On the Subject of Subjects

How do you “teach” things that don’t fall neatly into subject categories? When you’re following curriculum, learning is chopped up into bite-sized pieces, which are supposedly easier to swallow (and to test)… but what about all of the tangential topics that don’t get covered this way?

I don’t profess (ha! see what I did there?!) to know everything about teaching or learning or education. But I do think there are many advantages to skipping the individual subjects and approaching education in an organic, whole-learning fashion. And I am a really big proponent of just learning by living, because who can think of all the things you might need or want to learn about otherwise?

This thought occurred to me because I found a list of fonts S13 had written down. She was making labels for her birthday party, and wanted the perfect font to go with her gaming-fandom theme. How do you learn something like font-choosing without actually getting in there and choosing fonts?? I guess you could take a class on typography, but what 13-year old is doing that? And yet, font-choosing is something you’re a lot more likely to do in life than, say, balancing a chemical equation. Not saying that fonts are more important to learn about than chemical equations. But they’re definitely more likely to be something you encounter when you’re grown and doing your own thing. It’s fascinating to me that we ply kids with highly specific and arbitrary knowledge, which will only be important or useful to a very small percentage of them, yet we deny them the opportunity to learn about things that nearly everyone will use at some point, no matter what they end up doing as adults.


I think the best way to learn what’s useful in life is to just get in there and start living it, and you’ll learn all sorts of things. Maybe chemical equations will be one of those things. Maybe they won’t. But I’ll argue that if you spent time learning chemical equations as a kid, and never needed them as an adult, you probably could have spent that time choosing fonts instead and been just fine. And if you didn’t learn chemical equations as a kid, you can probably pick up that knowledge quickly and easily if it’s really important to what you want to do as an adult.


Random Drawings and Writings, O8, 2013/2014

These are recent written pieces O8 has done this year (early 2014). They are all spontaneous (not adult-directed in any way).


(“PR” stands for “Princess”, FYI!)

I was SO EXCITED to see this: O8 made a menu for playing restaurant. All by herself. This is a huge step for her!

The Court House Food Menu

Court House menu


Androcles and the Lion, Day 1

Today was the first rehearsal for Androcles and the Lion, The Musical.  The girls were a little uncertain when they went in, but their friend A9 was there and that helped a lot.  I had to leave to take my nephew home, which was probably a good thing.  O8 seems to have a little more confidence when I am not around.  In addition to being “Featured Dancers”, they each got a very small part.  Or parts, in S10’s case.  She has two non-speaking roles and a few quick lines.  O8 has three short lines: she has to pull on Caesar’s robe and say, “Pssst!  Excuse me, sir!”  I am happily surprised that she is excited about doing this.

ETA: S10 wrote a short blog post about her first day at camp:

Sam Blog 6-3-14

Theater Camp

Someone in our local homeschool group posted about a children’s summer theater program here in town.  The girls decided it would be fun to do the camp, and S10 even chose to audition for a part (the show is a musical, “Androcles and the Lion”.) She has been on stage before for dance and music, but this is the first time she’s auditioned for a role. We found out so late that we only had one day to prepare a song. She decided to do “In Summer” from Frozen.


The audition went well, and we signed both girls up to participate in the camp (O8 insists she does not want to be onstage, only “a helper” backstage.) We should find out later this week or over the weekend about the casting.

S10 also wrote a blog post about her experience:

Sam Blog 5-27-14

S10 Writing Sample

S10 has changed her blog title and format, and deleted all of her old entries in the process. I think this was intentional, so I’m going to cut and paste her new blog’s first post for posterity’s sake.  The new blog is called “WLCOME 2 MY DIARY” (sic) and replaces “Lego Stephanie”.  There may also have been an interim post/title in there.  Her blog is private until she reaches 50 posts, which is why I’m copying it here for reference.


Hello Kitty friends!

I am extra bored now, as the title says. I decided to go and just post something. I am so bored that it’s getting contagious! My sister is getting boredeitis (bored-ee-itis). I thought typing away on my blog might give me SOMETHING to do, at least. Maybe posting a picture of my newest bunny will be partly a cure!


Here she is! Isn’t she a cutie? She’s only 12 weeks old! Her name is Ebunny (pronounced Ebony). I thought you would like it! Now, I think you should see my sister’s bun!


Introducing Holly! She is a dutch doe(girl). She also is 10 months old, very energetic. Isn’t she cute, too!?

Bye for now!

Kara Kitty

Holly the Bunny

Today, O8 asked me to help her start her own blog.   It seems like she has started to come out of her writing shell.  Until now, she has been pretty content to let her bigger (and very prolific) sister do all the pencil/pen/keyboard work.  I see her writing more and more in the kids’ play context, though.  She made a menu all on her own a week ago for a pretend restaurant, which was huge progress.  As her parent, it has been hard not pressing the issue and even harder to trust that she would write when she was ready to.  I’ll admit to breathing a small (but hopefully inaudible) sigh of relief.

So we set up a WordPress blog for her, which she is calling “Holly The Bunny”.  She plans to write mostly about her 4-H rabbit.  She took a picture of Holly with my phone for the header, and then we got another shot of Holly exploring in the sunroom to put into the first post.  I grabbed a screenshot to share here, since the blog is private.