Until a few weeks ago, every time I heard someone talk about homeschooling I thought, wow. I would never do that in a million years.

First and foremost, I couldn’t imagine choosing to spend every day mired in kid activities when there were perfectly good schools nearby that would offer me hours of free time.

I thought I’d be awful at it—wouldn’t have the first clue where to start, wouldn’t know what to focus on, wouldn’t have the patience.

And if I’m being totally honest, I thought homeschooling sounded just plain weird and would probably result in unsocialized oddball children who wore handmade aprons all the time and cried at birthday parties because the cake wasn’t made of tofu.

I feel a little reluctant to say that we are officially homeschooling, for some reason. Maybe because I still have lingering preconceptions, maybe because I don’t like the way people tend to respond to it (“Wow. I would never do that . . . “), maybe because Riley’s basically in between preschool and kindergarten and it’s not like I’ve pulled him from public school to do this.

But here’s what I do know: we’ve had an absolutely amazing week so far. Riley has been super engaged and excited about our school projects, and every day when JB comes home, Riley runs to tell him everything we did. It’s a massive change from trying to pry information out of him about his days at preschool, which tended to go something like this:

“So, what did you guys learn today?”


“Oh come on, you must have learned something.”

“Um . . . I can’t remember.”

(Now, I know for a fact that he did learn a LOT there, but he was rarely able to describe much about his day other than “Hey guess what, Ethan has a new Transformer!”)

It’s only been a few days and I know things will be constantly changing as we move along, but the biggest surprise of all is how much I’ve enjoyed this week. I love hearing my kid say, “Is it school time yet? Can we do more school after lunch?”, I love the creative challenge of coming up with new things to do. I love how the day seems to buzz right along.

Well, and I also love it when the babysitter comes and I can escape into my work for a while. Balance, it’s a good thing.

For our first week of homeschool, I chose summer as the theme topic. (Ironic, since Seattle has gone into winter mode and it’s been all of 60 degrees most days.) I started by having Riley brainstorm summer topics which I wrote on the whiteboard.


I decided to generally use those areas as jumping-off points for learning projects, so from there we did some writing and phonics practice:


We checked out a bunch of summer-related books at the library:


We did a nature hunt and Riley took pictures, which I printed into a little book:


We talked about why it’s hot in the summer, and made a temperature/math chart and a little sun/earth project:


We talked about how plants draw water from the ground, and did a little food coloring experiment:


And we made homemade ice cream.



I thought it worked out really well to pick a general theme and go from there, incorporating a mix of stuff, so I think that’s what I’ll do each week. Riley’s trying to decide if next week should be volcanoes or dinosaurs.

As for Dylan, sometimes he participates and sometimes he doesn’t. I usually give him some art supplies and try to include him, but if he gets bored and wanders off I don’t stop him.

Anyway, I promise I won’t be constantly droning on about what we’re doing schoolwise, I mostly wanted to talk about how things have been going because my god, what an insane amount of changes from one week to the next. I know it won’t always be smooth sailing, but I’m so glad these first few days were.


86 Responses to “First week of school”

  1. erin on September 10th, 2010 5:39 am

    I think you’ve got a great handle on things! I home-schooled my daughter in Kindergarten and had the opportunity to watch and listen to her reading progress from simple three letter words to whole sentences. It was AWESOME. You’re starting out on a great note. And I am very jealous that you’ve got such a reliable and great babysitter. I need to find me one of those!

  2. Stephanie on September 10th, 2010 5:53 am

    Linda – Do you realize there are crazy-expensive private schools who are doing exactly what you’re doing? It is called project-based learning (based on the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool/primary school education). It works – beautifully!

    We’ve been homeschooling for four years (after I began doing it for just one year!). Just can’t seem to find a better alternative – and we all love it. My kids are bright, social, busy, happy, and they don’t wear long denim skirts, we don’t drive a full-sized van, and they don’t cry at birthday parties. :>

  3. Tia on September 10th, 2010 6:25 am

    Keep sharing! I love hearing happy endings :)

  4. Operation Pink Herring on September 10th, 2010 6:27 am

    You are so awesome, and I hope you know that.

  5. Tiffany on September 10th, 2010 6:53 am

    whew I thought I was blocked there for a second, I don’t comment so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to even just read…. This is an awesome post btw…..

  6. New Momma on September 10th, 2010 6:57 am

    Wow, that sounds really complicated! LOL I like the no school aspect of parenting-I think I’ll leave that up to the professionals, but I love that you are so brace to take on such a challenge!

  7. Cara on September 10th, 2010 7:11 am

    Those projects are creative and interesting, plus you based them on Riley’s brainstorming. No wonder he’s so jazzed! I’d like to come hang out and do school in your house, too.

