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Showing posts from 2012

Homeschool Planning - A New Year!

I love the period between Christmas and the new year.

I love reflecting on all that has happened in the past year with a thankful heart and I love making plans for a new beginning.

In reflection, this was the year we began homeschooling - a socially unpopular decision but a choice that we knew was right for our family. It was the beginning of an amazing journey and one that continues to surprise me.

In looking ahead, I am excited about a new year! We are making some changes to the way we home educate in our household. I'll admit that at the end of this year I got a little tired and slack and we weren't spending enough time at home. I lost my motivation and was throwing together lessons at the last minute and then wondering why the kids seemed disinterested.

So, what changes are we making to the way we homeschool?

1. My planning and organisation


I'm going to plan a term in advance as a 10 week block and with the exception of homeschool ev…

Homeschool Inspiration Today

Home made Christmas Gifts - Rainbow Playdough

Every year I try desperately not to buy in to the consumerism of Christmas. Sadly, I often still find myself in a mad panic rushing through K-mart on Christmas Eve with a trolley full of, um, stuff.

These experiences inspired the creation of my ebook Consumer-less kids - A gift guide for the kids who have everything. It discusses how to buy, or not buy, for kids who have everything. It discusses how home made gifts are such a thoughtful alternative to mass-produced store-bought um, stuff.

So, we got to work making playdough gifts.

white flour – 1 cupsalt – 2 tbspscream of tartar – 2 tbspscooking oil – 4 tbspswarm water – 1 cupJelly – 1 pack
Add all the ingredients together in a big mixing bowlMix all the ingredients together until consistentPour into a saucepan and stir continuouslyWait for it to thicken into a big ball and then place it on some grease-proof paper to coolKnead it for a few minutes once cooled wit…

Easy Christmas Advent Calendar

I have a confession to make.

I don't like craft.

There. I said it.

What good homeschooling mother doesn't like craft? You might ask. Well, me.

So, when craft happens in our homeschool I'm going to blog about it!

So, on December 1st I reluctantly embarked on an exciting adventure to find out how to make an advent calendar. I browsed a few on the net but felt overwhelmed - they all looked so HARD! I needed something simple. I decided to brave the shops and see what I could find.

I found myself at a low priced department store. I bought a sheet of red cardboard which was a good start.

I then looked around for some Christmas stickers.

Then I stumbled across some cute gift tags and had the idea of just sticking the gift tags on the cardboard - one for each day.

My son suggested we write a special Christmas activity for each day and write a tick box to tick off when each one was completed. I thought this was a great idea.

My two older boys then stuck stickers all over it.


Homeschool Inspiration Today

A Trip To The Melbourne Museum - The Homeschool Experience

Just last week we had the opportunity to travel with my husband for work and spent the week in Melbourne. We visited friends, enjoyed science works and spent nearly a whole day at the Melbourne museum and the surrounding parks and playgrounds. We had a ball!

Here are 2 of my boys building in Mesopotamia!

....and where was my other son?

... over here performing his own puppet show!

My boys spent almost an hour doing these activities. The museum was (clearly) very quiet so they were able to play in the the children's activity museum interruption free.

I sat back, fed the baby, and watched them. I watched them explore. I watched them create.I watched them play. I watched their little brains ticking away..thinking..thinking...and I fell in love with homeschooling all over again!

It was during this time that something fascinating happened. As I watched my boys playing, a group of school children arrived. They were told to line up directly in front of my boys activities. These school c…

Life Lessons From The Philippines - Teaching Compassion & Generosity

I recently shared on MUMmedia about my husband's recent mission trip to the Philippines. Stories, photos and videos of his trip always challenge and inspire us as a family. Last year the lesson was about simplifying our lives but this year I felt it was the importance of teaching my children compassion and generosity.

