Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Benefits Of Homeschooling Series - Part 2 - Natural Socialisation

homeschool social skills
Say what?  Socialisation is a benefit of homeschooling? Aren't all homeschoolers weird and unsocialized?

Since homeschooling, I've discovered the home education community is very diverse and yes, there are children who display some unsavoury, unsocialized behavior at times - mine included - but you find children like this everywhere.

Yes, even in schools.

Sometimes parents are motivated to homeschool because their child struggles socially in mainstream school. Perhaps they are different, with a learning disability or giftedness or perhaps they are extremely introverted and shy. So, you may find that some parents homeschool BECAUSE their child is socially awkward.

It is not that homeschooling causes social awkwardness but moreso, that homeschooling becomes a solution when a child's self-esteem is threatened by an experience in a negative social environment (school).

wierd unsocialised homeschoolers

In order to answer this question we must look at why we believe mainstream school is either the ONLY way to successfully socialize a child or the OPTIMAL way to socialize a child.

Most of us have never thought to question whether mainstream school is right for our child. We assume it is because that's what everyone else does and what our parents did. Similarly, we don't stop to question whether school is an optimal social environment for our children - we just assume it is because that's what we've been taught to believe. It isn't until we consider some of the social concerns we see frequently in the media that we begin to wonder whether the 'socialisation' that happens in schools is really all it's cracked up to be.

Is it possible that homeschooled children recieve a better lesson in socialisation because their social skills are able to develop naturally? I believe so. If we remove rivalry, cliques, teasing, bullying, gang and pack behavior and remember that studies suggest homeschooled children have a stronger sense of self-esteem and self-worth than their mainstream peers, then it seems that it's actually the homeschooled children who come out in front.

But, aren't homeschooled kids home all day by themselves?

homeschooled children

Homeschooled children participate in lots of activities. They not only participate in the usual after school sport and music activities they also have access to special events and outings on a daily or weekly basis (depending on where they live) with a network of other homeschoolers. Homeschooled children are not isolated and most parents provide them with lots of opportunity to socialize with other children and adults each day. And when it comes to learning, sometimes some quiet alone time is beneficial as I discovered observing my own children and school children at the Melbourne Museum recently.

Homeschooling prepares kids for socialising in the real world...

I don't know about you, but I have friends of  lots of different ages. In fact, if I really think about it most of my friends are about 10 years older than myself!

Homeschooled children get to socialize with children of varying ages. They can choose friends based on mutual interests rather than age. This provides a much more natural way to socialize and prepare kids for the real world. In life, we have to learn how to get along with people much older AND younger than ourselves. As adults, we also choose friends based on values and what we have in common - not what year they were born.

So despite what the critics may say, I believe one of the many benefits of homeschooling is natural socialisation!

Read about the other benefit of homeschooling - Freedom!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Benefits Of Homeschooling Series - Part 1 - Freedom

We are relatively new to the home education or homeschooling world. This series on why we LOVE homeschooling is inspired by all the questions I get asked about why we homeschool When people ask I usually reply with a different answer depending on what benefit of homeschooling I am enjoying most at that time. I also normally choose an answer that the person asking will understand or relate to in some way.

I LOVE homeschooling!

In fact, I sometimes feel I have discovered some sort of amazing secret that most people don't know about......and it is so liberating! 

 Homeschooling = Freedom from the rush of daily life

Homeschooling affords us freedom from the rush of daily life. Although our days are (mostly) structured and sometimes busy we don't feel tied down. We are doing life on our own terms. I hate to admit it as some of my friends honestly believe I started homeschooling for this reason but I LOVE not doing the school run! I love that when I'm up all night with the baby that I can sleep in an extra half an hour. I love that when the weather is warm (like it is today) that I can take them to the beach. I LOVE that my kids get to be free from the pressures of modern life (this includes mainstream school) just that little bit longer.

Recently we traveled with my husband (and his work) and went to Melbourne for the week. We spent the week visiting friends, at different museums, in the hotel pool and reading in our room. We didn't do any 'sit down' work but I have no doubt that they learnt heaps! Homeschooling means freedom.

