Homeschooling 2e Children — Debbie Shares Her Curriculum & Schedule
This is the third installment in a series of solocasts specifically about homeschooling 2e children. I know many families of 2e and differently wired kids end up going down the homeschooling road, whether they’re reluctant homeschoolers and they felt “forced” into the decision because they ran out of other options or whether they knew they would homeschool from the moment their child was born. Whatever the case, this episode is for you.
In this episode, I share how Asher and I structure our school, what kind of classes he takes, how I figure out what he’s going to focus on, and what a typical school day looks like for us. I wanted to talk about these things because I know that designing a curriculum can be one of the most overwhelming pieces of this puzzle.
A quick note: If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to listen to the two other solocast episodes I’ve done on homeschooling 2e children. In Episode 42 I talk about how I made the decision to homeschool even though I had a LOT of resistance to the idea, and in Episode 48, I talk about the actual transition to homeschooling … basically how we survived that first rocky year.
About Debbie Reber
Debbie Reber, MA, is a parenting activist, bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded Tilt Parenting, a top resource for parents like her who are raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in Kids & Family, with more than 4 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A certified Positive Discipline trainer and a regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World. In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired. In the summer of 2020, she co-created the Parenting in Place Masterclass series.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- How Debbie has worked with curriculum advisors in designing the game plan for Asher’s classes
- The big role developing executive functioning skills plays in Asher’s curriculum
- Why Debbie believes freedom and flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling
- How Debbie has incorporated outside curriculums into her school approach
- How Debbie supplements formal curriculum with videos, books, and experiential learning
- Debbie’s favorite resources for teaching, subject by subject
- What a typical school day looks like for Debbie and Asher
- Why Debbie believes it’s critical that Asher participate in the actual design of their schedule and curriculum
Resources mentioned for homeschooling 2e children
- Kathi Kearney (curriculum advisor classes)
- Kristi Helgeson (curriculum advisor)
To get all the details on Debbie’s favorite homeschool resources in one subject-by-subject downloadable list with links, enter your email below.
Debbie Reber 00:00
I’ve decided it’s time to loop my husband Derin and our homeschool faculty. He was the captain of his math team when he was in school. And so I know he’s totally qualified for the job. I am expecting there’s going to be some bumps as they get started figuring out their teacher student relationship. I expect I’ll be doing a fair amount of coaching and mediating between the two of them until they have figured out their rhythm and routine. Welcome to the Tilt Parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and today I’m doing another solo cast episode, which means no guest, just me talking directly with you. This is the third installment in a series of solo casts I’ve done that are specifically about homeschooling. I know that many families of differently wired kids end up going down this road, whether they’re reluctant homeschoolers, and they felt they were forced into the decision because they ran out of other options. Or maybe they’re just homeschoolers through and through and they knew they’d be homeschooling from the moment their child was born. Whatever the case, this episode is for you. And if you haven’t listened to them already, and you’re interested in homeschooling, or are already doing it, I encourage you to go back and listen to the two other episodes I’ve done about homeschooling. The first one episode 42 is all about how I made the decision to homeschool even though it really wasn’t what I had in mind at all. And I had a lot of resistance to the idea. That episode can be found at tiltparenting.com/session 42. In the second episode, I talk about the actual transition to homeschooling. Basically how we survived that first rocky year. If you want to listen to that you can find it at tiltparenting.com/session48. I am planning to do at least one more episode on homeschooling beyond this one in which I’ll get really nitty gritty about how I handle day to day challenges which are not necessarily a rare occurrence. But for today, I wanted to get super practical and talk about how we structure our school, what kind of classes Asher takes, how I figure out what he’s going to focus on, and all that kind of stuff. I wanted to talk about these things because I get lots of questions from listeners about this. And I also know that figuring out how to come up with a curriculum can be one of the most overwhelming pieces of this puzzle. And before we get started, I wanted to invite you to join over 600 other parents and take part in our free virtual differently wired seven day challenge. Every day for seven days, you’ll get a short video delivered to your inbox featuring a practical shift you can make in your world to help you have a more positive and optimistic experience in parenting your unique kid. You’ll also be invited to join a private Facebook group with other parents who participated in the challenge. We’ve heard from parents that the challenge has made an immediate difference in their day to day life, which is fantastic because that’s exactly why we created it, sign up and get started right away at tilt parenting.com/seven day. And now I’ll get on with the show.
