going to talk through these, but I also just want you to know that they’re all available right there. If you want to refer back to them, links to them. Some of the links contain the ability to get like a free trial on some of the paid programs that we’ve been using for awhile. There’s a couple of discounts thrown in there and also just some specific links to things that I’ve left. So check out the homeschooling resources as a tandem to me talking through these next few things.
Homeschooling Resources (click through for all links!)
I’m going to start with reading fluency because Plum is working on her reading fluency, I think starting in Pre K all the way to like first second, those are the general timelines for learning to read and gaining some reading fluency. And although she is reading, we are definitely still working on reading fluency and being able to read easily and love it.
I’ve mentioned ABC Mouse before, but I have to mention it again because we really love the program. It’s a paid program, but it’s not very much a month. It’s like maybe $10 a month. And it has this online learning journey. And it actually shows the little learning pathway that has games. It has lessons, it has some activities like it will include art and a memory matching game and all of these different ways proven ways to help a child learn, to read and read well, she’s been using it for a long time and we really like it. So I’m going to just go ahead and link that for you. I let her play for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and then she usually will want to switch, switch to something else unless she gets like really into a specific aspect of it. I think that it’s just a great supplement.
Now, in addition to that, we also use Hooked on Phonics. I know I’ve mentioned these, maybe pretty recently. Hooked on Phonics is really great because I love the combination of the online and the in person reading. So it’s an, it’s an app you can go on and use the app, which she does use, but I also love the actual hands on learning program. They send every month, a workbook and a couple early reader books with some practice exercises and you can read the books, you can mark them off. There’s these stickers that they send. So each time she does a lesson, she gets to put a sticker in the top and that’s all included, which feels really nice. And so we sort of changed back and forth between ABC Mouse and Hooked on Phonics to keep it sort of low pressure, but also continually every day be working on reading.
This is something we do over the summer as well. We’ll continue doing this in the school year.
In addition to that, for all of my kids, I love Epic reading library. There’s a link where you can read free for 30 days and kind of try it out before you decide whether or not you want to invest in it at this time, especially where we’re all home and the libraries. At least our local libraries aren’t open anymore. They opened them briefly and they close them again. I have been struggling to have a continuous flow of books for my kids to read, especially my older boys that read a lot Epic has 40,000 titles. And they vary between books that you can read sort of Kindle style there’s picture book, where you can flip the pages and actually see the illustrations.
There’s also audio books. So you can have the app read books to you, which is such a bonus because sometimes a kid wants to listen to a story and that actually continues to develop their learning and reading literacy ability. Even though they’re not looking at the words, which seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. Listening to audio books continues to develop your reading abilities as well. So Epic is a huge resource that we’re going to rely on for homeschooling. Um, I have some sight word, flash cards that I think are fun. I tend to love the phonetical style of reading.
I’m not a reading expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love to read. And I love I noticed with my boys, especially that this sounding out and learning sort of the phonetics of reading was really important for them. And they’re learning to read and sight words are so helpful to just jump ahead a little bit, to like be able to improve a little bit of the fluency and have some more familiarity. So we are doing some flashcards with those, which are, is different for me, but fun. I also really love using manipulatives. And what we’ve been using lately are bananagrams. So bananagrams, or even like Scrabble has all the tiles with letters.
Plum can spell out words. We can make sentences, we can do something like put a couple letters down, like “at”, for example, and then have her interchange, the first letter and work on all of the different types of words you can make. So there’s a lot of ways to use different manipulatives as well. So those are some of the things we’re learning for reading fluency with Plum at her young age.
Middle School Reading
Let me jump into some middle rate or a little bit older elementary school reading resources. I’m so excited to include BraveryMag as one of the resources that we’re going to use for homeschool. It is a quarterly publication. So there’s four that come throughout the year and they’re these beautiful really consciously made magazines meant for elementary and middle school age children with a focus on female leadership. And so each edition, there is one strong female lead that is highlighted.
In addition to that there’s educational activities and some different traits and values that are talked about and discussed in and a great jumping off point for conversation in the family. I think it is a perfect way to mesh together. Some principles based learning as well as the reading and activities that are included. So we’re going to be leaning on BraveryMag for some of our reading resources. And it’ll just be a fun option for my kids as well to have that as one of their choices for reading.