Homeschooling = Freedom from comparisons and expectations

My boys are very bright. In fact, they are intellectually gifted. I only share this so you understand that this makes our homeschooling experience a little unique. School was a challenging environment partly because my boys were aware they were 'different' and in mainstream school no-one wants to be different. They were very aware of parents and teachers making comparisons and then placing unrealistic expectations upon them because of their giftedness e.g just because you are a five year old that can do third grade maths it doesn't mean that emotionally or even socially you are also a nine year old.

Homeschooling means that whether our children are slightly behind or above the 'average' they can be set free from comparisons and expectations and work at their own pace.

Homeschooling = Freedom for kids to be themselves

When we first began considering homechooling I found this article that literally, made me cry. It was all about why homeschooled kids are so annoying. It inspired me.

"When “annoying” kids like this go to a traditional school, they’re ridiculed.  They have a hard, or even impossible, time finding their niche.  They must either hide their true personality and inclinations in order to be accepted or they’re pushed to the fringes and made to feel abnormal.  Not good enough.  Made to feel less likable than those who keep their ideas and opinions to themselves or fail to form any to begin with.  Made to feel that convictions and fascinations are stupid and that pop culture is the only culture....

Homeschooled kids are not ridiculed into being someone that God didn't intend them to be..."

- Dwija Borobia

Mainstream school is a world in itself and often times, not a very nice one. Children learn from a very young age that it is important to deny themselves to 'go with the flow'. It is no wonder that it is often not until early adulthood that children begin to discover themselves and who they are. I believe children who are homeschooled 'know' and 'discover' themselves much earlier because they are free to be who they are. I also believe homeschooled children generally, have a stronger sense of self-worth than other children.

Homeschooling = Freedom to follow passions and interests

DS7 is an excellent little basketball player. At the age of 5, he woke up and said he wanted to be a professional basketball player and then spent the entire day (no exaggeration) outside bouncing a ball and shooting hoops. Now, he is old enough to join a team and he continues to practice daily on his own accord. Clearly, he loves it. Homeschooling means he can spend more time doing what he loves and also means he has more time to devote to an area that he is both interested and gifted in.

Ah, freedom. It's like a breath of fresh air.  

What other 'freedoms' have you discovered through homeschooling?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Desert Park Discovery Center - Alice Springs

Desert Park Alice Springs

When planning our Northern Territory adventure we were told that Desert Park was the the must-see destination for homeschoolers.

Upon arrival each child is given a set of headphones with a device so that they can find out more about each area by entering the corresponding number. This is a bit of fun for the older kids who can figure out how to use it and are willing to listen to the explanations.

homeschool exursions

Get your walking shoes on.....

You need your walking shoes on as there's a lot of walking through beautiful natural bush land.

Desert Park Alice Springs

The path leads you around to different habitats unique to the Northern Territory including dessert rivers, ranges and gorges, sand country and woodlands along with information about how Aboriginal people lived off the land. I found that the most interesting realising just how intimately Aboriginal people knew the land and survived for centuries in such a dry climate.

Desert Park Alice Springs

Go see the live show.....  

It also has a center where you can view nocturnal animals and an area where they do a show that includes some adorable echidnas and native birds. My boys LOVED the show and sat quietly the whole time.

Desert Park Alice Springs

We spent about 4 hours at the park but could have spent a whole day if we had only taken the older kids. The little ones struggled to keep up as it involved lots of walking. The paths are pram friendly which I wish I had known beforehand. It's also important to note that it is easy to lose children if they wander off and take the wrong path - which we found out the hard way!

Desert Park Alice Springs

It was a great afternoon and so peaceful and relaxing walking through natural bushland. The kids learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed their time at Desert Park.

So, if you are in the Northern Territory or planning a trip to Alice Springs as a homeschooling family then I would definitely recommend Desert Park!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back To Homeschool 2013

homeschooling boys

It was back to homeschool for 2013 for my boys yesterday. 

