Thursday, December 31, 2009

Summer Holidays

WHEN do you take school holidays?

Well, it depends really. This year our plan is to have three months of holidays - January, June and December.


January Mama Bear is trying to get the house up to scratch and planning all the school work for the year plus we have a big church camp to go to as well. June, we are having a new baby and we are taking a bit of time to get into the groove before hitting the books again and December is all about Christmas Prep and cleaning.


Well, so far our holidays seem to be about me looking around wishing someone would do the housework, Princess Doc digging through the shelves to find anything that remotely looks like school work so she can do it and the younger ones bubbling along much as usual! Oh, I did take some time out to read a real grown up NOVEL or two as well. Princess Doc is not a fan of holidays and is champing at the bit to get back into school work but this is HOMEschool and the HOME part is probably why we need to take holidays most. A few weeks where we can give everything a good scrub and evaluate the direction we are taking gives clarity. Plus, I think Mama Bear deserves a few weeks hibernation, don't you?

What do holidays look like at your house?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The forteen days of homeschool (sung to the tune of the twelve days of Christmas)

On the first day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Can you homeschool legally?"

On the second day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the third day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the fourth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the fifth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "YOU ARE SO STRANGE! What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the sixth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "How long will you homeschool, YOU ARE S0 STRANGE, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the seventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Look at what they're missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, do you homeschool legally?"

On the eighth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Why do you do this, look at what they're missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE! what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, do you homeschool legally?"

On the ninth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "They'll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they're missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, do you homeschool legally?"

On the tenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "What about graduation, they'll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the eleventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "I could never do that, what about graduation, they'll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they're missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE! what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the twelfth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Can they go to college, I could never do that, what about graduation, they'll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they're missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialised, can you homeschool legally?"

On the thirteenth day of homeschool I thoughtfully replied: "They can go to college, yes you can do this, they can have graduation, we don't like the prom, we do it 'cos we like it, they are missing nothing, we'll homeschool forever, WE ARE NOT STRANGE!, We give them P.E., and we give them tests, they are socialised, AND WE HOMESCHOOL LEGALLY!"

On the fourteenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "How can I get started, why didn't you tell me, where do I buy curriculum, when is the next conference, WILL PEOPLE THINK WE'RE STRANGE? I think we can do this, if you will help us, we'll join a sports team, and we'll homeschool legally."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Decorating for Christmas

We finish up "school" by December 1 so we can focus on getting ready for Christmas.

Things we do to get ready for Christmas include:

* Getting the house in order - some people spring clean, we summer clean!

* Preparing cards and gifts - we usually try to have this done by the last week of November, this year I'm settling for the second week of December!

* Creating a Jessie Tree - this year we are doing a reading each day and colouring a picture to stick up on the wall. I have strung up tinsel in the shape of a Christmas tree and we're filling it in as we go through the readings. We are really enjoying reminding ourselves of the "old" stories and placing the nativity in context! I use some resources that I found here

* We have fun! During this time I try and arrange cooking together, playing games, watching movies, reading books, going on walks and all those things that we love to do and normally only squeak in once or twice a week if we're lucky.

Our most recent addition to our celebrations is our gratitude chain.

We make a paper chain the usual way (step by step instructions here if you haven't done it before) except on each strip of paper we write and/or draw a blessing we have received this year. The blessings are many and varied - from answered prayer, to elephants; from safety and health to grass; from financial security to lollies! We will be adding to our chain as we prepare for Christmas with an attitude of gratitude.

God Bless you this Christmas Season!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The final step...

in a journey through our day.

What do you do after you go outside again?

Well, there are all the normal end of day with several small children activities such as baths, chores, meals, brushing teeth etc. I will leave all that to your imagination! Our final thing that I feel is a part of our schooling is family worship and scripture review. Princess Doc also on occasion stays up a little later to read a book to Papa Bear. Each time she reads a book from her reader set through to him, she gets a stamp in the back of it. When a set of ten are stamped she earns a "girls night". Last girls night we watched Little Women, drank Rosehip Tea, ate popcorn and lollies and I did her hair in rags. It is a highlight of both our lives! But I digress, mostly we have family worship and scripture review.