Next, I have to mention Literati for the same reason that we’re doing Epic. And those are online reading, which is great, but my kids also love reading books in person and for Eliot’s birthday last month, we got him a subscription to Literati, which is a monthly book subscription service. I looked through probably 10 different books, subscription services before I landed on and decided to use Literati.
Basically they have this team of experts based on the sort of reading level that you choose. They choose five books to send each month along with some fun extras that are reading related. So last month, Elliot got some stickers that were personalized that were like… what are they called like this, “This book belongs to”, I think there’s a name for those book plates, maybe so M and a cool print that had like this beautiful book. It was an illustration.
Those things you keep and you can read through and decide if you want it to keep any of the five books or not. And you only pay for the ones that you keep and you send the others back in a postage paid envelope. So it’s $10 a month for the subscription to land at your doorstep. And then you choose which books to keep and pay for those. I feel like I’m paying for the extras and for the choices, which is really to just have them come to my door. And then I told Eliot, he can choose three books a month.
I love that the pricing on the books, they, they price match below what you would pay on Amazon, which is generally a pretty low price for a book. They take another percentage off of that. So you’re definitely paying the lowest price that you could find for the titles that they choose. And they’re just fantastic and fun.
And it feels like an easy way for me to have a bunch of new books arrive at the doorstep, not to mention that in seven days, Eliot can read a couple of the books and so he can read it and then send it back if he wants. He takes good care of them. And so that is totally part of the subscription. You know, look through them, get a feel for them and keep the ones that you want to keep in reread over and over again right now on my blog, there is a link for a $20 credit. So you can join literati and have a $20 credit already in your account. So when your first box comes, you can look through your titles and take $20 off of whatever you choose to keep, which feels like a fun bonus.
There’s a couple subscriptions I have sprinkled through my resources. And I think that it makes me excited because I know that something will be coming in the mail and that, that kind of contributes to the flow and the fun of the homeschooling curriculum.
And so I’m super excited about Literati and about Bravery as part of their reading that we do. And I guess that’s the same thing for the Hooked on Phonics coming every month. I’m like, “Oh, it’s here. Like now we know what to do for the next few weeks.” So it’s really fun to include some of those bonuses. These are things that we do anyway, and we’re adding them into our homeschool curriculum.
They’re normally supplements to my kids public school, but they get to be part of our learning, which is great because they’re doing it anyway. So see how easy that is!
In addition to those things, we are going to be doing a Family Book Club. This is just an exciting thing that I have wanted to do for a long time, but we are going to be all reading the same book. I may read it aloud to Plum. We may find a picture book version. I haven’t chosen these books yet, but once a month, we’re going to read a book together and not together at the same time that everyone in the family will read the book. And then we’ll do one special book club meeting where we have a fun theme to dinner around the book. We can talk about the book, have some discussion questions, just like if we were in my regular adult book club, except for it will be a family book club. So I’m super excited to include that. That feels like it relies on that connection that I’m so excited about for homeschooling.
Okay, let me jump into some math resources.
We are going to use Prodigy Math online, which I absolutely love. Years ago, Milo asked for a subscription to Prodigy Math for his birthday. He liked it so much. They did it at school and he wanted to have the premium membership to be able to do it at home, but a premium membership by the way is only $5 a month. So we happily bought him a math online game membership for his birthday. I think he was turning eight and we’ve used it ever since.
Some things that I love about Prodigy are that it feels a video game for the kids. So it’s really engaging in gamified, which is so fun. It follows a standard curriculum. You actually can go in through your parent portal and choose what state you live in and what grade, and it gives your kids, the math resources that they, you know, the, the sort of reinforcement of ideas for that particular personalization. And also it’s such a bonus that my kids love it. They love playing it.
Both Eliot and Milo have this subscription. Plum doesn’t play it yet, but she’s not really into that type of game yet. Anyway. So we’re going to do that. And that’s really fun. And through my parent portal, I can track their progress so I can give them an assignment. For example, say 15 minutes of Prodigy Math, or 20 minutes of Prodigy Math might be something that we put on their schedule for a math reinforcement for one of the days. And they will be thrilled about that.
The same thing for Adventure Academy, which I know I’ve mentioned before on the podcast as well. So ABC Mouse does not only reading, although we focus on it a lot for that, but it also has math programming and Plum does some of that within her sort of learning pathway.
