When I heard that the fine folks over at iHomeschool Network were doing a Things You Should Know About Our Family & Our Homeschool link up, I thought it would be fun to answer reader questions. So, without further ado, I present to you: Behind the Scenes and MLP.
Where did you come up with the name My Little Poppies?
I love this article by Miraca Gross and wanted to incorporate poppies into my site name.
Are the kids’ names pseudonyms? If so, how did you pick them?
Yes, they are pseudonyms. I wish I had some exciting story to tell you about picking them, but I don’t. I am a planner and over-thinker by nature, but our decision to homeschool and blog about it was an impulsive one, made on Memorial Day weekend in 2014. My education friends urged me to blog about the journey and I knew it would be helpful to others on this path, but the thought of blogging about my family was scary to me. Still, a huge part of me wished I had a stumbled upon a My Little Poppies when we were first starting out and so I quickly thought up a name and pseudonyms and hit publish before I could over-think.
I picked Leo’s name because a friend of mine used to call him Leo; she had done a thesis on Leonardo da Vinci and my eldest – with all of his painting and inventing – reminded her of him. Whenever he’d do something to drive me bonkers, she’d exclaim, “Oh, Leo!!” I used T as a pseudonym for my daughter because we call her by the first letter of her birth name and I picked Seuss because our youngest is the goofiest, the most imaginative guy that I know – just like Dr. Seuss.
Do you ever sleep?
Yes, but not well. I’ve had trouble sleeping my entire life and I’m just used to it. If I’m awake, I’ll read something.
When do you find time to write?
People assume that I spend a ton of time writing, when in reality I spend a lot of time thinking. I have oodles of posts in my brain and most mornings I wake up and try to dump some of them out before the kids wake up. The writing process itself doesn’t take very long.
What time do you wake up in the morning?
I usually wake up at five. And, yes, I’ve always been this way. Ask my parents!
How do you manage to read so much?
Honestly, I’m an obsessive reader. If I’m not doing something, I’m reading something. I have a book on each floor of my home and one in my car and I always have tabs open on my phone with articles I’d like to read. And I don’t sleep well, so there’s that. Plus, while I do spend heaps of quality time with my kiddos, I am a firm believer in independent play. When they are playing nicely together, guess what I’m doing?
Will you update your Goodreads?!?
Yes, I am sorry! Long story short: My phone fell in the toilet last November and I barely revived it. I had to delete most of my apps in order to get it semi-functioning. I muddled through until I was eligible for a new phone in July. I need to download the Goodreads app on my phone, and I will, and get used to using it again.
Do you ever second-guess your decision to homeschool?
Yes, all the time. I think about my son in the classroom often, but I know in my heart that this is better… even on our worst days.
How long will you homeschool Leo?
The psychologist who tested Leo gave me some wonderful advice. She said, “Try not to think more than six months to a year in advance. You just can’t with these kids.” She’s right, and I’m trying to follow her advice. I keep my eyes on what is happening, educationally, in our state and beyond, but I’ve no plans beyond this year.
How does T like kindergarten?
She LOVES it! She does come home crabby and melts down (for my eyes only, mostly), so we are still adjusting. It’s funny because I used to tell parents that it takes 6-8 weeks to adjust to a new school routine and while I know this, gosh it’s a long time!
T’s teacher provides ample time for free play and reading, two of T’s most favorite things. She’s having a blast with her friends and spending time playing kitchen and office and running on the playground. T is excited to go to school each morning and she comes home with lots of stories about her adventures with her friends.
Do you think you will homeschool T and Seuss?
I’m trying to focus on one year at a time. This year, Leo is at home with me, T is in a half-day kindergarten program at our public school, and Seuss is in a small, play-based preschool. Having three children in three different educational settings is admittedly an interesting challenge for me, but all three are happy and that is most important.
T is a different child than her brother and she is going to have a different kindergarten experience.*
*I have to pause here and tell you that I’m old-school when it comes to kindergarten. If I ran the world, kindergarten would be entirely play-based with songs, games, and oodles of time spent in nature. There would be no talk of academics.
