Homeschool – Week One (and a bit)

Oh, blog!  How I have missed you!

I have been homeschooling Matilda for a week now, and, while I’m sure we are still in our honeymoon period, it has been rather blissful.  My darling girl seems so much more relaxed these days, like a weight has been lifted from her small shoulders.  Annie and Harry have been easy to manage as well, and happy to potter about during school time.  We’ve had a few minor disasters, like Annie consuming an entire tub of butter and finding Matilda’s precious fruit-scented highlighters and doing this to Matilda’s Maths book:

scribbles on maths book

but this is no more than usual.  Matilda shrugged when she saw Annie’s handiwork and said philosophically, “At least it smells nice now!”.  Harry stuck blu-tack up his nose last week too, but that happened outside of school hours so it doesn’t count.

Lunch tends to be a relaxed affair.  We work really hard in the morning to get everything done, with a little break at 10 for morning tea.  Matilda loves to set up picnics for her brother and sister.

piccnic basket

Twenty minutes worth of peace for me to eat my own lunch was an unexpected bonus of this scheme…
picnic

For the first week, I’ve been sticking to the core curriculum (Maths, English and Inquiry Unit) and keeping it simple and achievable.  I’ve also done some assessment to work out what areas I’ll need to focus on most.  I keep a PDF of the Grade Four curriculum standards in my phone and I take sneaky peeks of it at times to make sure I’m keeping on track.  As we get more settled, I’ll introduce Art and Music, Religious Education, Japanese and Phys Ed, plus maybe some additional Science and Technology (some will be covered in the Inquiry Unit).

Which brings me to the most important thing: our Inquiry Unit for this term involves Matilda setting up her very own blog!  It’s connected to my account, I hold the password and will have to manually approve all of the comments before Matilda sees them, so I think I’ve covered my bases as far as cyber-safety goes.  Matilda’s much more motivated to write for me when there is a distinct purpose and real audience to write for.  I can’t imagine she would put the effort in if it were just a report for me to correct.

Matilda's First Post

Here is the link:

http://matildasgapyear.wordpress.com

Matilda’s very happy to adopt the pseudonym I assigned her in my blog, Roald Dahl’s Matilda is one of her favourite books, after all.  If you get the chance, pop over there and leave an encouraging word or a ‘like’.  Comments give her such pure glee (so, she’s just like the rest of us, I guess)

So, all in all, it’s been pretty smooth sailing this past week.  Yesterday, Tilly was tired and reluctant to do her Maths.  I gotta admit, it was deathly boring stuff.  But inspiration struck and I pulled out the toy abacus and we did the problems that way.  Later, when Matilda was suffering from brain fog when trying to write a plan for her next blog post, I showed her a trick.    She wrote out any ideas she wanted to include as dot points in random order, then we got out the scissors and cut out strips with a dot point on each.  We shuffled the strips until we got them into an order that made sense, then stuck them back on the page.  Plan done.  Magic!

But, for all my boasting, it’s been keeping me humble as well.  When the Student Wellbeing Teacher from Christopher Robin’s school asked Matilda what she had been doing at school, Matilda shrugged and said “nothing much!”.  And when Matilda’s nanna asked what Harry and Annie do while school is on, Matilda announced “they just watch TV!” (OK, so they watch Play School while we do Maths, but they’ve always watched Play School in the morning.  It won’t kill them…)

I’m still learning, so if any of you know of any handy blogs or online resources I should check out, please let me know!

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28 thoughts on “Homeschool – Week One (and a bit)

  1. verbosevictoria

    I actually get a lot of inspiration from general searches on Pinterest. 🙂 But then, I don’t use a curriculum. I don’t use one because we aren’t required to go at anyone’s speed but our own, so we get to wander around the subjects we like best and everything sort of weaves itself together naturally.
    It’s tougher than it sounds because I have to be on my toes, on the lookout for where the spark of curiosity can be fanned into flame. We like it. It fits us. 🙂

    I will say, every single homeschooling family I’ve ever talked to, read about, or heard of struggles with feeling like they don’t do enough. That is normal. But fight it. It is the voice of doubt and has no place in your family! What you do, you do out of love. I find it helps to talk with my husband about our reasons and goals in homeschooling, write them all down, and read through them when I feel low.

    Keep feeling out your rhythm. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families who do it. :)And try to find a good support group, even if it’s just online. I’d be crazy without my Facebook “Christian Unschoolers” group.

    Reply
    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      I keep meaning to look at Pinterest, I’ve heard there’s a lot of good stuff here. I know I need to get over my sheer *earnestness* about the whole thing. I keep feeling like I have to convince the world that I’ve got it covered, I’m coping, I have a spectacular curriculum, nothing to see here, people! I’m looking forward to meeting with a local homeschool group and touching base with some homeschool families I know. I hadn’t thought about online groups, but I’m going to check that out now that you mention it! Thank you so much for your supportive comment!

