Category Archives: Homeschool

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

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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!)
  • Hippo at Adventure Aquarium

    This week in homeschooling: Fun places to visit in Philadelphia with your kids

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    Rockford was working in Philadelphia for a few days last weekend and early this week. The kids and I had never been to Philadelphia and Rockford’s sister lives there, so a few months ago we decided we’d go along with him.

    Our hotel (Hilton Garden Inn Center City; great location & very friendly and helpful staff) was right next to the Reading Terminal Market — I recommend a blend of bread-and-butter and hot pickles from Beillers and the Grilled Mozzarella sandwich from MeltKraft — and just a 15-minute walk from what the kids called the “boring history stuff.”

    The Philadelphia CityPass covered the Adventure Aquarium; either the National Constitution Center or the zoo; the Please Touch Children’s Museum or the Eastern State Penitentiary; the Franklin Institute; and a trolley tour. All of the sites were on our to-see list, so we decided to spring for the passes. We ended up only using four of the five tickets — the trolley tour didn’t seem like a good fit for us — but I think it was a good purchase anyway.
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    This week in homeschooling: Mad dashes and rainy days.

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    by Ingrid Dijkers

    Ingrid Dijkers collage

    Holy Monday, Batfriends. It started out innocently enough, with the kids starting their newest memory work — “Hope” by Emily Dickinson for Poppy and “Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost for Pete — and Poppy working on the last section of her “Borrowers” study, and then we were off to co-op.

    “Star Wars”/Astronomy class was all “Star Wars” this week. I printed a set of DIY “Story Cubes” for each kid, using images from “Star Wars” coloring books on a cube template. I gave each kid a different cube from the set to color, and then we assembled them and spent the rest of the time taking turns with the story-telling. It was great once everyone’s cube was finished, but I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the kids who finish very quickly (and then go kind of wild) with the ones who are more deliberate in their work. Maybe that’s a skill you learn when you get a teaching degree. Professional teachers, your input would be welcome.

    But even the co-op craziness wasn’t the whoa part of the day. That came when Rockford texted from the doctors office at 3:15 to say he was still in the waiting room. He’d been waiting for his scheduled appointment for an hour and a half, and he had to be at the airport no later than 4:15. And his suitcase was at home. So the kids and I piled back into the car and hauled his suitcase across town, and Rockford made it to his plane in the nick of time.

    By that time it was only 45 minutes until Pete’s soccer practice, so we went straight to the park and spent the time hitting the tennis ball and playing on the playground until practice started, and then it was the longest practice ever practiced and we were all very very hungry afterward so we stopped at Sonic and they were s l o w and then we got home and still had grammar left to do but Pete was so tired and crabby he had to go to bed early and so on Tuesday we did an extra page of grammar.

    The End. Of Monday. Which was a very long day indeed.

    Oh, and we also started reading “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.” I was one of my favorites when I was wee. I’ve been waiting to read it with them, because it’s kind of intense. Hopefully they’ll be OK with it.


    It rained all day on Tuesday. It rained so much that it flooded the soccer fields, so Poppy’s soccer practice was canceled. It rained and rained and rained, and I blame our very late start on Tuesday on the gray grayness.

    We didn’t start school until 10:30 Tuesday morning. The kids did their chores and tae kwon do, and we read “Mrs. Frisby,” worked on handwriting and started “Sentence Island.” Pete finished his math and spelling, but Poppy ended up not getting everything done because one of her soccer-carpool friends came over to play for most of the afternoon.


    We worked on the kids’ memorization and history and a few other language-arts things before the kids’ art class. After art, Pete was very, very grumpy. He’s still a few days ahead of Poppy in attendance (because of a science-y summer camp), so I let him take the afternoon off.


    We actually started on time yesterday! And we made great progress all morning. The kids did their handwriting while I read two chapters of “Mrs. Frisby” to them, and then we practiced their memory work and analyzed one sentence in “Practice Island.” After a short break — during which Pete played with his castle and knights and Poppy started making a friendship bracelet — Pete and I worked on spelling while Poppy knocked out her vocabulary, wrote a review of “The Borrowers” and did her reading comprehension.

    After lunch and a piano lesson, the kids each did a math lesson and Poppy worked on “Writing Strands.” Today’s lesson asked her to improve a sentence she’d previously written by adding detail to it. “Writing Strands” is supposed to be largely student-directed, but I really wanted her to work on a sentence from the review she’d written earlier. And thus

    The main character is Arrietty.


    The main character is a curious 10-year-old girl named Arrietty.

    That’s a considerable improvement.

    The kids were finished with their schoolwork by 1pm, so they had a nice break before tae kwon do and Poppy’s soccer practice.


    Tonight we’re having several people over for dinner, so as of 1:30pm schoolwork has taken a backseat as I clean the house and go to Sam’s Club and take the cat to the vet. (The vet is unrelated to dinner.)

    How’s your week been?

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