  8. marilyn on September 10th, 2010 7:13 am

    This is just so lovely to hear. My boyfriend’s parents homeschooled their four (!!) kids up until 6th grade, and they all turned out much more well-adapted than some homeschoolers I’ve met in the past, I think partly because they didn’t choose homeschooling in order to be able to teach lots of snake-charming religion or to shield their kids from the horrors of the public world, but because they wanted to keep their kids excited about learning for as long as possible. Hearing about getting to pick between volcanos and dinosaurs makes me want to come learn with you guys, so I think you’ve got the interest, freedom, and excitement thing DOWN so far. I’m so happy for y’all.

  9. Lola on September 10th, 2010 7:42 am

    OMG. Linda, seriously, I would be one of those people thinking, “Homeschooling?!? — I could never do that and probably would never want to do that.” But, I LOVE what you’ve done. I love the idea to start from a brainstorming project and I like how everything ties together.

    WONDERFUL. I am not homeschooling, but I think I’m going to steal the idea from you to at least challenge myself to do a project with my 1st grader. Lately, the balance is just not there for me — too much work and too little time for my family. :o(

    Thanks for reminding me what is really important. And kudos to you for taking charge of your life. HUGS.

  10. Deanna on September 10th, 2010 8:16 am

    Yep- it is amazing how easily the kids WANT to learn. I, too, would be interested in what you are up to. With my 12 yr old (autistic) who is staying home for the first time this year (screw middleschool – too brutal!) I print a daily/weekly checklist (gobs of them free online). It is a mix of lifeskills/ chores, schoolwork and fun things. If/when he does the list, he can play playstation.

    We even find ways to squeeze education in while driving- This morning driving the 7 yr old to public school we came up with various words for rain, adjectives for rain and talked about what colors we would use to paint today’s sky. Then when we got home the 12 yr old googled diff kinds of cloud names. It is so easy when they lead and you just assist.

  11. Artemisia on September 10th, 2010 8:18 am

    This is awesome! You actually make this (and having kids) seem fun! Whoda thunk?

    Great work. I think the projects are spot on and so creative.

    I am glad this firs week of such big changes has been going well. Congrats and all the best!

  12. Deanna on September 10th, 2010 8:28 am

    Forgot to mention – Magic Schoolbus and Dinosaur Train (PBS) are both awesome jumping off points for homeschooling little ones. Although some of the classic Blue’s Clues (with Steve) are basic learning concepts, too. Remember how back in the day they would show the same episode of Blue’s Clues everyday for a week? The kids did not mind and they absorbed the lessons!

    And have you seen http://www.gamequarium.org? Like youtube but full episodes of magic schoolbus, etc.

  13. Christine on September 10th, 2010 8:37 am

    I don’t know that I would ever be all about homeschooling, especially for older kids, but you should check out Tiffany Ard at Electric Boogaloo. She does some really fun stuff with her boys.

  14. kristylynne on September 10th, 2010 8:47 am

    That’s fantastic! I am going to steal some of your ideas for my own little guy who is about Riley’s age. And who, coincidentally, is obsessed with volcanoes and dinosaurs. We are going to make a papier mache volcano this weekend and put a plastic bottle inside that we can fill with baking soda, red food coloring and and vinegar to make it erupt. Feel free to steal that one. :-)

  15. Samantha on September 10th, 2010 9:18 am

    Linda, will you be my mommy?

  16. jwoap on September 10th, 2010 9:44 am

    I was homeschooled like a 100 years ago (actually in 1968) because my mom had just had a baby and didn’t feel like she could get me and a toddler and a newborn together to get me to Kindergarten everyday for three hours.

    I did just fine and didn’t really miss much of anything. I went to first grade on in public school and the rest is history.

    Fastforward 40 some odd years and now I have a child who not goes to public school but also does some home school kinds of things for enchriment as our school district doesn’t have a “TAG” program. What I have found is there are learning opportunities around every corner.

    You are doing great:)

  17. Mel on September 10th, 2010 9:51 am

    I will never have the energy, creativity, or enthusiasm to homeschool my kids! Hats off to you!!!

  18. Donna on September 10th, 2010 10:13 am

    If I come to your house can you teach me anatomy/physiology, and biology? Cuz they are totally kicking my ass.

    You rock!

  19. Donna on September 10th, 2010 10:15 am

    PS I love to color. And make shapes with clay….please can I come?

  20. Katie on September 10th, 2010 10:23 am

    Wow, this is freaking amazing. You are very creative to have just come up with all those great projects. I am home with my kids two days a week and I STRUGGLE to entertain them those two days. Would love to hear more from you regarding homeschooling and get some more great ideas from you!
    Keep it up!