This year I have a child in year 2, a son in reception and a three-year old (and of course, the baby). 

One of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to work to our own schedule. I do a bit of contract work during school terms so homeschooling during holiday times means we (I) can get a few weeks of pure homeschooling without juggling work committments.

We began the day with our new homeschool daily planner. The boys were really keen to see their new morning boards which I had prepared. I even introduced a morning board for DS3 which is really simple as I made the decision to begin including him in our morning routine the best I can.

The day went relatively smoothly except for meltdowns during music. Sadly, I've realised that I am not the best person to teach my children music. I am many things and one is a musician and I am really passionate about seeing them succeed in this area as they are naturally very musical. I think I put too much pressure on them so after discussions with my husband I decided to hand over the general music practice for a while as it is has become a little um, unpleasant. But at least we figured this out on day 1!

homeschooled children

The official homeschool part of the day ended with a trip to the library and some quiet reading. We are taking it easy this week but it's a great feeling to be back in to homeschool for a new year!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Curriculum Planning For Our 2013 Homeschool

The Christmas break has been an awesome opportunity for me to rest and reflect on what we want to achieve as a homeschool this year. I admit that I love planning for a new year and a few weeks ago I completed our homeschool daily planner for 2013.

So, now I thought I would list the curriculum we are planning to use for Term 1 and beyond.

Devotion / Bible Study - 10 days of character studies 

Confessions of a homeschooler is one of my favorite non-Australian blogs. It is beautifully written and she offers great insight, tips, curriculum reviews and also free material such as the character study  What I love about this character study is that it's ready to go and includes memory verses (which I print and laminate) as well as cute little apples to stick on the wall for each character trait which include patience, self-control, diligence,  honesty etc.

Maths - Singapore Maths


I am a huge fan of Singapore maths. My boys both really love maths which I want to nurture as I always struggled with maths in school. Each lesson in this curriculum begins with suggesting games and activities using manipulatives (I'm addicted to maths manipulatives) and then scripts a whole lesson with reinforcement from an easy to read text book and workbook.

I also source maths games from k-3 teaching resources and enchanted learning and I also use the targeting maths CDroms for when I work individually with one child. I am actively looking for some supplements to what we are doing for review.

NEW - We are introducing studyladder this year!

Grammar - First Language Lessons For The Well-Trained Mind

 I love this. These are super quick, simple lessons that build on knowledge each time. There is a lot of repetition but we often skip this.

Spelling - We will continue with sequential spelling until we decide on an alternative.

Handwriting - Handwriting Without Tears

This is another curriculum we love! Handwriting is not my boys, um, strength. I purchased the first 3 complete sets of these books secondhand from another homeschooler. We also have HWOT app for the Ipad.  These are easy, quick lessons and so far there have been absolutely no tears!

Phonics - Reading Eggs Online

DS5 will continue using reading eggs and some sight words. He seems to be doing well with his reading so we don't feel any need at this stage for a phonics curriculum. We also have phonics fundamentals which we use an occasional supplement.

Writing - NEW writeshop

I am super excited about starting this curriculum and will let you know how it goes!

History - Story Of The World

homeschool history

We began this curriculum last year and although a little heavy at times for DS5 and DS7 I like the fact that it utilises a read-aloud. I found it a little boring at times (did I really just say that?) so wavered in my motivation with this one. It is quite challenging also and I found myself getting frustrated that the kids couldn't remember key elements until I realised, neither could I!

Science - Considering God's creation

 This is NEW - I will let you know how this one goes!

Music - Composer Study

This is also NEW.

So, here is a basic outline of what we will be doing for this homeschooling year. Of course, it is subject to change if something doesn't work out or the kids needs evolve but this is the plan. Flexibility is just one of the many benefits of homeschooling. We also have a few other bits and pieces we use as well as Ipad apps. If you are interested in finding out what those are please comment below and I will let you know.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Modern Homeschool Today On Facebook

I find facebook a much easier way to follow the blogs I like. So, if you're anything like me you may prefer to follow or 'like' our facebook page to stay connected with updates. My vision for this facebook page is not to reinvent the wheel (there are lot's of excellent Australia homeschool community pages out there) but to focus on personal stories, blogs and experiences from other homeschooling parents in Australia.

