poor amy with her broken ankles

At Home with the Editors: Inside Amy’s 8th Grade

Resources and routines for a relaxed classic homeschool 8th grade

Every year, Shelli and Amy open the door and invite you to step inside their homeschool lives. (Please ignore the mess!) We talk about the resources we're using in our own homeschools and how we structure our days. There are lots of ways to homeschool, and we don't think our way is the best—just the one that happens to be working best for our particular families at this particular time.  If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better! Today, Amy's talking about how she homeschooled 8th grade this year.

Because there’s a pretty significant age gap between my kids (six years), I decided to do two separate posts to make things easy for myself. Today, I’m sharing some of the resources I use with my 8th grader. (You can see what 7th grade looked like for us here.)

If I had to sum up 8th grade in one word, it would be “transitional.” We did a lot of learning and had a lot of fun, but we also spent a lot of time figuring out how to make the transition from middle school to high school. My daughter is opting to homeschool through high school, which thrills and panics me, but I wanted to make sure that whatever she wanted to do, she was prepared. So we spent this year working on skills that don’t always come up in homeschool environments but that are important for higher-level learning. I’ve mentioned note-taking, which is essential for lecture-based classes that she’s bound to run into at some point. We’ve also slowly shifted responsibility for deadlines to her shoulders. Homeschooling tends to be open-ended for us, which means projects get done when they feel done—which can be a couple of hours or a couple of years or never. This year, though, I made a point of giving my daughter due dates for some things and letting her keep up with them. We’ve talked a lot about due dates for things like research papers, where you’re really excited and just want to keep going and going but have to figure out a logical stopping point in order to get it done on time. My daughter also found that having a deadline made her second-guess herself—she’d wrap up a perfectly good project well in advance of the deadline and start to worry that she hadn’t put enough time or effort into doing it—shouldn’t it take her until the deadline to complete the project?

We’ve also started experimenting with grade feedback. I am not a fan of grading—honestly, a lot of things we do in our homeschool defy traditional grading, and I really like that fact. But at some point, we’re going to have to pull together a transcript, and while I think the pass/fail solution would be ideal, it doesn’t always work well for GPAs if you want to go to a more competitive school. So we’re playing with grades. I don’t give her grades in subjects like math, where it’s easy to see from how many problems you got right how you’re doing with a particular concept. I try to give input in the more nebulous areas, like history essay questions, where I can say, “This answer is good, but I would probably give it a B—it would be an A if you’d gone on to explain why the Treaty of Indian Springs was so controversial instead of just telling me that it was a controversial treaty.” Interestingly, I was all stressed out about the idea of grades, but my daughter doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.

As far as what we studied, here’s what we used:

 

History

Eighth grade was our year to study state history. We used the free online textbook Georgia: Its Heritage and Promise, which did an impressive job of making a pretty fascinating subject almost completely boring, but it was a good spine. We read a lot of supplementary books together and—once I was mobile again—took a lot of field trips. A few years ago, we did a study of women in Georgia history, so it was fun to revisit some of those figures again from a slightly different perspective.

My daughter kept a notebook, which she filled with facts, thoughts, sketches, taped-in photos, and other notes from our studies. Every few weeks, we’d come up with a big-picture question for each other: How was Georgia different from the other twelve original colonies? What was Reconstruction like for people living in Georgia? We’d answer each other’s questions and chat about what else we might have included or any particularly good points someone made. (I like writing essays, which not everyone does, obviously, but we had a lot of fun working on these together.)

 

Latin

Our last year of Latin (sigh) was a continuation of what we’ve always done: We used Ecce Romani (though we jumped to books 3 and 4 this year) and did vocabulary cards, translation, and exercises for each chapter. Latin is the place where my daughter learns most of her English grammar, and that was true this year, too. If my daughter wanted to continue, she’d definitely be well-prepared for more advanced Latin next year.

 

Math

We tackled Life of Fred Prealgebra with Biology this year, but it was slow-going. I feel like I’m not very good at teaching math—I know my one way to solve the problem, but I’m not good at explaining how to do it or helping someone find another way that works better for her. We made it through, but it was definitely harder than it needed to be for both of us—I’m really glad Jason is here to take over math for high school.