I shared how a Filipino pastor and friend was given the opportunity to travel to Australia for the first time. As we welcomed him into our home I was overwhelmed when I saw my house through the eyes of someone from the developing world.I noticed things I don't usually notice. I have two fridges in my kitchen. I have a music room and office complete with two computers and three guitars. My children have a play/school room. I have photo frames and ornaments that probably cost more than a Filipino pastor earns in a month. I discussed poverty vs riches and the importance of teaching children compassion and how sometimes these experiences are the wake-up calls we nee…

Story Of The World - Teaching History

After reading the well trained mind I'm inspired! I'm finding myself drawn to a classical style of homeschooling with plenty of time for free-learning and creativity. I love the strong literature focus of the classical style so I decided to follow some of the recommendations which include the grammar workbooks called first language lessons and the introduction of history even for the younger kids.

The history curriculum is called the story of the world. Susan Wise Bauer explains that history is the most absorbing and enthralling story you can tell a young child because it's true!

I ordered volume 1: Ancient times which is designed as a child's first introduction to history. I bought the narrative and the workbook.

We completed the first lesson over two days this week. It was an introduction to the idea of history and activities centered around finding out their own history and the history of our family. teach the kids about their own history we got out their b…

Why Mainstream School Isn't Always The Right Fit - My Story

I went to a lovely private school from prep through to year 12. I loved high school but primary school was a different story.  I'm strong-willed and independent and a little feisty. I think a lot and question things. I also get bored if I'm not challenged and I like to daydream. My personality and temperament did not mesh well with the small conservative Christian school I attended.

Just recently, I had the opportunity to meet with my old primary school principal.

Did he remember me? Oh yes. How could he forget?

As we chatted he said, "I always knew you would be successful. You were just too big for such a conservative school. It wasn't a good fit for you." Another person encouraged me by saying "Isn't amazing how all those weaknesses we saw in you turned out to be strengths?". Beautiful words. But how I wished someone had said that to me at the time.

All I remember from primary school was being labelled a troublemaker, difficult, mischi…

First Day Of Homeschool For DS5

Yesterday was DS5's first official day of homeschooling after he graduated from kindy on Thursday and turned 5 in August.

It was a day that once again confirmed to me and the kids that homeschooling offers us a lifestyle that is just, well, fun!

The morning began with a circkidz workshop. This was organised by the homeschool network. About 25 children met together to engage in different activities like trampolining, trapeze and tightrope. The staff worked beautifully to both encourage and challenge the kids to take risks and develop their physical skills.

DS5 was one of the younger kids but has such a positive attitude. How I wish I could be more like him! He just persists and keeps trying even though he was one of the younger, smaller kids there and some of the tasks were quite challenging.

We went home for lunch then it was back out for some homeschool swimming lessons. This was DS5's very first swimming lesson and once again I was just so proud of him as despite being a l…

Teaching Compassion

I don't really know how you teach compassion. I believe some children in their little personalities and temperaments are more compassionate than others. Toddlers who are highly sensitive seem to grow into more compassionate children and adults. However, it is such an important character trait that it can't be something we just leave us to 'nature' to build (or not) in our children.

Children learn from us
The other day I found out that one of my friends had cancer. I heard the news and in complete devastation burst in to tears. The kids were in the room. My eldest became concerned and asked me why I was crying. I told him that I felt sad that my friend was sick because it would mean life would be really hard for her for a while. He looked at me and said "It's nice you're crying for your friend". I love my kids! 
Similarly, my boys have seen me stop to help someone or talk to someone who might be perceived as a bit um, weird. One of my son's asked m…

A Simple Activity To Keep Toddlers Happy - Matching Bingo

One thing I've found challenging with homeschooling is keeping my just turned 3 year old occupied. He is well aware that he is not doing the same thing as his siblings and will throw a tantrum once he realises. He needs his own work to do and that means I need to be more prepared and organised to make sure that he isn't missing out or feeling a bit neglected.

When I'm disorganised DS2 ends up watching more TV than I'm happy with or pottering around the house getting into mischief. Just last week he indulged in a chocolate milk with the entire can of drinking chocolate while I was busy doing maths with the other boys. There are so many benefits to homeschooling but idle toddlers is most certainly not one of them.

So here is an example of a simple matching game. It's actually teddy bear bingo that I picked up at an op shop a few years ago for about $1. Hooray for op shop bargains!

