Monday, July 18, 2022

A Learning Life: a homeschool update

As we ate whatever random scraps of food/leftovers comprised our lunch that day, two of my children started talking about pelvises and asking me questions. I ran to the shelf, grabbed one of our human body books, and brought it to the table. Together, as we nourished our bodies with food, we looked at the diagrams of the pelvis and discussed the differences between the pelvis on men and women. A week later, as my midwife gently rubbed my belly, feeling the position of our little one, my six-year-old seized the opportunity: "You know, the pelvis on a lady helps to hold up the uterus," he began. 

Just another ordinary day in our homeschooling life ;) 

I haven't done a "homeschooling update" since October 2021, so I guess it's about time to do another one! I started out the 2021-2022 school year with the mentality that we would take a slow approach (which soon got even slower) and it's now become a lot more of a "slow unschooling approach." It's been really, really good for us at this point in life.

A couple weeks ago, my six-year-old asked if he is in first grade (it seems that age and/or grade designations can be very important to kids). "Umm...I guess?" I responded, before I gave some lengthy ramble about grade levels being rather pointless when one is homeschooled (at least in the early years). Someone else recently mentioned homeschooling in the summer, asking if we do that, and my response to this was the same. Umm...I guess?

Yes, I guess we homeschool in the summer-because we live a life of learning.

Our initial plan of studying certain countries at the beginning of the "school year" started strong as we read tons of books on Ireland. We never made it to a pub, but we had a really good time enjoying our experiences learning about the history and culture in Ireland. We then moved onto England, which was fun to learn about with the kids (we discovered the Dodsworth books, which my boys fell in love with!). Right around that time, we went on a one-day trip to Texas, where we found a delightful little British emporium. (We bought Jammy Dodgers to have with our tea at home, because I couldn't not buy them as I thought of the Doctor)

It was a small store, but it was so much fun to explore!

At some point, after watching Redwall, my kindergartener created this picture. 

But then, we just kind of fell out of this practice, following whatever the kids were interested in. At one point, my boys really wanted to learn about Hawaii, so we read lots of books about it and I let them watch Lilo and Stitch. We started reading Happy Hollisters books, which was a fun opportunity to read together, and also presented a couple of good opportunities to talk about different cultures and stereotypes. We went through a short period of time where I'd let the kids watch some Magic School Bus after lunch, and they now also own and enjoy many of the booksl-and they honestly have learned a lot of science from them!  

I discovered this picture after my kids watched an episode on dinosaurs.
My kids seem to really enjoy expressing themselves through art!

As my oldest began showing more of an interest in time and history sometime in the spring, I bought the first volume of Story of Civilization, and we began reading it together. We don't follow a specific plan or schedule for when we read, and in the past couple months, we've only gone through about five or six chapters.

We found this book at the library, and we'll probably get it again
as we continue through our ancient history book. There are lots of cool 
projects and activities in here! My kids spent a very happy afternoon learning
how to write in Egyptian hieroglyphics, which was very cool. 

I'm not concerned, though, because we aren't on a specific timeline. Usually a few times a week, if there's a peaceful lull in the afternoon, I'll ask my six-year-old if he wants to read Story of Civ. Sometimes, he wants to, so we read and discuss a few pages together. Other days, he asks if we can instead read The Hobbit, which we have slowly been working through. 

My oldest found this "Egyptian boat" craft in 
the activity book from the library, so I assisted him a little bit
as he made it. It was lots of fun! 

My kids spent lots of time playing, and it's amazing to see how they learn and work through their play. One day as Big Baby napped, my boys really wanted me to join them in playing restaurant, and my oldest excitedly wrote out a menu and then walked us through the whole process of ordering "food," which he then prepared and served. 

Early in the summer, my kids were thrilled to see that the librarians had decorated the inside of the library to look like the ocean (to coincide with the theme of the summer reading program). When we came home later that day, my kids decided to get to work making our house look like the ocean. There are now green strips of paper randomly taped around our house (seaweed), a couple of paper jellyfish hanging from windows, and fish hanging from other places. 

My six-year-old declared that these are piranhas attacking a shark.

In fact, when I mentioned this to one of our librarians (hoping she would appreciate the fact that my children loved her work so much they tried to replicate it), she asked for pictures-and apparently showed those pictures to other librarians. In a matter of days, a librarian from a location I haven't been to in years sent a decoration to our library for my kids, so they could further enhance the ocean decor in our home. 

My kids were very excited to receive this, and my preschooler
even took it to his nap the other day! It was such a precious sight!

At some point a few months ago, my oldest child suddenly became quite proficient at reading independently (I honestly couldn't tell you when or how this happened), and it has been very exciting to see him read books endlessly. Some days, he eagerly volunteers to do the Scripture reading when we pray Night Prayer (from the Liturgy of the Hours), which is really cool! He continues to teach himself simple math that incorporates addition, subtraction, easy multiplication, and he's started to examine the world of fractions a little bit. We don't work with a math book, but sometimes in the evenings, my husband will write out sample problems for him to do. A few years ago, we read one of the Sir Cumference books, and I think it'd be a good time to revisit that series, based on my firstborn's interest in math-so those are on my list for our next library visit! 

My kids are fascinated with the human body, and we have been loving
these books! (There are a couple of slightly crude bits of text in Human Body Theater 
that I could do without, but otherwise it's a super fun,
cartoony way of looking at the various systems.)

I honestly can't think of much, if anything, that we'll change as we move into the "new school year" this fall, aside from introducing my preschooler to letter flashcards (he's begun showing an interest in letters and has started teaching himself how to form different letters as he writes and draws). Even though I keep an eye out for organized homeschool groups that may be interesting, none of the local offerings strike me as being what we need right now. Between our few organized activities (gymnastics, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), church (daily Mass a couple times a week, monthly Adoration, occasional additional chapel visits), and spending time with our local community (elderly neighbors, at the library), I also want to safeguard our time to just to live and explore-at museums, parks (when it's not in the triple digits for days on end), and at home. 

It's a rich life, a full life, and one in which we are constantly learning and growing. 


  1. This was so interesting to read, even if I am not homeschooling. Sounds like so much richness in ordinary life. I so agree with safeguarding the time with our children.. these little years are so fleeting and precious!

    1. I'm glad you found this interesting-I find education fascinating, and love to see what different people choose to do. And yes! It really is amazing how fast the years fly by!

  2. My kids are so confused when it comes to grades! Like you said, it really doesn't matter when one homeschools. I'm more concerned about them learning the content, so we just cover the material and move on once they know it.

    1. I think that approach makes so much more sense than trying to make them conform to certain "grade levels"! I really appreciate it when different activities and groups are organized by ages, rather than by grade levels-it makes so much more sense to me.