Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

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.

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.

    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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    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.

    Nature Study–Close Up

    March 7, 2013

    Possum is 6 years 10 months

    Bandicoot is 4 years 8 months

    Little Princess is 2 years 2 months

     

    One of the tricky things I am finding with homeschooling is to fit in all the “extra” subjects.  You know, anything that isn’t one of the Three Rs.  It seems, in an attempt to keep up with (or ahead of, because there is always the extra pressure when homeschooling) the best students in our local schools, I am unintentionally NAPLANing Possum.

    For example, we are currently working on a Reading Recovery Level of 16.  Compared to our local schools, this is a bit slow.  Of course, nationally, this is about a year ahead of where the average lies.

    Realising this, and realising that Possum was not having as much fun learning as either of us would like, I have decided to take a step back and put a big effort in to getting the other subjects covered.

    Our main “curriculum” (not that we are covering it to the letter) is Mater Amabilis.  I love the way it is done.  It works with our interests, pushes us just enough in the other areas and allows room for Possum to keep working ahead in Maths if he likes.  It is also quite easy to “Australianise”.

    In Level 1B (equivalent to our Year 1), the main Earth Science focus is on water.  Specifically, right now, we are looking at waterways.  As a part of this, we need to choose “our waterway”, which is the one that we will use as our study focus and visit eight times during the year.

    Today we made our initial visit.

    We sat with our eyes closed to listen and smell and feel the air.  We looked.  We discussed who uses the river just there and how.  We recorded various observations and sketched interesting things.

     

    And two of the three kids ended up in the river.

    (This lead to the observation that the wet moss on the rocks was slippery.  It also lead to tears and extra washing for me.)

    I mustn’t have been too surprised.  After all, I did have a towel in my bag.

     

    Now I find the timing of this particular incident funny.  Just today I got this article in my in box from one of the blogs to which I subscribe.  I have to laugh:

    Do you remember how much fun field trips were as a school student? I can only imagine how NOT fun they must have been for the adults. The constant worry of losing kids, the noise and chaos, shushing kids when tour guides spoke, slowing kids down, hurrying kids up – it had to feel like herding geese. Home schooling field trips seem to be a little more relaxed for us as teachers and parents.

    and:

    Can you imagine taking a group of kids to the ocean for the day as a field trip?

    Hmm.  I can imagine.  Do you think there is a reason why my kids still haven’t been taken to the fantastic tidal pools on the rock platform at one of our (relatively) local beaches?

    Two Days in the Life…

    February 6, 2013

    Possum is 6 years 9 months

    Bandicoot is 4 years 7 months

    Little Princess is 2 years 1 month

     

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    It is only the second week of school for us, so it is awfully early to be doing a “Day in the Life” post, I know, but I am linking up with Jamie over at Simple Homeschool for her series.

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    We are no where near settled in to the year, yet.  And, gosh darn it!  Despite myself, we will be having some kind of rhythm to our weeks this year, I promise you.  Or I promise me.  We are also pretty much still only doing the basics at the moment.  More of the extras will fit in, or fit in in a more regular way or be fleshed out more, as the year goes by, but at the moment they are pretty basic, ad hoc or missing.

    But here it is.

    Monday

    Trying to get homeschooling and Possum to get along, as well as get Bandicoot and Little Princess away from the tv can be quite a challenge, so this year I am trialling a new plan.  The bulk of our week’s work is done on Mondays and Tuesdays while Bandicoot is at preschool.  Then Thursday through Friday we do a little, just to keep the cogs ticking over and to keep Possum in the routine of doing schoolwork.  Great plan?

    Yup, unless the dentist’s receptionist is not aware of this and makes an appointment on Monday at 10am.  (I am not blaming DH, the other party in the conversation, as he hadn’t been filled in on the plan.)

    So on Monday, we worked with the flexibility of homeschool.

    Possum (and then Bandicoot, who should have been getting ready for kindy) worked on his nature journal.  This took w-a-a-a-y longer than I had scheduled for it, but the end product was a beautiful piece of art work.  I need to remember to allow more time next time.

    Then, as the lion’s share of the work hadn’t been touched, it was packed in a tote bag.

    Readers in the car.  English (language arts) and maths in the waiting room while Daddy and then Mummy had a turn in the dentist’s chair.  Spelling and other sneaky educational conversations in the car to homeschool group.

    Ah, yes.  Monday is homeschool group day.  This is proving to be a wonderful thing for us.  Possum is fitting in with the other kids brilliantly and I am really enjoying the other parents.  There are even a group of 2yos for Little Princess.  It is just a really good fit.  The only two problems seem to be that it is on Bandicoot’s kindy day and it would be great for him to join us; and remembering the time so we get home before Tuesday.

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    We even managed to sneak in a bit of practical maths with a helpful kiosk lady providing maths problems for Possum when he wanted to buy a snack.

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    Tuesday

    Tuesday was a more conventional (and hard core) school day.  We managed to get through loads of work, which was great because it frees up the rest of the week for stuff that is more fun (painting, craft, swimming, stories, music and lots of playing)

    It was not an early start – Possum was exhausted from a fun afternoon in the sun the day before, so it felt like it took more of the day than it should, but we got there.

    Bible: I like to start the day with Bible, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  Today we discussed the presentation in the temple and the feast of Candlemas.  This lead onto all sorts of interesting conversations about the dangers of childbirth.  It is always amazing how these conversations turn.

    Catechism: We started Catechism today with a “chapter” on God the Father.  It is sad that I have so little confidence in my own faith, but it is comforting to be teaching using a curriculum for this.

    Maths is always fun, we are such “number” people in this family.  We did a lesson from Miquon Red Book on odd and even numbers (and played with Unifex blocks.  It seems that my anti-manipulative boy is enjoying manipulatives this year!)  This was followed by some 2D geometry from a Mathletics workbook (Guess what!  More manipulatives!) and finally some work on vertical addition.

    English: We continued working on our current reader from Fitzroy, as well as the matching worksheets.  We completed a level in All About Spelling (yay, Daddy!  I got a spelling award!) and have begun a review (I think it will take about a term) on his Magic Words sight words from last year.

    Some serious trampoline time was needed by now.  And a MotoGP race enacted with his model bikes.

    We started work on an Angry Birds anger management unit (from Keri at The Home Teacher), too.  Possum is mad about Angry Birds, and we could all use some help with our anger management around here!

    Finally, there was some mental down time while we watched the Disney version of  “The Jungle Book” (again).  DH is reading a kids’ version of this book to the boys at bedtime and they are loving it.  They keep begging to watch the movie over and over again.  Good thing it is a childhood favourite for me, too!  By evening the house was abounding in 3D paper crafts of Bagheer, Sheer Khan and Baloo.

    And then it was time for art class!  Possum does art lesson’s once a week with the mother of one of his friends, who is both an artist and an art teacher.

    *Phew* what a busy day!