Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Day Out In The Adelaide Hills - Gumeracha

Last week we went for a scenic drive in the Adelaide hills to a little town called Gumeracha.

This is one of my favourite drives as the scenery is just so beautiful - but if you're driving try not to take too much notice as the roads are very windy.

We visited the big rocking horse which you can enter and climb to the top. Hubby took the three boys who all climbed right to the top - even my three year old had a go! 

There is also a small wildlife sanctuary that you can enter for FREE! You have the option to buy some 'feed' for the animals. We spent just under an hour in there meeting the kangaroos, peacocks, chickens, alpacas, goats, sheeps, ducks and talking cockatoos!

The boys loved it!

Although DS7 wasn't too sure about the alpaca!

We then had a look around the toy shop and the boys loved 'peeking in' and seeing the carpenters making the toys out of wood. Most of the toys stocked at this toy shop are made on site and they also stock other local produce like honey and jam! There is also a cafe' there to stop for a snack or some lunch.

Not only is this a fantastic day out for a homeschooling (or any!) family it is also super cheap. It's only a gold coin donation to climb the rocking house and the animal sanctuary is free and the food to feed the animals is $3.50 per bag. My boys shared a bag so it didn't cost us much at all.

A trip to the big rocking horse at Gumeracha can be a great frugal day out if you can resist buying from the toy shop and cafe' that is! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Maths With The "Life Of Fred"

I first heard about the Life Of Fred on the Rockpool Homeschool Forum. It was suggested to other homeschoolers as a math resource for kids who found maths boring or were difficult to engage.

We use Singapore maths as our maths curriculum.Singapore maths is a complete curriculum and we love it. My boys have maths brains and I want to make sure they continue enjoying it so I try to make maths as fun and engaging as possible. We have loads of maths manipulatives and games but I wanted to find something that got them thinking about maths in a 'real' way.

So I decided to buy the first book in the Life Of Fred series to see what is was like.

The Life Of Fred is a maths curriculum that is written like a chapter book with pictures. Each chapter contains a story about Fred with some maths lessons thrown in. It concludes with some practical application where you read out a series of questions and kids write the answers in a blank notebook. Each chapter builds on the knowledge from the previous chapter.

But, what level to start on?

This is a curriculum much like All about spelling where regardless of where children are at - you start at the beginning. The first book in the series is Apples. Although the first few chapters are very basic for my boys who are doing Singapore maths 2B, it gets them 'thinking' about maths in a different way and so far they haven't complained that it's 'easy'.

Even my 3yo is happy to sit and listen to the stories which are only a few pages long. 

I wouldn't use the Life Of Fred as a stand alone curriculum but I think it's a great supplement and so far we are enjoying it! 

In Australia you can buy the Life Of Fred from Adnil Press.

Disclaimer: I did this review because I wanted to!  
I did not receive any products in exchange for this review!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Finding Your Homeschooling Style

When I first looked into homeschooling I was confused by 'styles'. What did they mean style? Wasn't homeschooling just well, homeschooling? When we were considering home education as an option, mentally I found the fact there wasn't a "This is exactly how you do this" guide to be a challenge. It was difficult to know where to start and easy to be anxious that I was going to get it wrong!

Now, I realise this is one of the benefits of homeschooling. We don't have to teach our children the same way and we certainly don't have to replicate the mainstream school environment at home.

Most homeschoolers teach children essentially the same things but in a way that flows from individual value systems, family life and children's learning styles. 

We often follow our children's lead. What difference does it make if a child learns about the butterfly life cycle when they are 4 or 10? As long as they learn this at some point in their education - why enforce it at a particular time? It is so much more fulfilling for the child when they make discoveries about things they are actually interested in and developmentally ready to absorb. Apparently this way of looking at education has a name - it's called delight-directed learning.

Each homeschooling family is unique and the way or 'style' they homeschool is different. Some families are highly structured while others are fairly relaxed. Some families spent lots of time at home doing lessons while others spend more time out and about engaging in activities and outings.

Initially, I found myself drawn to a classical style of homeschooling because we enjoy bookwork and literature. I love sitting down and teaching my children but we don't like doing that ALL the time. I'm also drawn to natural learning. I am continually amazed at what my boys create spontaneously when given the space and freedom to explore their own ideas. I blogged about the day DS7 decided he wanted to make a snakes and ladders game and spent a whole day playing with cardboard boxes. Currently, as I type my boys are outside dressed in superhero costumes writing secret code in sidewalk chalk.

So really, our 'style' probably fits in to the eclectic category - a bit of this and a bit of that because it works for our family. 

 We spend most mornings doing more formal work but in a fun and engaging way. We include lots of games, manipulative's, different curriculum, books, online resources and ipad apps. Our formal work isn't just boring worksheets as many would envision. Our afternoons are the time for more natural learning where I will (sometimes) provide them with an idea or something, like sidewalk chalk, and encourage them to explore. Computers and TV are limited in this time so they are encouraged to 'use their brains' as I tell them. Most of the time they do this outdoors but sometimes it involves laying on the couch with a good book!

Sometimes I get paranoid that we are not doing enough. Our local friendly homeschool inspector (well, that's what I call him) has always been impressed with what we do but I still doubt myself at times because a complete manual for homeschoolers doesn't exist. But that is the beauty of home education.

One thing I am learning about 'learning' is that not all learning is measurable...and it doesn't have to be. 

So when it comes to finding your homeschooling style I don't think we should stress about it or compare ourselves to other homeschoolers as we are all as unique and different as our children! 

If you are interested in learning more about homeschool 'style's' then I recommend visiting Homeschool Australia's to learn more.

Do you have a homeschooling style? How did you find your style?