Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Part 3 - Reflections As We Enter Our Fifth Year

Just recently I had a bit of a light bulb moment, some might see it as daft of me to not have thought about this before and others might think it really daft that I’ve actually implemented it!!

You know what if it works for us, then it’s ok and there are times in ones’ life when it’s ok to be ok with ok!

I guess I need to back up a little. Having a toddler in the house is demanding, but in a please read to me, play cars with me, pick me up and kiss and cuddle me, demanding sort of way. It is definitely a juggling act when you have spelling lessons, time to read one on one, phonics instruction and a whole list of other stuff to get to with two school aged children, without leaving the toddler to simply run wild.

I’d be telling false truths though, if I said that we have never had those days, because we have certainly had our fair share of them.

We tried for quite some time with Montessori inspired activities but these either ended up all over the floor everywhere or unless I sat with him for every second of his activity he was simply not happy. So in essence I was spending a good portion of my time preparing, so called, independent activities for the toddler, when they were actually making more work for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Montessori philosophy and I do intend on trying again, now that we are very close to having a 3 year old in the house. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

That left us being back to, ‘what to do with the toddler’ so I could at least spend some time with the other children.

For awhile they all lined up on the kitchen bench. I’d go from child to child to child, with each spare moment I would be cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry or baking something...what a circus that was.

We’ve also had the tag team schooling, one kid plays with said toddler, whilst I spend time with the other and then they switch. Which often worked out pretty well, until said toddler became upset for whatever reason and wants no one but mummy!!

A couple of months ago, it dawned on me....why, why, why where we not taking advantage of the times when daddy was home.

That was when we threw Monday – Friday schooling out the door.

We overcame the need to stick to school terms about a year or so ago. Not having set ‘school holidays’ is very freeing and opens up a whole new dimension to our year. We don’t attend a school, have no intention on attending a school, why on earth do we see the need to schedule our lives around school terms and school holidays?

Now if we have a busy social week it doesn’t matter, we are always learning, never needing to worry about having to ‘catch up’ before school holidays are upon us. We simply continue where we left off. We don’t have the worry of whether we need revision because we have taken too long a break either.

I guess it was only a matter of time before I came to the realisation that we could also ‘do school’ on the weekends.  So now that is what we do. Not every weekend though, we’re pretty relaxed with it and if we have family things going on then that’s fine we let it go. However if we are home we take the opportunity.

It works out fabulously for the toddler, he gets loads of totally fun one on one daddy time!

For us this is a season and I know it will be only a short time before we have no need to do this. However the happiness of the kids and my sanity is way more important than trying to get our school work done if the toddler simply doesn’t want us too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Part 2 - Reflections As We Enter Our Fifth Year

As we enter our fifth year of home schooling I am beginning to see clearly just how ingrained the ‘school mode’ is in all of us, well especially me. I thought I was doing a pretty good job with leaving school notions behind, why we’ve become so much more relaxed over the years. Often at times verging on the, oh my gosh, dare I say it, ‘unschooling’ mode of home education.

That’s not to say that I have felt my share of angst during those periods because my golly I have. It is though, always my children that show me time and time again that they are learning, regardless of whether we sit at a desk with an open book or we simply live life to the fullest. Living and learning and growing as it should be, not confined to a square room, sitting at desk for the best part of the day, being told what to do by a teacher who is told what to do by someone else, whether that be the right thing for the children or not.

However I have come to realise that complete letting go, total immersion in an unschooling life is not for us, any of us really. The kids do so much better when we have some kind of routine and structure to our day/week in place. So do I if truth be told, without some structure there are days that I simply forget I have children that I am supposed to be educating and just go about doing the things that I need or want to do.

Plus, low and behold I have found out that I am book/curriculum junkie, love searching for stuff and love finding things that work, really work for the kids.

So whilst we are very relaxed with how we ‘should’ be learning these days we do still use a good deal of structured curriculum. I do not allow us to become tied to it though. I always disregard the number of lessons and simply work at our own pace. I am not bothered by having to work out how many lessons of Math we will need to complete each week to ensure we finish by the end of the year.

