Saturday, August 27, 2016

On Saying Goodbye To A Very Dear Friend



So I’ve been somewhat absent for a time. In fact it appears as though I just fell off the face of the earth. Most of you know that I don’t normally share deeply personal aspects of my life here on the blog, except when I have had major life changing moments, like this one

For some reason when those moments strike I always feel compelled to write and so here I sit writing yet again.

These past few months have seen me walking yet another big life changing path, one that I never chose to walk, one that chose me.

Today was the final stage of an ordeal that I never wish upon anyone. Today, in front of all her family and friends I said goodbye forever to my homeschooling best friend.



We’ve been by each other’s side for close to ten years. I have never known homeschooling without her. She has been my partner in crime, my teacher buddy (my Miss T), my confidante, my counsellor, my book buddy and my late night chatting (texting) about rubbish tv and without a doubt one of the dearest most treasured friendships I have ever known.

Nine days ago my friend left her earthly body as it could no longer go on. The cancer inside her was simply far too big a beast for her to fight. But fight she did, for nearly three years she has done everything imaginable to beat it. This included leaving her family behind and heading to the other side of the world for treatment. Whilst all of these things gave her more time, they simply weren’t enough and in the end there was nothing anyone could do except ensure she was comfortable and well loved.

Everyone keeps saying what a beautiful service it was today and I have spent all afternoon trying to reflect on all that took place there today. However, the reality of the situation hit me hard sitting there this morning. Today I couldn’t go busy myself with a job that needed doing (I had no patient to care for, no hospital appointments to attend). Today I had to immerse myself in the fact that Miss T is simply not away on extended leave, she truly is not returning to us on this earth, ever again.

All of the beautiful words spoken and sung about my friend were all just a little too much for me to bear and it took every ounce of my being to not completely lose myself there today. Consequently I don’t really remember anything much about the service.



I wrote a poem, after she passed and I did stand to deliver it but even that is a blur and so I will write it down once more and send it out into the universe where I know that my dear Miss T can hear it.

When She Walked In
Today I weep
For my friend
I hold so dear.
For goodbye I must say
To our earthly friendship here.

She was taken from me
Far too soon, with much life left to live
Her years here so few
There was still so much she wanted to do

She was always there
Through thick and thin
My life became much brighter
When she walked in

Many a day we’ve spent together
Talking and laughing
No matter the weather

This past year
Has seen us shed many a tear
But by her side I vowed to stand
Always loving her, holding her hand

Whilst things today are pretty tough
And the future ahead looks a little rough
I know that when I look to the moon
We will always have each other in sight
And one day, in time
Everything really will be alright

So now the time comes for me to get on with my life, get back to normal, to find a new kind of normal, without my dear, dear friend.   

For I know her all too well enough that if she could visit me for even just a moment, the first thing she would say to me is to live, to live a life she would proud of, a life I am proud of. To go on and face each day with an open, joyous heart, making the best of all that I am blessed with and giving all of me to those that are a part of my world.

In all moments of our life there is the good and there is not so good, but even in the not so good moments there is always, absolutely always, something positive and valuable to take away from it. 

Miss T has been one of the few people in my life that has loved me unconditionally and that, no one can ever take from me. 

Love truly is what makes the world go round, love truly is at the centre of everything and to love unconditionally is an amazing gift to possess and one that I will continue to strive for day in and day out.


Until we meet again my beautiful friend, I will hold you in my heart and I will love you forever xxx

In saying all that I really don't know when I will get back to my blog. Right now I have very little desire to write about homeschooling, but I am sure, in time, when it feels right, I will jump back in.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Essentials Skills Advantage ~ Review



For the past few weeks my younger kids have been brushing up on their math, phonics and spelling skills using the online Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage.

What Is Essential Skills Advantage


ESA is an online platform for children in grades K - 6. It houses more than 14,000 activities across the subject areas of English, Math, Science and Geography. ESA is a supplementary program rather than a full curriculum, making it suitable to sit alongside any curriculum products you may be using.

The ESA program has been developed by a team of experienced teachers with the aim of covering all of the 'essential skills' a child requires to succeed at their specific grade level.

The platform is bright, colourful and engaging but does not have any unnecessary distractions on the screen.

