Homeschool days 10 and 11

Yesterday was crazy, so I didn’t post. Steven started distance learning and I started working from home after putting on one of my homemade masks and leaving the house for the first time in 2 weeks to take the bus to work and get some on-site training and pick up my computer and take a taxi back home… we were all busy and I was so anxious about going out and setting everything up at home was hectic… But today everything calmed down, and hopefully it will be the start of a new routine.

The buses have been split in two and back boarding for free for weeks, but this time when I went on there were signs saying no more than 15 passengers allowed and stopping people from sitting beside each other… and still someone thought it was ok to stand directly behind me at the door when we were waiting to get off the bus!

Steven’s teachers are providing weekly work for Language Arts, Math, French and Music so far (yesterday it was just the first two, but the others were added this afternoon). Each subject is broken down to do a bit every day, but Steven has decided he wants to stick to the homeschool schedule we had already established. So yesterday he did as much of the assigned language work for the week as he could, and then today he studied the next part of the body (the digestive system on Kids Health) and did the rest of the language work.

Steven’s teachers are using Google Classroom to communicate, and Steven has really been enjoying being able to talk to his school friends again in the chat room there. Their first assignment was to write about what they have been doing since school ended. They were supposed to write a paragraph and maybe add a picture or two, I’m pretty sure Steven wrote a few pages. But he was really excited to tell everyone about our adventures in the last few weeks.

This morning, it was really nice outside, so Steven wanted to do PhysEd outside. He probably also didn’t want to clean up the mess in the living room, but he said it was because of the weather anyways. So found a recording of the beep test. Our yard is nowhere near 20 meters, but he’s younger than the kids that normally do this test, and I didn’t want to make it too hard on him anyways.

I gave him some chalk and told him that if he ran really fast to the other side, he could draw on the fence until the next beep. It ended up being a pretty fun activity for him. There was some laughter anyways, as his drawings were repeatedly interrupted and he tried to rush to the other side in time to continue.

I mostly work in the afternoons, and I’m hoping that will continue to be my schedule so that I can do PhysEd and French with Steven in the mornings and then get him set up with the day’s work before I have to start working myself.

Working from home is eerily quiet. Everyone has been doing a great job keeping quiet while I’m working, but I’m used to being in a call centre surrounded by people. I’ve often complained about the noise, but now I miss it. Especially when there’s time between calls, and I can’t just turn to my neighbour and start a conversation. But I often knit when I’m on the phone, and I realized today that I am no longer limited to small, portable projects at work. I could totally make a sweater or something, because I don’t have to take it with me to and from work and keep it out of my coworkers’ space. I have a whole room! So that’s exciting.

My posts might become less frequent now that I’m working again because that’s taking up 9 hours of my day, but I’m going to keep updating when I can.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

Homeschool day 6: Dungeons and Dragons (that’s Language Arts, right?)

Today we all kind of woke up on the wrong side of the bed. None of us slept very well over the weekend, and I think it’s finally catching up to us. We had a talk about how we rarely go anywhere (except school, work and boy scout meetings) normally and we’re just doing all the things we normally do, but that it’s different now that we can’t go anywhere, and we’re all going to try and figure out how we can make things easier on ourselves.

Luckily, today was always supposed to be a more laid back day school-wise. Since before we started homeschooling, Steven had decided he wanted to make a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot for us, and when we started homeschooling we looked at the curriculum together and talked about how he could cover some of the necessary items in Language Arts with his one-shot.

Steven getting ready to play Dungeons and Dragons

Liam and I made our own characters for this game, but Steven had to decide what the world they were in looked like, and what challenges they would face. Then he had to present it in an engaging way. But the thing with Dungeons and Dragons is, you never know what your players are going to do. Even if you try to lead them in a certain direction, they might choose another, and you need to adapt and use your knowledge of the setting and the game to either get the game back on the track (or one of the tracks) you had planned, or improvise another direction entirely on the fly.

If you haven’t played before, there are lots of resources online to get you started, a lot of which are free or inexpensive, and it might help to watch some gameplay and tutorials on YouTube (Try Handbooker Helper and Critical Role… I may be a little obsessed with those guys).

