The Pigeon HAS to Go to School (But the Rest of Us Can’t)

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Thanks to the coronavirus, the homeschool community just grew exponentially.

(Or not. No judgment from me if you’re taking it easy during this stressful time.)

Our schools aren’t (yet?) holding online classes, so we’re on our own for any school we want to do at home, and I am not-so-secretly loving it.

Lounge-wear all day? Uninterrupted family time? Plenty of hours for all the things I intend to do with the kids but never have time for because of school-ballet-piano-robotics-and-playdates?? Freedom to learn whatever we want?? I am in unqualified-teacher heaven. Doing my part never felt so good.

(Disclaimer, if I all of a sudden had to do my full-time paid work from home plus being a full-time homeschool teacher, this wouldn’t feel nearly as fun. Same goes for if we lost jobs, if any of our loved ones were sick, if a very special trip had been canceled, or even if my kids were complaining about homeschool. I have a very low threshold for complaining, especially when under-caffeinated.)

So what are we doing (besides pretending it’s not spring break because Astronaut Scott Kelly told us schedules are important during isolated times)?

Below is our “Fabulous Asby Family Schedule,” and the books that are helping us along the way. We don’t get to everything every day, and the timing is very loose. Oh, and there aren’t really zero complaints. I just give them the option to take them back. My daughter can’t handle failure yet. She hasn’t read Mindset.

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WRITING

Don’t Forget to Write is full of interesting, ready-to-go lessons, beginning with “Tragic Love Tales,” and ending with “The Illustrated Book Report.” It has made our writing block not only easy but really fun. I highly recommend!

 

If you’re looking for a (much) shorter writing block, Q&A a Day for Kids is a great choice. The prompts aren’t boring (“Do you like to feel safe? Or do you like adventure?”), and there’s enough space to write a really good sentence or two. I encourage my kids to use at least one interesting word, to try to say something surprising but true, and to write neatly. This will not only keep their writing skills from getting too rusty, but it will also be a very special keepsake.

 

SCIENCE

 

The Curious Kid’s Science Book is fabulous.

But we’re not using it.

In fact, I was feeling really unqualified to teach science. Growing up, one of the science teachers in my hometown told us she was required to teach evolution, but we weren’t required to believe it, if that gives you any idea. I took oceanography as a science credit in college, and chemistry only because it involved a lot of math. If I had had any interest in science, I’m sure I could have found resources to fill the gaps in my knowledge (my brother, now a physician, certainly did). But I was content to read as many books and plays as my heart desired and leave the hypothesizing and experimenting to others.

So what are we doing? Well, first we just read biographies of scientists that we happened to have in the house. The kids found my attempts disgustingly lackluster, and asked their dad to buy Mentos and soda the next time he braved the grocery store. I’m not sure what happened after that. I wasn’t involved.

Things started to turn around when I realized that there’s science in bread-making and I love to make bread. From there, we watched videos about why bread rises, discovered yeast is a fungus that eats sugar and emits carbon dioxide and alcohol (not magic bread dust after all, then). Then we fell down the rabbit hole of pathogens, studying viruses and bacteria alongside our fungi. When Papa came home from the clinic, he became our “expert” at dinner, answering questions and giving more information. All this fabulous learning culminated in a hilarious puppet show, with handmade puppets, including bacteria, antibiotics, viruses, white blood cells, fungi, antifungal cream, vaccines, and zombies (it made sense, I promise). That puppet show exceeded all my expectations and proves that even English majors can make it through the science portion of homeschooling during this crazy time.

POETRY

Memorizing poetry! This is one of my favorite parts of homeschool. I’ll start by reading a poem or two, and then the kids run off with a book of their choice (Mary Oliver for my son, Emily Dickinson for my daughter usually), and memorize whatever they like. A dining room chair serves as our “stage,” for recitations.

The very short chapters in What is Poetry are a good starting point before you set your kids off on their own. You could also try this one:

 

Knock at a Star will also teach your kids a little about what poems can do as you read through the examples.

For more on poetry, check out my longer poetry recommendations!

 

MATH

We’re honestly just using online resources for math, but here are a few fun math books to get you started:

If you love the Bedtime Math app, but you don’t want your kids looking at another screen, they make books, too! 

 

I love a little feminism with my math, don’t you?

 

Which One Doesn’t Belong? is not your average shape book. It encourages creative thinking and (surprisingly) appeals to a wide range of ages.

 

I used some of the brain teasers in Adler’s Easy Math Puzzles with my TAG students when I volunteered in a math pull-out program. They’re all very short, but would be fun as an ice breaker or if you’re just trying to a little something each day.

 

Fractions are fun in The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

 

One Grain of Rice shows the power of doubling and a very clever young woman.

 

For more advanced math in story form, check out the Sir Cumference series.

 

EVERYTHING ELSE

For art, we’re working our way through Vincent’s Starry Night, and throwing in a few projects, like Mo Willems’s Lunch Doodles or making science puppets:

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For philosophy/counseling, we’re reading Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy, which has been incredibly relatable for my kids.

 

Esperanza Rising (Scholastic Gold) by [Ryan, Pam Muñoz]

For history, we’re following the kids’ interests. For example, they asked earlier this week about the Great Depression, so we watched a few videos on Youtube summarizing the crisis, and then started reading Esperanza Rising, about a young migrant farm worker during that time period.

 

For programming, the kids are programming their First Lego League and FLL Jr. robots, but they are also using the free resource Scratch alongside these two awesome coding guides: Coding Projects in Scratch and Coding Games in Scratch.

 

Hang in there and happy learning!

 

 The Pigeon Has to Go to School. 

 

 

 

 

 

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