Once you graduate from ABC Mouse, though, the next sort of program for the using the same company is Adventure Academy. And we subscribed to this back in the spring for my boys and they really like it as well. And it’s a little different from Prodigy, which Prodigy more reinforces math concepts that they’re working on outside of the game itself, where adventure Academy teaches some of those concepts, they’re sort of guides throughout the program.
They have these like challenges to do and quest to go on and they’ll maybe go into a museum like a pretend museum in this game. And there will be a little blinking light next to an exhibit, and they’ll go over and click on the exhibit and it will pop up with a description of what they would be learning about if they were in a real museum, for example. So it might teach you all about Italian sculpture, this sculpture that you’re looking at on the screen.
And then as you learn that, then you go through two different pathways and you can actually kind of fulfill your challenges by learning through the game, which is a little bit different than just sort of the reinforcement of it. So we’re planning on using that as well. There’s a free trial for that. It’s a month long trial available if you use the link on my homeschool resources page, so you can see if your kids like it, and if they do like it, I think it’s about $70 for the year, which again, feels like a great resource.
I want to quickly mention a couple of games that we will use for our math. Cover Your Assets is not like an advanced math game, but it’s really fun. It’s a fun game. If you haven’t heard of it. And at the end, you count up your money, you count up all of the things that you’ve earned. And so it’s just a good, like basic reinforcement in a fun way of some basic counting skills.
Also the 24 game, which I’m just learning about, but it’s a really, really great, uh, problem solving game, especially for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. And it can be sort of played up or played down depending on your level. So it’s something I think all of my kids will be able to use. And it’s like a $6 card game. So super easy entry into a little bit more of play learning for math.
I think I’ll mention here as well, that in addition to all of the sort of flexible out there, resources that I have, I also found a couple really simple books like workbooks that for the first and fourth grade, they’re all in one. And these are linked on this homeschooling resource as well. They’re all in one books that follow the curriculums for a basic sort of general curriculum.
So I will know, looking at the workbook, what sort of principles and topics my kids should, you know, would be doing if they were in school this year in public school. And for middle there’s a separate math book that goes through the entire middle school, like from six all the way to ninth grade. And so we can just start working through it.
Milo actually really loves math and he’s very bright at it, like he’s adept at it. And so this is something that he’ll be able to work at his own pace to go as far as he’s interested in or as much time and effort as he needs to kind of work through it. And so I plan on using the online resources, the Prodigy and Adventure Academy and some of these games, as well as some in-person instruction and focus as we work through some of the workbooks that are just really simple, basic, flexible workbooks.
Learning Along With Them
I feel like I’m confident enough in my ability to understand and teach something that I can sort of learn and teach along with them. I mean, hopefully I understand at least the basics of these math concepts from first fourth and sixth grade and anything that I don’t remember completely. I can learn along with them in order to help them understand it. That’s my plan at least. Okay.
Let’s jump into writing resources. I have a couple of really fun ones. I’m excited about. I have mentioned before on the podcast, the Loom journal, it’s a connective journal meant for partnership journaling between parent and child. This is going to be such a fun writing tool during this homeschooling because it’s something that I want our kids to be doing any way along with me. It already has prompts questions and some ability to create conversation within the journal format itself. So I’ve linked that on the resources and I’m going to just incorporate it into our weekly writing assignments. There will be a day where their writing assignment will be to do the next page in their loom journal.
Another resource that I’m so excited about is that I have found my kids pen pals who live across the country. I have a good friend whose kids ages, lineup, almost exactly with mine. And I asked her if they would be interested in doing a pen pal ship. So my plan is twice a month, they’ll write letters to each other and I’m going to do a Google sheet that has some very basic framework just to kind of get a jumping off point of like, what’s your feet. What are your favorite activities or, um, what do you like to do on a Saturday? That’s things like that as they learn to introduce themselves and also get to know their pen pal by writing a letter every other week.
And hopefully we’ll get on a schedule where they send a letter and then the next week they get a letter and then they send a letter and then they get a letter I’m adding that to our, our weekly assignments of either writing or receiving your pen pal letter. And I think it’s just going to be a really fun way to reinforce some writing skills and also for them to get fun mail and make a new friend. I have a couple more here.