 

Literature

We read a lot of books that tied into our Georgia history study (Some of our favorites included Juliet Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts, Cold Sassy Tree, and A Good Man Is Hard to Find.). We also thought this would be a good year to explore an author’s complete body of work, so—like many people—we focused on Jane Austen, working our way up from Love and Friendship through Persuasion. (We didn’t read the unfinished Sandition.) For me, this was really fun—I love Austen and all those lovely Austen film adaptations—and my daughter really enjoyed it, too. She worked on a big paper over the course of the year about mean girls in Jane Austen, which turned out to be very interesting. I loved seeing it develop over the course of the year—as she read more and thought more, her ideas got deeper and more nuanced. It was very cool to watch.

 

Science

We used The Story of Science this year, and we loved it. I found The Story of Science through Rebecca’s review (thanks, Rebecca!), and it was the perfect combination of readaloud and hands-on for us. I wish we’d discovered it sooner because I would have loved to use this series throughout middle school. I didn’t get the student workbook—my daughter usually just keeps a notebook for classes—but I did get the teacher’s guide so that I could have the lab instructions. 

 

Creative writing

My daughter was the copy chief for her creative writing class’s magazine—though all the stories came in so close to deadline that she didn’t get to do as much actual copyediting as she was hoping. She took the class at our local homeschool group.

 

My daughter also got really adventurous with her cooking this year, inspired, perhaps, by our obsessive viewing of The Great British Bake-Off. She continued her knitting and sewing, having a brief fling with cross-stitching followed by a return to plushie making. She practiced her piano and guitar (almost) every day, did nature walks and kept a nature journal (not daily) with me and her brother. She wrote and illustrated comic books, got really interested in Maria Mitchell (the astronomer), and made all her own beauty products. (Her bathroom smells really good.) Sometimes these interests superseded “regular academics,” and that’s always perfectly fine in our house. Sometimes, she just wanted to read all day or had a shiny new video game that had to be played immediately and obsessively, and so that’s what she did. She really loves reading aloud and doing all the different voices, so I’ll often find her in her little brother’s room, reading to him. To me, all of this is part of homeschooling—as much as math or history or science.

Our schedule was hard to find a rhythm for this year, but eventually we fell into a routine that worked. Some of that difficulty might be because of my injury through the fall, which made everything kind of janky, but I think a lot of it was because we were trying lots of new things and it took a while to find the ones that worked and to get the hang of some of our new patterns. In some ways, our routine was the same as always: My daughter gets up when she gets up (later and later every year!), we do our structured work together after she has breakfast, then she does her independent work and whatever else she wants during the day and evening. (It’s weird to go in her room to say good night and see her sprawled on the bed at 11 p.m. writing essays or doing math problems, but that seems to be her prime creative thinking time.) But it was hard for us to find a balance that felt like the right mix of hey-we’re-learning-stuff and hey-this-is-fun, and I’m really glad we decided to tackle that challenge this year instead of waiting until 9th grade. I feel like this year has helped us know better what we’re doing as we move into high school.

As far as testing goes, we went ahead and did the PSAT this year—I signed her up to take it at our neighborhood high school, and while dropping her off at that cafeteria all by herself was both heart-wrenching and terrifying, she did just fine—on the test and in the strange environment. (I’ve done testing at home every year since Suzanne suggested it, and while I tend to think testing is annoying and not at all representative of what someone knows, I think Suzanne was right that just doing it every year takes the anxiety right out of it for prone-to-test-panic kids like my daughter and gives them practice sitting for so long without being able to take a break.)

Writing all this up is kind of reassuring because this year felt particularly hard, like trying to find my way through an unfamiliar terrain in the dark without a map. But looking back, I think we did a good job—we shifted some of the big pieces in our homeschool, but we were able to do in ways that let us keep the things we love about homeschooling. I guess transitions always feel messy and uncertain while they are happening. And, of course, when I asked my daughter how she thought this year had gone, she grinned her adorable grin and said “Great!” So that’s all right.


Stuff We Like :: 5.27.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

On our weekend to-do list: Shopping for fishing lures, baking lemon bars, cleaning out the crafts cupboard, and making mole. What we’ll probably actually do: Grill asparagus and sit in the sun.

around the web

You had me at Great Lakes Vowel Shift.

Being pretentious may not be as bad as we thought. (But it's still pretty annoying.)