  21. Chelsea on September 10th, 2010 10:26 am

    Don’t know if you read this blog (I love it), but thought it related…


    You’re inspiring. =)

  22. Lindsey on September 10th, 2010 10:31 am

    I’ll chime in my interest as well. Sounds like an awesome week and I’d love to hear more about your projects with the kids.

  23. Rachael on September 10th, 2010 10:36 am

    Do you think you’ll do this when the kids are old enough for public school? Alton and I are big homeschooling proponents, especially after having kids in school a few years. H is in first grade, reads at 3rd level plus and yesterday she brought home her “homework” which was identifying goddamn colors. As soon as we are in a better spot, homeschooling is a goal for our family.

  24. Mandy on September 10th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Linda, you are giving Riley a real gift. What wonderful memories you are creating!

  25. adequatemom on September 10th, 2010 3:20 pm

    You are so unbelievably awesome. Way to go, you!

    Also, you’ve seen this, right? http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2010/08/sgw-homeschooling-rant.html

  26. Melissa on September 10th, 2010 6:06 pm

    The bad first, but I promise it’s not bad in the end.
    As a middle school teacher there are definitely times that I can tell when kids have been home schooled prior to returning to public school. They can be socially awkward and don’t adjust well to the structure.
    That being said, there are also kids who come in that I would never know had been home schooled. They are smart and adaptable with a true love of learning.
    I think the difference is mostly the parents. You are normal (as in not weird and unaware of social norms yourself) and balanced and I think you’ll do a great job.
    It’s the perfect time to do it too since the boys are young. Some kids aren’t even in school yet at this age…so your little ones will still be ahead of the game.
    I LOVE your unit idea too. It seems like it’s the best way to keep Riley (and sometimes Dylan) interested and it should keep it fresh for you too!
    You go girl!

  27. Mommy on the Spot on September 11th, 2010 6:40 am

    I think it’s awesome that you are making choices to create the kind of life that you want, not the kind of life you think you have to have. WAy to go!!

    And as a former English teacher, I love the brainstorming exercise!

  28. Sarah on September 11th, 2010 7:51 am

    How incredible! I’m trying to pull my middle one from public school to homeschool (she’s in KG) because her autism and a slow, uncaring school system, is making it too difficult! You’re an inspiration, among so many others I’ve seen that are doing it so well! I’m so excited to start beyond what little I’ve done (so far) with my 4 year old.

  29. Josefina on September 11th, 2010 12:11 pm

    Hooray! I loved seeing your projects.

    For the record, I had the same feelings you just shared: the I would never do that in a million years feelings, and the reluctance to speak it feelings. We are full-fledged homeschooling with elementary-aged children and everything, but I still feel funny talking about it much. I don’t even know why. Maybe because I don’t really feel like hearing anyone’s thoughts about it. Everyone has all these opinions (both positive and negative), and I simply do not care. Okay, never mind, I guess I do know why. Same reason I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant with my second until I was halfway through. Just…the talking…at me…GAH. Curmudgeon. Right here.

    Anyway! I love this post. I don’t think the Play-Doh thing could be any cuter.

  30. Cosmopolitan Kids on September 11th, 2010 3:18 pm

    This is pretty impressive. I’ve always wanted to homeschool but am too intimidated by it. Kudos to you! You’re doing a great job.

  31. jessica on September 11th, 2010 8:47 pm

    Yay! I’ve been checking in, hoping for an update – I’m so glad your first week was a blast. It can seriously be so much fun. I remember how afraid I was to take the leap and then I was like, “Oh hey! This is awesome!” :o)


  32. AnEmily on September 11th, 2010 10:30 pm

    You’re a natural! I want to go to your school.

  33. Alyson on September 13th, 2010 8:52 am

    WOW! I considered homeschooling my youngest at a couple of points, but knew in my heart, that I really couldn’t do it. You are SUPERWOMAN! (my youngest and I are too similar in personality to be with each other every day – besides, he’s 13 now). Way to commit. I know I don’t have the patience to do it. Keep it up.

  34. Jenn on September 13th, 2010 10:11 am

    Please drone away!

  35. Stephanie on September 13th, 2010 11:00 am

    Wow…you make me want to try home-schooling my kids…and I love my job, but seeing what you are doing with Riley seems so great. Having a topic for the week to thoroughly explore is such a good idea…my daycare does than with my 3 year old…last week they did “planets”, and actually made little Saturns out of styrofoam balls and CDs (for the rings)…he loved it.

  36. Nicole on September 14th, 2010 12:51 pm

    I never in a million years thought I would say this, but I am SO jealous! I come from a family of proud public school educators and believed, until recently, that in a big city like LA, the only people who home-schooled were the uber-religious who couldn’t afford to send their kids to the local private *choose your denomination* church school. I now realize what an amazing gift it is to be able to spend such quality time with your children. What I wouldn’t give… You rule!

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