Family worship gives the kids a chance to worship with Papa Bear. They get to see that singing and praying are not just things that Mums and kids do, Dads do it too.

Worshiping as a family is an incredibly powerful thing. Both for us as a family and for those we pray for.

Reviewing scripture that the kids have memorised is vital for keeping it in their minds and on their hearts. I do not want the scripture they have memorised to be simply a quick challenge of memory, then put away and forgotten. I want it to be a part of them.


Our evening worship is very simple. After everyone is ready for bed, we choose a couple of songs, sing together and then each pray in turn. The kids kiss Dad goodnight one at a time then I tuck them in. As I tuck them in I say one of their memory verses to them and they repeat it after me. Sometimes they like to show off what they know and say it without my help, but the memory side is not the biggest issue at this point in the day. I want them to go to sleep with a verse of scripture in their heart and sometimes I will use the verse to launch a short conversation with them about a spiritual truth. Their memory verses are written on circles of coloured paper which are stuck together in the shape of caterpillars around the top of their bedroom wall so nobody has to display a feat of memory at that time of night, not even Mum! The verse is chosen by me at random or for a specific purpose. For example, if that specific child has been struggling with a challenge, we may say Philippians 4:13 to encourage him or her. When we have said the scripture I pray a blessing over them and then they say a prayer (on their own or after me depending on capabilities) and we finish with a kiss goodnight and a cuddle. Even if we have had a bad day, or perhaps ESPECIALLY if we have had a bad day, this is a really important and special time for each of the kids and a time they and I treasure. It takes time and effort and sometimes energy I don't think I have at that end of the day but it is always worth it.

Why do I class this as school? Because it teaches my children the most fundamental truths that I want to pass on to them in their childhood. Those truths are:

You are intensely loved, both by your parents and by God.

Blessing you is important to me and to God.

Listening to you is important to me and to God

Being near you makes me happy because you are special to me, and God feels the same way.

Worship is an important part of life, and your life goes better when it is filled with worship.

You are a unique individual with unique quirks, challenges and gifts and you are made for a special purpose.

Your family will do its best to help you with the challenges life throws up and God will ALWAYS help with the challenges life throws up.

And I believe that when a child knows these things, right deep in their hearts, that child is truly educated.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What?! No School Today?

6 Answers You Should NEVER Give to the Question "What?! No School Today?"

1. Well normally yes, but this time of year I need help with the planting and plowing.

2. Goodness, no!!! I graduated 18 years ago, but thanks for the compliment!

3. What?! Where did you guys come from?! I thought I told you to stay at school! I'm sorry. This happens all the time. (sigh)

4. There isn't? Why, you'd think we'd see more kids out then, don't you?

5. On our planet we have different methods of education. (Shhh! No, I didn't give it away... keep your antennae down!)

6. Oh my goodness! I thought that today was Saturday...come on kids, hurry!

Anyone got any more to add?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

science - how we do it.

Princess Doc doing her mad scientist impression - her grandmother made her that white coat for her third birthday, I think we need to invest in another one!

I was reading The Gentle Art of Chaos blog and she was talking about science. My comment was getting a tad long, so I headed over here and blogged instead! You see, I love science, it is my favourite subject after Bible and English. I get deliriously excited about experiments and Latin names and tables of elements!! My biggest challenge is to focus myself and not get too carried away - starting to make a volcano on the kitchen table at 5pm is NOT a good idea!

So this is what we plan to do in a nut shell.

Each season (we 'structure' things loosely by season here and take Summer off, works for us) I pick a science topic and a nature topic - our next ones will be Birds and Human Biology with a hygiene and germs focus. During the term we keep our learning journals and do any funky paper things or record keeping in there (a whole post in itself that I will get back to another day). I will also grab a number of books on the topics from the library as well as de-shelving our own books to store in a basket in the lounge room to encourage us to leaf through them. I will often choose a "spine" book to help structure things too.

