JENNY NAUGHTON and her husband share their 1930's era Chicago home with four sons and a daughter. A voracious reader, Jen reviews books before their release for dozens of publishers on her page: Windy City Reader. Jen also blogs (on WordPress!) about classical, mostly secular, home education at Good Enough Homeschool.
In her spare time, she runs an online book club for teens and helps other home educating family match their kids with the perfect book for them.
You can find Jen misbehaving on social media on
In today’s show, we’ll talk about a common question: “What is the best online curriculum?” Next, we’ll talk about types of curricula, and finally we’ll talk about the Pandia Press’s Ancient History, Level 2 curriculum, and why we won’t use it.
We chat about parents moving to homeschooling. They want all online curriculum and there are definite problems with most online curricula.
How to choose curricula??? Read the rest of the show notes here.
I podcast twice a month with my friend and colleague, Courtney Ostaff. We strive to help parents find that magic balance of “good enough” in their homeschools. In this first episode, we introduce ourselves and try to set up our plans for this podcast. We’re old-timers and are somewhat curmudgeonly when it comes to companies taking advantage of Crisis Schoolers. You can find the show notes here and the podcast on your favorite listening platform.
have taught me a few things. Number one would be to never run out of M&M’s. You think I’m joking, but a handful can pull a frustrated parent or child back from the brink. I’ve seen lots of families come and go. Homeschooling may be the career that you retire from or it may be just another part of parenting that you remember fondly. Crisis schoolers may only be here for a season. In any case, here are some things that I learned along the way.
EDUCATION STANDARDS: home teachers need them too
Follow the laws of your state. Look them up and make sure you comply.
Choose materials that you like and can teach. You need that confidence to be successful in your homeschool. In the beginning, I used to have my math workbook, and as long as I stayed just a few days ahead of my kids, we were golden.
Combine as many subjects and children as possible into small groups. Your one-room classroom will run like clockwork if you are organized.
MATERIALS NEEDED: how to place each child
Keep your oldest at the top end of any age range materials. Learning at home is much more demanding than a classroom setting. Staying to the top will allow them to understand the events of the past sufficiently.
Younger kids can listen in to History and Science, and it is enough, some public schools don’t even teach those subjects until Junior High School.
Everyone needs their own Math and Language Arts program instead of sharing one. Kids can quickly jump back into school if they are at grade level in these topics. Even if you don’t plan on them ever leaving the home classroom, it is an insurance policy.
VERIFICATION: How do you know it’s working?
Steps to check for student understanding
Talk, talk, talk. Look for connections to whatever you are studying and point them out to your kids.
Ask your children to share what they are learning with family and friends. It will be a boost to you to hear what they remember from the week.
Don’t skip some kind of end of the year assessment. It helps you and your child to see improvement and skills that still need tweaking.
“ The days are long, but the years are short.”- Gretchen Rubin
I’m down to one teen at home. Our four older children are now adults. I still remember the excitement of our first box day, homeschool gym class, and even that time I slammed a math book down in frustration over some squirrelly boys just not paying attention. All those days are part of our family lore. I wanted my kids to have a very different educational experience than the norm, and they did. Looking back, I can pinpoint exact moments of when each child discovered their talent, and that is something not every parent can say they witnessed.
Whether your children already flock to books or they’re any shade of reluctant, Bookish Society helps your child make life changing connections with literature, peers, and authors. See our Middle Grade and Teen Round Table Pages.
How many times can I say how amazing this story is? At least once more in writing, I guess.
If only this had been a September release, we would have read it in The Bookish Society YA round table. I adore a good fairy tale retelling, and this is the story of Cinderella 200 years after she attended the Ball dressed by her Fairy Godmother. Every home in the Kingdom must keep a copy of the Cinderella story in their home. Then, there is still a Ball each year. This requires families to go into debt for their daughter to look good enough to be chosen by an eligible man. If they don’t get married by the third year, they disappear into servitude.
All that sounds awful enough and the MC soon finds out that there are more sinister goings on and a growing resistance to their dictator like king. The world-building is sublime. The main character isn’t waiting around for the remarkably absent fairy godmother. She tries to change things- and she wants to be with a princess, not a prince.
Diversity: Black, lesbian main character, lesbian/bi side characters, and gay side character.
