Friday, December 26, 2014

Year 2 - A Look At Our Homeschool

DS7 will be in year 2 this year. He has always been advanced so this may not look like your average year 2 curriculum. This is why homeschooling is awesome for him as he gets to work at his own pace and no one teases him because he can do freaky things with numbers in his head!

When homeschooling gifted children they become less defined by academic ability and more by character which is so important. We knew the day he got offered a scholarship to a prestigious school  that if he grew up in that environment that he would learn to define himself by his academic ability not who he was as a person. We chose homeschooling because we want more for our kids than just academic achievement - we want them to grow up to be people of integrity, compassion and empathy for others and with a strong sense of who they are and why they are here on this planet!


DS7's reading list.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid series 
  • Zac Power series
  • Abeka books
  • Pilgrims progress
  • The chronicles of Narnia

+ anything else that peaks his interest during the year.

We will use Writing with ease for writing as DS7 LOVES copywork. 

First language lessons also works well with this boy so we will continue.

Printing Power

We will continue with handwriting without tears for handwriting and also we will introduce keyboard power touch typing too.

All About Spelling Level 3

We will continue with All about Spelling  2 and 3 this year.


I use the same Singapore maths level for both boys so this year we will aim to complete 4A and 4B with some reinforcement on Skwirk and studyladder.

The Arts

DS7 wil continue weekly piano lessons which are one hour group lessons at the Yamaha school of his music. This year, I will also give him a 'private lessons' and help him to prepare to sit his first AMEB exam. We will also work on music theory and music appreciation. 


We plan to spend lots of time at the zoo this year as we explore this science text! We will also do some hands on science experiments and explore any interests that arise during the year.


We are going on a 4 week Northern Territory adventure mid year! What better way to learn all about Australia!

We will visit Uluru, remote aboriginal communities, Alice Springs, Kakadu national park and finish up in Darwin. We will be travelling with friends who are experts in Australia history and Aboriginal culture so they will be able to help us along the way!

Australian History

In light of our travels we will also take another look at Australian history. A while ago I shared about my passion for teaching kids the truth about our Australian history with posts about "Telling our own stories to honour theirs" and "Teaching small children about Aboriginal history". 

Now, my children are older we are going to learn more!

We will use the DVD series: First Australians and First Footprints

These series contain adult content so best to watch them yourselves to decide whether you feel they are appropriate or not for younger viewers. I would also suggest watching it with them to answer any questions. 

Physical Education

DS7 will continue with Aussie hoops (intro to basketball) and auskick this year. He will also continue with weekly tennis lessons and we may consider trying cricket for the first time at the end of the year.

My parents have a swimming pool which we use a lot during the year too.

So...this is the snapshot of what "year 2" will look like for DS7. It is an absolute joy homeschooling this child who is just so persistent and diligent when it comes to learning.

I will inevitably follow his interests this year to add more exciting learning opportunities for him in 2015. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Year 4 - A Look At Our Homeschool

Because I like a sticky beak into what other homeschoolers are doing with kids who are a similar age to my own, I thought I'd do this post for any other sticky beaks out there!

My nearly 9 year old will be in year 4 in 2015. His strong-willed, independent and highly innovative nature means he isn't the 'sit compliantly and complete your worksheet' kinda kid. This is exactly why homeschooling is such a great fit for him. He still has tasks to complete and persistence to develop but has plenty of time to explore his own interests and express his creativity. 


DS9 is an avid reader. At the end of last year he decided he wanted to read The Hobbit. We managed to find a copy in two parts to make it less of an ordeal. As a follow on he wants to read the Lord of the rings trilogy. Certainly not my cup of tea but if he can read it and comprehend it, then hats off to him! 

In 2014 we read the chronicles of Narnia as a family read-aloud. We LOVED it. I want to continue this year with an in depth look into the Christian allegory.


We use DS9's reading interests to spark creative writing and grammar lessons in an organic way. He is keen to enter writing competitions so we will encourage that as we find some through the year. In fact, this is one way to get him motivated to correct his grammar! 

We will also continue to use sequential spelling. 

We will also start a keyboard touch typing course and possibly cursive through HWT

The Arts

DS9 will continue his weekly piano lessons where has an hour group lesson and half hour private lesson at Yamaha school of music. He will be preparing to sit his first AMEB exam mid year!

I will continue to teach him trumpet and music theory and appreciation.


We will aim to get through level 4A and 4B of Singapore maths this year! 


We will supplement this exploring creation zoology course with lots of trips to the zoo!


We are going on a 4 week Northern Territory adventure mid year! What better way to learn all about Australia!

