Back-to-School Vignettes

Back to School Vignettes | HSLDA Blog

Back to School Vignettes | HSLDA Blog

A vignette is a “brief description, account, or episode.” Otherwise known as “bite-sized blogging as the school year ramps back up.”

I’m always reluctant to leave summer behind and get back into the demands of a falltime schedule. Every August, I hold out for the latest start date possible.

Darren can’t wait for the new year to start. He’s made the plans, ordered the books, and gone over the course plan with each child. Starting in late July, he jockeys for the earliest start date possible.

Our annual tug-of-war landed on August 29—almost September, still August— as our first day of school. We have a 10th grader, an 8th/9th grader, a 5th grader, and a 1st/2nd grader. Let the games begin.


Back to School Vignettes | HSLDA Blog

Jones Homeschool first day of school selfie.


About a week before school started, I could tell I was making the mental shift into school mode when I brought the kids into the kitchen and used dirty dishes as an object lesson about paying off credit card debt.


“Nobody can find their pencil!” is not correct grammar.

“Nobody can find his pencil!” is correct but not accurate for half the human race.

“Nobody can find his or her pencil!” sounds stupid.

So while I’m going to teach the correct form, I’m officially giving up this battle. I’m going to use “they” when I don’t want to specify a gender. I’m a grown-up homeschool writer mom and I can do that.

Just…my mother taught me high school English. So don’t tell her about this, okay?


I wasn’t really confident about starting U.S. history with Ranger this year. What was the point of talking about conquistadors, Native Americans, George Washington, and the Declaration of Independence when he wasn’t even sure what a “country” was?

But about halfway through the summer, as he sat eating lunch at the table, he started asking questions about the maps on the wall. Where was Virginia? There are a lot of states in the United States, aren’t there? What are the other countries that touch the United States? Grandpa and Nana live in that country on top of the U.S.?

Finally, he asked me, “Who started the United States?” I showed him Europe, the tiny continent across the huge ocean, and he said in surprise, “How did they get over here?”

I think he’s ready to set sail.


The Jones Homeschool has its strengths. Reading, composition, and language are so easy for us that the kids learn mostly by osmosis. Math is more of a challenge, but so far the kids have conquered it. Chores get done reluctantly but on a regular basis. We generally co-exist peacefully.

But no family has all the bases covered. My kids’ handwriting ranges from adequate to abysmal. Science is even harder than math to master, since we don’t have mechanical or research-oriented personalities.

Back to School Vignettes | HSLDA Blog

Everyone is excited about school! Except for everyone who isn’t Darren.


Probably the one area that bothers Darren and me the most is our lack of physical activity. We don’t produce athletes, and besides, I’m not willing to dedicate weeks of my life to sports events. We don’t hike or camp. Since we live in a small, quiet suburban neighborhood, there’s not a whole lot of nature exploration available out our front door.

So this year, Darren and I decided that we could ease up on some of the academics and make room for more physical education. We’ve signed up Gamerboy with a fitness coach. Sparkler and I are training to run a mile by the spring. Bookgirl and Ranger both like the idea of tae kwon do, so after this first crunch of school is done, we’ll fit that into our schedule.

Homeschooling flexibility for the win!


Here’s to the 2016-17 school year. It’ll be great! And sometimes awful. And, ultimately, it will be good.


Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images by Sara Jones.

Answers to Name that Woman, Round Three:

  1. Raederle (Heir of Sea and Fire, Patricia McKillip)
  2. Amy Carmichael
  3. Nancy Drew (The Nancy Drew series, Carolyn Keene)
  4. Mary the mother of Jesus
  5. Kit Tyler (The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare)
  6. Miss Jane Marple (The Murder at the Vicarage, Sleeping Murder, etc., Agatha Christie)
  7. Kim (Mairelon the Magician, Patricia Wrede)

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