Posts Tagged ‘curriculum’

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


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.

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    Going Easy On Myself…

    February 13, 2011

    14 February, 2011

    Possum is 4 years and 9 months

    Bandicoot is 2 years and 7 months

    Little Princess is 6 weeks

    As I write this I can hear the baby waking up again.  AGAIN.  She isn’t a great sleeper but yesterday outdid herself by crying for 26 hours, breaking only twice for two-hour sleeps.  She is much better today, but we are not.  We are exhausted.

    The adjustment to include a new member in the family is a big one, not just for Mum and Dad, but for the other kids as well.  My husband and I have been running on the exhaustion levels you would expect for this time in our lives, and much of our waking time includes our new baby.  This has an impact on the boys – we can’t run and jump and play and attend to them as quickly and as energetically as we used.  As much as they love their sister, they aren’t happy about this.

    Balance will resume, but not just yet.

    I thought that I would try using a curriculum this year.  I have been looking at "Little Hands to Heaven" which is a progamme aimed at 2-5 year olds from Heart of Dakota.  I mostly like this curriculum package, but not everything about it.  That’s okay – it is easy to adjust various elements.  (I L-L-LOVE the fingerplays each week!)

    However, even this I am finding a bit too structured.  The boys are thrilled for me to spend time with them, but unless it is an activity that really grabs them, they aren’t prepared to waste their Mummy-time.

    And so I have reviewed Sonlight.   I am not sure if I would like to followSonlight Curriculum all the way through, but right now, I am looking for a fun and easy pre-school (and here)/kinder curriculum.  Sonlight had a promotion on their website that you can download the first three weeks of the Instructor’s Guide for any of the programmes that interest you.

    And so I did.

    As it turns out, we have many of the books used.  Largely the preschool curriculum involves reading lots of books (we have LOTS of books) and being a bit active about discussion or follow on activities (isn’t that how everyone reads books?)

    Well this means I can homeschool easily, with or without the baby.  I can read while the boys snuggle on the lounge, sit in on a picnic rug in the yard or the park (should it stop raining), or while they are bouncing around, playing with cars, pounding playdough, or whatever my little active men need to do to free up their listening skills.

    And as for Little Hands to Heaven?  Well I am going to do that, too.  But I am not doing it every day.  I will do the bits that appeal to us as we can fit them in.

    And I think that will work for now.