There are so many ways you can use this game either as a family or as an independent …

Homeschool Inspiration Today

I was recently caught up in a conversation with a young woman who at age 25 admitted that she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. She couldn't hold down a job because she got bored easily and when I asked about study she exclaimed emphatically "I could NEVER got to University - it would be too hard!".

During the conversation I uncovered that the house she lived in had been bought for her by her parents at the tender age of 18 to supposedly encourage her to develop some independence. Her car had also been bought for her by her parents. Her mother came around once a week to clean for her and do her washing and she admitted that she never bothered to learn how to cook because she would often just go back home for meals.

After this conversation I realised what was holding this beautiful young girl back from finding not just a job, but a purpose for her life. She had never been taught how to do anything for herself.

Clearly her mother wanted to provide her…

The Power Of Words

I'm not the most patient of people. I have a short fuse. I'm easily frustrated.

So, what does God challenge me to do? Homeschool of course!

I always knew that this part of my temperament would be a struggle for me throughout my life. In fact, I actually remember hearing my first sermon by my school principal when I was four years old. It was about the power of the tongue and I remember him saying "Tara. Listen. This is the most important lesson you will ever learn".

Oh, was he right!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18: 21
Just this week I was stressed out. Big time. My baby wasn't sleeping and I was getting around 3 hours of broken sleep a night. My husband travels for work so he wasn't around to help and I felt overwhelmed by all the things I had to do. I had friends popping out babies left right and center and wanted time to make them some meals as well as visit them and then there's a …

Answering Questions With The Wonderwall

My boys ask lots of questions.

Here's one from the weekend.

DS6: What are windscreens made out of?
MUM: A type of glass I think.
DS6: Who makes the glass?
MUM: Um, the people in the car factory.
DS6: What is glass made from?
MUM: mmmm.....great question. I'm not sure (meaning I have absolutely NO idea!).

I have to be honest and say I don't always know the answers to my kid's questions. I also sometimes raise my eyebrows at the seeming randomness of when these questions pop out. A question about the moon now? In the middle of piano practice? Really? How...

A friend of mine who is a great source of wisdom (and also a school teacher) suggested we create a "wonderwall" which can be anything from a blank piece of paper stuck on a wall to a fancy laminated poster. For us, we had one of those big chalkboard wall stickers which we turned into DS6's wonderwall.

So, what is a wonderwall?
It's a place for DS6 to write questions that we need to find out answers…

Inspiration Today

I love this. Stop and consider it. We have such a powerful role as parents. It's easy to get distracted by the unimportant and the mundane. This is an encouraging reminder why we homeschool.

I know I can't protect my children from the world forever. I homeschool so I have time to prepare them by teaching them values, helping them feel comfortable in their own skin and to help them embrace their uniqueness. I want them to be strong and secure so that when they do go out into the world they are ready!

Spontaneous Creativity - Natural Learning With Snakes & Ladders

Today DS6 decided he wanted to make a snakes and ladders game after being inspired by our morning maths activity. It was completely his idea. We didn't have any large cardboard so he improvised by sticky taping A4 bits of paper together.
He spent nearly 2 hours making this game and his goal was to make it to 1000. He made it to 740 before running out of room. God forbid anyone land on that snake at 739!

I loved watching his spontaneous creativity. I love that he thought of the idea himself. I love that when presented with an obstacle (no cardboard) that he had to think of a solution. I also love that he gathered his siblings once he had finished to join together to play his creation.

As I watched I found it interesting that he persisted for nearly 2 hours until he finished his project. There is no way in the world we could do 'formal schoolwork' for 2 hours without a meltdown. It was like he had the motivation and desire to see his task to completion because he had a vi…

Who Loves Lego? Homeschoolers do!

We love lego in our homeschooling household!

This creation took two of my boys over an hour to construct. I'm not entirely sure what it is but hey, it looks great!

Lego is a brilliant teaching tool whether it be megabloks (as pictured), duplo, lego or any other imitation lego brand. It teaches skills that overlap every curriculum area and can be used in hundreds of different ways.

Here are some of the ways we use lego with our kids aged 0 - 6.

