The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Home School…Day One

Posted · 46 Comments

Day one of home schooling six kids brought with it a fair amount of anxiety as I plunged into the unknown with all the doe eyed innocence and organizational skills of a preschooler.  I’d been down a similar road before when I took on Anthony for nine weeks of his second grade year so we could have some bonding time as he adjusted to our family. But never, in my entire twenty-three years of parenting, have I seriously considered home schooling all of my children as a sane alternative.  Until now.    (read about that decision here)

We started our day by waking at eight o’clock (remember, it’s dark here…) because I’d long since decided that structure would keep us from becoming slovenly and gross.  I made myself slip into jeans because it would be very easy to become comfortable wearing the same sweats for a week at a time if I’m not required to leave the house.  Very easy.  And so the kids (and I) were required to get up, dress, brush their hair and teeth, and eat breakfast as if they were going to a brick and mortar school.   At nine o’clock we adjourned to the living room and gathered around the pile of books.  We sorted through the lesson plans I’d created, handed out materials, logged onto computers, and Billy’s phone and Ipod became mine until all of his work was done.  No negotiations.

Now here is where having a household of special needs kids finally pays off.

Kids with histories like mine are generally obsessive.   They are compulsive, impulsive, and controlling.  With long histories of chaos, they seek organization and structure.  In short, they are control freaks to the very limit of what you imagine a control freak to be.  Which is a nightmare when piled in close quarters for a road trip…and a dream come true when it’s time for this disorganized mom to put things in order.   Binders came out of closets, folders were labeled, sticky notes on page corners, files, ‘turn-in’ baskets, schedules, lesson plans…all conveniently taken care of by four of my children who couldn’t handle me saying, “I’m not really sure what to do with this…”  I figured out long ago that if I look helpless, some OCD kid will take over. Voila. The pay off.

Once we figured out what we were doing, the study time itself went amazing.  I let the kids choose where they would sit and four of them hit the couch and pulled out our folding tables for a desk.  Minutes later the “mouth-noise-makers” and “pencil-thumpers” were banished to the kitchen table which is really just ten feet away, but it helped.  We turned on the radio to our favorite country station and everyone eagerly got to work.

Billy logged into his classes, which are online and monitored by the district, only to discover his classes had not yet been set up.  At which point he kicked up his feet and laughed loudly at all the other children who slumped over their work.  SO I sent him out to clean the garage…and he promptly stopped laughing.

The one frustration of the day was keeping me from constantly saying, “Stop that…” to Luke.  Because Luke…well…he wiggles.

My instinct was to say, “Sit still!  Do your work!”…and then I remembered that one of the reasons we chose to try this route was…so Luke could wiggle.  Luke is diagnosed “Hyposensitive” (among other things)…which means his body not only seeks out sensory stimulation, it requires it.  Luke needs touch, impact, pressure…to feel normal.  His body flops, rolls, lays, falls, bounces and constantly moves because without that stimulation, he would simply go nuts and he’d drive us all batty in the process.  This is why you will rarely see him in short sleeves and more often than not, he is wrapped in a blanket or wearing tight, long sleeved, spandex shirts.  And so he changed locations in the house no less than seven times throughout the day, he finished all his work and he felt good doing it.  Success…on day one.

Around noon, just as we were getting into our groove, somebody brought up lunch and we adjourned for bowls of leftover chili and fat, buttered biscuits.  The boys asked if they could go sledding since the temperature had risen forty degrees in the last two days and we were in the above zero range.  All four boys hit the “slope” behind our house… (which is really just a pile of dirt left over from our shop foundation)…carrying snowboards, sleds, boogie boards…whatever worked.

Two hours later, energy burned, they happily hit the books again right up until it was time to take the small boys to Native Youth Olympics practice.  And the girls…they just kept right on working.

Now, I know its day one, and I shouldn’t get too excited over what is obviously a honeymoon period…but I’m just flat out tickled.  Robin and Mya both worked on their typing class well into the evening and Mya moved on to week two of social studies.  Anthony took his Ancient Times book to bed with him and Steven told me as he wandered off to bed, “I can’t wait till tomorrow!”

