Let’s Homeschool: Year One


Everyday I’m faced with stress and frustration interspersed with insanely joyful bursts of goodness. At least in my experience, this is the description of “on tiny tyrants becoming.”

Well, we are homeschooling. And, dur, I struggle with patience and feelings of inadequacy, but my true demon is the constant pressure to create the best learning experience for my kids; am I doing it?

Recently, I’ve been having a hard time dealing with the tension between wanting to know cool options, best classes, ALL THE THINGS, and just feeling overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of everyone else’s versions of homeschool; are they doing it better?

Is it possible to be happy with Version US.0 and still be plugged into all the email/meetup groups, forums, etc?

While I’m in the midst of managing the great Information Happiness Conflict, the most important thing I’ve done is to talk about it-with the other faculty member (husband), friends, and I may or may not have had an emotive facebook rant (or two).

In our last “team meeting” a few days ago, John and I evaluated the obvious signals we’ve gotten from the first born, Roenne, who is now 9. *side note: the recently turned 5 year old, Arden has been content with stealth learning, also known as the “as you go” method. May seem too loosey goosey for some, but girl is reading and marking off my grocery list, doing basic addition and subtraction, understanding the natural world via Wild Kratts, and you know, ruling the world.


So, here’s what we have come up with for Roenne:

  • Provide more support around video/movie creation + editing. She has the focus and interest to work on these for hours with little help or direction. She’s learned from watching Casey Neistat vlogs, her dad’s short attempt at vlogging, and awesome young people produced content on DIY.org. Perhaps we can even find a mentor to answer questions and teach the odd tip/trick!

(ElephantPower is her DIY.org screen name. For now, she is only uploading onto DIY.org, a closed and moderated community)

  • Be okay with staying light on quantity of subjects, and don’t give in to pressure of providing all knowledge of all the usual suspects all at once (well, that one kind of sounds like we are giving a self pep talk). Right now, she is at Quantum Camp for civil engineering (science) and probability/stats (math); creative writing club via Druidawn; reads loads of fiction (vocabulary lessons: write down words she doesn’t know and we discuss); has competitive soccer 2-3 times a week; enjoys down time for completing assignments, playing piano, meeting with friends, participating in the rad community on DIY.org, (*edit: Whoops, forgot to include Minecraft. Oh, how she loves to craft the mine), and must not forget the all important “play with little sister in the room so mom doesn’t lose her ever loving mind” component of the day. After all, can’t have home or school without me (see what I did there?).
  • Identify an area of interest yet unexplored and research opportunities. Roenne has always been a great singer, but I’ve not found a program for her to get training or development. I often joke that she can do the whole rap on Bad Blood, but the truth is she can “do” all the songs she likes including some of the difficult songs from Les Mis. She may just be a life long sing in the shower/car/everywhere girl, but we’re excited to see how she responds to organized and directed vocal-ness once I’ve found some options to pursue.

Wow, I like seeing all that written up. It looks almost as if we know what we’re doing. Well, usually we don’t. Really, really. So, when we feel adrift, we try to come back to the following:

Our guiding principal is simply that she love learning. This is not to be mistaken for “easy” and only doing things she likes. The struggle IS real, so we want her to be in an inspirational learning environment that will positively push her through the hard stuff.

We want to understand her learning style well, so in a way, its an on going study of HER.  

The general framework is to teach concepts and principals (especially character) and provide supports where needed so she can learn to make wise choices. This is also known as Project: Raise Good Person.

Make simple, manageable goals to keep moving forward.

Finally, stay flexible, be okay with change.

The way we started out in January 2015 is VERY different from where we are today. Largely because John initially took the lead.

As a founder of The Iron Yard, he could bring Roenne along to work-the open study space was perfect for her to do Khan Academy assignments, primarily focusing on math, computer programing (multiple online resources), blogging, and reading fiction in her free time (the extras: chess club, piano lessons, and rec soccer).


We traveled some-a weeklong visit to Washington, DC marked our American History segment, and we took it very, very easy during a busy, multiple-move season late spring through fall. For the first few months after the big move from Atlanta to San Francisco, we embraced our inner tourist, and let no man say “One can not tour and learn,” because we did it and called it homeschool.

Now that John is launching his new startup, TOMO, the transition to me taking the lead is complete, but he definitely continues to balance the force in our typical dynamic: me forgetting to have fun, him lovingly communicating “relax and have fun” through our perfect, marriage telepathy waves (we’ve had hypothetical, online, full immersion course on this, obviously).

John finds all the best Ed Tech stuff online, and I remind their manners into submission (and probably, definitely other important things), but when I’m not making terrible jokes (really, where did I get my sense of humor?), by far the best thing we do for homeschool is to teach ourselves these same things over and over again in the hopes that by even failing to reach them, we come close to teaching:

Support things we care about.
Practice things that we love.
Build relationships that matter.
Do the right thing, first.
Be helpful.
Have fun.
Love each other.

…and probably a few more that I can’t remember, because since when does anyone remember all the things they are trying to forget they failed at one hour ago?

Well, I suppose you get the point, anyway: lets be the grownups we want our children to become, wherever our kids “go to school.”

I could go on, but its probably time to call it a wrap. There are no simple solutions or magic curricula-as with the rest of life, theres just remembering the important things in all circumstances, and continuing onward.

Friday is probably the worst day to write about school, because we are all…already…

Over and out. 😀

Homey Homeschool

While Roenne has been obsessively vlogging and working on her civil engineering assignment via Quantum Camp, Arden and I worked on these gems. 🙂



“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to draw a whale and a turtle. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – GO!”

Lucky for me, I didn’t self destruct (so far).

Arden brought back two marker drawings and I asked her if they might like a little color and if they might want some other creature friends. She chose to give them a fish and I suggested an octopus.

Then we spelled them out together, while I wrote, and also gave them names.

We also talked about how they moved. I said the octopus has 8 legs, to which she replied politely, “you mean tentacles?” Thank you, Wild Kratts!

Making things up as we go and using Google to fact check (apparently sea turtles have two arms and two legs. Doh) pretty much sums up our more relaxed homeschool days!