Lego for maths
Sorting & classifying (e.g colour, shape, size)Measurement (e.g line up or stack different sized blocks, measure & record results)Words such as length, width, tall, short, wide,  PatterningCounting and ordering (e.g groups to find the largest group)Addition and Subtraction I also discovered these lego worksheets for simple addition and subtraction.

Lego for creativity & art With normal lego bricks the creative possibilities are endlessCreativity and allowing creative expression is ALWAYS educational Add some lego figu…

Learning With Football Cards

I'm not entirely sure how my boys ended up collecting AFL football cards.  I think my husband had something to do with it. Surprisingly it has proven a valuable (albeit expensive) learning opportunity.

So, here is our experience with football cards and how we've used them.

Football cards as motivation & reward
In order to receive a packet of cards my boys had to earn them. This was either through extra challenging chores around the home or by displaying consistent good behavior in a particular area. Because the boys were really excited about their collections it wasn't hard to motivate them to work hard to receive their reward! Of course these tasks were additional to their normal chores and household responsibilities.

Football cards for organisation
Any type of card collection is good for teaching organisation. The cards can be grouped into categories, teams, themes, type of cards and organised and re-organised in different ways. I can't count how many times I'…

Teaching Kids Aboriginal History - Telling Our Own Stories to honour theirs

Upon her arrival in Australia as an immigrant 60 years ago my grandma's husband and other new migrants worked together to build a series of homes for their families. This beautiful, large home with elaborate features was designed and constructed by a community of people helping one another.

The best part was the backyard overflowing with fruit trees and patches of flowers and exotic plants that sprawled across half an acre. I used to spend hours exploring and picking fruits and vegetables with my grandma, playing hide and seek and watching goldfish in the pond. There was also a sun room that overlooked the garden and I spent hours as a child and teenager reflecting, daydreaming and being inspired by God's creation.

It was one of my favourite places in the world. 

It was a place I felt safe, valued, loved and cherished. I never believed that this home, this garden, this important piece of my childhood and my family would ever disappear. I imagined one day that I would live there w…

Teaching Small Children About Australian Aboriginal History

In order to know where we are going  we need to know where we've been  Roy C. Owens
Our first day in Alice Springs, Northern Territory was spent at the telegraph station museum and reserve. It is the original site of the first European settlement in Alice Springs. It is also the place of the 'spring' that gave the place its name. It operated as a telegraph station for 60 years before becoming a school for Aboriginal children. This is a nice way of saying a place where they put half-caste children when they took them away from their parents.

I felt quite overwhelmed at how sketchy my knowledge is of Australian history especially chatting with one of our close friends (a local) who has been living and working with Indigenous people for over 15 years. Just one conversation with him makes me feel like an ignorant fool!

It was an exciting realisation that as a homeschooler I have the power to teach my kids Australian history in the way that I feel is necessary. 

I won't be teac…

Accepting Our Child's Uniqueness

I love this.

It reminds me of the importance of recognising our children's uniqueness. It is meaningless to compare them to one another and meaningless to expect of them something that is not who they are. Our children will continue to surprise, amaze, irritate and disappoint us but we must always accept them for who they are - not wish (even secretly) they were more like someone else.

The only person they are supposed to be is themselves and our role as parents is to make sure they know this!

Sequential Spelling - it works for us!

DS6 has a excellent visual memory. He went from phonics to chapter books within six months in his kindy year. Once he sees a word - he can re-call it. He doesn't need repetition which is why mainstream school was often boring for him. I felt that learning to spell may happen just as quickly as learning to read and didn't want to waste time with explanations and excercises that were unnecessary. I also didn't want to spend a lot of money if they were only going to be used for a short time.
Learning to spell...........
I thought his ability to read would mean that spelling would also be a breeze. I was wrong.
Ever since DS6 could hold a crayon he has been writing stories. I never had the heart to discourage his eagerness by correcting his handwriting or spelling. Unfortunately, this is where he developed some bad habits. He continues to spell some words phonetically like he did when he was younger and now these incorrectly spelt words are firmly established in his visual mem…