Alas, the kindergarten in my head and the real-world kindergarten are very different, and I just had T’s teacher conference.
Academically, T is far ahead. Just like her brother, T entered kindergarten reading independently. Unlike her brother, T is a pleaser and happily helps her friends with unknown words. T’s kindergarten school day is shorter than her preschool day was last year, so I’m not too worried… right now. I do have concerns about placing T in a full-day first grade classroom. I’ll leave it at that for now, folks.
Seuss is also an entirely different child and he will surely have a unique kindergarten experience next year. That said, our town is on the verge of approving full-day kindergarten. If that should happen, homeschooling is a very likely possibility. Seuss turned four in September and he has a bunch of sight words, is sounding out words, and loves math. Academically (and you already know how I feel about academics and kindergarten), he could do kindergarten right now. If kindergarten was entirely play-based, I’d be less concerned about sending him for a full day but the thought of him sitting in a classroom all day does not sit well with me.
Will you have T and Seuss tested?
We do not have plans to test my younger two right now. We had Leo tested because we thought it would help us in dealing with our public school. We hemmed and hawed and hemmed and hawed before testing. As it turns out, the school was less than helpful even when we were armed with scores. And yet I’m happy we had him tested because without those scores, at that point in time, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to pull him from a top-rated public school district and homeschool. The results gave us the courage to make decisions were atypical.
Bottom line: I no longer need a test score to make atypical choices. I have changed.
If I feel that T or Seuss are not having their needs met, I will pull them. I’m also not anti-testing. If I am concerned about learning or placement or whatever, I know a fantastic evaluator and I’m not afraid to use her.
Do you think you’ll go back to work in the same capacity?
Great question! I wish I had an answer for you. I always thought I’d go back to work when the kids were in school full-time, but clearly that’s not going to happen anytime soon. And now, with homeschooling, I feel disconnected from public education. I have always been an advocate for public schools, but I’m having a harder time these days. Our public education system is broken; it is missing, or misunderstanding, the majority of our students. I want public education to work. It needs to work for our children. That said, homeschooling offers something that public education cannot yet offer: individualized, student-driven learning. Homeschooling is certainly not for everyone, but ed reformers would be smart to examine the learning that happens within a homeschool setting. It’s pretty amazing, and it makes it harder to imagine going back to the schools as a school psychologist.
Is Seuss still fighting you about pants?
This parenting struggle is getting better, thanks in part to New England weather. It’s mighty chilly here lately!
What is Leo’s favorite subject right now?
Currently, Leo is obsessed with Khan Academy for math and coding. He’s also interested in making his own board games and fashioning Native American tools and weapons out of natural materials.
Can you share more games?
Yes, I promise to share more games.
What breed is your dog? He looks like a bear.
Finnegan is a Belgian Shepherd, and I kid you not: He has been mistaken for a bear on several occasions. In fact, a good friend of mine was at family dinner one weekend and her dad pulled out his phone to show everyone a picture he’d taken of a bear on my street. It was Finnegan.
What would you do if you actually met Kenny Chesney?
What would I do? Ask him to whisk me away to St. John?? Honestly, I’d give the guy a hug and tell him how happy he has made our family. I’d invite him over for Kenny Hour. Funny story: My brother met Kenny after the 2013 World Series.
How do you find time to clean your house?
I have the kids help me. It’s never as thorough or as quick as I’d like, but it makes life easier and I know I’m teaching important life skills. Also, full disclosure, we have a cleaning person help out once or twice a month. When I was pregnant with T, and then again with Seuss, I was placed on rest and was instructed not to lift or clean. Schizz hired a cleaning person for both pregnancies and we just never stopped after the last pregnancy. I know that I am lucky and I am grateful.
How is Linda’s head injury?
You guys are too funny. I am pleased to report that Linda’s noggin is holding up well (knock on wood). We haven’t needed a swim cap yet!