Possibly related to pretentiousness: “Kafkaesque” has lost its meaning.

What your Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip says about American culture.

I love Martha Plimpton.

 

at home | school | life

on the blog: I’m sharing what 2nd grade looked like for my son this year.

on the website: Suzanne and I are in the process of recording the very first home | school | life podcast.

on instagram: When your knitting is so pretty you don’t want to give it away

in the magazine: Pages for the summer issue are looking amazing! We’ve been resizing them to read better on tablets, which has been a process, but I think we've figured it out.

in the archives: The new summer reading series is coming soon, but if you can’t wait, here’s a link to all of last summer’s book posts.

 

reading list

on my night table: Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (honestly just so I can keep up with Suzanne), A Little Life: A Novel, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

on my 14-year-old’s night table: Go: A Kid’s Guide to Graphic Design, Manga for the Beginner Kawaii: How to Draw the Supercute Characters of Japanese Comics, Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

on my 8-year-old’s night table: Clementine

together: Henry Reed’s Journey

 

at home

watching: The kids’ Craftsy crochet class

knitting: I hit the halfway point on my Goldwing.

planning: My first off-road walking expedition since the Great Ankle Injury of 2016—wish me luck!

eating: Ricotta toast (my new favorite eat-while-you-binge-watch snack)

listening: Invisibilia


At Home with the Editors: Amy’s 2nd Grade

Roundup of resources, curriculum, and organization for homeschooling 2nd grade. #homeschool

Every year, Shelli and Amy open the door and invite you to step inside their homeschool lives. (Please ignore the mess!) We talk about the resources we're using in our own homeschools and how we structure our days. There are lots of ways to homeschool, and we don't think our way is the best—just the one that happens to be working best for our particular families at this particular time.  If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better! Today, Amy's talking about how she homeschooled 2nd grade this year.

 

Because there’s a pretty significant age gap between my kids (six years), I decided to do two separate posts to make things easy for myself. Today, I’m sharing some of the resources I use with my 2nd grader. (You can see what 1st grade looked like for us here.)

This was a crazy year for us—I broke both my ankles (taking the trash to the curb, if you can believe it) and spent most of the fall pretty much incapacitated. We’ve always relied pretty heavily on readalouds in our homeschool, but I’ve never been more thankful for them than I was this fall. I had lots of big plans for 2nd grade, but I ended up simplifying a lot. And you know what? It all turned out fine. I was a little anxious that we’d have to spend 3rd grade playing catch-up, but we’re actually a little ahead of where I hoped we’d be—which, I remind myself all the time, is a completely arbitrary place anyway and not a real educational checkpoint. 

 

History

Because we veer toward classical homeschooling (I always call it Classical, Dude-style because we require many snacks, are easily distracted by interesting stuff, and very occasionally go to the grocery store in our pajamas), history is the subject that we build our year around. My daughter and I loved Story of the World and used it all the way through, but in the interest of simplifying this year, I picked up the 5th grade Build Your Library curriculum. (I wanted to do U.S. history this year because my 8th grader tackled our state history—it works best for me when their history studies match up.) Build Your Library was great—the living book recommendations were spot-on, and my son enjoyed most of them. In fact, the book lists were such a good fit for him that I’m thinking of sticking with Build Your Library for history next year. 

 

Math

We’re still using Miquon Math, which my son has adored. He’s finishing up the last book, and I’m not sure what we’ll do next—maybe Beast Academy? Math is the easiest subject with my son—he’s always excited to work on it and Miquon’s approach seems to work really well for him. I’m sad there aren’t more advanced Miquon materials.

 

Langauge Arts

If you follow the blog, you know that my son’t reading (or lack thereof) has been stressing me out all year. We don’t do any formal reading or language arts—we read a lot together (favorites this year have included Sees Behind Trees, Heidi, Farmer Boy, the Melendy Quartet, By the Great Horn Spoon, and Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France), and writing comes up naturally. My son likes to write little books about Minecraft or Pokemon or his birds versus pigs baseball tournament series—he dictates to me, I write things down, and we talk here and there about why there’s a comma or a new paragraph. (This is really Patricia’s method, and she describes it much better than I ever could.) He memorizes a new poem every week or so for our Friday recitations. He’s also reading on his own, which I try as hard as I can not to make a big thing out of. But when I come out of my creative writing class and see him reading in the backseat of the car or when I peek in his room in the morning and he’s reading in bed, my heart swells with hope.