Are you a blogger? 

If you are Australian and have your own blog, you are welcome to share your posts on this facebook page and link to your own site.

So, click to 'like' and receive updates without filling up your inbox!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Homeschool Daily Planner 2013

homeschooling planning

In light of my recent post about planning for a new homeschool year, I have put together a homeschool daily planner for 2013. Now, don't freak out It looks rigid but it is really just a guide to make sure all the important elements are included each day. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility e.g if maths is going awesome we may go longer and explore their questions or if my children are having a melt-down then we cut it short and do something else. 

This planner is really the 'bare bones' and allows the kids to have a basic outline of what happens when. 

The more detailed lesson planning comes later. 


Term 1 – 12 weeks

8:45 – 9:00             Morning Charts / Chores

9:00 – 9:15             Devotion / Bible Study

9:15 – 10:00            Maths

10 :00 – 10:30         Brain Break / Healthy Snack

10:30 – 11:00          Literacy Block – Handwriting / Grammar / Spelling

11:00 – 11:30          Reading - alternate readers / independent reading

1:30 – 12:30           (Alternate) History, Science, Composer study, Writeshop, craft  activities and independent inquiry or projects of interest.

12:30 – 1:00           Lunch

1:00 – 2:00             Trumpet / Piano / General Music practice

2:00 – 3:00             P.E ( on non-activity days) Outdoor Play

3:00 +                     FREE TIME 
                               This include computers / ipad / games / TV or activities (basketball, tennis, playdates, swimming etc..)

(On days where we have a structured activity in the afternoon free time begins at 2pm).

Previously we didn't break for school holidays as we would just take a day or two off a week instead. I've realised during our recent holiday that we ALL need a break to refresh ourselves and this is really important. It also means that each term we can make necessary changes to our homeschool daily planner and structure.

The other change we've made is making music practice after lunch. My boys are excellent musicians and although a lot of music happens spontaneously they do have set weekly tasks that their music teachers want them to complete and they often need my help. I also enjoy doing extra theory and music games with them and like to include DS3 as well. Originally we would try and do music practice around 4pm but it didn't seem to work as no-one, including me, felt motivated to get back into 'homeschool mode'.

And lastly, the other change is making outdoor play part of our daily planner. Previously, we would finish at lunch time and then the begging and whining about wanting to play games on the ipad or watch TV would begin. I felt I was spending most of the afternoon getting frustrated and arguing with them. Now, it's simple. After 3pm, you are free to do what you like!

This homeschool daily planner is not set in stone. Another benefit of homeschooling is that I can change it whenever it's not working as I learn new ways of planning our days better.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Learning About Reptiles - Alice Springs Reptile Center

Alice Springs reptile center

While travelling in the Northern Territory we visited the Alice Springs Reptile Center.

DS1 told me we HAD to see a crocodile while we were in the Northern Territory because otherwise the trip would be pointless! So, off we went. It was a fantastic opportunity for the boys to see and learn more about reptiles. It inspired many questions and opportunities for discussion as they were able to not only see snakes and lizards but also touch them.

Alice Springs reptile center

The reptile show was a good introduction to the world of reptiles and the kids were given the opportunity to hold a snake.

It's not a large center so we took our time reading the information provided then finished our morning by visiting what we had all been waiting for - Terry the crocodile.

Alice springs reptile center
The reptile center has an underground viewing area so you can see the crocodile up close and personal. It was fascinating. We stood for quite a while as he (she?) slowly moved through the water watching us very intently. Crocodiles are just so interesting!

Following our trip we did some google research about crocodiles and DS1 put together his own book on crocodile facts. It was great that it inspired him to find out more which we did once we got home - just one of the benefits of homeschooling!