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.)

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    A really long day!

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    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.

    Mum Heart

    May 25, 2013

    I am currently sitting on a train to a neighbouring city.  Alone.  Well, not exactly alone – there are a good many strangers with me – enough, in fact that I am sitting in a stairwell as there are no seats left.

    My heart is full of trepidation.  I am heading to the Mum Heart conference , which, as you can guess by the name, is the Aussie Mom Heart .  The conference should be good.  The agenda looks good.  I am concerned I will be hungry (what???) But I think that is more my mind finding something silly to focus on to avoid the anxiety eating me alive.

    I have met some of the attendees online, but, as far as I know, not IRL.  They are people like me – Mums, Christians, homeschoolers.  Some know each other and have Ben doing this for a while, some, like me, not.  It is supposed to be pleasant and happy and all of that.  But then, I am not much of a people person – not in real life.  Although, much to my horror, I have found in recent times I have turned into one of those people who chats to store people, telemarketers and more… who leaves door to door sales people walking backwards down the drive to try and get away.  Eek.

    And then there is the big issue.  Tonight is my first night away from the kids.  Ever.  Well, since they have existed, anyway. 

    It might be a slight exaggeration.  When Little Princess graced us with her (early) presence, my waters broke almost 24 hours before labour started.  That meant that I did get a night in hospital without kids then.  Full of anxiety and anticipation and probably, really, in labour.  And I pined for the boys.  I didn’t sleep that night because I missed my little Bandicoot snuggling me.

    Tonight I have booked a queen size bed in a hotel room all to myself.  My plan is to sleep lying down, IN bed.  Not on the lounge.  Not with my head on the nightstand.  Not hanging off the side.  Actually in the bed.  The though excites me and scares me.  It seems so selfish to be excited about it.

    And once more I’ll probably not sleep because I am pining for my family.

    Or worse, I’ll like it.  I might even remember what it was like before DH and I were married.

    Trepidation.

    On Angels and Devils

    April 13, 2013

    Little Princess is 2 years 4 months

    I have grown up quite comfortable with the spirit world around me, as I understand it.  I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in The Communion of Saints.

    I personally have, on occasion, seen angels, or had visits from dead relatives, but only on occasion.  One memorable time as a child I had an interaction with someone a whole lot less savoury.

    Despite my limited personal experience I was always quite comfortable with the idea.  I believe my Dad was touched with The Gift.  He didn’t talk about it, but sometimes his guard would slip.

    So I believe my children when they tell me about the people they see.  (I firmly believe that children, in their innocence and closer connection to God, can see more of His world). 

    Tonight was … well, I don’t know what it was.  I am just glad that our wonderful pastor has talked to me about battles of the spirit and the insidious work of the devil.

    Little Princess and I were here alone, playing on the floor near the door.  She pointed at the door, ‘Man’, she said.

    At first I missed what she had said, so she did it again.
    ‘Is there a man there?’
    ‘Mmm hmm’
    Then she looked at me at little unsure.  ‘Where is the man?’
    ‘There’
    ‘Is he a good man or a bad man?’
    ‘Bad  man’ she shuddered and snuggled into me, not scared, totally sure of her safety with me.  I blessed us both (Important to make visible signs or pray out loud for the devil can put thoughts in our heads, but is not actually in our heads).
    She ran to the lounge.
    ‘Is the bad man still here?’
    ‘Yes, bad man inside’

    Well that frightened me.  I was right at the door.  I pulled myself up and commanded, ‘Go back to where you belong.  Leave us alone now.  God and the Lord Jesus protect me and my family.  You do not belong here.’. It was strange.  The words came to me and I said them, but I had no feeling at all of anyone being there.

    Little Princess smiled at me from the lounge. bad man gone now.’

    What is so disturbing is what is the devil doing here now?  We were just playing quietly, not something fraught with temptation.  It is true and frightening that spiritual danger is everywhere.

    How wonderful that my God is even so much greater.  AND He loves me personally.


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