 

Philosophy

This is my son’s third year taking Philosophy for Kids at our local homeschool group. (It’s taught by Shelly Denkinger, whom I convinced to teach How to Think Like a Philosopher for our summer class lineup.) This year, the kids have been creating their own logic game, and they’ve gotten really into it. Philosophy has been such a great class for my son—he’s a super-rational kid, and this class has given him the tools to express, explain, and defend his ideas and opinions. Class is definitely his favorite part of the week.

 

Science

Our daily nature journal is still the biggest part of my son’s science, though we’ve done a few one-off experiments here and there as something came up that we were interested in exploring. (The most popular was probably our chocolate chip cookie experiment, in which we tested variations—with baking powder, with brown sugar, with butter, etc.—of the classic recipe to discover which we liked best.) It’s really cool to see my son’t nature journal evolve over the past year as his observations have gotten more precise and interesting. We also worked our way, pretty casually, through a couple of the My Pals Are Here science workbooks, but that was mainly because I bought them when we first started homeschooling my daughter and never used them, so I was kind of determined to see them used. They were a little more school-y than we usually are, but my son enjoyed them in small doses.

 

Art 

We followed Build Your Library’s recommendation and worked our way through Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters. We also do a little finger-knitting, soap carving, simple sewing, and/or beeswax modeling in what we like to call the “crafternoon.”

 

Our schedule tends to be pretty loose. My son and I usually start school after he has breakfast and checks his Animal Crossing town—this might be 8:30 a.m. or it might be closer to noon. We always start with a readaloud, then dive into history, but from there, it can vary quite a bit. We might get really engrossed in history and stay focused on that for a couple of hours, or we might spend a few minutes in every subject, or we might decide to watch a documentary on some rabbit-trail topic we’ve discovered. Ideally, we do a little history, a little math, our nature journals, and our readaloud every day, but I don’t worry if we don’t tick all the boxes. Some days, my son clearly has no interest in anything school-related, and we take those days off. At some point, he probably needs to power through something he doesn’t particularly enjoy, but I don’t think a few days off in 2nd grade is going to make him unfit for the adult world when he’s ready to enter it. Whatever work we end up doing usually lasts two to three hours. After we break for lunch (which my children are responsible for getting for themselves most days), we spend the afternoon working on our creative projects, and then he’s free to do whatever he wants. Sometimes that is non-stop video games. Sometimes it’s building a fort in the backyard, or playing with Legos, or doing logic puzzles, or coloring, or organizing his Pokemon cards, or watching Phineas and Ferb. He almost always helps me with dinner prep, and we try to all eat dinner at the table together and spend the evening having some family time—watching a show together (we were all hooked on Masterchef Junior) or playing a board game (Wildcraft is still our favorite).

One thing I’ve noticed—reading aside—is that I don’t worry about 2nd grade nearly as much this second time around. Second grade was the year we pulled our daughter out of school to homeschool—almost seven years ago now—and I had no idea what I was doing. I agonized over every decision and woke up in the middle of the night so many times convinced I’d totally screwed something up. It’s nice to realize that I’ve learned that a lot of gaps fill themselves, that things tend to come together in their own time so that waiting is almost always better than pushing forward, that you really can build a pretty solid educational foundation on readalouds and playtime. It’s not so much that I know what I’m doing better now—but I think I understand that it’s okay not to have any idea what I’m doing and to trust that—together—we’ll get where we need to go. In our own good time.

What about you? What did your homeschool life look like this year?


Stuff We Like :: 4.8.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

What a whirlwind week! We got back from the beach, launched our new subscription system, and got the spring issue of the magazine out. Now I think I need a spring break to recover from my spring break.

around the web

I’ve had some issues with identifying as a Southerner in my life, but I’ve always been thankful to have a handy second-person plural pronoun to pull out. Thanks, y’all.

I apologize in advance for the giant time suck that is this Tumblr imagining the life of a Muggle IT guy at Hogwarts. (But it’s hilariously awesome!)

Further proof that librarians are the greatest people in the world.