We will be visiting Uluru, remote aboriginal communities, Kakadu national park and finish up our adventure in Darwin. We will be travelling with friends who are experts in Australian history and Aboriginal culture so they will be able to help us along the way! 


In light of our travels we will also take a look at Australian history. A while ago I shared about my passion for teaching kids the truth about our Australian history with posts about "telling our own stories to honor theirs." and "teaching small children about Aboriginal history". 

Now, my children are older we are going to learn more.

We will use these DVD series: First Australians series and First footprints .

 These come with a warning that they contain adult content so best to watch them yourselves alone to decide if you feel they are appropriate or not. I would also suggest watching it with them to talk through some of the difficult questions.

Physical Education

DS9 will continue playing district basketball which includes training once a week. He will also continue weekly tennis coaching and play his first season of competitive tennis at the end of the year. 

We will continue to use Skwirk and Studyladder online for reinforcement across all curriculum areas.


this is a snapshot of what our year will look like with plenty of excursions, group activities, holidays and events thrown in along the way! There is also the amazing flexibility of homeschooling to follow my kids who knows what else we will explore and discover in 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why I Chose Skwirk For Homeschooling

Over the years we've used a few different online learning resources but I'm particularly excited about trying something NEW for 2015.

Skwirk has had a make-over and quite frankly, it's awesome. There is nothing quite like it around at the moment and it has some great functions that work well with homeschooling. It provides animation based lessons for younger ones as well as great options for independent learning for older kids all the way up to year 10.

As an educational tool it is aligned with the Australian curriculum so if that's important to you, or you just like to occasionally see where your kids sit in relation to their peers (like I do) this is a good thing.

The subjects it includes are maths, English, science, geography and history.

My plan was to use this for my 5 year old who is 'technically' in his first year of school next year. However, once I learnt all the features of the program I'm thinking it will be a great resource for encouraging some independent learning for my older boys who are nearly 9 and 7.

And here's why.....

You can use the new teacher tool and set lessons even to the detail of date and time. But they aren't just set lessons. You can add YouTube clips or other videos and images making it a more exciting and complete lesson. It also gives YOU control over the lesson as you can add to the information, change it around, cut and paste and highlight important bits. You can also print out or set worksheets if you so desire and even create your own quiz to test knowledge of the topic. I feel this element of control over the information presented makes it appealing for us homeschoolers as one of the benefits of homeschooling is flexibility.

The way that we use online resources in our homeschool is as a supplement to our lessons. I also use it for one child while I work with another. However, this new Skwirk opens up a whole new way to use these resources. You can set lessons for each child for them to complete each. You can also keep online records of their progress to show your local friendly homeschool inspector (that's what we call him) when he pops by.

If you are looking for something new for 2015 or hunting for an online learning tool that is different to the other online programs out there then Skwirk is worth a look.

So, what's the deal?

The price per year is usually $350 per family they are offering 50% discount for homeschoolers. Just click on this link - 50% off deal 
and use the code: mummedia

There is also a homeschool tutorial available for more info!

Disclaimer: I recieved a subscription to Skwirk in exchange for this review.  As with all reviews, I only share my true and honest opinion. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Learning To Relax - A Day In Our Homeschool!

At the beginning of this year I sensed the need to relax in my homeschooling approach.

I felt that less structure and more freedom would result in a more positive experience for us all.  I can hear the more experienced homeschoolers saying, "I told you so!".

The two areas that are important to us as a homeschooling family are:

  • Freedom to explore interests, be creative and LOVE learning

  • To develop self-discipline and ability to persist with difficult, unpleasant tasks to prepare them for life

Initially, we trialled a very relaxed approach. But I found that although they were abounding in creativity they weren't being persistent and were giving up on tasks easily. It made me realise that in order to prepare them for the future e.g possible University life and work that they needed to learn self-discipline. 

In order to be successful the ability to be both consistent and persistent are important. So persisting through difficult maths questions or getting frustrated with spelling words is actually okay - it's character building. But you don't want your child in tears all morning every morning. It's all about BALANCE. 

We certainly haven't found the perfect formula but in response to the emails I receive, here is an overview of what a day 'might' look like in our homeschooling family as I learn to relax.


5:30am Wake up. Yes, really. The early bird catches the worm! 

7:00am Breakfast and excited chatter about the koala we saw yesterday at the national park. We decide to learn more about Koalas and other Australian animals. I show the boys a photo of a 'creature' I spotted while walking through the sand dunes near our house last night. We are going to find out what it is! 