So the Story Pirates Podcast is one of my very favorite kid’s podcasts. And at the end of every single episode, they give a prompt for a story. Uh, they have some upcoming themes or ideas, and we often are in the car when we listen to it and we say, Oh, we should write a story about that. And then we don’t actually do it. And so I’m going to use the story prompts from story, Story Pirates Podcast, as our creative writing assignments, where my kids can listen to the podcast and they’re so fun and so engaging, and then give them the assignment to actually write a story, using whatever the prompt is. And we’ll send those into Story Pirates and just have that become part of, part of our routine.
In addition, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Letterfolk passports, Letterfolk is most famous, probably for their letter boards. They were one of the first companies who sort of brought back the vintage style letter board. They have such a fun Instagram. I really love the letter boards. I love their company. They’re super intentional. They have a really cool style. And one of the things that they’ve started creating the last several years are these passports.
They’re just little tiny books that have places for you to write, for example, a passport for tacos, which I don’t have, but I should get one of these where every time you have a taco, you write down in it. I mean, maybe not every time, maybe not taco bell, but like anytime you go get a fun taco at a different restaurant, you write down and it prompts, like, what did you like about it? Where was it? What was the time? What was the style? And so these passports I’m planning on using for, um, some of the experiences.
So I got some for outings for the kids, for our field trips and visits to local parks. I got the museum one for our museum visits. I got a passport for books. So as my kids read books over this next semester, they can not only read the book, but then use their writing skills to reinforce as they write down in their book passport, what book they read, what they thought about it, who their favorite character was. And this is all just self contained in these beautiful little books and these little letter folk passports. So I’m super excited about those.
And then the last thing that I wanted to mention is I found this great book called How To Write A Super Sentence it’s gauged for younger kids, but I think it will be really helpful for all of my kids. And even for me, just the breakdown of what makes a beautiful sentence, what makes a clear idea sent out into the world. So we’re going to work through that as we’re working on our story-building and things like that as well with our writing skills. Okay. So I mentioned math, reading and writing. Those are our main everyday subjects. And then some of the other subjects that we’re going to be rotating are science and art and history and geography. And we’re going to do some life skills like cooking and sewing.
So let me jump into some science resources. These are things that will each be assigned a day, the science, you know, maybe we’ll do science on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And then in those days we will choose from these resources.
So KiwiCo crates, I’m sure all of you have seen these we’ve used them on and off over the years. We’re so excited to jump in. It feels like a really good time, again, subscription to have these really cool STEM boxes. So STEM stands for something about science, technology, engineering, math, I think? I’m excited to have these arrived to our house every month where the kids each have a project or two to complete that fulfills some tactile learning, some art projects and the science piece. I’m so excited. So we’re getting a Kiwi box for Plum, a Doodle box for Eliot and a Tinker box for Milo.
But I think that there will be crossover in who plays with what and how we work on them together. This is just a really fun way to dig in hands on to some science and, you know, tactile. I would also say art as well. I should mention that the link on my blog under homeschool resources for KiwiCo gives you a 30% off your first month, so you can try it out and see what you think. Again, I’m super excited about all of these boxes that are going to be arriving with the homeschooling resources just right inside for us.
The next thing that I want to share about science is that we’re going to be doing a lot of hiking. One of our big plans for the semester is to begin to section hike, the Appalachian trail, which has 500 miles of the Appalachian trailer in the state of Virginia. And that’s so close! So we are going to do some hiking and backpacking. I think that on the trail is how I learned some of my favorite things growing up. We’re going to talk about some biology, ornithology, some geology and astronomy.
I’m so excited about the astronomy. I’d love the stars. I found these three incredible books about the basics of astronomy and stars, and also constellations how to locate them and some constellation hopping, which we’re going to do when we’re out camping, because the sky is, the stars are so much easier to see when you’re outside of the city because of all the light pollution in the city. So I’m super excited about that. I’m also picking up a couple local guidebooks as far as like the birds of Virginia and the native plant species that we will be able to recognize and start to highlight as we’re hiking and on the trails this semester.
Another thing that I have been super excited about that I’ve mentioned on Instagram is the Geocaching app. So a few months ago at the beginning of quarantine, we discovered geocashing I had heard about it, but never done it. And it’s been a really fun pastime. The idea is that you use these GPS coordinates through the geocache app and there’s locational clues as well. And you actually go find these hidden little caches and often they’re, they’re tiny things like a dye or a stamp, or maybe a cool rock or key chain or something. They’re like these little things. And I think historically you might like take something and leave something in the geocashing, but we haven’t done that. We’ve just like found it and then put it right. That I think that that problem solving and the directional components to this are both really fun and engaging. So we’re planning on doing some geocashing.