I am a little bummed that my first fictional crush (Jeff from A Solitary Blue, if you want to know) didn’t make the list, but you know you want to read about what your first fictional crush says about you.

Relevant to my interests: How to be a Tudor by Hillary Mantel in the London Review of Books (That’s practically Amy bingo if you work knitting in somewhere)

 

at home/school/life

at the magazine: Our spring issue is out, and I think it’s so great! 

on the blog: Get inspired with ideas for every single day of National Poetry Month. (We're also looking for a couple of new bloggers to add their voices to the blog.)

on instagram: Gratuitous beach photo

 

reading list

Thanks to Suzanne, my son is completely obsessing over Ottoline and the Yellow Cat. (She’s got all the Chris Riddell-illustrated books you need on your shelves in her column in the spring issue.) Also on his night table: The Warriors Greystripe's Adventures manga trilogy

My daughter refuses to give back my advanced reader copy of Click Here to Start, so I’m assuming it must be good. (She’s comparing it to Ready Player One.)

I love books about women in research science, so I was happy to pick up a copy of Lab Girl, a memoir by research scientist Hope Jahren.

 

at home

We took a road trip to Tybee Island to get a little beach time. I was worried about the weather, but it was actually perfect—warm enough to play in the water and read in the sand. (I navigated the terrain fairly well, but there were a few places where I was balancing on all three of my family members. My mom bought me some super-supportive sandals, though, which proved invaluable.)

I’ve been wanting to knit a summery little sweater, and I think Helene may be just the ticket.

Jason and I watched Mr. Robot in a couple of big binge sessions. Have you seen this show? It’s so weird and completely engrossing. (I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator, though. Also for Christian Slater, who is basically J.D. from Heathers-turned-hacker in this show.)


Stuff We Like :: 2.12.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

After a couple of fun but way-too-busy weekends, I am looking forward to a completely lazy couple of days off this weekend. I'm enjoying getting (literally) back on my feet, but I need a recharge.

around the web

Obviously I am going to get excited if J.K. Rowling decides to reveal details about other wizarding world schools. (I’m sure my letter just got lost in the owl post.)

Now I really want a custom library tailored to my own weirdly specific interests, don’t you?

I can never get enough of weird Edgar Allan Poe theories.(This time: time-traveling!) 

This reimagining of the Doctors Who as American actresses of the same time isn’t new, but it’s new to me—and it’s awesome. (And now I want a Tina Fey Doctor SO BAD.)

 

at home/school/life

in the magazine: We’re so excited about our fall class line-up! (And we’re taking class proposals.)

on the blog: Everything you need to prepare for the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend.

on pinterest: I’d love to recreate this adorable fox sweater for my daughter.

 

reading list

Like practically everyone else in the reading world, I couldn’t resist picking up Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree, a story about a 19th century English girl who gets caught up in the era’s intellectual battle between evolutionary theory and traditional faith when she sets out to solve the murder of her priest/amateur archaeologist father. I had some nits to pick, particularly with the resolution, but this one’s totally worth reading.

I am completely obsessed with Plotted: A Literary Atlas. Get on the list for it at your library now if you haven't already—it’s gorgeous!

My son and I have been reading Sees Behind Trees as part of our Native American study, and it’s one of the first books that he’s gotten completely caught up in. I love that he wants “one more chapter” every time.

I have a strange love of housekeeping books (strange because I do not have a love for actual housekeeping), and Erica Strauss’s The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping is my new favorite. (My old favorite is the great Home Comforts, in case you wondered.)

 

at home

My daughter is so inspired by these anime-ed Harry Potter characters that she’s been anime-ing versions of all her favorite literary characters, from Daphne Grimm to Heidi. (They are pretty adorable, though, aren’t they?)

I’ve been recycling some of our old art projects into notepads with the good scissors and some padding compound, and I’m kind of addicted. I think I’m going to make my daughter’s lab sheets into a pad so that she can just tear them off, and I’ve already turned my weekly menu-planning printouts into a pad, too.(If you haven't used padding compound, which is basically the glue that sticks pages together to form a pad, you should try it—it is one of the easiest ways I know to feel productive and industrious without having to be productive or industrious.)

Now that I can hobble around, I am looking forward to (finally) seeing the Iris van Herpen exhibition at our local art museum.


