About Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. You can also find her hanging out with Kara at The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.

Homeschool burnout: 10 [easy] things to try when everything is hard


Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies

Sometimes you can feel the burnout coming on, just as you can tell your body is fighting a cold.

“Uh-oh,” you think to yourself, and then you quickly snap into prep mode.

With this type of burnout, you have a little wiggle room. You can try to fight it off … and also prepare in case you lose the battle.

Other times, burnout stops you in your tracks. More like the flu, it sneaks up on you on a clear blue day and knocks you to your knees without any warning.

Out of nowhere, you suddenly feel horrible. Physically and emotionally exhausted, you are left wondering what on earth just happened.

Burnout is always tricky, but sneaky burnout is the trickiest. 

This homeschool mama gig did not come with sick days, or vacation days, or a substitute teacher. And that’s the worst part of burnout. You’re on your own. You must put one foot in front of the other, don a smile, and muddle through until the fog lifts.

Unfortunately sometimes, for whatever reason, burnout is harder to shake. All of the usual strategies don’t work and you just feel … stuck.

If you are feeling this way, please know that you are not alone. Some homeschool seasons are harder than others. 

In fact, I am right there with you.

Last week, I finally emerged from the throes of sneaky burnout. I’m still scratching my head, wondering what happened. We had a great winter and we made it through February with nary a hiccup.

Then March hit and the kids bounced random illnesses back and forth and the world was gray and cold and wet. The month felt like an eternity and yet I cannot tell you what we did. When the kids were finally feeling better, I was utterly exhausted.

Everything felt harder, even the simple things. Even the things that should be fun.

[Read more…]

Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 7-, and 8-year-old)

Written by Cait Curley or My Little Poppies.

I had grand plans to write about a typical homeschool day in our life. I was going to pick a random Monday or Friday and share our day from start to finish.

But my husband was working last weekend and I decided to take the kids up north for a few days. (One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the ability to get out of Dodge whenever the spirit moves you.)

Well, our getaway was extended by a snowstorm.

Then, we returned home to not one, but two nor’easters.

And that is how I ended up writing about writing about what Valentine’s Day looked like in our homeschool.

A homeschool day in the life

Valentine’s Day is not what I had planned. It is certainly not typical.

But, after writing this post, I realized that our day followed a normal rhythm (with sugar added).

The reality is: when it comes to homeschooling, there is no typical. And that’s a wonderful thing.

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How to add more play to your homeschool (and not feel guilty)


Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies

From history to language arts, math to music, and everything in between, don’t miss Cait’s full list of games for every subject!

week before Christmas, my husband turned to me and asked, “So… have they been doing any math?”*

I felt myself bristle at his words. I sat up straighter, jaw set, defensive. “Of course we’ve done math!” I sputtered.

We had done math, just not much traditional math because it was the holidays.

My mind raced:

  • We had read piles of math storybooks
  • The kids had followed a recipe for bird cookies independently, tripling the recipe so they would each have plenty
  • There had been lots of baking
  • The children had done some holiday shopping
  • We had watched a favorite DVD
  • And, of course, we had played countless board games

How to Play More in Your Homeschool (And Not Feel Guilty) How to Add More Play to Your Homeschool (And Not Feel Guilty)

But there was nothing tangible, no proof.

And that happens a lot with homeschooling.

Despite the intangible nature of our pre-Christmas mathematics, I was prepared to defend my case. After all, I know how well my children learn when I combine fantastic read alouds, experiential learning, and educational games.

I need not have worried; he believed me. There were no further questions. The doubt had passed.

* Now this is where I need to pause and tell you that my husband is my biggest homeschool supporter and cheerleader, but even the most amazing homeschool dads fall victim to occasional doubt and second-guessing… especially during holiday chaos!

The truth is, I used to doubt this approach to learning. 

  • Is it okay to set curriculum aside and pick up a book?
  • Can games be considered curriculum?
  • Does this really count as homeschooling?

Thankfully, this doubt has passed, too. I’ve been homeschooling long enough to know when we are doing something well.

I even have a name for it: gameschooling.

[Read more…]

Haunted by the Ghost of Public School Past?

ghostpublicschool
Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies

One of the most challenging parts of homeschooling, at least for me, is remembering to keep school and education separate.

I know this, but I also spent many years in school both as a student and an educator.

It can be tough to shake that public school mindset.

When we first started homeschooling, we attempted to recreate a school at home. That didn’t last long.

When things are going well, when I’m trusting my gut and my children, our homeschooling looks nothing like school.

It is only when the doubt creeps in that we struggle and start to second-guess… well… everything.

[Read more…]

Coffee and Books: An unexpected homeschool game-changer

Coffee & Books: A unexpected homeschool game-changer

Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies

September is here.

Armed with fresh notebooks and colorful pens, we feel renewed and inspired. We are determined to make this homeschool year a memorable one.

We have a plan for how we want the year to go, a vision.

And yet, sometimes, the best homeschool ideas are unplanned.

Coffee and Books, read aloud, reading aloud, reading, homeschool, homeschooler, homeschooling, stealth learning, slow learning, morning time, homeschool routine, homeschool schedule, language arts,

Take, for example, last winter.

A lifelong morning person, I suddenly found myself unable to wake up before my children. I can see now, in retrospect, that it was the result of saying yes to far too many people plus a case of the winter doldrums.

My motivation was at an all-time low.

By not waking before my children, I lost my planning time. Rather than enjoying an hour to myself, drinking my coffee in silence and setting us up for a peaceful morning, I woke up to rambunctious, hungry children.

When my feet hit the floor on those cold wintry mornings, I already felt behind. I was overwhelmed by a sense of urgency, a need to accomplish all the things … and fast!

Coffee and Books, read aloud, reading aloud, reading, homeschool, homeschooler, homeschooling, stealth learning, slow learning, morning time, homeschool routine, homeschool schedule, language arts,

I’d rush through breakfast so that we could tackle math. (Because don’t we all worry a little bit about math in our weakest moments?)

This resulted in colossal power struggles. And tears. And general chaos.

Needless to say, we didn’t accomplish much.

One morning, as I was laying in my warm bed, silently berating myself for not getting up and accomplishing all the things, I had a revelation:

What if I start our mornings with what we love? What if I tackle the one area I never worry about?

And so I got out of bed, poured a cup of coffee, and grabbed a book.

[Read more…]