I’m going to talk about some art resources. I love art. I love making that goes without saying the creativity. And I have found a couple of resources that are going to just take some of the preparation work off of my shoulders. And I’m actually really excited about this first one: a watercolor class for kids that my friend Janssen has been raving about for a year. And I texted her and said, “Okay, tell me about it.”
I’m excited to do it. So I joined and I actually started watching it already the link to this I think it’s simplified classes or simplicity classes. You can find the link on my blog as well as a 15% off discount, which makes it under like barely over $20 for this class that you can use it’s online instruction, but you can watch it at your own pace.
I’ve already watched the first several videos. And my plan is to incorporate all of the first beginning videos into one lesson. So learning about the supplies, sorting of getting set up and some very basic technique, we’ll do that on one lesson. And then from there on each of the lessons. So there’s about nine or eight or nine different projects where the lesson is an all in one, you get yourself set up just like you had learned in the first lesson, but then each lesson has a full project that you do. You might learned to paint ice cream cones, for example, or learn to paint a tree.
And so my plan is to just have one hour set aside each week for art, for watercolor, and we’ll put this on all the screen, mirror it up onto our TV and we can all do it. This watercolor together $20 for at least 10 weeks of art classes for all of my kids and myself together. I’m super excited about it. Not to mention that. I think kids love painting just in general. Like it’s fun to have the paints. It’s fun to make a mess. It’s fun to learn about color theory, which is one of the things she goes over. So I’m very excited about the watercolor class for kids that were going to start various very soon.
Next is Indigo dyeing. My friends I’ve talked a lot about my Indigo class and after I watched this watercolor class, I realized that my Indigo dyeing online workshop is a perfect resource for a homeschool art class. Not only do I share all of the ins and outs of the Indigo dywing, but I love I’m obsessed with everything surrounding Indigo. So I talk about the history. I share all about the chemistry of what’s actually happening in the processing of the Indigo, why it’s so different than other types of dyes.
And then you go on and do this hands on project. So I have marked down my own Indigo dyeing online courses, normally $25 for just the workshop. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes long when you do the whole thing, but there’s I think seven or eight different videos within that. I’ve marked it down 15% using the code “homeschool”.
You can find the link for that on my blog, so use “homeschool” and you can use my Indigo dying course as part of your own resources, whether your kids go back to school or not. It’s a really fun project to do together at home. Great for kids and for adults. And I have a few supply boxes that I am going to be kidding this week and they should be ready by this weekend. So if you want the supplies along with the class, then it goes up to $75, but you can also use the 15% off for that. So either the supplies shipped to your door with the online course or just the course itself, and you can grab supplies on your own. Either one, it would be a really fun thing to institute for your own art.
Okay. I’m winding down.
Geography and History
Next I want to talk just briefly about geography and history. Geography is one of my was one of my favorite things to learn in school. And it’s still something that I love. I love maps, and I love knowing where things are and I don’t know where everything is, but I feel like I’m pretty good at kind of figuring it out. And I love learning. Some of it has to just be memorized, but it’s really fun.
The other day we were at my kid’s blacktop at their school that the school playground is closed, but the blacktop has a painted world map. And it also has a painted map of the United States on it. And they’re huge. Like the states are maybe two feet by two feet or maybe 18 inches by 18 inches. Or, you know, of course that’s like a general average because the States are all different sizes, but it’s a pretty big map. You can stand on the States for example. And we had so much fun jumping around from state to state. And I was, um, we tried to go through the alphabet in alphabetical order.
So I know that song, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut… How many of you raise your hand if you learned that song? I learned the alphabet state song. I love it. So we went through and hopped from state to state in alphabetical order. And it just was such a good reminder of how learning geography can be so fun learning all of these things can be so fun to…I have three resources I want to share with you, but one of them is just these simple maps.
I got these puzzles they are Melissa and Doug brand maps. One is the, of the USA. And I love that the there’s some complaints on Amazon about how the States are not puzzles. Like they don’t have the interlocking of puzzles, but actually love that they don’t because they’re the, they’re the shape of the States with the exception of some of the teeny tiny ones on the East coast, each puzzle piece is a state shape. Yeah.