Stuff We Like :: Holiday Break Edition

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

We’re taking a couple of weeks off to wrap up the winter issue and just chill (but we do have a few great blog posts scheduled over the next few weeks), so this will be our last Stuff We Like of 2015. We expect to like plenty of stuff in 2016, too, so we’ll be back to our regular posting in January.

around the web

Everybody is talking about Iceland’s Christmas Eve book flood, but that’s because it’s awesome.

I don’t really take selfies, but after reading this, I kind of want to.

Dream trip: The Alice in Wonderland guide to Oxford

 

at home/school/life

in the magazine: The winter issue may be my favorite issue yet—and it'll be out in just a few weeks. Right now I’m editing a really cool piece on planning your life after homeschool. (Because after homeschooling, you can do anything!)

on the blog: I am inspired by Lisa’s post on making your own wellness a priority—that’s something I really struggle with.

on pinterest: Now all I can think about is making homemade chocolate pop tarts.

 

reading list

I’m reading an odd little book about early 19th century murders that’s equal parts bizarre and fascinating. If you’re interested in a quirky history of the dark side of the Romantics, you too might enjoy Murder By Candlelight.

We started Sea of Trolls as a winter readaloud—even though it’s not build-a-fire weather at all around here, this seems like the perfect book to read by the fireplace. Maybe we’ll do it anyway.

Both the activity-ish books we got the kids for Hanukkah this year have been big hits: Finish This Book (for our teenager) and Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book (for the 8-year-old).

 

at home

We are settling in for a few days of much-needed vacation. On the agenda: Harry Potter movies, hot chocolate, cuddling, and starting my ZickZack scarf. (I couldn’t resist!)

My best friend and I are planning a Dollhouse marathon over the break. (Are you a Dollhouse fan? When I first watched it—when it originally aired—I was pretty bummed by what seemed like a lot of unrealized potential, but on further viewings, it’s really grown on me. I’m pretty interested in some of its ideas about identity and consent.)

I am practicing walking in the most comfortable, supportive shoes I have ever owned. Jas teases me that my Alegria Palomas are "prescription shoes" and they are definitely clunky looking, but wow, seriously comfortable.

New Year’s Eve is the best excuse to eat blinis with creme fraiche and smoked salmon.


Stuff We Like :: 11.20.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Cross your fingers for me that by the time you’re reading this I’ll be getting permission to actually stand up—for the first time in 12 weeks! I love my family and my life, but being able to get to the bathroom on my own is totally what I’m thankful for this year.

around the web ::

If you know me, you might think that this history of yarn in video games was written just for me.

Have you ever wondered what to call all those different Lego pieces? You’re not the only one.

There was an actual light saber duel at the Fencing World Championships. 

I love these photos of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

 

at home/school/life ::

in the magazine: It’s the perfect gift for you or your favorite homeschooler: Get a subscription to home/school/life for just $12 through Nov. 30 with the code “thankyou.” Because we’re thankful for you!

on the blog :Lisa redefines her notion of having it all.

on pinterest: I think I’m definitely going to be making a couple of these Totoro plushies this year.

 

reading list ::

We’ve been listening to The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (hilarious) and The Mysterious Benedict Society (again) while working on our holiday crafting.

I borrowed a page from Bryn’s book and am working my way through the Flavia de Luce mystery novels. They’re pretty delightful. I am just tucking into book four in the series.

Are you a Laurie Colwin fan? I picked up a copy of Home Cooking for my Kindle (on sale for $1.99 right now —love that!), which I read years ago and loved and now can’t believe I have gone so many years without rereading.

 

at home ::

Knitting update: Boxy finished. I’m halfway through my Ecken + Kanten, which is, as I suspected a totally fun knit. (I am striping it with color changes every two rows, so it seems like it's going really fast.) Fisherman's pullover cast on, but it’s kind of sitting in its bag right now. I am feeling ambitious and accomplished right now, so I am thinking of making a pair of Vancouver Specials for everyone—that overconfidence could change at any moment since I have both short rows and picking up stitches ahead of me.

Jason and I have been watching Jane the Virgin, which may be my favorite new show. Rogelio is definitely my favorite new character—#rogeliomybrogelio. (If you like sweet and snarky television, it’s worth checking out.)