This is precisely the kind of book that we read and discuss at our YA Bookish Society Round Table. Teen Round table offers kids the chance to hang out with like-minded readers and have grown up style delving and debate.
There are a lot of people that are refusing to read, promote, and review this title. They find the orphan trope tiring, the message to children that they could be “unadoptable” horrifying, and have concerns about the physical appearance of said fictional orphans.
I’m reviewing this fantasy- fiction title after I bought it and read it in nearly one day. It’s a fast paced adventure story set in the late 1800’s. It does indeed have a Dickens/ Lemony Snicket type schtick. This is the description from the publisher:
In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1880, when five babies are left in outrageous circumstances; one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic hamper, one in a wheat sack, and finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket.
Those babies were Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem, and Milou. And although their cruel matron might think they’re “unadoptable,” they know their individuality is what makes them special–and so determined to stay together.
When a most sinister gentleman appears and threatens to tear them apart, the gang make a daring escape across the frozen canals of Amsterdam. But is their real home–and their real family–already closer than they realize?
UnAdoptables by Hana Tooke Viking Press
Obviously any kid can have a sensitive issue with any life event, and I am in no way minimizing the real life horror of foster children today. However this book is fully fictional, set so long ago that children were indeed mistreated for how thy looked and acted. Also, orphanages were especially awful in other ways too during those years.
But, I wouldn’t even stretch and call this historical fiction. It’s a silly, light, creative tale set in the picturesque setting of Amsterdam (some of it in a windmill!)
Bonus trope: found family (which is my fave)
In fact, after reading it I feel like it is getting more publicity from the one star ratings then it would if it had a normal type of release?
Long story short- if you choose to skip it you aren’t missing a five star read and if you do choose to read it it’ll make an entertaining 3-4 night bedtime story read aloud. I liked it and gave it four stars on Goodreads.
The world-building in this young adult fantasy novel is just intense and all-encompassing that I genuinely felt like I could see it in my mind’s eye. Tarisai is the only daughter of someone called The Lady. Her sole purpose is unclear at the beginning and it turns out to boil down to complete obedience.
This is a fast read, and the whole time I was flipping pages, I wondered what would happen next. It’s one of those books where you want to know how it all wraps up without it being over. If you are missing a magical universe, this may be your new favorite series. I’m suffering from a bit of a book hangover. The writing is just excellent, and the world is so vast. Don’t even get me started on the back story. chef’s kiss
I’ve never read anything inspired by West African folklore, and apparently, I need to read more about these types of fantasies because—I AM OBSESSED; from everything to the tutsu sprites, the Ray magic, the animals, the vibrant settings. Just. . . ALL OF THE THINGS. They were so beautifully written, and I felt like I was there; as if I could feel the warm breeze, and the aroma of the villages, and the spirit of the people. This is one you won’t want to miss. I read this as an ARC, and my only small complaint is that there was no map to help me decipher the geography of this vast world.
I read another of TJ Klune’s books: Middle Grade The House in the Cerulean Sea a couple of months ago, and I found myself just smitten with his writing style.
This is his YA debut, and it not only features superheroes in an urban setting. It contains some pretty “extra” teens. This friend group is precisely the one you’d want to go through high school today. This queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes that he loves captured my heart. Nick is a dork, his Dad is great, this book is both #ownvoices and #neurodiverse. Most of all you will laugh so much.
Parental Note: I’d say it is a story for older teens. Like, if you let them read Tumblr it’s fine for them. And this story is unabashedly pro- police. The police get in the way of the superheroes and are excused for bad behavior again and again. You can get some pretty good discussion fodder out of this, and I wouldn’t let it go without a discussion of Police in the real world.
Can I give all of the stars to this Little House books companion guide? Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder made me the reader/writer that I am today. I’ve homeschooled my kids using these books and various guides that didn’t work for us in any cohesive way because they were either religious or too babyish. This companion book is just right. The history and background of the events opened up for discussion in a natural, non forced way are rare in homeschool materials. The activities are fun and work. I wish I had this available back in the day. At least its here now, and I’m giddy with mixing it into our American History studies this year! Now that just about everyone is homeschooling, this book should be a big hit. You can even get it in time for the new school year- August 4, 2020