Debbie Reber 03:13
Okay, before I dive in, I just want to state upfront that I recognize there are many different ways to homeschool. There’s online schooling, there’s unschooling, there Co-op home schools, there’s world traveling schooling, and really everything in between really a it can look so many different ways. So I just want to be clear, I’m not recommending or advocating any specific approach to homeschooling. I believe that if you’re going to go this route, one of the best parts about it is that you have the freedom and flexibility to create a school that truly meets your child’s needs and works for your family. What I am going to do in this episode is tell you what we do some things that work well, some not so much. We’re very much a work in progress. And like everything in our life, as I’m sure you experienced too. We have to be willing to change and adapt as Ashraf grows and evolves and his needs change. And a little context. We are just about to begin our fifth year of homeschooling together. And that alone kind of blows my mind. But here we are. And for those of you who are new to the podcast, we are Americans homeschooling in the Netherlands where there honestly aren’t too many of us and I don’t really have access to any sort of co op arrangements or other enrichment classes in the same way I would if I were doing this in the US. I thought I would cover a few things in this episode. First I’ll talk a little bit about the formal curricular help I’ve gotten over the years. Then I’m going to share some of the resources we’ve tapped into for classes and actual curriculum materials, including what kinds of things we’ve done for different subjects. And lastly, I’ll walk you through A quote unquote typical day in our school. So you can see how we structure it, and also how I squeeze in little moments here and there for me to have some breathing room, catch up on email and do the things that I need to do.
Debbie Reber 05:13
So first curriculum guidance and support. So every year, I’ve relied on some support in the form of a curriculum advisor. So someone who’s helped me figure out a plan, or find projects or courses and that kind of thing. The first three years I worked on and off with a dear friend of mine, who’s also an educator, and also knows Asher super well, Alison Bauer, I actually had her on the podcast way back when I was just getting started when we did an episode about what to do when things at school aren’t working out. And that’s episode two, by the way. Anyway, when we first started homeschooling, Allison helped me immensely. Initially, we envisioned a kind of relationship where she would act as kind of the principal of the school and I would then be the teacher. So Asher would Skype with her regularly to report in. And then I also felt like I had a heavy or you know, someone in a position of authority outside of me, in case things weren’t going well with school, which, especially in that first year, they frequently weren’t. So that way, Allison could talk with Asher and I can maintain that healthier teacher, student and parent child relationship with Asher. So Allison would talk to Asher and then also give me strategies for turning bad days around getting back on track with projects, adapting projects, so they would better meet his needs, and just generally make our school go more smoothly. Eventually, we decided this virtual principle idea wasn’t working so well. So Allison became my faculty advisor, for lack of a better word, I would meet with her regularly on Skype or the phone to check in on what we were doing, get her advice about how to work through problems, and so on. We also had a shared Pinterest board for some classes, so she could post ideas for projects. So for example, during our third year of homeschooling, Asher studied WWII, and so knowing who Asher is and the way he thinks as well as what skills he needed to work on, Allison thought of the idea of having him do a museum exhibit as his final project. So we use this shared Pinterest board for her to post ideas and inspirations for us, which helped get us thinking about what his project might be.
Debbie Reber 07:28
Last year, I worked with a different curriculum advisor, someone I found through the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum website, the woman I worked with specializes in supporting families, homeschooling gifted kids. And we had one Skype meeting before the school year started. And we literally went subject by subject and talked about the best options for each subject, as well as what I needed to be thinking about when it came to record keeping and kind of starting to create a portfolio for him. And by the time we got off that call, I felt like I had a direction and a plan for each subject. And then it was really just up to me to make it happen. And that worked out really well that year.