We are planning an exciting week of board games and movies to celebrate Thanksgiving next week. I’ve been bummed about not cooking this year, but we’ve ordered a pretty impressive feast—and I’m starting to get behind the idea of not having to do all those dishes. I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving, too!


At Home with the Editors: October Homeschool Rewind

Fun peek behind the scenes at what's happening in the homeschool life of the editor of home/school/life magazine #homeschool.

We share lots of little things happening in our homeschool lives in our Stuff We Like posts every week, but we don’t really talk about the big-picture stuff often. I thought it would be interesting to share some of those now and then on the blog—because maybe you’ve had similar things on your mind and can commiserate or have brilliant advice to share. Here's what was on my mind in October:

Homeschooling with a (temporary) disability is hard. Until I broke my ankles, I never realized on how much our homeschool moves around: We’re in the backyard nature journaling, hanging out in the rec room for math, cuddling on the couch for readalouds, walking around the block before lunch—I think of myself as a fairly sedentary person, but now that I am really and truly stuck on the sofa, I see that I relied a lot on changes of scene. Physically moving from one space to another works like an intellectual palate cleanser for us, and I’ve had to get creative about getting similar effects when I am stuck in one room. (To be honest, more days than not, I’m cutting things short with our more structured learning and sending the kids outside to play because it feels like we’ve gotten bogged down.)

I want to read more for pleasure. I read a lot, as you probably know if you read all the book lists in every issue of home/school/life. But I realize that I’m not reading for pleasure very often these days—I’m reading books to review or to brush up on a subject or to keep up with my daughter’s ridiculously long reading lists. It’s not that I don’t enjoy this reading—usually, I do—but I’m not browsing shelves, judging books by their covers, and reading things just because they look interesting very often, and I miss that. Plus, I think pleasure reading just looks different from required reading, and that's something I'd like to model for my kids. I want to integrate more pleasure reading into my life.

We are struggling with math—again. My son gets math instinctively, but my daughter struggles. Lately, it’s hard for her because her little brother likes to jump in and solve her math problems before she can finish working them out—and when you’re a teenager, getting one-upped by a first grader doesn’t feel so great. I’m not sure how to navigate this—I think my son should get to be proud of being good at something and my daughter shouldn’t have to be embarrassed about being the kind of person who has to follow the steps to solve a math problem. I’ve moved to trying to point my son toward another project when my daughter is working on her math, but her confidence—her hard-won math confidence!—has really taken a hit, which stinks.

So those are a few of the things on my mind as we move into November. What’s got you thinking in your homeschool life right now?


Stuff We Like :: 10.16.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

I love when the first story for the next issue comes in the same week the current issue goes out to subscribers. It makes me feel so productive!

around the web

This American Life presents the state of U.S. education in “The Problem We All Live With.” Definitely worth a listen.

Strunk & White: Grammar Police. This is a series that needs to happen.

Fascinating read: What happens when Amazon dies?

 

at home/school/life

in the magazine: Our fall issue is out!

on pinterest: Painted rocks with owls! Hello, Monday art project.

on the blog: I loved Shelli’s post on how to set—and achieve—academic goals in your homeschool.

 

reading list

I am a pretty vocal proponent of rereading, but every once in a while, I wonder what I’m missing out on by reading something again instead of reading something new. Then I reread something like East of Eden, and I know I am not missing anything.

Mo Willems is a sure bet in our house, so it’s no surprise my son is digging The Story of Diva and Flea. My daughter has been digging A School for Unusual Girls, which is about a spy school for rambunctious young ladies, set in the early 1800s.

I love everything Ruth Reichl writes, and My Kitchen Year is no exception. (My favorite is still Garlic and Sapphires, though.)

 

at home

Why yes, I have watched the Wonderfalls series twice in a row all by myself.It’s the perfect antidote to feeling sorry for myself.

I have started my December sweaters for the kids—I like to try to knit each of them a sweater every year. I’m making another Fisherman’s Pullover for my son (one of my all-time favorite knitting patterns) and a Boxy for my teenage daughter, mostly so she will quit "borrowing" mine.

I'm trying to find my way back to a workable fitness routine for the next six weeks of my recovery, and chair yoga has been a pretty good start.


