School is in Session

Ben and I decided to start school yesterday with the rest of our Pulaski and Chicago Public friends and family.  We did a little bit last week with the girls…some journal writing, some math and some sight words and reading with Maddy.  But yesterday we made a good effort at sitting down and having proper school.  Now of course today we’re back on the water so it’s a half baked effort of me doing it in between them taking “brain breaks” playing.  But back to yesterday!  We were all gung ho to do school first thing in the morning.  But then it was going to be 95 and by 9 AM was already sweltering in lovely Alton, IL and the girls were desperate to ride their bikes.  So, we put off Math and Reading and went for a bike ride.  Who says you can’t start with PE?  We both believe they will stay on track, if not ahead, and part of the purpose of this year is that when life gets in the way of school so be it.  They will be fine!


It was hot!  It was very very hot!  But also great for us to get out since we left today and likely won’t be at a marina until Saturday night or possibly Sunday.  My feelings and fears about that could be an entire other blog post.  But back to school….

We took our bike ride.  We stopped along the waterfront path and took turns reading the history of the Mississippi and flooding plaques that were posted to work in a little Social Studies.  Came back for water and a snack and started school.  It will take awhile to get a rhythm down and figure out a schedule that works and I think we’ll be fairly flexible but yesterday we had them start with a writing prompt and then Ben did Reading and I did Math with each.  We asked them to write two things they were excited about and one they were nervous about.  Molly got right to work.  As most of you already saw on Facebook, Maddy was her typical difficult self about writing.  But eventually she did it.  We wouldn’t help her spell or sound stuff out.  We told her to just write and not worry about it.  She did get her name on the white board with 2 checks. We told her if she got to five no swimming pool.  And also told her if she didn’t get working she was going to finish the assignment while one of us took Molly to the pool.  Always a challenge with her!


Onto Math and Reading.  Ben took Maddy and did sight words (painful), then did a read aloud and then had her read (also painful – we’ll get there!  She’s just SO STUBBORN!).  I did Math with Molly.  Fourth grade math is a doozy.  I know there are so many common core critics out there.  I’m the first to say what I hate about it but I have to admit even though it’s been a challenging two days to get through, I totally get and understand the concept behind why it’s being taught this way and am kind of curious to see how this unit progresses.  I admit I only look a day or so ahead at a time.  By the time we were halfway through the problem set for the second lesson Molly was fried.  So, beauty of home schooling…time to stop!  Put it away and move on.  Back at it today and we had some rough patches but much better after a break.

We swapped and I did Math with Maddy.  I like first grade math.  It’s good stuff.  And thankfully super easy for Maddy too.  Molly is jealous.  Ben and Molly started reading Huck Finn together.  I read the first chapter as well so that we can both trade off with reading.  Ben found comprehension questions online so they just did one chapter and talked through those.

Haven’t figured out Word Study or anything else yet.  All in good time.  Time to hit the pool for the rest of the day!  Fun afternoon swimming, got picked up in a golf cart for dinner in town.  And you know what?  When we were riding in the golf cart back past where we had biked that morning Maddy leaned over to me and said “is there really a buried island out in there in the river?”.  She listened!  And remembered!  We read about a sunken island where tons of bodies were buried after a smallpox epidemic.

Both claimed to have a good first day!

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Today has gone like this…get off the boat and run around b/c we may not be able to for three days.  Hey, PE again!  Yay!  Get back on the boat…go play because we have two locks to get through.  Ooh, St. Louis, the Arch, neat bridges, come look at all that.  Now it’s lunchtime so we may as well do that first.  Ok, math!  I’m solo today b/c Ben is driving the boat.  Got through Math with both girls.  Maddy is working on a little FrontrowEd right now while Molly works on her homework.  Still have to tackle reading and that’s likely it for today.  On long travel days we will do what we can and catch up on other days.  Molly did sight words with Maddy!  Win!  And Maddy says she wants to do that every day.  Bigger win!


Still on my list to figure out…a lesson all about the Arch and the Gateway to the West (materials obtained at the Arch Sunday), Word Study (sigh) and more organized writing curriculum.  Apologies if this is long and you made it this far.  So many have asked me about school so wanted to share what our first and second day looked like.  It’s not much but it’s a start! Thanks for reading…back to helping with Math homework questions….



  1. Cathy · September 7, 2016

    Loved reading about school & PE. Wish I were there to teach too! Ha ha. Love you all!


  2. Fred Stein · September 7, 2016

    Not too long for me – very interesting about the individual challenges each personality presents and how you’re working with them to solve the attention issues. Thanks.


  3. Sophie · September 7, 2016

    Maddy wore the coral dress!! Sounds like a great first day!!


    • Ben Stein · September 7, 2016

      Hope your first day was good too and you kept your lunch on your second day!


    • laurastein100 · September 7, 2016

      She LOVES that dress! She wears it nonstop. I commented to someone on the dock tonight that I probably brought 15 dresses for her and she’s worn that one twice already. Hope you had a great first day too despite lunch!


  4. Steph · September 8, 2016

    Color me impressed, Laura. Keep up the great work and remember that they are learning everyday just by doing what you are doing! ENJOY!


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