Debbie Reber 08:08
This year, I’m planning to have a few conversations with another curriculum advisor, someone who also specializes in gifted homeschooled kids, and he has a good sense of what exists for kids like Asher, and where are the opportunities we should be considering are. So as Ash is getting older, he’s in the second half of middle school now, I’m becoming very cognizant of high school and college. And I really want to be sure we stay on track so that when it’s time to look at university, he hasn’t missed anything important. And he’s really in a great position to apply to schools. So with this new curriculum adviser I’m planning to work with my hope is that she’ll help me kind of step back, and we’ll be able to look at the big picture like Okay, here we are. Now, this is where we want to be in five or so years. What do we need to do between now and then so that Asher is set up for what he wants to do. So that’s the plan, I will let you know how it goes. By the way, I will share the names and contact information for these curriculum advisors on the show notes page in case you want to get in touch with them. I also know there are many more out there as well. As I’ve shared on past episodes, I am all about getting help in areas that aren’t my place of strength. I know there are many people who feel like they should be able to figure it all out themselves and that getting help, it may be a sign of weakness or just not being competent. So I will just say to those people, I am totally fine admitting my weakness in these areas. So if help exists, I’m going to try to find it if there are people out there who know what I need to do and can point me in the right direction, so I don’t have to stress more than I already do. I say Heck yeah. Anyway, so that’s curriculum advisors and help.
Debbie Reber 09:58
So I’m going to switch gears now and share some of my favorite curriculum resources for different subjects. And just give you a sense of what we’ve done over the years, we have tried many different programs and approaches. So to organize how I share this information, I’ll go subject by subject and just give you a glimpse of some of our favorite tools for each, as well as the kinds of topics we focused on. Also, I did make a downloadable PDF listing all of the resources that I’m mentioning in this episode, so don’t worry about remembering any of this, the show notes are at tiltparenting.com/session72. And you can grab that PDF there.
Debbie Reber 10:39
So first off, we’ve never followed any strict curriculum. I know many homeschool kids do well with the kind of virtual school where they’re maybe doing the same kind of classes they’d have in school, but they’re just doing them online. But I knew right away, that really wasn’t going to work for us. So with the help of my advisors and research I’ve done about grade standards for schools in the US, I generally know the kinds of things Asher should be working on. And I make sure we have all the basic subjects covered that his peers are doing in a traditional school. For instance, for middle school in the US, my adviser shared that there aren’t a lot of strict guidelines for what kids need to master by the end of eighth grade. But she did say that kids should have had US history, they should be able to write a decent essay, and they should have completed Algebra 1. But within all of that there’s a lot of flexibility and the ability to tackle more advanced work and different subjects and really dive into Asher’s areas of interest. So that’s what we’ve been doing.
Debbie Reber 11:44
I’ll start with math, I should say that Ash is really good at math, and has always worked well above grade level. And at the same time, he is not super math whiz guy. He has slow processing speed issues and some other challenges that can make math in certain contexts. Really not fun for him. So in those first few years, we did a combination of things. We started out with a curriculum called Life of Fred, which many of you may be familiar with. It’s a story book based math curriculum, and Asher mostly liked, I’m putting mostly in air quotes, because he did like that the curriculum had a narrative structure, but he also had philosophical objections to some of the content. But anyway, he did do that entire curriculum and enjoyed it. And he learned some things for sure. So that was a good fit for him. The next two years he did Khan Academy, which I’m also sure many listeners are familiar with, and probably use yourself. And while we did this for two years, it ultimately wasn’t a great fit for Asher because he found the skill growing algorithm, super frustrating. In particular, the fact that say he would complete all the required skills for a grade and then the next time he’d go online, they may have added more skills. So he just felt like he was never done. And that was extremely frustrating for him. So after two years of Khan Academy, we decided to try something else. Last year, we tested a few other online math programs, including Aleks Math, which I know a lot of people like. But ultimately, Asher asked to be taught math, the old school way, meaning via textbook, and with me as his teacher. So I researched different books. And we ended up going with Singapore Math, which is, many schools in the US, US. And that’s what we did all of last year in went okay, to be honest, I would much rather he did his math online out of all the subjects because while I’m pretty good at math, I had to do a lot of prep work each night as his teacher. And because he has, shall we say, very strong opinions about math and what makes sense to him and what he thinks is arbitrary and logical whether or not he’ll accept a math role. I was often very challenged just to keep things moving forward, and so many days of math that just simply did not go well. It would be that subject that could definitely lead to some outrage or storming out of the room and we both have to take a breather. So this year, I’ve decided it’s time to loot my husband, Derin and our homeschool faculty. He was the captain of his math team when he was in school. True story. And so I know he’s totally qualified for the job. I am expecting there’s going to be some bumps as they get started figuring out their teacher student relationship. I expect I’ll be doing a fair amount of coaching and mediating between the two of them until they have figured out there rhythm and routine. But that is the plan for now. Derin and Asher will continue going through Singapore Math, and we’ll keep doing that as long as it keeps working. And then if it stops working, we will scrap it and we’ll try something new. So that’s math.
