What is this strange blog I am reading?

August 24, 2014

Possum is 8 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 1 month

Little Princess is 3 years 7 months

Hi!  Remember me? ~waves~

We have had a busy and tough year this year.  Bandicoot joined our homeschool, with all his quirks and vivacity.  It has been a challenge for me to step up to the plate, especially as nothing I had planned or had previously used with Possum worked with him.  Really.  Nothing.

I have spent a lot of time in tears and in prayer.  I would probably have done better to do those in the other order.  I have also spent too many waking hours reading about kids like him and what works for them.  Some ideas I just cannot implement because of my personality and skills, and some I can.  Some of them sound fantastic and do not work at all when I try them.  Some of them sound ridiculous and work a treat.  It has been a steep, steep learning curve, and I am just beginning.

At the same time, Possum and Little Princess continue to grow and change as well.  Nothing ever stays the same with kids.  There is a lot of adapting required in parenting!

Thankfully, we are coming out of that four months or so of the year that I always find the most difficult – from approximately two months before Possum’s birthday until two months after Bandicoot’s.  It seems to always coincide with mental and emotional growth spurts for them, leaving us all unsettled.

This year it has coincided with a health upset for me.  I have had a rather significant “arthritic flare-up” in my knees.  We do not know what caused it.  We do not know if it will happen again.  We do know it is less than pleasant.  There has been extreme pain involved, a lot of fear as I was tested for any number of things, and a LOT of inconvenience as I have been almost crippled for weeks or months at a time.  (For quite a while I could barely move from bed to lounge, let alone get down the two steps at the front of the house to go outside.)

With all of this going on, blogging has fallen down the priority list.  Also, it is hard to be positive or inspiring when life is full of tears, pain and fear.  It is hard to think of the bright side when your head is under water.  And there are probably a lot of times in the last few months that I would prefer to forget, rather than have recorded and shared with you.

But now, I hope, things are a little better, a little more settled.  Now, I hope, I have grown a bit more.

Now I hope, I will get to share some of our adventure with you again.

Lemony Goodness!

August 24, 2014

Possum is 8 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 1 month

Little Princess is 3 years 7 months

 

We have been away this weekend, to a town just outside our city.  To get there, we needed to drive through some of the small amount of farmland remaining on the outskirts of our city.

And, consequently, past roadside fruit and vege stalls.

I have been working to increase the amount of fresh produce that we eat, so this seemed like a good time to pick up some goodies.

The prize find was a stall about 15km from our home.  The produce looked beautiful and was very affordable.  We bought a tray of oranges – one of the few things Little Princess will eat – and a bucket of lemons.  Just this morning Bandicoot and I had been discussing making lemon squash when we found some cheap lemons.  Providence!

The two little ones have had a wonderful time this afternoon making fresh squeezed orange juice and lemon squash.  And I had so much fun with them that I forgot to take any pictures!

And what delicious lemon squash it was, too.

Here is the recipe:

~300mL fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 5 lemons)

2/3 cup white caster sugar

Stir the sugar into the lemon juice until it dissolves.  Mix with water (for lemonade) or soda water (for squash) at the rate of 1/3 cordial to 2/3 water.

What do you do?

April 15, 2014

Possum is 7 years 11 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 9 months

Little Princess is 3 years 3 months

What Did I Do Today?
What did I do today?
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before,
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall,
Will likely be there still next fall.
The dirty streaks on those window panes,
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?

I nursed a baby till he slept,
I held a toddler while she wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that’s true.
Unless you think that what I’ve done,
Might be important to someone,
With bright green eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true…I’ve done my share.

Author Unknown.

Environmental Experiential Education and the Mathematics KLA

April 2, 2014

Possum is 7 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 8 months

Little Princess is 3 years 3 months

 

This is the second article in a series on environmental experiential education, thanks to the knowledge of Ms R.

Meeting the government requirements for maths is never a problem in our house, but apparently there are some houses that are not riddled with maths junkies.  Who knew?