      Reply
  2. Amanda Martin (writermummy)

    Well done you! I can’t believe you’re managing it with little ones at home. I had little man home sick yesterday and he watched about eight hours of Cbeebies on the iPad while I did the food shop, fixed a flat tyre and wrote 200 words in a coffee shop. But he can identify a lemon shark (Octonauts) knows what a hyena looks like (Tinga Tinga Tales) and knows not to be selfish (64 Zoo Lane). That’s more than he would have learned bashing his friends with a truck at preschool! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Anna Eastland

    Hi Katie,
    Lovely post. I think you might like this blog by a homeschooling mom of four with calm faith and a good sense of humour:
    http://capturingthecharmedlife.wordpress.com
    My five year old asked me tonight after a busy weekend, “Can we do more homeschooling soon?” She loves the abacus, too. Smarties or chocolate chips also make math more fun! 😉
    I’m lucky in that my little ones also toddle off to play during the morning homeschool, but also watch a show or two. Don’t worry; doing the homeschooling is a positive gift for them, too. My 3 1/2 year old has learned lots just overhearing us and has started to ask for her own school supplies!
    All the best!
    Anna

    Reply
    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      We have to cover a “Language Other Than English”. I chose Japanese because my brother speaks it, after living in Japan for two years and Matilda’s godmother speaks Japanese too. My brother has a girlfriend in Japan, whom we will meet for the first time in May. It would be nice if Matilda could say a few phrases to welcome her when she arrives!

      Reply
  4. Vanessa Lee Thomas

    Great post! Sounds like you have a lot of ground to cover so bon chance! I have been home schooling my 5YO daughter for 3 months now. There are moments of euphoria and moments fraught with frustration but we are enjoying the learning journey.

    Reply
  5. daisyraytheclown

    I love your idea of a break for tea! My kids love tea and think it’s such a treat to make their own cup, but usually remember they want some right before bed. Thanks for the new idea for motivating them to finish their work in a timely manner!

    Reply
  6. mathairfiona

    That all sounds great! I like a healthy dose of mayhem in my day 🙂 I have been really active over at Ambleside Online and your description of your homeschool day does not sound unusual at all. I’m so excited for you and Matilda. I’m headed over to her blog to give her some words of encouragement.

    Reply
  7. Brad

    Check out Learnist Kate, the blog at http://www.teachthought.com has plenty of interesting stuff like “40ipad apps for homeschooled students.” It might be more for high school and college, and you’ll have to search the archives because he’s writing more about work now, but Cal Newport’s Study Hacks is fantastic. And if you ever need any help with philosophy give me a yell.

    Reply
  8. krispin87

    I have heard some great things about Khan Academy too. I have’t looked into it myself yet, as my son is only at the registration stage and we aren’t working with a curriculum at the moment, but there are other homeschooling parents who use Khan.

    Reply
  9. emilyofoldmoon

    You’re an inspiration sister!! Is so lovely to hear that Tilly has been more relaxed! Her shoulders are too small for any of that kind of weight yet…but, we three sisters have all experienced that type of weight in our day, so she is not alone!

    Reply
    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Thank you sister! Are you still at the cafe? I was sooo jealous when I saw that picture! You made your niece’s week with the comments you left on her blog. I’m pretty sure she snorted hot chocolate up her nose. We plan to upload another post today, so stay tuned!

      Reply
  10. kw06ka

    How wonderful to read all these positive and encouraging comments from around the world, isn’t it good that you can all learn from each other. Your post was wonderful Kate, I look forward to reading them. You are such a good mother, which is evidenced by how much your children care for and love each other.

    Reply
  11. Sheila

    Glad it’s going well! And I love the idea of a blog for writing class. Too bad they didn’t exist back when we home-schooled! It’s easy to see why kids would be more motivated to write that way.

    Reply
  12. Amy @ Love and Be Loved

    Bravo, Kate! Love your enthusiasm and your honesty. We’ve had so many snow days off school in Ohio that I’ve actually done a spot of homeschooling myself. Been able to see the pros and cons much more clearly than before ;). All the best to you in the adventure!

    Reply
  13. Nicole

    Hi Kate! TES is a great teacher resource website. If you are looking for more play and experience based learning, check out Kathy Walker- she writes and presented about a play and inquiry based curriculum. Just brilliant! Just a handy hint- Maths is always received best when hands on to begin with 🙂 Or active! Estimation for elapsed time- have a running race and estimate how long you will take, and compare against real time! Do it again to see if you get better at it 🙂 Buy a plastic cock and draw all over it in whiteboard marker- fabulous for telling the time 🙂 If you are brushing up on writing procedures- next time Tilly does something super fun, get her to write how she did it 🙂
    Best of luck for it all!!!!!!

    Reply
    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Thank you sooo much, Nicole! I’ve heard of Kathy Walker, I should look her up. I’m aiming for an inquiry-based curriculum, but I do need to brush up a little to remind myself of what that should look like! I’m very much into hands-on maths as well. Erm…what is it you’d like for me to draw on with whiteboard marker? I’m very immature, but this gave me such a good laugh!

      Reply
      1. Nicole Beaton

        hahaha oh dear! A plastic CLOCK. Glad I made you laugh!!

        Inquiry based is great, it can take you so far!! At my school, we start with a play/immersion day into a topic we ‘sparked’ and develop observations and wonderings from here. These then form the basis for our teaching and exploration content (particularly the reading side of things) and brings in contextual maths.

        For example, last year we were inspired by Monet, and went to the gallery to see the artwork. From here, we had an immersion day where the children could construct, paint, draw, write, act out, sin about… generally be inspired by Monet to create! Each Home Group then produced wonderings, leading us to planning and making gardens (length, area, perimeter, volume, capacity, spacial awareness, architectural drawing, birds eye view visualisation, planning…) to eventually learning about ecosystems and food webs, then finally investigating recycling and sustainable living which included emailing (anonymously) different worldwide companies trying to persuade them to pledge to use sustainable palm oil and label it in their products. We helped too, as the zoo announced that Nestle have agreed! Find something that Tilly really loves and it can take you anywhere 😀

        Reply
  14. aneasyworld

    I love the idea of your daughter writing a blog, and I’ve just checked it out and it’s incredible. What a brilliant way to get her writing for an audience and with real purpose. Very inspiring.

    Reply

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