Debbie Reber 15:04
For science, we’ve done a kind of grab bag bunch of things over the years. Ash has a chemistry set and a telescope. And so some days we would do experiments with those or other experiments we found online or in a science kit or in books of science experiments that we have lying around. I also bought a few books from the critical thinking company, we specifically used a book called Science detective, and also some of the science curriculum from the brain quest workbooks. Asher also loves Nova, he has watched a lot of Nova in his lifetime, that’s a science base to show on public television in the US. And I definitely considered that to be part of his science curriculum, he learned a ton from those episodes, he still goes back and rewatch them. And it also sparks his interest in reading and researching other science concepts. He used to also be really into marine biology. So he took a free course through Future Learn, which is an online learning platform, all the courses are free. They’re taught by university professors from around the world. And the course he took was called Exploring Our Oceans. He really enjoyed the lectures, the video lectures, sometimes he did the experiments, he rarely did the class, the online forms for the class, but I really appreciated the caliber of the course. And so if a kid is really into the subject matter, that can be a great way to supplement their learning. During his second year of homeschooling, Asher also got really interested in the periodic table. So we decided his big project that year would be to create a gigantic periodic table, it took up almost the size of the wall in our classroom, that took months. And he was really engaged in that project, in part because he got to design each element card that he posted on the table. And he did that in Photoshop, which at the time, he was really into learning about Photoshop. So that’s an example of how I just took one of his interests and blended it in with another interest to create a class or experience that he was really engaged in. And then last year, we decided to do a more formal science class. So ash took his first class through the gifted homeschoolers Forum, which is an online community for gifted homeschool families. And they offer some fantastic virtual classes, there live classes with a teacher and a small group of kids from around the world. And last year, he took a year long class called Aristotle leads the way which used to book with the same name as the main text for the class. But there were also weekly experiments and fantastic conversations and just a super passionate teacher. So I’m really happy, I found that resource and I can absolutely recommend it. And this year, he’s continuing to do science through the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. And he just started a new year long class called Newton At The Center, which continues where they left off in May. And then there’s one more science class in the series called Einstein Adds a New Dimension. So after that, who knows I’ll figure out when I get to that point, but for now, we’ve got science covered.
Debbie Reber 18:11
For social studies, I’ve used that time as an opportunity to both explore Asher’s area of interest, and also take advantage of the fact that we’re living in Europe right now and have the opportunity to visit some historical places as part of our studies. For instance, we spent more than a year exploring mythology. We covered Greek mythology, Roman, Egyptian, and then Norse mythology. And I had him do a big final project that year, he could choose the medium and the focus, but it had to be kind of a big project he’d worked on for several months, he chose to put together a PowerPoint presentation, which he presented to Derin and me, where he came up with a rating system for how deadly different mythological monsters and creatures are. But as part of that unit on mythology, we also had a chance to visit Athens and Rome and just really immerse ourselves in Greek and Roman history. And that was truly a special opportunity. And not just for Asher, obviously, Derin and I benefited from that as well. Then we spent a year learning about WWI. And then the following year, we looked at WWII use the US born books as our primary textbook is boring. I think their educational materials are great. And they also always have an online component if you want to extend the learning. And sometimes I would say why don’t you go online and explore the extra resources for these chapters and let him kind of pick and choose the things he wanted to dive deeper into. I would also supplement that experience with documentaries I’d find on YouTube, reading appropriate stories and literature that covered different aspects of those wars. And then we also had the chance to visit some historical locations related to the wars. And as I mentioned earlier Asher’s big final project for WWI was a museum exhibit that he designed, he ended up making large art comics, for lack of a better word in which he kind of expressed the human experience through irony. You kind of have to see it. It’s hard to describe. But actually, I’ll share a few pictures from his exhibit on the show notes page in case you want to see how he did that. But as with everything we do more than what he actually produced for that project, I was mostly interested in having him tackle a big project that he had to plan, organize and execute. And it took him a few months, but it paid off. He had his friends over for a formal museum