Notes from our Home School Journal, 12 June, 2012

Catching up from last week with this post. I’m finding this weekly review a useful exercise.

In my life last week…

The whole family, except my oldest, had colds. Blur!

I only had three days of my homeschooler and youngest at home – what with the long Queen’s Birthday weekend and Diamond Jubilee, giving us Monday as a family day, and my oldest having a ‘teacher only day’ on Tuesday. The weather wasn’t great at the beginning of the week, so there was lots of creativity, painting and baking. Sophie made a funny mask, painted a couple of pictures and touched up her ‘monster’ painting.

Sophie's creations

Thankfully, the sunshine returned later in the week – so we got our fix of Vitamin D and fresh air time (which I wrote about on my ‘Loving… New Zealand You Have My Heart‘ post).

Sophie enjoying the return of the sunshine & an opportunity to capture the beauty

In our homeschool this week…

My home-schooler, age 6, is fascinated by ‘Mermaids’. There was a lot of mermaid film watching, researching of mermaids, myths and legends on the Internet and she typed a review of her favourite mermaid TV series – ‘H2O’ on her blog (hard to get her to do handwriting – she’d much rather type).

We had a snuggly morning, with my 2 year old asleep on my chest, reading a great book, from one of my favourite children’s authors, ‘Geraldine McCaughrean’ – ‘100 World Myths and Legends‘. We read a European legend ‘How the Fairies Became’, a Melanesian myth ‘The Crystal Pool’, the classic English legend of ‘Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow’, which lead to lots of discussions and conversations.

Alice asleep on me, all snuffly with a cold, whilst I read with Sophie 'Myths & Legends'

Science revolved around the ocean, water (linking up with H2O and the mermaids of course). We also visited our local ‘Marine Education Centre’ the weekend before – where we saw a carpet shark released back to the wild. We also talked about the transit of Venus – which led to our creative inspiration of painting ‘our own imaginary planet’.

Maths was mostly on-line using ‘Mathletics‘ – I’ve had to put Sophie up to a higher grade as she wasn’t finding it challenging enough. She’s on ‘Year 4’ now.

My 2 year (28 months) old is starting to count up to 10 now and enjoys counting lots of things she sees and does. She is also identifying all her basic shapes and colours – she loves doing shape sorter puzzles. There’s lots of learning happening in her busy mind – she plays with floating letters in the bath (alphabet soup she likes to make), magnetic letters on the fridge and tries to sing the alphabet song. And she loves to dance… (especially fun in a hula-hoop dress!):

Alice in her hula hoop dress

She also loves to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the various animals around the world – looking at our world map (I have to stand there lighting the candle on her play dough cake over and over again!). Play dough is something our girls never tire of – when I’ve made it fresh the older girls usually play long past Alice – for an hour or so at a time! Hee, hee!

Warm, freshly made play dough, yippee!

I’m also delighted my youngest has begun to enjoy being read to from traditional books (as she was born in the age of the ‘iPad’ and ‘iPhone’ in a home with a very techie Dad and sisters!).

Places we went and people we saw…

We enjoyed a trip to the Zoo, a walk on the South Coast looking in the rock pools.

At the zoo in Wellington

We picked up big sister from school on Friday and had fun careering around the supermarket – plenty of counting and applied ‘real life’ maths opportunities – after a play in the wind at the playground.

Sophie happy swinging wild in the wind!

Lots of play with our neighbours children over the weekend, which is always great.

My favorite thing last week was…

Having a little extra family time with the long weekend and the girls each enjoying some one-on-one time with their Daddy – they love playing Yahtzee, Scrabble, Drawsome (an app on the iphone) and Hangman late into the evening.

What’s working/not working for us…

What’s working is hubbie taking our big school girl to school in the morning, so I can enjoy mornings with my home-schooler and pre-schooler.

What’s not working – is the crazy late bedtimes of my home-schooler – it’s okay till about 9.30 / 10 at the latest – but we’ve had some 11pm nights (all quiet – reading, playing scrabble and so on… but when I’m then woken up by Alice in the middle of the night – suffering with a cold – I’m left burnt out!). Thankfully, she does lie in when she’s been to sleep so late – and I get some one-on-one time with my two year old – but the day feels a little disorganised and it’s impossible to organise a social meet up with anyone!

Questions/thoughts I have…

Should I worry so much about my home schooler’s handwriting? She much prefers to type stories and recounts. She writes when doing word puzzles and small lists etc. but she’s not at all interested in the craft of writing (which I personally loved and see my older, school girl doing so well). I keep trying not to worry and push her – after all it is an increasingly technological world – but I can’t let go of my traditional passion with the written word.

Things I’m working on…

Trying not to compare my home schooler’s way of learning to my privately educated ‘traditional’ school girl. They are both learning and doing well in their own unique ways. I’m working on learning to trust that my home schooler will have the skills she needs – just in a different way – and that’s okay. Doing ‘school at home’ doesn’t work – a more natural ‘unschooling’ approach works better in motivating my home schooler – I have to be in tune with her natural interests and then try to engage learning alongside her interests, without there being too much obvious ‘teaching’.

As Bernard Shaw wrote, “What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”

I’m reading…

I finished reading ‘The Unschooling Unmanual’ and found it very helpful in reassuring me (for a while!) that the path my home schooler is taking is okay.

I also found the talk by Daniel Quinn, included in the book, entitled, ‘Schooling: The Hidden Agenda’ fascinating. It looks at the history of education over the past 200 years and how it was necessary to keep children in school longer, what with the change in our society from a largely agrarian one, and later to the ‘Great Depression’ and the need to keep children off the streets so that there would be few unemployed. How gradually, it was deemed that every citizen needed an education till 14 – later 16 – when before leaving school and being employed at 10 or 11 was perfectly acceptable. And how the curriculum to keep children in school longer didn’t offer useful, practical skills for life, or survival skills learned through the ages by human kind, but rather filled them with facts, how to analyze poetry, classical novels, world history and so on… all of which few would remember five years after graduating or ever use again in their whole adult life.

I’m cooking…

These plain biscuits (Edmond cookbook recipe) are a favourite – only 10 minutes to make and 10 minute to bake (my two year old loves to make them – even at 3am in the morning!).

Quotes to share…

An eternal question about children is, how should we educate them? Politicians and educators consider more school days in a year, more science and math, the use of computers and other technology in the classroom, more exams and tests, more certification for teachers, and less money for art. All of these responses come from the place where we want to make the child into the best adult possible, not in the ancient Greek sense of virtuous and wise, but in the sense of one who is an efficient part of the machinery of society. But on all these counts, soul is neglected. – Thomas Moore

By bells and many other similar techniques they (schools) teach that nothing is worth finishing. The gross error of this is progressive: if nothing is worth finishing then by extension nothing is worth starting either. Few children are so thick-skulled they miss the point. – John Taylor Gatto

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more thanwe can ever learn from books. – John Lubbock


Linking up with the wonderful…