Did you hear that?  “I can’t wait till tomorrow…” from the boy who struggles with everything academic…who didn’t notice the lower grade level on his books because I covered them with stickers.  Who doesn’t have to compete with anyone or pretend he knows what’s going on in front of his peers.  Who is the “smiley-est” boy in the world.  He can’t wait to learn some more tomorrow.

And you know what?  Neither can I.

46 Responses to "Home School…Day One"
  1. Breakingheartsbuildingfamilies says:

    Now, that is a little different type of “Recess” than we have in East TX 🙂  Enjoying your blog!  

  2. Julie Garrett says:

    Woo-hoo!  Congrats on a good start, and welcome to Crazyville, from an occasional lurker and fellow-home-schooler. 

    Just clicked back and read your “why” post, and – can you hear the applause?  (not that you need it) – good decision 😀

    You’ll be awesome.


  3. Kendrajwade says:


  4. Friday says:

    Sounds like it has started off well for you. I have used most of the books you are and my kids did great. something i did for my dancer was to let her use a dry erse marker for her math on the tile floor. she hoppede, rolled, drew extra stufff, danced her way throught hte basics and now has a 100 average in algebra. i also found giving them dry erase boards ( the small ones) for writing problems out or for thinking through ideas let them move around the house and still work.

    my ADHD guy is 16 and he alwasy does better whe he is moving.

    If you ever get the chance find and old baskic mechanics book say 1950’s era. I used it starting in fourth grade for the kids and they made all sorts of contraaaptions and now ahve a comlpete understanding of how levers, pulles, resistance, steam and all the other parts of making things move work. it is incredible how useful that ifno was and the infromation was esaey to digest. for them. it became a group project every time. don’t be suprised if the dog food is dispenced with pullies and levers soon after.

  5. shirley says:

    I have homeschooled all 5 of our kids and now I’m done to the 16 yo ADHDer and a 19 yo Aspie dd. In fact, I had to laugh because your picture of all of the books..well most of them we have used! The 16 yo dd attends K12 online school and has a geography teacher from Alaska. In fact, after reading your blog, she just had to IM her and tell her all about you!
    My kids are all special needs so it does make homeschooling ‘interesting’ but you’ll find that out in due time! Love your blog

  6. Keep up the amazing it work!  I teach High school special ed.  It is hard but when they are are in the groove you have to make it work!

  7. JessicaC says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! Honeymoon period or not – what an amazing memory to have forever!  Those pictures of them sledding say 1000 words!  Way to go!!

  8. Lifeisgood76 says:

    I think your last paragraph grabbed me the most…this is a wonderful thing you are doing!

  9. Eleni Drinks Tea says:

    I am delighted on your behalf!  I must admit, I wondered if you were taking on too much by trying to school them all at home – you are clearly a very stong and capable woman, but they seriously out-number you!  However, today’s report shows just how much your kids respect your authority, and I can’t wait to hear more about how you are all getting along.  I wish you all the luck in the world 🙂

  10. KatD says:

    I’m a big fan of fresh air every day – school or no. The elementary school here in Wisconsin my daughter attends has a big, fat hill and provides plenty of sleds. Kids are required to bring snow gear every day for recesses – no staying in unless it’s dangerously cold. Glad to see your kiddos getting some air on their skin, too!

  11. Brittxok1 says:

    Yey! Happy first day of school! Love the action shots too!

  12. rustysmommy says:

    That’s awesome! And I think I may have learned something from you…my grandson, whom I homeschool (online) seems to be like Luke as far wiggling. Daniel can NOT sit still and when he tries, it’s as if he feels like he’s going to explode. I tend to tell him “sit still, stop tapping, quit kicking your feet”. Maybe I should stop that…it’s not really HURTING anything is it. And I think I will try that exercise ball thing too. THANK YOU KERI and CAROLLIDA!