We have access to the Complete Home Learning Suite, which gives us the flexibility to choose from all of the subject areas across all of the grade levels. This is perfect for a child that may be a bit all over the place because they can work in grade 3 Math and then grade 2 English all at the same time.

How We Used The Program


With two children using the program we've been all over it so to speak. What I have loved the most is the ease in which we can choose the subject area or the grade and then jump between them.

We often found ourselves in three different grade levels all in one morning. My youngest loves looking at the reporting area and seeing the green bar rising, showing him how much he has completed in a certain area.

Whilst there are no lessons in the program as they assume prior learning it really is a simple way to practice spelling, phonics or even math facts.

Each level also has a story time component where the child reads the story out loud and then completes a series of comprehension activities all based on the story. Each story progresses in length and difficulty as you move through the grades.

The story component has been a great way to add in yet more read aloud time for my daughter, which she really needs right now. If a tricky word appears, in most cases she can click on the word and have it read aloud to her.


What We Didn't Like


Honestly I'm having a hard time coming up with something I don't like about the program. Once you realise that there are no lessons here only review work then it really is very easy to navigate and use.

On the odd occasion my kids have complained a little about some repetitiveness in the activities, but overall they are both more than happy to use this program.

The one area where I did notice something was that in the spelling activities. The program always lets you know the focus words and then the child proceeds to work on the activities, however the focus words always sit right up along the top of the screen. If the child clues into that they can easily just copy the words needed for their activities rather than having to try and remember them.

What We Did Like


This is a really simple program to navigate, there are no levels or lessons to complete before moving on. Once you click into a Subject and then the appropriate Grade Level you can see all of the activities available to you. From there you can easily choose what you would like to complete on any given day.

The flexibility of the program, the fact that it is purely review and that I can easily check in on the reporting area to see how the kids are going are all bonuses here.

Looking Ahead


Will we continue using the ESA program, absolutely we will for all of the reasons I have listed above.

Further Details


You can get started with Essential Skills Advantage for as little as 7.99USD a month. Visit the pricing page on their website for more details.

Want to know more, check out ESA across your favourite social media channels

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skillsadvantage/
Twitter:     https://twitter.com/SkillsAdvantage @SkillsAdvantage
Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/SkillsAdvantage
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/skillsadvantage
Blog:        http://buyesa.com/blog/

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I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of the ESA program, from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.


Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sunya Math Game ~ Review



To help my son get his addition facts mastered we've been playing Sunya The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Adding & Subtracting from Sunya Publishing.

What is Sunya


Sunya (pronounced soonya) is a simple math concept game which aids children in learning their math addition and subtraction facts. It is intended for children aged 7 years and up.

We all know that everything seems easier when it comes in game form and this is a fine example of that.


How We Used The Game


There are two variations to the game we received to review. It can be played with a focus on addition facts or with a focus on subtraction facts, we alternated between the two during our time reviewing the product as my son is right in the midst of learning these.

There are also a couple of different levels in which you can play the game but given my son is on the youngest end of the recommended age scale we have chosen to stay with the most basic form of the game. Which for now has been more than enough for him.

To play the game it is as simple as building a number sentence on the table, dealing the cards to each player and in turn they need to try and create a new number sentence using their cards and the ones that are already on the table.

It's a simple concept, but one that gets the brain working. The deck also includes 'wild' cards and it is somewhat similar in nature to the game 'uno'.

Once we were familiar with how to play the kids could easily play the game together. This was a great way to end our school time each day, with a few rounds of Sunya!

The deck also includes fun little science themed fact and riddle cards that the kids got a kick of.


What We Didn't Like


The instructions for this game really make it way more confusing than it actually is. I'm still not quite sure why a simple card game needs a booklet to detail all of the instructions. Once we realised how simple it was we were off and running, but I do feel that instruction booklet could really do with some reworking.

What We Did Like


The simplicity and the fact that this is a simple game really won us over. As I said earlier it was so easy to include a few rounds at the end of our school day.

Sunya Publishing is still in its infancy and in fact the game is not yet available to the public. We were very lucky to receive an advanced copy. I recommend keeping an eye on their website so you know when it is released.

Details


Visit the Sunya website for more information.

I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews covering the Sunya Game, from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

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Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 


Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?


Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.
 




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