So they can be used independently of the puzzle itself. So we’re going to be using that for some reinforcement of geography. And also we learn about history in different regions. We can use different sections of this puzzle. It’s like a $12 puzzle or something. So great. And it’s really high quality.
And I also just got the one of the continents. So it’s the world map. And it just has the continents, which has really good place to start when you’re taking a whole like globe look, and then we can get into the individual countries using different types of resources. So that will be a fun way to just put together the map. And then once it’s out, you can use it as a map and take pieces out and talk about different things. Anyway, I’m excited about them.
The next resource that I have is one that I have been so looking forward to diving into deeper. My friend Preethi from Local Passport Family put together a global children’s book club during quarantine. So it’s actually just officially ended, but all of the resources are live. It’s 26 different countries, each using one of the letters of the alphabet. And there’s a picture book associated with the country in a lot of cases written by someone from the country itself and then different resources, whether recipes or craft projects or a virtual field trip all about the country.
So we’re going to be using the global children’s book club. It’s a free resource just available online and choosing the countries that we want to dive a little bit deeper into, and we can use all of her resources to kind of facilitate that learning.
Okay. And are you ready for it? Another subscription box that I am soo excited about. It’s called Universal Yums and it is a snack box that comes each month with snacks from a different country from around the world, savory and sweet, both like treats and maybe pop chips or rice chips or seaweed or whatever it is depending on the country. It’s only $24. I think there’s a $14 one, but I wanted the $24 one.
I looked at it and thought, “I spent $24 a month on snacks, like snack foods easily,” like within my monthly grocery budget. So this is so fun to have this box of treats arrive all from a different country. And they also include a brochure that has, I mean, I say brochure, but I guess it’s kind of like a little, a little book, insight it, a little mini pamphlet with information and facts, and also like a place to rate the different snacks and what you thought about them.
I just think the whole thing is really fun. I mean, I love treats. I love treats being mailed to me. I love treats from different countries being mailed to me. And I love learning about the country while I eat the treats that were mailed to me from that area.
So we’re incorporating Universal Yams into our homeschooling program where we can sit around and enjoy these treats, but also use that as a jumping off point to focus on a specific country, some of its history where it is in the world. See how all of the things start to kind of meld together.
You start to create not only like the, “Oh, I’m sitting down learning about history,” but like “I’m eating this really fun, random chip from this country in Europe that I didn’t even know where Europe was” and now we can put together the puzzle and see where it is and we can hop to preach these a thing and see, you know, some more of the history and context about it. And we can maybe look up a couple of books on Epic that have to do with that. And then we can write about it in our letter to our pen pal, and talk about it around the campfire while we’re watching the stars. You guys, my homeschooling adventures are making me so happy and we haven’t even begun!
Okay. The last couple of things.
I’m super excited to include anti-racism education as part of our homeschooling curriculum, we are going to be relying on some of the books that I have already read Stamped for my middle grade kids, which is so great. I read it myself and loved it. And so we’ll be using that for sure. Clean Getaway I’ve talked about before by Nic Stone was phenomenal for my younger readers. Plum and Eliot, it’s perfect for them. And another, you know, that’s a book that we can read and talk about together.
In addition to that, I have raved about on Instagram and I’m going to rave about it here for a minute. The Daily Anti-Racism emails that Nicole Cardoza is putting together. Now with her staff, she has a staff of people writing. It is literally an anti-racism email, every single day of the workweek that has a thoughtful topic, articles, resources, quotes, and ideas for how to implement or be involved or move the needle on whatever that particular thing is in your own life, your own community, your own family. So relying heavily on this incredible resource, you can sign up for free and you also can donate via Patreon, Venmo, PayPal. I just became a Patreon member. And so I am donating a little bit every month as a thank you for this incredible robust resource.
So I’m excited to have a little briefing about some of the topics that come up and can make sure that we’re continuing our anti-racism education in our home. The First Name Basis podcast, I have Jasmine Bradshaw coming on this show in a few weeks. And that will also be an ongoing resource for me as the mom, and then to be able to translate some of that information down to my kids, making sure that that’s an active part of our, as of our schedule, which is going to be really fantastic.
And I mentioned briefly about these workbooks and they’re all on the homeschool resource page, but so I am, I do have a couple just general workbooks that are sort of all in one. And I’m excited about those. They’re not like a full homeschool curriculum program. They’re actually meant to be supplementary studying for someone who’s in a traditional public school program or, or private school, even.
