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How is homeschooling going? Does the school send you stuff? Will your kids have to repeat a year? Are you doing school of the air? Aren’t you worried that your kids will be behind when you get back?
Some of the questions we get asked daily.
We didn’t know what to think when we were heading into the meeting with the school principal to let her know of our plans… what hoops would we have to jump through? Even though we now knew that so many families are educating their kids on the road, there was still the doubt as to whether or not we’d even be approved?
It was safe to say that we were pretty relieved when the principal told us, “go, have a great time, your kids will learn way more travelling Australia then they ever would here.”
That was before we even told her we’d written up a draft curriculum!
So what does homeschool look like for us?
Well, after we got a copy of the Australian Curriculum to make sure we’re aiming for the right milestones…
Deep down we thought that if we didn’t have a focus for each day, we’d end up doing more of what Chloe (and we) loved, and less in other areas. To avoid falling behind, we worked with Chloe to help her choose a theme for each day. These were:
Mathletics Mondays. To start the week we complete pages from her maths workbook (or workbooks if we don’t happen to catch sneaking in some extra!), and also our Bank of Mum of Dad. An excel spreadsheet that her pocket money is ‘deposited’ into each week, withdrawals are made, and she learns about compound interest each week. WARNING: Don’t be like Daddy. Don’t set 1% per month just because it sounds easier, it’ll send you broke.
Tumbling Tuesdays. A physical education focus day, where we try to develop gross motor skills. That’s a fancy way of saying we love doing cartwheels, handstands, yoga, and hiking just as much as Chloe and Elliot. Also, this means that hopefully Chloe won’t fall behind too much when she returns to her beloved calisthenics.
EDIT: We’ve since come to the conclusion that we love doing this so much, it’s an everyday thing! It’s now been replaced with Choosing Tuesday, where we learn about topics of Chloe’s and Elliot’s choice. Our planet and the solar system have blowing their cute little minds!
Rhyming Wednesdays. English spelling, grammar, poetry, and reading comprehension focus day. There’s not just poetry on this day, but ironically couldn’t think of anything else that rhymed with Wednesday.
Thinking Thursday. Our language focus day. We mainly use this day for written practice of the Indonesia we’re practicing in the car, but also Duolingo practice on maintaining here Year 1 Japanese.
Frying Friday. We cook, mostly trying something new each week, starting out with easier recipes. Rather than focus just on the end result, we use each recipe as an opportunity to learn a new skill in the kitchen so that it can be applied in future/harder cooking sessions. Here’s Chloe’s Kids Cooking Corner
So how long are these sessions?
Well, we’ve found that on most days this is all done and dusted by the time the first bell would have rang at School. It’s amazing at how much one-on-one focussed attention brings out in learning… sometimes we actually have to slow down.
USING OUR TRAVELS AS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
Trips to Questacon, zoos, museums in each town, science centres, art galleries… the list goes on (many are either free or cheaper than school tuition if you get memberships).
Whenever we go to a place of interest, we set Chloe (and Elliot) units of enquiry. This typically consists of 3-5 questions that need to be answered.
A great example of this is the Naracoorte Caves, where questions needed to be answered such as what is the difference between a stalactite vs. stalagmite, what are the caves made of, why are there sea shells in the wall, etc.
An unexpected benefit of this approach is confidence building – when tour guides don’t initially provide the answers, the kids are prompted to ask them.
Some attractions do this work for you! A big thank you to the Canberra Mint and also the Marine Discovery Centre in Eden, NSW. These places give children a workbook on entry to answer questions. Both have written them in a way that makes them age appropriate for anyone from a first grader to a grown adult (we learned stuff doing the books ourselves!). These two places are somewhere I’d put on the ‘must visit’ list if you’re homeschooling, or your remotely interested in your kids’ education!
Keeping a daily journal at first involved Chloe writing two sentences then wanting to run off to play. A more guided approach was needed. Some ideas off Pinterest and Nat was putting her artistic skills to work.
Now Chloe’s daily recount template is looking like it’s going to be a great way of capturing memories, and the entries also form the basis for our spelling and grammar lessons.
These are all stuck in a scrap book alongside the pamphlets, tickets, recipes, and units of enquiry for the day.
Our first is finished, with some of our favourite entries here on Facebook
Homeschool update! Keeping a daily journal at first involved Chloe writing two sentences then wanting to run off to play…
DAILY LIFE IS THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY
Being aware of kids’ education, and realising it’s something that is ‘on us now’, has opened our eyes up to the everyday learning opportunities available. Some of the daily things we do include:
* Money – encouraging our kids to order meals, pay for items, counting change, etc
* Speed, Time, & Distance – when in the car working through “how long before we’re there yet”
* Languages – the car is our favourite place for us learning Indonesian as a family
* Google and YouTube – supervised use of the internet is invaluable. When random questions are asked
For Mr I’ve-Just-Turned-Four, some little things that have helped are:
* Days of the Week – sung to the tune of ‘The Adams Family’ intro. It’s now Elliot’s job to keep track of what day it is for us!
* Months of the Year – sung to the tune of ‘Ten Little Indians’
* Number Recognition – clock-watching in the car (this is a ‘3’, when you see the ‘3’ again it’s snack time)
OfficeWorks (and occasionally Aldi) have some great workbooks – activities for the kids which are age/school level appropriate.
What about Master Four?
Elliot isn’t yet in pre-school… the moment we downloaded Reading Eggs he fell in love! We were blown away at how engaging it is for little ones. We have to put a time limit on his daily use. He loves it that much, and it’s great to know that he’s learning a bit more using this than watching product unwrapping videos on YouTube!
Are we still worried about our children’s’ academic future?
We’re worried that they’ll be bored out of their brains when they return to a real classroom.
If you have any other ideas we’d love to hear them in the comments below?
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