At the end of the season, we have a week set aside as Science Week where we do any messy or involved crafts or experiments and excursions all at once. So we get the joy and mess but only one week of clean up sessions! I am betting that science week will be one of the highlights of our 'term' and will create strong positive associations with the subject, making the kids FAR more likely to be as excited as their mother about tables of Elements and Latin names!! This structure also means that when I find a brilliant resource, rather than getting carried away and tossing out what we are currently doing or trying to pile it in on top - or putting it aside and loosing it - I can file it away under the year and season we will need it. Then when I get to doing birds, I open my bird file and pretty much all the work is done for me!

Here are our six year rotations:

Science Focus

Year 1
Human body/biology (hygiene, immune systems, skin), Geology, botany

Year 2

Astronomy/space exploration, Human body/biology (skeletal system, teeth, muscular system), Microbiology/magnification

Year 3
Meteorology, Human body/biology (digestive/urinary systems, nutrition), Marine exploration

Year 4

Human body/biology (respiratory and circulatory systems), Technology/engineering, aerodynamics and human flight

Year 5
Human body/biology (nervous system, 5 senses), Astronomy/space exploration, electronics

Year 6
Physics, Human body/biology (endocrine and reproductive systems), chemistry

Don't let the big "science" words scare you! At the age my kids are, Chemistry will be freezing stuff and melting it, combining bicarb soda and vinegar and baking yeast bread. This will give them an idea of how matter and chemical reactions work. They don't have to be charting the molecular structure! We do not have to cover EVERYTHING in that topic because we will get back to it again, eventually! My job is to teach some of the basics and ignite a passion. If I do my job right, they will be spending their free time checking this stuff out themselves.

Some good Science links are:

The Exploration Station
At Home Science
It's a Boy's Life - the science posts
Chemistry Lapbook
Home Chemistry
Candy Experements

Nature Focus

Year 1
Birds, rocks and minerals, wildflowers and insects/invertebrates

Year 2
the skies (astronomy), Mammals, garden flowers and weeds

Year 3
climate and weather. Trees, marine life

Year 4
Reptiles, flowerless plants, birds

Year 5
trees, insects/invertebrates, food plants

Year 6
fish, amphibians and reptiles, mammals/marsupials

The nature rotation is a tweaked version of what they use for the Ambleside Online curriculum. The Handbook Of Nature Study Blog gives some great ideas, but I have needed to tweak and change to make it more relevant for Australia - aside from the fact that I have a compulsive need to tweak and change, it is a sickness I tell you! Downunder Literature has some brilliant spine texts for Australian nature study and we often use the Bush Calender to help inform our nature journalling. For more on how we do nature study take a look at other posts with the tag "nature" but I will get back to that later too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two women met at a playground...

Two women meet at a playground, where their children are swinging and playing ball. The women are sitting on a bench watching. Eventually, they begin to talk.

W1: Hi. My name is Maggie. My kids are the three in red shirts --helps me keep track of them.

W2: (Smiles) I'm Patty. Mine are in the pink and yellow shirts. Do you come here a lot?

W1: Usually two or three times a week, after we go to the library.

W2: Wow! Where do you find the time?

W1: We homeschool, so we do it during the day most of the time.

W2: Some of my neighbors homeschool, but I send my kids to public school.

W1: How do you do it?

W2: It's not easy. I go to all the PTO meetings and work with the kids every day after school and stay real involved.

W1: But what about socialization? Aren't you worried about them being cooped up all day with kids their own ages, never getting the opportunity for natural relationships?

W2: Well, yes. But I work hard to balance that. They have some friends who're homeschooled, and we visit their grandparents almost every month.

W1: Sounds like you're a very dedicated mom. But don't you worry about all the opportunities they're missing out on? I mean they're so isolated from real life -- how will they know what the world is like -- what people do to make a living -- how to get along with all different kinds of people?

W2: Oh, we discussed that at PTO, and we started a fund to bring real people into the classrooms. Last month, we had a policeman and a doctor come in to talk to every class. And next month, we're having a woman from Japan and a man from Kenya come to speak.