It’s just a kind of loose outline guideline, which I’m excited to have that. And I do love the idea, my kids doing some hands on work, like actually writing with a pen and paper for me. That’s how I love to learn. I actually, I mean, many of, you know, I use a paper planner it’s so much easier for me to just get my thoughts down on paper. I love learning on paper. I’m very visual of a learner. And so having that tactile sort of hands on hands in the education feels really important to me and some of my kids, I want them to at least have that option.
So along with some of the digital learning options, we have these hands on workbook pages that they can do, not for busywork, but just to add to the sort of roundness of the learning that we’re doing, and then just has kind of a final note.
Life Skills and Goals
I mean, that’s pretty much it, but there’s lots of just fun kind of random things like sewing lessons I’ll include every once in a while. My kids want to learn to sew and we’ll incorporate that into our schedule. I already do a lot of in the kitchen training with my kids. They all know how to, so they actually rotate making lunches right now for all of us that are home during the day. They all know how to make a few different things for breakfast. They help me make dinner.
So we’re going to be choosing some specific things. I actually am going to ask them, what are some of the things that they want to learn, that we can do some cooking and baking school together since we’re home and we need to eat. And then so much of what I want for them is free time to play and to create and to imagine. And that’s a lot of what quiet time will be around here. And also when we go on field trips and outings, we’ll make sure to dig into whatever it is we’re learning, whether it’s the area or a particular plant or, or a museum or something. And then also just have time to wonder and to explore and to wonder about things. We can just enjoy the piece of allowing our imaginations and our curiosity to take us places.
Like I mentioned, at the beginning of the episode, Rick Ackerly who said create the conditions that facilitate kids, educating themselves. If I can create opportunities for my kids to get excited and interested and want to know more about something and then help them as we teach them how to learn, how to discover things, how to find answers, those are the skills that will help them through everything that they go through throughout their lives.
And as a final note, there is no real resource for basic sort of life skills and habits. We do this as part of our family meetings every year at the beginning of the year, we ask the kids, what are some goals that you have for this year? What are some things that you’d like to learn? For example, for this year in January, we talked about some upcoming goals and plums goals were to learn how to ride her bike independently, to learn how to swim more confidently without her floaty to learn how to tie her shoes.
Like there are a couple sort of just general life and progress things. One of my Lowe’s goals was to watch all of them, our whole movies in order. So, you know, different ends of the spectrum, but all totally. Okay. I love this question of “What are your goals? What do you want to learn about what do you want to do?” Both things that will help you in your daily life and also things that you’re just interested in.
I know that with Milo, I’ll be doing some video editing. That’s something he’s asked about for a long time. He loves watching YouTube. He loves seeing videos. He would like to have a YouTube channel. And I don’t know if we’ll do that and go that far, but I know how to edit video. And so this is something that I can help him with so we can add it in to the curriculum and the homeschool.
And that’s a skill that will be really helpful, whether or not he becomes a film producer editor doesn’t matter, even as a, as a person and as a parent, it’s really fun to have some of these skills. So we’ll focus a little bit on that anyway. And I realized that now coming to the end of this now over an hour long episode, that it feels like woah, that could be a lot.
Basic Framework With Flexible Options
Like those are a lot of different things. I think focusing back on those values of curiosity, connection, determination, progress, and freedom, that kind of guides the process. So we have a basic loose outline in the morning studies. We know we do math reading and writing every day. And then, you know, that will probably be the first hour of each day, 9-10, and then 10-11, we’ll rotate through different subjects and 11-12, we’ll rotate through different subjects.
Some of those may just be a half hour each because my kids’ actual attention span for something like maybe we only do geography for, for 20 or 30 minutes. Then we pack up and put it away and move into our art lesson. I’ll do a loose outline for those things, make sure that they have some choices that you can do Prodigy, or if you’d rather just work out of your workbook, you can do that to let them kind of help self guide the things that they they want to do within the framework that I’ve created.
And then some quiet timing and curiosity, time, imagination, time, entertain yourself time, and then moving into outings and field trips and supplementary things that we would do in a normal school year that we will continue to do along with our homeschooling education. So those are all of the, the thoughts that I have for now.
I think that my enthusiasm has probably come through pretty clear. I mentioned last week that once I made the decision homeschool is going to be the best option for us this year for a variety of reasons. After the decision came, the ability to become excited and to start the planning and the fun, I mean, that’s where all the curiosity and the invention and the, the resources and the pulling things together, and the learning has been for me. I get to learn along this journey as well.
