Category Archives: Homeschool

Learning at home with a second-grader and a kindergartner.


This week in homeschooling: Mama has a meltdown


Our Mondays are very laid-back now that co-op has ended for the year. Just the way I like it.

The kids were finished with everything but their MCT 1 language arts by 10:30am. The only reason they didn’t get to that earlier was that I decided to revise my schedule for the program, because we’d gotten way behind on what I’d planned to do with it. That’s what I get for tying things to specific dates. It was nearly noon by the time I’d finished and printed my now date-free revision, so we waiting until after lunch to settle onto the couch for predicates, subjects and Latin stems. We finished up around 1:30, and the kids had the rest of the day to do with as they pleased.


Pete wanted to do his work from a Super-Spy Fortress on Tuesday, so our first order of business was to build a Super-Spy Fortress. (Sidebar: He’d be a huge fan of Fort Magic, if anyone’s looking to give him a rather expensive gift.) Once the fort was completed, he took his books, a pencil and a battery-powered lamp inside and got to work. I was admitted to the fort to help with math — because today’s lesson introduced a new concept — but he did his handwriting and spelling on his own.

Poppy, meanwhile, chose to work at the table as usual.

Other things that happened on Tuesday:

  • We finished “Sarah, Plain and Tall” in the morning, and the kids weren’t ready for it to end. Poppy found the conclusion “kind of abrupt.” I love the book, but I agree with her assessment.
  • We stopped at Sonic on the way home from tae kwon do for slushes. Pete dropped his on the garage floor, and sadness ensued.
  • The kids continued to enjoy working on
  • Suddenly it was 4pm and there were a few lingering things yet to do. And so the kids did them, and then they were done.
  • Wednesday

    Poppy and Pete did all of their work on Wednesday, but I neglected to write anything down about what we did. I do know that we started our new read-aloud book — “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — on Wednesday.

    The kids are about halfway through their art class, and they’re starting to bring home projects. The class is focused on “FUNctional art,” and all I’m allowed to say about exactly what they’re doing is this: The grandparents are going to be getting awesome Christmas gifts this year.


    Sometimes when people learn that we homeschool, they say “Oh, I could never do that! I just don’t have the patience.” To which I laugh and say, “Neither do I,” which is completely true some days.

    Yesterday was one of those days.

    Yesterday I reached my breaking point after yet another round of the children complaining about their schoolwork. Most days I more-or-less-calmly explain to them that there are things in life they have to do even if they don’t want to, and math/spelling/grammar/writing is one of those things and let’s just get through it and then we’ll move on to something else. Yesterday wasn’t most days, though. Yesterday was the day I yelled and stomped and grounded everyone for life. Yesterday wasn’t pretty.

    After I’d apologized to the kids for my tantrum, we talked about my expectations for them. We talked about how frustrating it was for me to be the object of their irritation so often, and we talked about finding and holding on to kindness in all of our hearts. And we agreed that until they show some major improvements in their attitudes, they won’t be using any of our varied electronic devices.

    The kids did end up doing the rest of the work without incident, and them karma twisted my back into knots and I spent most of the evening on the couch with a heating pad.


    Li'l Louis Quatorze surveys his kingdom.

    Li’l Louis Quatorze surveys his kingdom.

    Poppy and Pete still have a couple of things left to do today, but it’s been a much better day than yesterday was. They’ve been polite to me, and they’ve been kind to one another. They’ve been playing with Pete’s castle set since just after lunch, and no one has asked for permission to play a single video game.

    The highlight of the day so far has been our history lesson, in which we took turns being Louis XIV getting ready for his day. The 10-course breakfast included raisins, marshmallows and tortilla chips. I’m relatively certain that isn’t historically accurate, but it was fun anyway.

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

    Astronomy (and “Star Wars”) activities for the homeschooled kid

    In the Fall session of co-op, you may recall, I taught an astronomy / “Star Wars” class. Here’s a bit of what we did!

    We started the “Astronomy and also some ‘Star Wars’ ” class at co-op by reading a Magic School Bus book called “Lost in the Solar System,” and we also read a little from “The Solar System” most weeks.

    We made our own story cubes featuring “Star Wars” characters, planets and vehicles. Ours were made from card stock, but there’s a nice tutorial for wooden story cubes at

    We made suns to go with our solar system models. There was a sun with the solar system that I printed, of course, but the swirly painted ones we made looked so much cooler.