W1: Oh, we met a man from Japan in the grocery store the other week, and he got to talking about his childhood in Tokyo. My kids were absolutely fascinated. We invited him to dinner and got to meet his wife and their three children.

W2: That's nice. Hmm. Maybe we should plan some Japanese food for the lunchroom on Multicultural Day.

W1: Maybe your Japanese guest could eat with the children.

W2: Oh, no. She's on a very tight schedule. She has two other schools to visit that day. It's a system wide thing we're doing.

W1: Oh, I'm sorry. Well, maybe you'll meet someone interesting in the grocery store sometime and you'll end up having them over for dinner.

W2: I don't think so. I never talk to people in the store --certainly not people who might not even speak my language. What if that Japanese man hadn't spoken English?

W1: To tell you the truth, I never had time to think about it. Before I even saw him, my six-year-old had asked him what he was going to do with all the oranges he was buying.

W2: Your child talks to strangers?

W1: I was right there with him. He knows that as long as he's with me, he can talk to anyone he wishes.

W2: But you're developing dangerous habits in him. My children never talk to strangers.

W1: Not even when they're with you?

W2: They're never with me, except at home after school. So you see why it's so important for them to understand that talking to strangers is a big no-no.

W1: Yes, I do. But if they were with you, they could get to meet interesting people and still be safe. They'd get a taste of the real world, in real settings. They'd also get a real feel for how to tell when a situation is dangerous or suspicious.

W2: They'll get that in the third and fifth grades in their health courses.

W1: Well, I can tell you're a very caring mom. Let me give you my number--if you ever want to talk, give me call. It was good to meet you.

Author Unknown

Monday, November 16, 2009

The next step...

in a journey through our day.

What do you do after you finish reading aloud?

We take it outside again if it is clear, if not we do cleaning and/or craft inside.

Tool man getting ready to mount the trampoline


Why not?!

Remember, my oldest is FIVE. I could sit them down with lots of structured learning, but I honestly feel that now is not the time. Now is the time to foster a LOVE of learning and discovery and endless flash cards just doesn't do it for any of us.

Research shows that children who achieve academically early on through parental pressure are no better off later in life. In fact, many crash and burn because of the extra pressure.

Princess Doc is a high flier. Today as I was cleaning the kitchen she was leafing through the Bible reading bits out to me. Not a "Children's Bible", a normal, tiny print NIV Bible. She will seek out opportunities to learn from a rich environment WITHOUT me hovering. In fact, by stepping back and watching rather than being overly controlling of her academic exploits I have seen her acheive a far higher level academically than I would have ever thought her capable of. If I had scheduled her every waking moment, she never would have had time to discover she can read "Hop On Pop" all by herself - and I would still have her at basic readers and phonetic flash cards.

You don't have to teach everything NOW, you don't need to push. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was "if you feel that your child NEEDS to learn about something, leave them alone and go and learn about it yourself - they will catch up with you later". When Princess Doc wanted to learn to read I started trying to teach her to write as well. It became stressful for both of us as her fine motor skills just weren't up to this complex task. So I backed off the writing and just taught her to read. Yesterday she wrote out the alphabet song, complete with "now I know my ABC, next time won't you sing with me!" because she wanted to! If I had continued to push her she would hate writing and I would have created an obstacle for both her and me.

There will be time for a more structured academic program later. Next year we will probably have a bit more of a structured approach to our book work, a few more goals, because I have seen indicators that Princess Doc is ready for it and I think she'd thrive on it. Starting her before she was ready would mean that I would have to stand over her every day to get it done. What with the other little bears, I simply don't have time to do that! Plus, I want HER to be able to take ownership and be accountable for her OWN learning.

Children spend the day at school or child care, especially those who have to travel for a half hour plus, are exhausted at the end of the day and by the end of the week they are completely wiped. I don't want my kids to spend their only leisure hours at home, flopped on the couch because they're too tired to do anything else! Children who spend all their time in highly structured environments often lack the ability and drive to show initiative and play and learn on their own. So we allow down time and we encourage free play.