I get to progress and connect and be creative as the Mom and Dad. Dave will be involved in a lot of things that we do, although we’ve chosen together as a family, we chose that Dave will go to work at his office like he does, and that I will do the morning homeschooling and some of the afternoons. A couple afternoons a week he’ll probably come home early and take over some of the outings and some of the field trips and things like that.
And so we’ll, we’ll break it up a little bit. And of course, whenever I’m out of town, which I mean isn’t happening a lot lately, but I do go out of town from time to time. I have my really fun retreat, Live Free Creative Camp coming up in November. And so I’ll be gone for almost a whole week then. And so because of sort of the framework and the schedule and having a baseline curriculum, Dave will be able to work from home and manage the homeschool schedule while I’m gone. So we just have high hopes.
And, along with that, I don’t really have a firm attachment to outcomes right now. I don’t feel like super stressed out about hitting milestones or any particular thing that we need to do no matter what I feel really good about the makeup progress, inspiring creativity, developing curiosity, building connection, and allowing ourselves to feel the flexibility that comes inherent with this type of schooling.
I’m super excited about it. So please let me know if you have any questions. I have not nailed down our exact schedule, but I will be happy to share that when I do, I’ll probably share it in a blog post so that I can share some sort of visuals of what that’s going to look like in case that would be helpful for you.
And I hope that the resources that I’ve shared and more than that, even that the mindset and the idea of discovering your values and determining what works for you and your family, and then feeling, allowing yourself to just be excited and feel good about it, that, uh, that creates it’s just such a lightness and an ability to move forward, leaving some of the stress behind that will inhibit our learning and allow us to embrace all of the learning that is naturally going to take place because as humans we’re built for that, we’re built for curiosity and for progress.
And if we don’t get in our own way, then magical things can happen. Thank you so much for being here for listening. Like I mentioned, if you have any questions, I would love you to share them with me. You can leave those in the comments of today’s show notes livefreecreative.co/podcast. Just go ahead and leave a comment there. I check those all the time and I will respond to you there.
Live Free Creative Camp
I would also love to just mention once again about Live Free Creative Camp. I just barely mentioned it, but there are three spots available. There are only three left for November 4th-8th in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you’re planning on homeschooling, you might need a break by then. If you’re like me and you’ve run a small business, or you have some creative projects you’d like to do on the side, and you are looking at a semester ahead of your kids being home, whether homeschooled or digital learning, and you feel like in a couple months, you will absolutely need to have some time to set apart, to focus and to work on building your own creativity and making space for your own needs for a little while.
That is what creative camp is meant for. It’s a space of community. It’s a space where all of your needs are taken care of with an incredible menu created by my friend, Lena, who comes in, she makes all of the food there. She’s a holistic nutritionist and chef and incredible surrounding the home that we’re staying in is gorgeous, right on the beach in outer banks, we do daily meditation and yoga that’s facilitated at the camp.
We have community forum where we have some time for peer review, and we also have a lot of time set aside for deep work sessions, where you can just dig in to your creative work, to writing, to reading, to learning, to planning, or just to daydreaming and relaxing if that’s what you need. So you can head to the show notes to find out more about Live Free Creative Camp.
I’ll mention again that there are scholarships available for women of color or any marginalized group. So if you fit that category and you’d like to come at a discounted rate and go ahead and check the show notes to get the process for that. And I will love to see some of you there. I know I’m already really looking forward to it as a little bit of a respite from what is sure to be a really fun and also a really exciting and full upcoming semester. And so having a few days set aside for me to dig into something on my own for my business is going to be really fun.
Okay. That’s all for now. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode. I would love if you think that it has been helpful for you and it has made you think a little differently or feel inspired or feel better, or you’re excited about one of the resources that I shared, I would absolutely love.
If you would share this episode with your friends, family members, take a screenshot, put it on social media, put it on Facebook. The more moms who can feel a little bit better about what’s coming up over the next couple months with their kids. I think the better off we’ll all be.
If we can support each other in making a personal decision for our families and feeling really supported in that, that would be amazing. So thank you so much for sharing this episode. I hope that you have a wonderful one and I can’t wait to dive into a new topic next week. That will help you live a more creative, intentional and adventurous lifestyle chat then. Bye, bye.