opening, which was really exciting for him. This summer, we’ve kept our social studies curriculum going. And by the way, we definitely take a break in the summer, but he has asked to continue doing some school because I think he craves the structure. So we have been focusing on American history. And we have been using Howard Zinn’s book The People’s History of the United States as our main textbook, and we’re supplementing that reading with just lots of conversations about things. We’re watching John Green’s excellent Crash Course video series on US history, I found some good documentaries and specials online. And then we’re also reading some historical fiction, including The Seeds of America book series by Laurie Halse Anderson, when we finish US history, he has told me he’s been wanting to do this for a year. He wants to do a unit on world religions and philosophy. So that is, what is I imagine we’ll be spending the rest of the year doing once we finish US history. And I also want to insert a side note here, can I just say that social studies, while I was not a fan, when I was in middle school, it is now one of my favorite subjects to teach, I learned so much. And there’s really nothing I like doing more than having conversations with Asher about history and how it relates to what’s happening in the world today. And as he’s getting older, these conversations just get more and more interesting. So just on a personal note, I love this subject. We’re also supplementing his social science and humanities learning this year with another virtual course we’re trying another online learning program for gifted homeschooled kids called Athena’s Advanced Academy. And he just started a semester-long philosophy class through them. And so far, he is loving it. And I love it because he’s required to verbally contribute to the discussions during the live call. And he doesn’t get a lot of practice for that. So for me, I’m super happy with it so far. And he seems to be really engaged in the assignments he has to do over the course of the week.
Debbie Reber 22:41
So moving on to language arts, this is another one of my favorite classes, because I am kind of an English and literature geek. But until last year, we did a hodgepodge of approaches for language arts. So the first few years, I was focusing more on grammar and that kind of thing. So he went through a couple of books from the critical thinking company, including one called Editor in Chief, where he learned how to copy edit material, and then another book called The basics of critical thinking. And then over those first few years, he worked on a couple of long form books. He was really into Minecraft, and he wanted to write some Minecraft fan fiction. I’m a writer. So I was like, yes, let’s do it. And so he wrote and published on Amazon, three mini novels that are about 8000 words each, but they took them, you know, months to do and he had to design the cover for them. And he had to get his Amazon page up and figure out the pricing structure and all of that stuff. But I used those writing projects as vehicles to teach him about story structure. We looked at the hero’s journey, and writing and planning and organizing and outlining and proofing and all those steps that go into writing a long form piece. Asher is not someone I should say who loves writing. So if it’s a story he’s into, he can write like nobody’s business. But other than that, it has been very challenging getting him to tackle essay questions or any sort of nonfiction writing. So that is something I know a lot of twice exceptional kids. I struggle with a lot of differently wired kids do. So I’m always trying to figure out ways to get him to write more. Maybe if you have some good tips, leave them in the comments for this episode for me so I can learn from you. Last year for language arts was my most favorite year because Ash is getting to an age where he can read a lot of just great classic literature. So that’s what we did. Last year, he read books like Animal Farm, The Count of Monte Cristo, Lord of the Flies To Kill a Mockingbird. So for all of the books we read, I would find online curriculums and use them to guide our discussion. I found some great free curriculums out there for To Kill a Mockingbird. For example, I used one called Facing History which was just mind blowingly good. And there’s just a lot of great content out there. And I would use that to supplement our conversations. So I would assign him a few chapters of the book each day, which then of course, I’d have to quickly read that night so I could discuss it with him the next day, sometimes I would give him some q&a that he had to write answers to, before we we would have our discussions, little assignments here and there, I would sneak in. And then for every book we read, I would always create some kind of culminating project where he would have to spend a week writing, you know, maybe an op ed piece, some sort of opinion piece, or he often chose if I gave him the option, he would choose an art related project, for example, make a propaganda poster from Animal Farm or something like that. To figure out which books to read, I just check out the reading list posted on school websites to get ideas, and I kind of go from there based on what I know he likes, and selfishly, what I’m most interested in reading. So that’s what we’ll be doing for the coming year. I haven’t picked our books for this year, but I’m looking forward to figuring out what we’re going to tackle. So those are the main subjects.