Stuff We Like :: 9.18.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

This week we celebrated my birthday, knocked out a big chunk of the fall issue, which just may be our best issue yet, and logged a lot of couch hours. (Only three more weeks until one of my boots is scheduled to come off!)  

around the web

I love this: A hotel in Sweden keeps your sourdough starter going while you’re on holiday.

Hilarious: Five television shows they will never stop making. (The Adventures of Mr. Superabilities and Detective Ladyskeptic!)

If you have kids in college, you will appreciate these letters from medieval students hitting their parents up for more money.

 

at home/school/life

on the blog: We’re digging Shelli’s husband’s online history lectures. Check them out if you haven’t already.

on pinterest: These DIY architectural building blocks would be fun to make together.

from the archives: I love Idzie’s post on gaps in unschoolers’ educations. (Spoiler: They are nothing to worry about.)

 

reading list

I didn’t love Louis Sachar’s new book Fuzzy Mud, which made me sad because I always love Louis Sachar’s books. The kids thought it was just okay. Maybe we’re missing something?

I can’t cook, so I’m reading cookbooks nonstop. Right now I want to make everything in the Salad Samurai cookbook, especially the grilled miso apples and Brussels sprouts salad.

I finally convinced the kids that we should read Museum of Thieves, and they are totally enraptured. You should definitely include this one on your library list!

 

at home

My friend convinced me that Grey’s Anatomy is the show to binge-watch if you’re stuck on the couch. She may be right. (It’s streaming on Netflix.)

I need a new knitting project. I’m thinking maybe Shleeves because I love my Sleeves so much and this is kind of like a fancier version of that. Has anyone else made it?

We’ve fallen into the habit of playing Power Grid in the evenings. I seriously think this game could replace the average high school economics class.


Stuff We Like :: 9.4.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

This has been a crazy week at Casa Sharony and a slow week here on the home/school/life blog as we try to adjust to the challenges of my two broken ankles. (I was taking out the trash. I tripped. That’s the whole story!) It’s definitely tough to be forced to slow down during out busiest time of year, but you can’t really argue with broken ankles. (I’ve tried!)  

 

around the web

Maybe it’s because I’m getting used to working from a new space, but I am loving this site that lets you create your own version of white noise. (I’m writing this with night + fire + rain in the background.)

Remember those long, intimate emails we used to write? I miss them.

Such a good read: This teenager left the classroom (with his school’s sanction) to learn more.

 

at home/school/life

on the blog: I always love Lisa’s posts, but this one, about how we sometimes need to move outside our daily routine to touch base with our life priorities, came just when I needed it.

on pinterest: I’ve been finding so many fun art project ideas that I started a board for them.

from the archives: We still get lots of mail about our fall 2014 list of the best cities for homeschooling families. Maybe it's time to think about doing an update?

 

reading list

One good thing about bedrest is that it’s the best excuse to listen to audiobooks. I’ve been digging Bringing Up the Bodies (the sequel to Wolf Hall), about Thomas Cromwell’s campaign to dethrone Anne Boleyn; The Spire (read by Benedict Cumberbatch, which may or may not be why I picked it up); Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood’s short story collection that I’ve had on my to-read list forever; and Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, which we’ve been listening to together in the evenings.

I’ve also been doing more than usual reading aloud, and we finished Crenshaw, which was lovely — a delicate story of how a boy’s imaginary friend helps him cope with a difficult family situation. It really deserves its own review — I'll give it one when it officially hits shelves later this month.

The time seemed right to finally read Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened.

 

in the kitchen

Since I can’t actually get up the stairs to my kitchen right now, I am eating the end-of-summer tomatoes just sliced with salt and pepper. And honestly, they’re as good as any of my fancier efforts.

I am definitely thankful that we have a few freezer meal options tucked away, including a couple of pans of this easy macaroni and cheese.

I am eternally indebted to Shawne for introducing me to Instacart.

 

at home

Lots of couch time means lots of knitting time. I may finish my Beekeeper’s Quilt yet!

The kids and I have been watching the past season of My Little Pony together on Netflix. It’s always fun to watch something they really love with them.

Jason and I have been absolutely loving The Flash. (We bought the first season because Suzanne kept recommending it even though Suzanne still hasn’t watched Firefly. Ahem.) It’s delightfully refreshing to see a superhero who thinks his super powers are ultimately pretty cool — plus lots of science nerdiness.