So here are a few points on meeting the Maths KLA outcomes with environmental experiential education.

The main areas of maths in primary school are shape, number (including money) and measurement.  (Also probability, but we did not discuss that with Ms R).

Shape

Shape is all around.  Use mathematical language when talking about things.  For example, “Can you please pass me a grape?  I’d like the most spherical one you can find, please.”

Get kids into astronomy.  Trajectories and planetary movement will get them honing maths skills pretty quickly – not in a formal way, but to see that star!

Numbers and Algebra

Use spreadsheets.  This will teach them formulas etc without them even knowing!

Again, numbers are all around us.  Get the kids involved with daily activities like shopping.  Also, get them to manage their own bank accounts, including making sense of the statements.

Measurement

Well, that is everywhere, too.  When they moan about learning area, show them a YouTube clip about tiling floors.

 

Keep bringing maths back to concrete examples so that it is relevant to them.

 

*Like I said, this is not a real issue in our home.  DH and I have a maths degree and a maths minor between us and the kids are cut from the same cloth.  Personally, I have a much more Pythagorean approach to mathematics:  That the study of mathematics shows us beauty and order and brings us closer to God our maker.  However, I appreciate that many other people need to see the practical side to maths!

Environmental Experiential Education and the English KLA

April 1, 2014

… or why write descriptive paragraphs when you can write a letter to Grandma?

Possum is 7 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 8 months

Little Princess is 3 year 3 months

 

This is the first in a series on Environmental Experiential Education, and especially how to fulfil government reporting requirements when homeschooling by this method.

I have written this article here for ease of reference for fellow members of my local homeschooling community.  Even if you do not homeschool, you may find something interesting in this series.

Recently I had the good fortune to receive a small download from the vast wealth of knowledge in the head of a veteran homeschooler I know.  She is a proponent of the environmental experiential philosophy of education.

This wonderful lady, Ms R, was leading us in a discussion of reporting outcomes.  For those (blissfully) unaware of such things, here we need to report to the government appointed outcomes in the specified curriculum as part of our registration process.  Many home-educators find this unduly restricting, which is largely why an estimated 50% of homeschoolers are unregistered in our state.

This article covers some points regarding the English Key Learning Area (KLA).  This is for infants and primary aged children (Foundation to Year 6)

First Things First…

The first thing to establish is the outcomes that we, as parents, want for our kids – not just academics, but real life outcomes.  Here are some suggestions.  (Note, I have included the ANC NSW Stage 1 codes for outcomes, as I am most familiar with these.)

Read in Context

  • - including signage, directions, map reading, warnings… These are necessary skills for safety and might just keep them alive.
  • EN1-4A, EN1-11D

    Recognise that you can learn from someone who is not there

  • - includes procedures, instructions, texts
  • This allows them to overcome their problems using someone else’s experience (for example, following a recipe)
  • EN1-4A, EN1-11D, EN1-12E

To Communicate

  • At this stage they want to connect with their mates, so let them use appropriate social media to do so.  This has the added incentive of encouraging writing skills (over time) to save face in front of their friends, without us needing to correct them all the time.
  • EN1-1A, EN1-2A, EN1-3A, EN1-5A, EN1-6B, EN1-7B, EN1-9B

Working on sequencing through silly stories is another technique for developing an understanding of how language works.  For example, tell the story: –

  • Goldilocks ran home to her mother and ate a bowl of porridge, but it was too hot.  The Baby Bear found his chair broken so they went for a walk.”

The kids will, hopefully, think this is crazy and you can get them to retell it properly.  This also lays the foundations for learning the skills of essay writing, constructing narratives and persuasive writing.  It is a great exercise for confined space torture car rides (in between history and classical music study cds!)

