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.

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…]

How to squeeze in one-on-one reading (and spread smiles)

How to squeeze in one-on-one reading (and spread smiles)

Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to homeschooling multiple children is how to squeeze in that oh-so-precious one-on-one time.

Amazing things happen when we invest individually into each of your children.

Whenever I spend time with a child, I learn something new about him or her. And afterward? I notice more smiles, increased kindness toward siblings, and improved cooperation overall.

(Plus, feel good.)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how this is even possible.

I mean, let’s be honest: Homeschool mamas barely get a minute to themselves. How can we manage to carve out daily one-on-one time for each kiddo when we can’t even use the bathroom alone?

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a super-simple solution to this  conundrum. It’s not perfect and it doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s beautiful. And it’s so simple that I almost didn’t write about it.

But then I thought about how much this one change in our homeschool routine has improved our homeschool and I wanted to share here.

The best part? This simple solution involves reading aloud to your child, so we’ll be crossing off some of our homeschool must-dos as we make memories with each child. It’s a win-win!
[Read more…]

A structured summer break for kids who crave routine

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple HomeschoolWritten By Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies.

We are year-round homeschoolers.

(Well, sort of.)

I didn’t set out to homeschool year-round. I wanted our summer days to be filled with watermelon and popsicles, sandy toes and cannonballs, shooting stars and fireflies.

But…

I’ve come to the conclusion that my kids crave structure.

Whenever we stay up too late, whenever we veer a smidge too far from our normal path, I notice a change. There is an increase in power struggles, sibling squabbles, and tears.

As a result, I’ve learned that homeschooling year-round works best for us right now, in this season.

Here’s how we homeschool in the summer and still have plenty of time for popsicles and cannonballs and shooting stars:

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]