Debbie Reber 26:13
We also, of course, do a foreign language because we’re living in the Netherlands. So we’re focused on trying to become fluent in Dutch. I have a teacher who comes in once a week for a two hour one on one lesson with Asher. And then he works on his Dutch a little bit every day. You know, we watch a Dutch youth news show. I have him do Duolingo. I know a lot of you use Duolingo to supplement language learning in school, sometimes he has homework has to do for Hester, his Dutch teacher.
Debbie Reber 26:42
And then for art. This past year, I brought in a teacher once a week for a two hour art class, but she’s also just loved. But before I did that, honestly, I would just jump onto Pinterest and come up with ideas for different art projects. Sometimes we would go to a museum and visit exhibits and see where that led us. And I also think it was my second year of homeschooling, I used the Meet the Masters curriculum, which was interactive, and we could kind of focus on learning more deeply about a few different artists. And we really liked that.
Debbie Reber 27:16
For PE we mostly go on runs together and long walks. Sometimes I take them to a track for a speed workout. Sometimes we take badminton rackets to the park and we just hit around and goof off. Sometimes I take him swimming, he is definitely not a team sports guy. So he’s not playing soccer, or here field hockey is a really popular sport for both boys and girls. He’s just not into that. I’m still trying to find a sport that he can get into. But he has so much resistance around things that’s a lot of kids his age, like like martial arts. I know. So many people have suggested that to me as something that he should try. But he is totally opposed to doing it. He has said he would try fencing. So we’re gonna give that a whirl. That should be interesting.We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, that’s PE.
Debbie Reber 28:08
Then we also squeeze in a few other quote unquote, classes that aren’t really formal classes, but they make them happy, and they keep them engaged. So for example, Asher loves to be read to so almost every day will spend 15 or 20 minutes with me reading a book aloud to him. So sometimes we’re reading a series that might take us a month to get through. Sometimes we read standalone books. And honestly, I love that he still loves to be read to I’m hoping that continues because it’s a really sweet bonding time for us. So that is something I’m sure we’ll be continuing this year. He also loves to listen and podcasts. His favorite right now is called The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. So sometimes we listen to an episode while working on a jigsaw puzzle. I realized that may not sound like a class, but I counted as one on days that we do it because we have great conversations. He’s doing critical thinking, I consider it a healthy mental break from screens. It’s a little meditative. So in my book, that’s a class this year.
Debbie Reber 29:15
I’ve also told him, we’re going to have a new class, which I’m simply calling the big project and props to my friend Simone for suggesting this and I’m excited about it. This is going to be dedicated time for Asher to pursue something he’s really interested in but doesn’t necessarily fit into our other subjects. So I’m not sure what his big project is going to be. He doesn’t know yet either. But as many kids with ADHD do, he has a lot of ideas. And he often gets frustrated because he feels like he’s not making meaningful progress on them and that he doesn’t have the time to really dive deeply into something so I want him to get to do that as part of his schooling. So he can experience that feeling of accomplishment. and knowing that he’s not being held back that he really can create something right now, so I will let you know how that goes. And just one more note on the curriculum before I moved on to the structure of our days. I also know that for Asher some of his biggest challenges center around executive functioning, as I mentioned before, so even more than the academic stuff, much of which honestly just comes pretty easily to him, I try to build an opportunities for him to strengthen these executive functioning skills, I really see that as one of my biggest jobs, just that planning and organizing big projects and ideas or learning how to get started with a task or assignment that feels boring or just overwhelming. That is a lot of what I spend my time doing is figuring out how to help him learn about himself and how to kind of deepen those skills.
