Getting The Whole Family In On the Act

Homeschooling is quickly evolving from ‘just Emily and me’ to the entire family contributing. It’s fantastic, it really is. And I can’t help thinking that we are all better for the experience.

On Monday, Emily ran out to the mailbox to check the mail. She came in and said, “I need your help, there are a bunch of packages by the front door.” I walked to the front door and sure enough, there were three packages.

One was a language CD, the other package was two pounds worth of lavender flowers (for lavender crafts and recipes, check out my other blog The Deadly Nightshade), and then there was a large box of books from Emily’s Grandma Rosie.

Although part of me wrestles with the question of how in the heck I’m going to manage to read and use all of these books, the other part of me is absolutely overjoyed. I have content, ideas, curriculum…in spades. And I’m tickled to death that she is sending the books to me. One of them was the exact same Children’s Dictionary I had as a child. Talk about memories!

My own mom, who lives just 40 minutes drive from us, has invested in learning games, plenty of coloring books and crayons, and a small mountain of reading books. When Emily goes up there, my mom reads to her, does fun learning exercises, and gives her that critical dose of culture that I never seemed to grasp. I mean, really, where else will my child drink tea from a fine china cup?

My dad is far away, living in Panama. But he finds the occasional news story or interesting website to direct my attention to, and is incredibly supportive of my goal of teaching myself and Emily Spanish, and eventually, Mandarin.

My husband, who had initially taken a backseat to the push for homeschooling this year, has stepped up to the plate. When it comes to a science experiment, he’s on point, and holds his own without question or complaint.

Within the box of books we received from Grandma Rosie was The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions and Emily was immediately drawn to it. After having me read the titles of what seemed like an endless succession of projects, she wandered into the kitchen and drew her dad’s attention. A half hour later they had made a “Tornado in a Bottle” on page 35.

Later, during dinner, Emily slipped out of her seat, retrieved The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science and announced that she was going to read her book after she finished eating. This undoubtedly comes from countless times of seeing me reading at the table while eating a meal.

This morphed into a discussion about what she was reading. “Describe to me what you see,” her dad asked.

“Well, this man is a bad man and there is a cloud and lightning has started a branch on fire.” She was referring to page 12 & 13 where the book depicted a sketch of a caveman and was discussing how (and when) humans had mastered fire. After examining the page for a while she asked us to read it. Dave volunteered to do it, and read the passage to her.

Later, as we were heading for bed, Emily asked, “How are glass and metal cups made?” Which I asked Dave to write down so I could look it up the next day.

As we curve into a natural unschooling mode, I am amazed and encouraged by the questions and thoughts that come out of Emily’s mouth. She challenges me each day, with her questions and curiosity. And I try to challenge her in return, through encouraging her to read more words each day, to learning alongside her and helping answer those endless questions!

Homeschool Log for 8/24/11

Language Arts -We started off our day by reading Art and Max before playing around with Emily’s Write and Slide Phonics book. Later in the evening we read Buzzzzz Said the Bee. This was a beginning reader book and, as I usually do, I asked Emily to help me read the words. She did pretty well.

Mathematics – Hello Math Reader What Time Is It? Was just what it sounded like. Emily has definitely made progress on telling time, and only becomes confused on the two-digit numbers. Something she currently works around by simply counting around the clock. So basically, she recognizes the numbers zero through nine, and nothing above that. Anyone who has some good, fun ways of working beyond that limit, please let me know!

Social Studies – We reviewed some familiar landmarks on the globe – California for big sister and paternal grandparents, Panama for maternal grandfather, Arizona (where we will be visiting in a few weeks) and Missouri (where we live). I think that, after today, she will finally have firmly seated on the fact that we live in Missouri not Arizona. At least I hope she does!

When we were at the park, Emily took a break from the water to sit in my lap and comment, “The earth turns around and around. But we don’t feel it.”

“No, we don’t.”

“Because its so big, right?”


I guess her dad has talked to her about it. I certainly haven’t. It was cool that she brought it up though.

Phys Ed – We spent about an hour at the splash park. Unfortunately, the group of homeschoolers was small today and there were only three other children willing to play in the water – one a small baby with her parents, and two older boys quite focused on each other. So no one for Emily to spend time with. Hopefully next week will be better.

Art – Emily played some with the clay balls she had formed (Dave baked them in the toaster oven until they were nice and dry) and painted different colors. Yesterday she worked on forming a shoe out of clay.


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