  13. Pat says:

    Love the pictures and reading about your first day – I would love to be a fly on the wall and see all this happening – sounds like you all had a great day  🙂

  14. Lks says:

    Keri, I am so glad that you started out so well.  You and your children are so very lucky!  But, now, we know the real reason that you decided to do this…not to get the house buildt…but to have more material for for you blog!!  And that makes all of us the winner!!  Great photos as well…but how did you get warm, we have not been above O!!

  15. Bethaliffisouthcarolina says:

    Awesome!  When we first started homeschooling our boys, my husband and I made up this list of rules and hung the list on the wall in the room we designated as “The school room.”  Since then, we break those rules on a daily basis, and “The school room” gets used very little…most of our work is done on the couch, the kitchen table, or somewhere else cozy.  Good luck with the whole “structure” thing…it didn’t work for us, but I hope it works for you if you need it too!  One of my favorite rules that we break every day is “Get up, get dressed at 8am!”  I gotta tell you, I kind of like waking up at 9:30, and sitting with my son in our jammies to read a little.  haha

  16. Stew1113 says:

    🙂 That is inspirational! I wish all classrooms could be accommodating like that. And the kids went sledding to get their “PE” time- that is awesome!

  17. Shirley Braun says:

    I loved this post.  Made me cry!  Good luck with tomorrow!

  18. Laurel :o) says:

    Awesome!  My son wiggles a lot.  That is the main reason I home school him.  My daughter yells at him to stop, but I let him wiggle away!  It helps him get his work done.  If he can’t wiggle I think he’d explode!  I let him listen to music on his headphones if he needs it.  He gets more work done that way.  No one else is allowed this privelage as they would get NOTHING done!  LOL!

  19. Mara93635 says:

    I loved reading this. I too decided to home school my daughter 2nd grade and my preschooler 4 yrs and well It has been a struggle but these past 3 months or so have gotten better, as I read your stories, I realized that I am also repeating do your work stop moving, focus, and getting stressed out because my daughter has not gotten but 2 problems done in an hour.  We are on break right now and will be starting up on Monday.  I am reevaluating everything and trying to figure out a different approach, because I stress her out and that is not what I want right? I am already hearing I dont want to be home schooled which is hurts me in a way because it feels like I am failing.  SO Thank you I have been inspired in a way from reading your story.  I appreciate you taking the time to write this, I know how much work it is with just my 2 I cant imagine what its like in your household 😉 Good Job Mom 😉

    • Donna says:

      Just figure out how you best teach and your children learn best.  It is hard at times, but so worth spending all the time with children.  Praying that your time is blessed with each of your children and you get to a place that you both are learning and having fun.  I homeschooled for 13 years and feel very blessed to have been able to spend quality time with my children. 

    • Carollida says:

      Hang in there. Your kids are young.  My dd said that when she was about 2nd grade. I was making her sit still, be quiet  act like they do in public school. Keep in mind you don’t HAVE to do everything on paper. Let her bounce on a balance ball, chew gum. Let her read to you outloud or for a change of pace here and there verbally ask her the questions and you write them on the worksheet.  Just keep in mind that you have to toss out what school looks like and figure out what school looks like for YOU.  How does your child learn? Make it fun. There are plenty of years to dive in deep. For now make learning fun and she will grab a love of learning.  First year is always the most rewarding and the hardest.

  20. kbovee says:

    Way to go mom, dad and kids.  You should all be proud.  We have many similarities and sometimes you just need to go with the flow.  Spending this time with the kids and family is so important.  My kids beg to “do school work” or whine if I say we are needing to wrap it up and do some chores!  Congrats on a great day!  

  21. Jeanna says:

    I taught for three years and now stay home with my boys. The school that I did my student teaching at though allows kids to sit on the giant exercise balls rather than chairs if the child needs to wiggle. Just a thought for your son Luke. It is amazing how much better some of the kids were able to focus when their bodies could gently bounce as they worked.

  22. Hollygallant says:

    I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!! 

  23. Awesome, just simply awesome.  And I am a person who hates the overuse of this word. That and amazing. Which this also is.  

  24. Kelli says:

    Sounds like you and the children are off to a great start! Can’t wait to read more about your homeschooling adventures.God Bless.