Debbie Reber 30:53
The last thing I wanted to share today is what our daily schedule looks like. This obviously has evolved over the years. And as I’m recording this episode, we haven’t actually finalized our schedule for the 2017 2018 school year. So I’m going to walk you through a typical day from last year, which I would say was probably our most organized school year to date. And as he gets older, I am trying to build more structure into the day because I think he needs it. And because I gradually want to step up the level of work and expectations for him, because it’s really important to me that he builds those time management and work ethic muscles surrounding his learning. As I talked about, in the last episode I did on homeschooling, we always design our schedule together and take into account what he knows works best for him. So, you know, sometimes he likes to get the subjects he likes least out of the way first. Sometimes he wants to save them. He likes to break things up with snacks or little rewards, you know, watching a crash course episode or occurs Cossack video or something like that. Anyway, so creating a daily schedule with him has been perhaps the single most important thing I’ve done when it comes to ensuring our school works. Because since he helped plan it, he can complain about it too much. After all, it was largely his choice to schedule classes the way that we did. Of course, I have the final say, but it is something that he is really involved in building.
Debbie Reber 32:26
The other thing we do is we regularly check in and see how things are going. So we can adapt the schedule if we find something isn’t working well. And that just helps it not feel big and hard. But rather, just knowing we can approach our school with curiosity, like we’re just in this learning process about how he works best and what he needs. And so that flexibility is really key.
Debbie Reber 32:51
Okay, now on to a typical day. So if you’ve been a longtime listener of the podcast, you might remember that Asher and I start off our morning with a short routine that was inspired by Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning. So this usually happens first thing, and it involves a little bit of exercise a little bit of journaling, setting an intention or stating affirmations, reading something, not just kind of a novel more reading, but something that will engage our mind a little more, and a short stint of meditation. If you want to hear more about our morning routine, you can find a whole episode about that with Asher and me at tilt parenting.com/session9. And after our morning routine. Asher eats breakfast and I do a short 10 to 20 minute yoga routine. I go to Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She’s awesome. And I do yoga with her every morning. And that really helps me start my day just feeling centered and like I’ve done something for myself, that just helps me be more present for him. Then Ash usually reads until we start school, which is usually at around 10am I know right? It’s a late start, but why not? We’re homeschooling. Anyway, we always begin our school day with a morning meeting. So I usually try to have some kind of puzzle or a mind bender setup for him when he comes into the costume which our classroom also using air quotes. It’s the guest bedroom slash Darren’s office but we have a little wall space and a seating area in there but we actually move around quite a bit during the school day but we start there. Anyway I have something set out for him. It might be a maze or a word puzzle or a pseudocode or something, something he’ll be into and kind of get his brain going.
Debbie Reber 34:44
Then we go through our week at a glance. It’s called it’s posted on the wall. And it’s you know, I’ve just kind of written down Monday through Friday anything he needs to know about. reminder about Dutch on Friday reminder about art reminder about You know, going have playdate after school or whatever he has going on. So we talk about what’s coming up each day. And we do that every morning. So there are no surprises, surprises don’t work well for Asher. So he likes to know what’s coming up. Each Monday, we create goals for the week, which are posted on the wall. So the goals are school related, or they’re also personal goals. So they’re all up there. And we will walk through the goals each morning. So we can update progress, adjust our plan as necessary.
Debbie Reber 35:31
After that, we usually watch some videos, you know, I try to tag some current event articles or cool videos, I think he’d find interesting. It might be, you know, footage from a SpaceX launch, maybe some crazy art installation video I saw on Facebook, we watch a lot of TED ED videos in our morning meetings, we check out what’s trending on the site, The Kids Should See This, they have really cool videos. He also loves a YouTube channel called CGP Grey, which has really short cool educational videos. So he just likes to fill his brain with all kinds of interesting things. And that’s a nice way to do that.
Debbie Reber 36:13
After that, we move on to our subjects. And our periods are broken down right now into 45 minute periods. But honestly, we’re super flexible on that. So some run short, some long, we’re very fluid with that schedule, because I want to allow him the chance to keep exploring something if he’s really into it. And our time’s up, and also just give us the flexibility to move on if something is making us feel stuck. His art and Dutch classes are the exception as they’re set at regular weekly times. And they run for two hours. And because we live in Europe, and the gifted homeschoolers form and Athena’s Advanced Academy are in the US those classes happen at night for him, usually after dinner, while he’s doing his classes, I’m usually with him the whole time, even if he’s working independently on something and especially if what he’s doing involves the computer, because if not, he will definitely get distracted and start doing something else. So often, I’m sitting next to him while he’s working. Sometimes I’m on my computer doing a little work. But at least that way, I can make sure he’s not switching in the personal interest mode, and he’s staying on task.
