Can't kick the back-to-school habit

Even though we homeschool year-round, the Tuesday after Labor Day begins the school year in my mind. That's the date when school started for me when I was a kid, and that's the date that will forever be, for me, the First Day of School.

I feel energetic and enthusiastic this time of year, eager to be organized. I spent some time last weekend making plans for our back-to-school season, and today was Day 1.

We have a farmers' market not far from our place, and that's where we headed, in the rain, after breakfast this morning.

One of the farmers asked my kids when school started for them. "We homeschool," my kids said, but I said, "Today. Today is the first day of school."

"It is?" said my kids.

"Yes," I said, "it is." I forgot to tell them, but who needs to be told the Tuesday after Labor Day is the first day of school? Then again, even the public schools around here don't know because they don't start classes until Thursday.

The rest of the morning went like this:
* Ate donuts from the market. Made more coffee for me.
* 10-minute tidy in bedrooms.
* Math. I cleaned produce from the market while the kids each worked on their math problems.
* Another 10-minute tidy of area of their choice. My son re-arranged fishing lures in his tackle box, so I suppose "area of your choice" needs to be more clearly defined.

Awkward pause in the day
At this point in the day I checked email for "just a minute." I want to go the entire day without checking the computer as email distracts me from the kids and other duties at home. My excuse is that I have a few volunteer jobs, and I tell myself it's responsible of me to respond to emails promptly, but the truth is, the emails can wait. Tomorrow I'll make it through the day without checking - that's the plan anyway.

Back on track
* Skipped business math. Sigh.

* Spelling and grammar for my younger child while my older child read a science article

* Spelling and Latin for my older child while my younger child played.

* Skipped science. Sigh.

* Lunch (Leftover garbanzo beans in vegetable broth my husband made, served with pasta, tomatoes from the market, and pickles. Apple slices too.)

Lunch time readings
I like to hear oral narrations and also read at the lunch table with the kids, and here's what we did today:

* Discussed a Civil War political cartoon. Political cartoons have been great for us as we study the war. The cartoons help us understand public opinion at the time of the events (these cartoons happen to be originally from a British publication), and they teach how to read symbols, notice details in the illustrations that give clues about opinion, see the use of cultural references. We've been doing one cartoon a day, when we're home for lunch. I recommend them!

* My daughter gave an oral narration of the science article she read earlier in the day, which was about a man who works with venomous animals.

* I read a couple of pages aloud from a book about the Underground Railroad.

* Skipped a science reading. I scheduling too much or going too slowly?

* Started our studies of Iraq. We read from Child's Geography today. The kids then worked on their Geography notebooks and written narrations for Geography. I used to keep a Geography notebook myself and work with them, but I haven't kept it up. I used the time today to tidy up the kitchen and fold yesterday's laundry instead.

* Each child did independent reading about the Civil War and then gave oral narrations.

* Another 10-minute tidy session. Then I said, "Hey, you left a mess on the desk," and there was another tidy session to deal with that.

* Read Plutarch with my daughter while my son did the lunch dishes and took out the garbage. We are reading Dion together. I first started reading Plutarch with her when she was 10, and it didn't work. I felt like I was pulling her through it, and it wasn't pleasurable for either of us. We tried again when she was 12, and it was a completely different story. She had more experience with challenging texts and no longer found the reading difficult (though we do have our days when we say, "huh?" after a reading). We both enjoy Anne White's discussion questions from Ambleside Online. I give Plutarch a thumb's up.

* We skipped today's writing assignment in Plutarch because it was time for my daughter to go to theater rehearsal with neighborhood friends and my son to go to soccer with my husband.

And that left me alone
I ran some errands in a heavy downpour and then made dinner (quiche, beans, more tomatoes and pickles). My plans for the rest of the evening are set-up the crockpot for some chili to cook overnight, read, and blog.

The second day of school
Our new day for Nature Journaling is Wednesday, but the forecast calls for more rain in the morning. We'll see how it goes.


  1. Plutarch...I keep pushing back. Good to know next year when she's 12 might be a good year to start. Sounds like a nice full day : )

  2. Wow... your day sounds truly wonderful. I'm also taking that same advice. I'm learning fast that adjustments are needed and that they are fine.
    I don't regret my decision of leaving off Parables from Nature, or Shakespeare for just a while. Ambleside book suggestions are so rich, that why spoil them when you know their maturity is not quite ripe.


  3. Hello you two! So glad to have your comments.

    Yes to both of you about taking our time with texts and not pushing them too early for our particular children. Silvia: we tried Parables and while I love the idea of the book, it didn't work for us. Grace'n: The Anne White documents on AO truly helped us get started. Besides her study questions, she breaks the text into sections that can be read in one short sitting. The second attempt was worth it for us, and I will be curious what you think if you try it next year.