If you want to play regularly, I highly recommend at least getting the core books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual), but here’s a link to get you started with then rules at least. You will also need pencils and paper and a set (or twenty) of polyhedral dice, but there’s also apps for that if you don’t have them on hand and can’t go out. Maps and miniatures are all available as printables online too, or you can play with just your imaginations. And if you have no idea where to start your game, find a pre-made module to run. A lot of them even have characters already made up to play with.

Homemade printable minis from the Canada Day one shot I ran. The one in front is from “The Log Driver’s Waltz”, I unfortunately don’t remember where I got the other artwork from (I wasn’t really planning on sharing at the time), but I’ll update if I find it.

Steven has been playing Dungeons and Dragons for a couple of years now, but he watched us play and wanted to join long before that. If you’re looking for something simpler but still with just as much potential for imagination, Hero Kids is great for all ages. The math and mechanics are much simpler, the characters are cuter, but the possibilities are not limited at all. It’s just as much fun for adults as it is for kids. I noticed this morning that they currently have a Lockdown Bundle on sale for $5.99 (USD, I think?), which includes the core rules and some pre-made games to get you started, loads of content for the price. And Hero Kids comes with everything. Printable minis for all the characters and monsters, maps for the adventures, it’s all there. You just need some 6 sided dice, which you probably have somewhere in your house, and if not there’s still an app for that.

My Hero Kids collection.

We didn’t quite have time to finish our game today. I think Liam and I might have had more questions about Steven’s made-up setting than he had answers for. But that’s part of the fun! We’ll probably continue playing for an hour here and there over the next few days, after the regular lessons we have planned are done.

Hope everyone’s Monday went smoothly. Stay safe!
~Lauren

Homeschool Day 1: Language Arts

We started our first day a little late, and to be honest, all 3 days so far have been a little off schedule. But we decided not to get too stressed out about it. Flexibility is one of the perks of homeschooling, after all. We have so far ended up back on schedule by the end of the day.

Steven and I started with 20 minutes of yoga (I have a subscription to The Yoga Collective, I love their videos, and there are lots of good beginner ones) for Phys Ed and then took a break to make some smoothies. We then drank the smoothies while playing “Who is it? Guess it!” in French for French class. It’s a game much like “Guess Who?” that has the option to play in English, French or Spanish. Then we moved onto the subject that would take up most of the day, Language Arts.

In preparation for the first day of homeschooling, I had started googling ideas… and ended up looking at art projects because I love art and there are some crazy creative teachers out there! But we had decided that Monday was going to be Language Arts, so I needed to find something to work on reading or writing or oral presentations.

I had found this awesome blog post about an art teacher’s class making birds sculptures, and I just kind of expanded on it to turn it into a Language Arts lesson too. I made a printout that asked Steven to write out 10 of his personality traits, and then relate those to traits a bird might have. Then I got him to write why he chose each one… and by the time he finished that, he was ready to move onto something else, so we set that project aside for now.

Steven working on his “If I was a Bird” project. Wearing the same shirt he wore the day before and not caring about his messy hair. The joys of self-isolation!

My plan is that on Friday (for Art), he will make a sculpture of his bird, and then next Monday he will turn what he has written into a script for a “nature documentary”, which we will film. But since he was clearly done with it, for now, I let him continue on his self-assigned project, which is a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot that he wants to run for us (that’s got some Language and math and stuff, right? I’ll write more about that later, for those less familiar with the game). The plan is to run that for half the day next Monday and finish up the bird stuff for the other half. Though he might finish the bird assignment in other free time when other lessons are done. He worked on it a bit today too.

And while he was working on his project, I managed to make a huge pot of soup and cross some other things off my to do list. I think I was worried homeschooling would be stressful and take up all my free time, but that hasn’t been my experience so far.

I think the biggest struggle on our first day was convincing Steven that he didn’t need to stress or rush. That he could work on something else if he was getting frustrated, and the other project would still be there when he was ready, he wasn’t holding anyone else up. By the end of the day, he was even saying things like “and if we need to take a few days of summer for school, we can”.

I think that’s all for now. Stay safe everyone!
~Lauren