DS7 asks me to teach him to play 'clocks' by coldplay on the piano. We listen to a few different versions on YouTube and then I help him learn how to play it in the right hand. He practices until he can play it perfectly. The song is well and truly stuck in my head.

7:30am The house is quiet. DS7 decides to do a robot craft kit he won at kid's club.

 DS8 decides to make a giant board game he designed himself....dressed as storm trooper of course!

DS5 starts with some reading eggs on the ipad (note the cracked screen!) and then follows by some magic piano (that's a cool app I recommend).

This continues until about 9am. Once the fighting starts I know it's time for some structure. I tell the boys to get dressed as it's time for some work.

After a busy weekend I have loads of laundry to do so we continue our DVD series on "families of the world" that we picked up from the local library. They are learning about Vietnam today!

It is now 10am - morning tea time! Green smoothies are on the menu!

After morning tea we sit down and begin our devotion. We are using the Apologia "Who is God?" series. It teaches Christian worldview and we love it. It does an amazing job of not just teaching Christian values but explaining other worldviews. It's great for kids who are deep thinkers and like to question everything! 

10:40 It's maths time! We are using Singapore maths 3A for both boys (this is a great time saver!) and while I'm working with DS8, DS7 experiments with cuisenaire rods. 

It's now 11:30am and DS8 is on studyladder on the computer doing set lessons. He loves study ladder and DS5 has asked if he can do some reading with me. We sit on the couch while does a few readers and we read together until lunch at 12pm.

After lunch the boys play music games on the ipad which help them in their learning to read music. They take it in turns until 1pm when it's time to take DD2 to an appointment at the hospital.

While at the hospital, DS8 goes to the starlight room where they do games and crafts and video games. DS7 and DS5 go to the creche where they play dress ups and do craft activities.

When the appointment is over we all leave and stop off at the library to return some VERY overdue books and get some new ones. DS8 decides on an animal theme and we go home with giant animal encyclopedias. At home, he dives into them looking for koalas and the mystery 'creature' I saw last night.

After dinner the boys all help me water our garden. We are growing veggies and herbs and we 'think' the strawberry plant might start to produce some fruit soon which leads to a discussion on how plants grow. 

The boys read quietly for 30 minutes before lights out at 7:30pm.

So, there is a snapshot of what a 'relaxed' day in our homeschool might look like! I have no doubt any more that my kids are learning ALL the time and that as long as I provide them with opportunities they will continue to grow and thrive...even on those relaxed days! ;) 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's HARD to "Train up a child in the way he should go.."

The other morning my day began in tears, my tears. I awoke to the sound of high pitched squeals, aggressive voices and unkind words. Like most parents, I don't like when my children fight. I'm not a morning person at the best of times but that day, I lost it. I lost my marbles, my cool, my common decency.. I was overwhelmed. See, justified or not, I take misbehavior personally. I see my own inadequacies and failings when I observe undesirable behavior in my own children.

I don't expect perfection and misbehavior is always an opportunity for character development but I take the task of raising children very seriously. Why? Because I know that my children are a gift from God and that he has given me the task of 'training' them. As long as I rely on him, he gives me the strength to rise to the challenge but I have to keep my eyes fixed on him and remember why he has given my children in the first place.

God's design for parents = Training

"Do not exasperate your children; Instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" Ephesians 6:4 (Italics mine)

During that horrible morning this was the verse I stumbled upon. Did nagging count as exasperating? If so, I was pretty darn good at exasperating those children.  But I didn't linger on that thought as my eyes focused on the word "training".

"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it" Proverbs 22:6

What is the purpose of training?

- Obedience (obedience to parents teaches children how to be obedient to God)

- Protection (to make good life choices, know the difference between truth and lies, good and evil)
- Equipping and preparing for a task (preparing them for God's purpose for their life)

But then I began to wonder exactly what task was I training my children for? For life in a general sense? For a job? For being a husband or wife? For ministry? Or all of the above. How could I train my children well, if I didn't know exactly what it was that the bible was asking me to train them for. It's one thing to know we are supposed to 'train' our children but another to know how to do it and what we are doing it for.

Homeschooling provides an amazing opportunity for this biblical model of 'training' 

In our culture, we often focus on schooling as equipping children for life with the goal of a 'career'. We make a job or occupation the ultimate goal and definition of success. The origins of mainstream schooling were to create workers for industrialism and even today, children spend 13 years 'training' for  this goal.