Farm Boy on the trampoline - a vital toy for any family with energetic boys!


We bring in the washing, play games, walk across the road and play at the playground, have afternoon tea. Sometimes we even (horror of horrors!) watch TV! We clean the house together, the kids climb trees or dig in the dirt. We jump on the trampoline, they play imaginary games outside or in their room. We dump out the mega bloks and build. We make use of the dolls, teddies, dress ups, drawing equipment, games, bikes etc. Princess Doc often chooses to visit her school work boxes which are a shelf of shoe boxes filled with activities for her to do (a whole 'nother post there though!). It is hard to describe a "typical" day at this point because there are so many factors that come into play. One thing I do try to maintain though is a clean up time around 4-4:30ish before preparing for tea and bed which is vital for time management, stewardship and life skills learning. I know, I need to get better at it myself!

Princess Doc and the Tool Man caging a wild animal AKA Farm Boy - he was in on the game!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's that time of week again

The Ten Commandments Of Homeschooling

1. I am thy mother. There are three things in this house which art certain: death, chores, and schoolwork.

2. Thou shalt write thy name and all thy other work in thy neatest handwriting or thou will doest thy work over.

3. Remember that thy school days art Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday. On these days, after honoring thy Lord, thou shalt do thy school work and chores before any other activity, or thou will not doest any other activity.

4. Honor thy mother by doing thy chores. Honor thy father by honoring thy mother, so that thy father will want to come home.

5. Thou shalt not kill thy brother nor sister, nor cause any harm to them either by word or deed.

6. Thou shalt not commit plagiarism.

7. Thou shalt not steal from any answer key nor another person's work.

8. Thou shalt not bear false information on a test due to lack of study.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy younger brother's easier school work nor thy older brother's privileges.

10. Thou shalt not cause thy mother to yell at thou loud enough to be heard by thy neighbor's wife.)

(Author Unknown)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The next step...

in a journey through our day.

Just as a side note, my apologies for not being a more regular poster! It is spring, fine weather has struck after three months of RAIN and I am trying to find my garden!

What do you do after you finish go outside?

We have lunch and read aloud

Princess Doc "reading" as an 18 month old


If you don't know why you should read to your children, try it for a week!

Here are a few reasons why I do.

I LOVE reading, I LOVE my kids. If I do this, I get to combine two passions of my heart and call it a "educationally enriched experience". Plus I get to read Muddle Headed Wombat, The Hundred and One Dalmatians AND Possum Magic!

I get to instill a love of reading through sharing a positive experience (otherwise known as "a cuddle") AND a book with my kids.

The kids get exposed to language on a greater scale than they do through "ordinary" conversation.

We create opportunity to discuss Life, The Universe and Everything (no, I don't read Douglas Adams to them yet!) through talking about the books - for example reading about Ping leads to finding China in an atlas, reading about Blinky Bill leads to finding a book about Koalas and reading about Esther leads to a discussion about being brave and standing up for what you believe in.

She was just SO CUTE!


As we finish up lunch I clean up the younger two and read them two or three short books - usually Christopher chooses at least one of them. The older two can listen but the babies get the lap and most if not all direct conversation is between them and me. I put the little ones off to bed (Christopher usually takes a board book, a toy car and his toy monkey - presumably so he can read to the car and the monkey!) and start reading to the older ones.

The older two choose a picture book each and we read those, then often Erin reads me one of her "readers". Currently Erin is working through the Fitzroy Readers and we find them pretty good. Then we read our 'Bible story of the week'. Each week we select a Bible story (usually the one from the Sabbath School Lesson Pamphlet) and read it each day. We read it from the Bible and then read several Bible Story books, checking their accounts against the Bible. This is kind of our introduction to Bible Study, but it is all very informal and mainly we just read them and chat. Finally (if Mummy isn't falling asleep) we read a chapter or two of our current read aloud. If Mummy is falling asleep, she goes and has a little quiet time while the kids have their own quiet time, then she has a coffee and finishes reading!

