When your homeschooling isn’t so much at home

Most homeschooling families I know eventually reach a point when a majority of their homeschooling isn’t actually taking place in their homes because they’re involved in multiple co-ops or super-active in extracurriculars or doing Classical Conversations or taking dual-enrollment courses at local colleges. We aren’t quite there yet, but this week featured multiple appointments, a couple short-term classes for Poppy, soccer practices and a lot of tae kwon do. It definitely felt like we were away from home more than we were there this week.

Even with all the busyness, we were able to get all of our schoolwork done this week. I give the kids a lot of credit for that. They were up and ready to work every day. (Well, except for today. Poppy was pretty wiped out after two soccer practices and five tae kwon do classes over four days, so she decided to take the day off.)


Our current read-aloud is “The Secret Garden,” which Pete is enjoying despite his early reservations about it. Poppy started reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” for her literature study this week, and I’m reading it along with her. For his assigned reading, I gave Pete a book I’d picked up for Poppy that she never read. Laurie McKay’s “Villain Keeper” is the first book in a trio called “The Last Dragon Charmer,” and Pete asked me to order book two for him before he’d finished it.


The kids are working on memorizing all the counties in our state this year. They finished the first 10 this week.


In an odd turn of events, Poppy did her math without complaint this week while Pete was… less than eager to tackle his work.


This week Pete and I learned about the planets in our solar system. Much time was spent mourning poor Pluto. Today we put together a “planetary bracelet” using string and beads to illustrate the distance between the planets. Marsha T. Cat attacked the solar system while we were stringing it together, and now it’s hanging above the windows in the living room where she can’t get to it.


Our “Story of the World” chapter this week discussed Matthew Perry’s negotiations with Japan and also the Crimean War. Volume Four of SOTW asks the students to make an outline of each chapter. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get Pete to do that, so we’ve walked through it together thus far. The mapping sections are also considerably more challenging than they were in Volume Three.

The activity we chose this week was to create a five-day “Medical Record” of a family member, because Florence Nightingale pioneered the use of medical records during the Crimean War. We did not manage to keep it up for five days.


I believe I mentioned that Poppy went to so many tae kwon do classes? She’s aiming to test for her red-black belt in October, so we should have many more such weeks in our future. She also had her first soccer game of the year this evening. Her team won 2-1! It was an auspicious start to the season.

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!

A menu plan for the week after we were sick

The kids and I were sick all last week with some kind of viral respiratory thing, and we’re still getting over it. We were still coughing over the weekend — we are still coughing today — but we had a nice time visiting with family anyway.

Poppy’s first soccer game for the year is this weekend, so hopefully the cough will have cleared by Friday. Perhaps I should’ve planned more health-restoring meals for this week. Alas, this is what we’ll be having:

Monday: Quesadillas
Today is Poppy’s Choice day, and she asked for a cheese quesadilla. The rest of us will be adding chicken and black beans to ours.

Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs
I just had a hankerin’ for some meatballs.

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner
Pete didn’t want to eat for three days while he was at his sickest last week. I knew he’d turned a corner when he woke up one morning asking for an egg sandwich. He’ll likely have another one on Wednesday.

Thursday: Cheeseburgers
It’s Pete’s turn to pick the evening’s meal, which means we’re having cheeseburgers.

Friday: Pizza
I finally got my broken grill fixed, but we’ll probably be ordering pizza this week anyway.

Still hungry? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie for more menu plans.

In which the children resume their studies (a.k.a. It’s back-to-school week!)

For a few hours this week, it seemed as though we might start our year as a one-student homeschool. Poppy had expressed an interest in trying out public schooling for her sixth-grade year, so last year we put in applications at a couple of local charter schools. She was wait-listed for both of them, and she was OK with it. And then early last week one of the schools emailed me to say “We have a spot open for Poppy! We need to know if she wants it ASAP!”

She basically had 24 hours to make a decision. We went over to the school for a quick tour and to meet some of the teachers. They were all nice, but the school was in school-starts-next-week chaos so for a kid who has never been to school before I’d imagine it was a little hard to envision what it would look like on a day when there weren’t boxes piled up everywhere.

I was conflicted about the whole situation. If she decided to go, we’d lose our flexible schedule and our ability to cater her curriculum to her needs. But she’d also get to have a new experience and make new friends, and I was excited about that part of it for her. As I tucked her into bed that night, I realized that I emphatically did not want her to go. As much as we butt heads over schoolwork sometimes, I love spending my days with her. I would’ve missed her tremendously.

Had we gotten the email a week or even a few days earlier, I think Poppy might have given it a shot. But having to make the decision in such a short amount of time overwhelmed her, I think, and she decided to stick to homeschool this year. I was relieved. She says she wants to apply again next year, which gives me a full year to prepare myself for her to get in and spend her days elsewhere.

We started our school year this week, and it’s gone alright. We’ve let the kids stay up late to watch the Olympics most nights, so we had a few grumpy beginnings. But we also finished school before noon every day and then watched the Olympics, played outside or played video games, which Poppy most certainly wouldn’t have been able to do had she chosen to enroll in the charter school.

Here’s a little of what Pete and Poppy worked on this week:


Our history book is starting us out in Victorian England this year, so I picked a complementary read-aloud to kick things off. We’re reading “The Secret Garden,” which Poppy and I read way back in 2011. I’m having a hard time nailing that Yorkshire accent.


The kids picked up where they left off last year with Wordly Wise 3000. They’re only scheduled to do it a couple days a week, but they both misread their assignment sheet this week and did extra lessons. I’m not complaining. (They did, though.)


I thought we’d start the year by revisiting the list of US presidents, and Poppy recited them all without hesitation. Steel trap, just like her father. Pete had a bit more difficulty with it, but he nearly has it all down already.


Both kids are still working through the same curriculum they were doing last year, because at some point we switched things up mid-year. They’ve been on a weird schedule with their math ever since. Poppy jumped right back into her curriculum, but Pete is doing some multiplication review to make sure he’s solid there before we start his math book again.


The surface of Planet Science is rife with craters.
The surface of Planet Science is rife with craters.
Pete and I started Mr. Q’s Earth Science this week, and he loves it. I loaded the student text onto the Kindle app on the iPad, and he read it to me from there. Our experiment this week was dropping asteroids (marbles) onto the surface of a planet (a pan of flour and cocoa) from various heights and measuring the impact craters. Today we’re going to make a DIY planetarium using a cereal box, a big nail and some constellation templates.


We’ve reached Volume Four of “Story of the World,” which begins with Queen Victoria and her Crystal Palace and the East India Company’s involvement in India. Today we’ll be building our own Crystal Palace, but it’ll be made from paper rather than glass.


Poppy’s soccer practice started a few weeks ago, and we’re finally getting back to our regular schedule with guitar, tae kwon do and piano.

It’s felt like we aren’t doing quite as much as usual this week, but that’s because some of our outsourced classes haven’t started yet. It’ll be busy enough once those start up, so I’m trying to remind myself to enjoy our laid-back days while I can.

Have your kids gone back to school yet?

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!