EN1-2A, EN1-6B, EN1-9B, EN1-10C

Use a Library

EN1-4A

Read for Pleasure

  • Part of this is exposure to great stories and the language in which they are written.  This includes complete adult literature, too!  Watching DVDs of classics (even “adult” classics, as the subject matter allows) is one way to provide this.
  • When they find the language approachable and the story-telling familiar, the desire to read the books is fanned.
  • EN1-4A, EN1-7B, EN1-9B

Using Texts to Problem Solve

  • -includes fixing broken things (manuals, etc)
  • Alphabetical indexing skills (to locate information required)
  • Using the street directory to find where you need to go.  (The suggestion here is get yourselves purposefully lost, so there is a real incentive for them to solve the problem and do it well.)

    EN1-7B, EN1-8B, EN1-11D

    Writing for a Variety of Situations

    • - think letters to families and friends, shopping lists, recording information, nature journaling, business communication and a variety of practical purposes that come up in daily life.
    • EN1-1A, EN1-2A,EN1-3A, EN1-7B,EN1-9B

    So how does this solve OUR problem of all those ENS-nn codes?

    Well, as all homeschoolers know, in Australia the legal responsibility for education a child lies with the parents, not the government, not the school, nor anyone else.  This is true for all parents, not just those who home-ed.  Our first responsibility is to the adults our children will become (also true for all parents!)  As the state is responsible for providing education on behalf of parents who choose to send their kids to school, their curriculum goals must meet these fundamental required outcomes (above).

    So the first and fundamental step is to establish our goals (outcomes).  Then we can go back and refer the curriculum outcomes.  For all their fandangle curriculese, they should slot into our goals quite well, as you can see from the codes that I have included.

  • Not Back to School–Meet the Students

    February 3, 2014

    Possum is 7 years 9 months

    Bandicoot is 5 years 6 months

    Little Princess is 3 years 1 month

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    This year Bandicoot has joined our homeschool full time.  In fact, it will be the first year that I have all three of my darlings with me every day.  (Possum was at preschool one day per week when Little Princess was born).

    To celebrate our first day, we had a fun photo shoot.  Here are some pics for you to enjoy.

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    And here is our new “Big School” Boy.  First day of school for Bandicoot, but no walking-down-the-street-waving pic.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do instead!  (In fact, truth be told, I forgot to do his solo pics in the morning with the other shots, so this was at the end of a long day.)

    IMG_0362IMG_0363

     

    A really long day!

    IMG_0366

    School Bell

    January 29, 2014

    Possum is 7 years 8 months

    Bandicoot is 5 years 6 months

    Little Princess is 3 years old

    This morning I woke to the dulcet tones of the school bell and MotoGP reruns.  It is nice not to be kissing the kids goodbye.

    However, today I struggle with my two biggest negatives of homeschooling.

    As my friends drop their kids off this morning, they return to their “normal” adult lives.  They do things like straighten the house, go to work, have conversations, think a thought all to themselves – you know, “normal” activities.  I tiptoe around Lego landmines, racetracks for Matchbox cars that run through several rooms, boxes and piles of books (what homeschooler does not?) and try to avoid the noisy projectiles that are my children.  There is never a break; never a let-up. (While I am typing this I have one child on my lap and am printing copywork pages for start of term).

    The other one is almost a clincher for me.  Today, the kids are down.  They are not thinking about what school involves.  They are thinking about all their friends gathering at the school next door.  Together.

    To me, the number one thing that school provides and that I do not is an opportunity to hang out with your mates every day.

    Of course, they may not be real friends.  There are even those (usually teachers who are trying to stop you talking in class!) who say that school is about learning and not about socialising.  But that is not the point.

    And even if our kids did go to an institutional school, we don’t like the school next door, so they wouldn’t be going there with their mates, anyway.  Again, not the point.

    THIS is the issue that makes me waiver sometimes, makes me wonder.  In the balance, I truly believe that my kids are absolutely better off at home, but days like today it is hard.