As Christian parents, it's important to understand that mainstream education is a secular construct as it's singular purpose was (is) to equip students to do a 'job' in society. Therefore, school doesn't take the place of  parental responsibility to "train a child in the way he should go" and yet, many of us delegate that responsibility based on our own assumptions and beliefs about education.

A great example is bullying policies in schools - they all have them. It is easy for parents to assume this means that children are being taught character values but they are confused with behavior management. It is one thing to discipline a child for bullying behavior but another to teach them a value system that equips them to choose NOT to bully in any given situation. Schools do not deal with character development- it's not their job - it's ours!

It's hard to train our children. It is. But thankfully if we have faith in Jesus, we know we are not tackling the task alone - we have a helper, a strength to help us persist through the challenges in the name of the 'bigger picture'.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why I Keep Homeschooling.....

benefits of homeschooling

When I first withdrew my eldest from mainstream school (in year 1) I told everyone that we would just 'see how we go' and trial it for one term. 

It has now been over 2 years since we began our homeschooling journey!  

It has quite honestly been the best decision I have ever made for my children and I believe that wholeheartedly. 

This is why I can't go back.

I don't want to say that I will 'never' send my children back to mainstream school because no one know what the future holds. But the longer I homeschool, the more convicted I become of its importance and value for both our family and the wider community. The benefits of homeschooling are not only academic but emotional, spiritual and social. 

  •  I LOVE having my kids at home. 

Christian homeschooling Australia

I didn't have children to delegate that responsibility to a complete stranger once they turned 5. I believe God has entrusted my children to me and it is my responsibility to ensure they are nurtured, prepared and equipped for the life he has planned for them. 

But, how will they learn to cope in the real world you ask? Because they are actually living! In the absence of formal schooling my children are actually living the in the real world now. They go to the shops, to appointments, to friends and families homes, they clean, they cook and they work and play. The transition to tertiary study and work will be a smooth transition compared to the transition one makes from 13 years of institutionalised learning into the real world. 

2. My children are thriving

Happy, confident kids are what all parents hope for. 

Home is a place of safety and security and an ideal foundation for building self-esteem and confidence in who you are. There is plenty of time to be in uncomfortable, confronting environments when kids get older. When they are older they will have already established a strong sense of who they are and their value system as well as the resilience to confidently tackle life's challenges. 

I take great joy in seeing my children happy and seeing them secure in who they are. I love seeing my older ones care for the younger ones, learning that family comes first and sticking up for their brother or sister in playground disputes! 

3. My children are excelling academically

Christian homeschooling Australia

In our competitive, success-oriented culture where we push our children to breaking point (have you seen the mental health statistics for children lately?) this seems to be the most asked question. How do we make sure our homeschooled children are on parr with their school age peers? 

Initially, this was my number one concern with homeschooling too. Now, what is more important to me is building my kids character and ensuring they are equipped with the right attitude and value system to live a life that contributes meaningfully to the world. I'm not raising them to impress others with their test scores but to be people of character and integrity that understand they are here on earth to use their gifts and abilities to give to the world and those around them.

Like most homeschoolers, my kids are way ahead (in years) compared to their same aged peers. But this isn't a competition and I take little joy in this. I'm proud of what my children have achieved academically but I know that they are not defined by academic success the way they would be in the school system. In our home, what's most important is that they work as part of a team, treat each other with love and respect and have plenty of opportunities for character development (cough, discipline). 

4. My kids are WEIRD

My 4yo holds the door open for people ALL the time. He will wait if he sees you coming to ensure that he can do that for you even if he doesn't know you. People either comment and think that's awesome or they simply walk through the open door with eyebrows raised. It's certainly not normal 4 year old behavior.

My children know that manners are important and they say please and thank you to adults. They are aware of others and will often say 'sorry' if they bump into you accidentally. If you drop something and they see, they will pick it up for you. If they see a child who is hurt at the playground then they will go over to see if that child is okay and they don't push in on lines! I know this isn't unusual for many of you but I know that for these reasons, my kids do stand out from other kids.

Yep, they are 'weird' and I couldn't be prouder!

And so, our homeschooling journey continues..........

Thursday, February 6, 2014

When Your 8 Year Old Wants To Be An Entrepreneur.....

I first heard about Camp Kidpreneur from a fellow homeschooler. It sounded like the perfect experience for my 8yo who has always been interested in shops and sales and has been running a store out of his bedroom for the past 6 months. Admittedly, running a business is in his genes, but certainly not from me!