Debbie Reber 37:21
I also realized this is not a sustainable plan. But it’s what we’re doing for now until he develops those skills to just stay on task without constant guidance. And this is something I plan to work on with him a lot this year. We break up classes with a lunch break, usually that’s around 30 to 45 minutes, Ash likes to read while he’s eating. So I will usually take that time to eat by myself upstairs in my office and I will try to do a little bit of work. And once every two weeks or so we might go out to lunch or we might take our stuff out to the park for a picnic just to shake things up.
Debbie Reber 37:58
Then in addition to all these subjects, we build in a walk or a quote unquote outing halfway through the day so he can get his body moving and get some fresh air. And of course that is as much for me as it is for him that might be running errands, it might be a long walk to the park, it might be going for a bike ride, but it is definitely a rain or shine kind of thing. And I think it’s a big part of how he stays emotionally regulated. I also include a few kind of free periods here and there during the week. So he can choose something he likes to do. Like maybe the puzzle and podcast thing I mentioned earlier or listen to music and play the piano or work on his Saturn five model or just cuddle up on the couch and read. We usually finish school by 3:30 or 4pm depending on what we had scheduled for that day. And after that he’s free to chill out. Sometimes that means hanging out with a friend either at our place or he goes to a friend’s house. Often it means he jumps on his computer to work on any number of the things he’s developing at any given time. If he isn’t hanging out with a friend, he’s usually spending two or more hours on his computer working on his projects or sometimes playing a game. And as he’s getting older, I will often go out to a cafe for an hour or two to get a change of scenery. And that’s where I’ll get some work done until parenting or the differently wired book. But before he was old enough to leave alone, I still did that once a week I would have a kid sit or come one afternoon a week from three to six so I can have that time. And honestly it’s just a big part of what has allowed me to stay emotionally and mentally healthy while being a homeschooling and working parent.
Debbie Reber 39:44
The rest of the day is your pretty standard fare. Derin gets home around 6:30 We eat around 7:30 than we hang out together we might watch the amazing race that’s kind of our thing. We’re watching old episodes on Hulu and It’s just a fun little ritual we have, or will read and listen to a podcast, we’ll play piano, we might play a game, whatever. And then bedtime is around 9:30. And then we start all over again. The next day, we only run our school Monday through Friday. By the way, I know some families homeschool every day, but we’re definitely take our weekends off.
Debbie Reber 40:21
So that’s our day. And that’s our school. Like I said, it changes each year, we definitely have to check in regularly to see what’s working and make adjustments when something isn’t. And I have to say I’m really excited just to see what this new year brings and see how things go with Asher’s new classes and his goal of taking more personal responsibility for his schoolwork. I’m just really curious to see how it goes. And I will let you know. I’d also love to keep this conversation going and learn about more of your favorite resources as well. So please jump over to the show notes page for this episode. That’s a, tiltparenting.com/session72 and leave a comment. I always want to know what works well for other people, as well as learn more about resources that are available that just might not be on my radar. Also, if there’s something you’re curious about that I didn’t cover in this episode, ask me a question in the comments, and I’ll be happy to answer it. In another month or two. I’ll be doing the fourth part in this homeschooling series where I will talk about kind of how we problem solve and talk about some of the challenges that we’ve had and how we have worked through them and also how I take care of myself in being Asher’s homeschool teacher and also working full time because juggling it, as many of you know can be can be a lot of work. So if you have things you’d like to hear from me about this topic for that upcoming episode, please email me at Debbie@tiltparenting.com and let me know and I will try to get to those questions in the next episode.
Debbie Reber 42:02
You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to all the resources I mentioned and to download that PDF that I talked about where I share my favorite resources for homeschooling. Visit the show notes page at tiltparenting.com/session72 If you like what we’re doing here at the podcast, please consider helping us cover some of the production costs associated with making a weekly podcast. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s pain free. And for as little as $2 a month you can make a positive impact here at Tilt central to support us visit patreon.com/tiltparenting And lastly, if you like what you heard on today’s episode and you haven’t already done so, please consider Subscribing to our podcast on iTunes or leaving a review. Both things help our podcast get more visibility. Thanks again for listening. For more information on Tilt Parenting visit www.tiltparenting.com
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