  25. Cnbn3 says:

    Great start!  Mysti’s a wiggler, also.  Outdooor play and shoveling snow counts for P.E.

  26. Carollida says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome first day! I have a few wigglers in my house and the lifesaver I have found is a balance ball. They can  bounce and roll and wiggle and yet they are focused and tuned in to their work. It was a lifesaver for me years ago when I was learning to accept my wiggler.

  27. Simply put…you are A M A Z I N G!!!

  28. Lrbassmom says:

    Out of curiosity.. does Luke flip, flop & flail all night long? Have you ever heard of using a weighted blanket for him to sleep with? It has a calming effect on kids that have a hard time settling at night.

  29. Jodiann says:

    I am watching your blog with great interest.  Never did I think “homeschooling” was something “sane” people do……. and then?  well, these two little creatures entered my life and perspectives changed 🙂  Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey.

  30. Lysne Tait says:


  31. michelle says:

    I was home-schooled,. and one thing I noticed that was different from my brick and mortar friends, now that we are adults. The fact I never stopped learning, and if I don’t know something I adapt and figure it out easier. They are the ones calling me for advice and I am the youngest one in my social circle. not to toot my own horn at all, I am just saying as a former; “one of THOSE kids”. I am grateful my parents taught me to teach myself.

  32. Melissa says:

    Yay I’m so glad to hear that you had a successful first day! I homeschool too and have 4 kids, I still have anxiety ALL THE TIME so don’t worry. You’ll have good days and you’ll have great days and you’ll have really bad days, but one of the great things about homeschooling is when you have a really bad day you take a break lol, you watch a “educational” movie or take a hike or go run errands. I always remind myself that I have 52 weeks to complete 32 weeks of material, the odds are in my favor!!!! 

  33. Holderby1314 says:

    Beautiful! Love the sledding pics, thanks for sharing.

  34. nikalee says:

    Enjoy the good days, and don’t worry about the not quite so good ones. Take days off when they’re aren’t going well. That’s my advice. Having been largely homeschooled myself, and now homeschooling my own, I can say yes, there will probably be gaps in their academic education. And you know what? There would be gaps if their academic education took place in a public school too. Life is learning. As long as they see you yearning for and actively seeking out educational opportunities yourself, following your interests, reading and enjoying learning, that’s what they’re likely to do, and as long as they enjoy learning, they will be fine.

  35. The freedom you now have is priceless! Enjoy it always!

  36. Thomas says:


  37. Joy says:

    Yipeeeee and the beauty of it all iss you can look at the week and work out how many hours you have all been studying for rather than the day and as long as it is covered it won’t matter if on one day you only did 3 hours then went snow play because the day before you did about 7 hours plus so it balances…… 
    I have bounce children as well and they have had some brilliant teachers who let them walk around the room then back to there chair and it has been brilliant…… One teacher actually said they “love the bouncy ones as they are so much more interesting and fun than the ones who just sit there like bring lumps”……… lol

  38. LSF says:

    ice has been broken on day one of the new adventurous journey you are all embarking on!  congratulations to you and your family…it will surely be an interesting one!!

  39. Jakicheli says:

    love reading what you write.  this is especially fun for me for I always wanted to home school my own children but life changed my mind.  I think you have the correct personality to do a great job while making it enjoyable for your children and yourself.

  40. Sarah says:

    Aww! GREAT job! Hope the days keep coming without too much struggle 🙂

  41. Gay says:

    WOW  What a success!  How do you get normal stuff done, like laundry, dishes and cooking dinner? I am so very impressed with your homeschooling and I am trying to figure out how I could make it work. Inspirational.

  42. Chris D. says:

    You are such a brave woman! Sounds like you definitely have a great start on the homeschooling of your brood. I have thought about it in the past but eh, I don’t have the patience nor time considering I work 48 hrs a week. You are one of the handful of living people I look up to. I wish you luck in this newest endeavor of yours and look forward to reading about the journey your taking into the homeschooling world.

  43. Najia says:

    Fabulous day! Enjoy the good ones!! It is their memories that will keep you from pulling your hair out on the bad ones. 🙂 

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