2 years ago we held a garage sale so the kids could earn some money toward our Gold Coast holiday. DS8 organised can's of cool drinks and chocolates for the people browsing our stuff. Clearly, they couldn't resist his charm and he made more money from selling the drinks and chocolates than from his toys! It was the first time I'd observed a keen interest in the 'idea' of business. He took great joy in adding up his earnings and subtracting his expenses. I began to see that his interest came from within and since we had recently taken the plunge into homeschooling we were now blessed with the time and freedom to support this developing passion and watch it grow.

Club Kidpreneur is a not-for-profit social enterprise seeking to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in children on a national level.

Creativity and innovation are two of the benefits of homeschooling and the philosophy of Club Kidpreneur is exactly that - to inspire creativity and innovation in the next generation.

DS8 absolutely loved his experience attending the 4 day camp held in the school holidays and selling his merchandise at the market day (above). He even won an award for his innovative idea to sell gaming characters made from Lego that he had designed himself. He made a whopping $120 profit from his market stall and it really instilled in him the confidence to continue. It also made me realise that it is my responsibility as a homeschooling mum to continue to grow and nurture his interest in being an entrepreneur as best I can.

If you child has any interest in running a business I highly recommend checking out their website and resources or attending the camps they run in school holidays.

For DS8, this is only the beginning and I'm excited about where this interest will take him!

business for kids

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Morning Boards and Routine

When we have homeschool days we use a flexible routine. So, here is an example of what mornings look like in our family.

Our morning routine

My children are early risers, often before 6am, so I do allow an hour or so of TV in the morning. I am not a morning person and find that without the TV I wake up to fighting, destruction and mess which sets a terrible tone for the rest of the day.

Once I am up the TV goes off and my children eat breakfast and I make myself a coffee. My children know that NOTHING happens before mummy has had her morning coffee and some quiet time.

If the kids are playing something that looks productive then I allow them to continue respecting that children of all ages learn through play and I don't want to interrupt this process! This means that although we aim to start homeschool at 8:00am we are flexible and often won't begin until 9:00am (but generally no later).

I give my kids the 'warning' that it is 10 minutes until homeschool time and they are to begin their morning chores. These chores are simple and involve getting dressed, making their bed and doing a quick tidy of their bedrooms.

It is then time for their morning charts.

morning routine homeschool

This is the morning chart for my 4 year old.

When I do his morning chart we being with some songs.

Days of the week song 
(tune of the Addams family theme song)

Day's of the week (click click) Day's of the week (click click)
There's Sunday and there's Monday,
There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday,
There's Thursday and there's Friday
and then there's Saturday...
Days of the week (click click)

 Months of the year song
(tune of 10 little Indian boys)

January, February, March and April
May, June, July and August
September, October, November and December
12 months makes one year

I then tell him what the day of the week is and ask him to find the day that begins with "F" etc.

homeschool routine

This is the morning board for my 6yo. All he has to do is write the number / day on the calendar and write the day of the week and the date. I also put a memory verse or challenging words for him to recite each morning.

Every now and then I will get him to recite the "months of the year" poem.

30 days has September, April, June and November
All the rest have 31 except for February alone
Which has 4 and 24 'til leap year gives it one day more

For my 8yo we have moved away from the morning board to the calendar notebook.

homeschool morning routine

This takes a little longer to do each morning but crosses over lots of curriculum areas. So far, DS8 is enjoying it!

Once these are completed which usually takes less than 10 minutes we are ready to begin our homeschooling day!

See more homeschool morning boards and routines.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

First Day Of Homeschool 2014

It's a new year!

If you're thinking, wow it's only January 8th - are you crazy? let me fill you in. We homeschool all year round. This doesn't mean we homeschool every day of the year. It simply means we don't take long breaks so we can afford to take little breaks during the year for holidays, special occasions, my work commitments or even just a mental health day (week). I have a full on work schedule for term 1 so the next few weeks are a homeschooling intensive to account for the fact life will be a little hectic for 11 weeks or so. The good news however, is that I have made a big decision about my work / homeschool / life balance or lack thereof and will be working MUCH less from term 2 onwards. It is such a relief just writing that!

So here are my little cherubs (?).

I can't believe he's in year 3 this year!

This boy is an absolute JOY to homeschool!

DS4 will actually be going to 2 days of sessional kindergarten this year. The older boys went and the particular kindergarten he will attend is beautiful with amazingly dedicated and talented staff.  DS4 begged to go and after wrestling with the idea we decided he would enjoy it and it would mean that for those days I could focus on the big boys.

For anyone who is interested here is our list of curriculum for 2014.

Car-schooling with Jonathon Park Audio Adventures

  I once asked a seasoned homeschooler how she managed to fit so many activities and events around 'schoolwork'. She told ...