    We made little Yoda puppets on sticks. They were painfully cute, and Pete’s been using his as a bookmark.

    We discovered new planets, which we wrote about and illustrated. This was probably my favorite activity from the class. The kids were really creative in describing their planets, and the craft activity was simple and sweet.

    We made constellation viewers. This one was also pretty successful. The kids very much enjoyed punching out the stars with the ginormous thumb tacks I bought.

    In retrospect, it would’ve been better not to make it a mashup. I’m not sure I would’ve had enough activities to cover 9 weeks of “Star Wars,” though, so I suppose it’s just as well.

    p.s. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s the end of NaBloPoMo!

    Homeschooling at

    This week in homeschooling: A study in over scheduling

    This was one of those weeks that I never quite got a handle on. There was only a single day this week when we didn’t have something going on beyond our regular schedule. And while that’s not a bad thing, necessarily, the extra goings-on combined with a Rockford work trip meant we didn’t get everything on the school schedules done. Not even once. Not even the day when we didn’t have extra stuff.

    And also I forgot to move the towels from the washer to the dryer on Wednesday night, so yesterday morning I had to use a beach towel.

    That said, it wasn’t a bad week at all. Just a little chaotic. Here’s a bit of what we did:


    Monday was our last day of co-op for this semester. 1 Poppy read a chapter of “Harriet the Spy” and started on this week’s accompanying literature study in the morning, and we listened to a chapter of “Story of the World” (about King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell) on the way to co-op. But that was pretty well the extent of our schoolwork for Monday.

    I think the kids in my astronomy / “Star Wars” co-op class had fun, but it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped it would. There were only five kids, but the youngest was just barely 5 and the oldest was 8 when we started, and that is a really wide age range. I didn’t do a great job finding things that would appeal to and/or be feasible for all of them, and it made the class more stressful than it needed to be. I’d planned to spend the last day of class finishing up the kids’ solar systems, but I decided against sending them home with balls of wet paint and so we watched the first half of “Star Wars: A New Hope” and I sent them home with unfinished kits — there were only a few planets to go! — instead. The kids had been petitioning for it all semester, so they were pretty pleased with the decision. (I’ll tell you more about what we did over the course of the semester next week.)

    A friend and her daughter came over to hang out after co-op, and we had a fun afternoon but didn’t get any schoolwork done.


    Pete had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, and one of Poppy’s public-school-going friends wanted to celebrate her day off by inviting Poppy over to play. Pete got most of his work done after we got back from his appointment, but Poppy didn’t get home until noon and only had a few hours to work on school before tae kwon do.

    Normally Poppy would do any unfinished schoolwork after tae kwon do, but she’d been asking to do the “tae kwon do marathon” for a few weeks and I’d already told her that she could on Tuesday. So instead of coming home after the homeschool class, she stayed to:

  • help with the beginners class
  • take the advanced class
  • and take the “black belt club” class.

    She slept very well Tuesday night.


    Wednesday was the only day that we were on a regular schedule. The kids had what may have been their last tennis lesson until spring — we’re deciding on a week-to-week basis, based on the weather — followed by art class. What with three hours of the day devoted to extracurricular activities, Wednesday is the day that we normally don’t get all of the schoolwork done. And so it was this week.

    We did finish “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” over dinner, and the kids were anxious to hear more. I didn’t know until yesterday that there was a sequel. “Racso and the Rats of NIMH” was written by “Mrs. Frisby” author Robert C. O’Brien’s daughter. I’ll need to read it before I read it to the kids, though.


    Poppy had yet another playdate on Thursday. This one was Pokemon-focused. It was in the late afternoon, and she got most of her schoolwork done beforehand. Pete finished nearly everything on his list, and then he spent the afternoon walking around the house wearing headphones and carrying his iPod in his pocket like a real cool dude. A real cool dude who was listening to “The Hobbit.”


    We have a co-op council meeting this afternoon, so the kids need to get their work done before lunch. They have a lot to do, too, seeing as we neglected to do math yesterday and history all week long. I foresee more talk of Oliver Cromwell on Monday and beyond.

    How was your week?

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


    1. (Huzzah!)