My children move on to in their programs, when they are ready, if that is well before the year ends then so be it, if it is well after the year is over then that’s totally fine too. This also allows us to follow rabbit trails or even still, if we are ever a little bored with one of our programs we can simply do something else for a while. Because you know I will definitely have something here on my shelves to cover what is needed to be covered ;-)

Part 1 of the this can be found here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reflections As We Enter Our Fifth Year.

This time five years ago I pulled DS from school (mid way through his prep year). A school that boasted about having enrolled children living up to 30 minutes driving distance away. We ourselves drove over 15 minutes one way just to be there every day.

A small school, just 130 students, where the principal knew everyone’s name and if he didn’t he made it his business to learn. A well established school and one I grew up hearing about regularly. A good school, but really what does constitute a good school?

I think the answers here will be different for most everybody. All parents want their best for their children, regardless of where they receive their education. So I don’t think I’ll even begin on that topic.  I’m not about to be harsh on the schooling system, it serves a need that is for certain.

All I will say is that the system didn’t really deliver for us. Granted we only gave it a short 6 months and many would say that probably wasn’t long enough. For me it was too long! I also think that the reasons I decided to pull DS from school probably seem very petty and insignificant to others.

Once again, for me though, I could quickly see things spiralling out of control. What begins with a few simple issues can quickly snowball as the years move on.  This is a story I have heard again and again from families that have pulled children from the middle to upper grades of school.

There was the odd small issue in the early years, but nothing too challenging. However year in and year out the small issues were somehow no longer that small.

We too had the odd few small issues in that six months of school that we experienced. Two bumps on the head, with large lumps that no one either knew about or chose not to tell me about. Unruly children, where I was completely and utterly amazed at their behaviour and this was rubbing off on our quiet placid little boy. A school principal that thought he was shepherding sheep, not children. The final straw, being told that parent classroom helpers were not wanted that year!

So call it mother’s intuition if you will but that was exactly it for me. I knew that things would only go downhill at school, not up.

And so our journey began.

I had originally planned just one post on reflections, but now that I have filled a couple of pages on Word writing it all out I thought it best to cover my reflections in a few posts, so part two will follow soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Life Be In It Funworks

Over the past six weeks the kids have been participating in weekly Funworks activities wth the Logan Home Schoolers group.

Initially I was somewhat dubious about this program, we've done our fair share of "kids fun sports" and none of them have been overly brilliant.

This time however, things were different, I guess the fact that both B and K are considerably older now, probably had a part to play. But this experience has been fabulous for them.

So much so in fact that we begged to organise another block in Term 3.

The coach is amazing with the children, firm, but fun. Just what a group of rambunctious children need!

The fun was so varied, with each week being different to the one prior.

They experienced many traditional games, like Tug o War, Tunnel Ball and Sack Races.

This gigantic ball had everyone giggling with delight. 
How on earth are we going to hold that up, is what's surely going through their heads.

Oh well, let's just roll it all over our bodies then, for full sensory experience.

These four person walking planks were definitely an experience, to say the least. Most of the children need lots more practice at this one, walking together, working as a team and taking directions. But still they enjoyed it and always had smiles on their faces. A great way to really get to know your peers.

What about a spot of Egg Throwing and Catching. After they were shown the correct technique for 
safely catching a raw egg, they were set to it. Starting fairly close to each other at first,

With each correctly caught egg, in otherwords, an egg still intact, 
the opponents took a few steps apart and tried again.

Oh well I guess you couldn't keep throwing it forever! 
They really are laughing here, don't be too concerned.

Balancing batons or twirling sticks took a great deal more 
concentration than one would think.

There was so much going on each week, I certainly didn't cover everything with my snapshots. We are all excited to be returning to Funworks fun in a few weeks time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Do Love You

My dear dear blog
I hope you know that 
I do love you so
Often when life gets a littled harried
There are certain things that need to go
But just like an old friend
That you may rarely ever see
I do love you my dear blog
I sure hope you know

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