    Instead, we are going to enjoy a couple more days of summer holidays.  We will start in earnest next week.  Today we are going to visit Bandicoot’s best mate (he is starting Kindy this year and they don’t start today.)  The kids will play, I will print copywork pages and nervously rearrange my resources, yet again. 

    And they can watch MotoGP and Robin Hood and lounge around while the school bell rings.

    A Prayer for Christmas Eve

    December 25, 2013

    This was the closing prayer at tonight’s Christmas vigil at our Church.

    A new baby.  A little person, tiny fragile, dependant, vulnerable.

    Anyone who has really sat with a baby knows the wisdom amidst that vulnerability; the loving openness in their need to absorb; the acceptance of who we are; the ability to be with us.

    A new baby.  A person who will grow like us.  To experience awe and wonder and delight.  To experience pain and loss and disappointment.

    A wondrous God.  More mighty and awesome than His entire creation.  Powerful and everlasting!

    And yet, a wondrous God who knows what it is like to be awe-inspired, humbled.  Who knows what it is like to be vulnerable, scared, disappointed.  Happy and sad.  Loved and alone.

    A wondrous God who knows what it is like to be me.

    My intimate Saviour, waiting for me to come and be still; to gaze upon Him quietly; ready to fill me gently with wonder and love, of only I’ll take the time to hold this new baby in my heart.

    Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us this Christmas.  Thank you for coming into our broken lives; for unwrapping the gifts of our broken hearts; for delighting even in our broken dreams.  Thank you for knowing us intimately, each and every one.

    We pray this Christmas that we will fully unwrap the gift of the life you have given each of us.  Not just peek under the wrapping and be disappointed with the bits that don’t match our dreams, but really unwrap it all and discover it as the perfect gift from You – a vulnerable person, our wondrous God; our Intimate Saviour who knows us so well and still loves us anyway.

    Lord Jesus, you were there in the beginning and you re here now.  Come into our lives forever.  We ask this in your own sweet name.

    A Blessed Christmas to you all.

    Coconut Goo

    August 7, 2013

    Possum is 7 years 3 months

    Bandicoot is 5 years 1 month

    Little Princess is 2 years 7 months

     

    Things have not been “normal” around here.  Sadly, on the weekend DH’s Dear Father passed away, somewhat unexpectedly.  We have had an upset time.

    Formal schoolwork is on the back-burner.

    Today I thought I would try something fun for the kids.  When my idea of the zoo was flatly rejected by Possum and Bandicoot (you can’t ride your bike at the zoo), I decided to try this instead:

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    Coconut Goo!!

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    The recipe is really simple.  I got it from the Creative Playhouse blog.  I will write it here, because it drives me crazy when recipe links disappear over time:

    1 cup coconut milk

    2 cups cornflour

    Yup, that’s it.  Mix it up.  Play with it.  Squeeze it, goop it.  It started slimy and quickly turned into a crumbly dough.  It did that groovy cornflour thing where it is solid, but turns gooey when you squeeze it (okay, so it is probably something a whole lot more scientific to do with saturated solids and fine particle size).

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    Gotta love three little ones playing together happily outside.

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    Bandicoot made ice flows in Antarctica.  We had to lament the lack of plastic penguins in our home (and not for the first time, either).

    Once it got too crumbly for our liking, we decided to add water and make runny, gluey, goo.

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    Tee hee hee!  Loads of gooey fun.

    It made a terrible mess, but it cleaned up very easily, even from our clothes.  AND it left our skin feeling so soft!

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    St Joseph, Pray for Us

    June 12, 2013

    Saint Joseph, pray for us.
    Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
    Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
    Joseph most just, pray for us.
    Joseph most strong, pray for us.
    Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
    Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
    Pillar of families, pray for us.
    Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.

    Tonight I have started a novena to St Joseph.  We are trying to work out what to do about our home – extend? How? Move? Where?  We have been looking for homes and losing lots of sleep.  It is all so confusing and there are so many other decisions intermingled with this one.  It is so different to be moving a family than when it was just us.


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