Books I select may have some connection to our other learning or they may just be one of the books on my personal "I can't let my children leave childhood without this book!" list.

There are some excellent books about reading aloud to your children, here are my favourites:

Cushla and her Books by Dorothy Butler

Babies Need Books by Dorothy Butler

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt

How to Raise a Reader by Elaine K McEwan

What about you? How do work "read aloud" time into the day? Why do you think it's important? What books do you and/or your children enjoy?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

In case you haven't realised yet, the two things I think are VITAL for a child's development are books and...


Thursday, November 5, 2009

End of week giggle again

What About Socialization?

by Pam Hartley

10. We're training him to like isolation so that he can be an astronaut.

9. Socialization? We're Republicans!

8. Don't worry. We get together with other kids twice a week so he can learn how to spit on them and treat them disrespectfully.

7. We do Unit Studies on Socialization, and also Hair Washing, Clothes Folding, and other completely redundant subjects.

6. I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. I was mentally planning her week of Girl Scouts, 4-H, dance class, karate, and soccer. What were you saying about socialization?

5. If I could get him to stop planning so many group camping trips and book fairs, I'd be able to convince him to socialize!

4. Huh?

3.Please, just for a change, ask me about college, okay?

2. Squeak, dive under the nearest object, peek out, and mutter "who are you and what do you want?"

1. Oh, I know what you mean! That's why we're homeschooling, for the socialization!"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The next step...

in a journey through our day.

What do you do after you finish morning tea and scripture reading?

Unless it is pouring with rain we go outside and the kids frolic while I hang washing and do gardening etc.

Princess Doc and Farm Boy on a winter's day


I know, I know. It doesn't SOUND very school-ish does it? But I consider this one of the most vital parts of our homeschool.

I COULD schedule a day full of activities and challenges, but then we would miss out on all that this time offers us including:

Spontaneous learning where a child will rush in for a hand book to find the name of a strange bird.

Developing the ability to select and organise ones OWN activities. Believe it or not deciding between riding a bike or bouncing on the trampoline involves a complex set of skills. Children who are hyper-scheduled miss out on these skills.

Supporting the natural growth and development of the body and brain. I was involved for a time with remedial therapies which supported children with learning disabilities and hyperactivity disorders etc. Many of the physical activities that we had these children do to get their bodies and brains working together and nural networks forming correctly were EXACTLY WHAT MY KIDS DO IF I LEAVE THEM ALONE! Jumping, running, crawling, wrestling, jumping jacks and more. Kids will do them if given space an opportunity. Kids who DON'T do these things are at risk of their bodies and possibly even their brains not working properly.

Conducting independent investigations. Wow! Sounds good doesn't it? Let me give you an example:

Farm Boy: Mum, look, there is a trail of slime behind this snail.

Mama Bear: Yep, cool.

Farm Boy:
Hehe, now it is on my finger. It is wet Mum!

Mama Bear: Really?

Farm Boy: Yeah. Look, when it dries it goes shiny!

Mama Bear: You don't say?!

Farm Boy:
Yep, look, they are all over here. I'm going snail hunting Mum!

That folks, is biology 101 independent investigation #245 in progress.

We conduct experiments. Sounds like we need white coats and crazy hair dos doesn't it? Not really! Princess Doc planted some bulbs in her garden with the hypothesis that if she planted and cared for them, flowers will bloom. She checks her garden and cares for it regularly. The bulbs are growing and very soon I suspect her hypothesis will be proven completely correct! White coats and crazy hair dos completely optional.

We work on our social skills. Yes, with only us at home. One trike + two little boys who want to ride it = a ripe opportunity to learn how to win friends and influence people! Conflict management 101 right in our own back yard.

We exercise our skills of observation and attention to detail. For example, today Princess Doc informed me that she found an aphid on her finger. She saw it and IDENTIFIED it all on her own. A very proud moment.

We have fun and we like it.

Tool Man doing his Ewok impression


So where is my scope and sequence?

Don't have one!

Every now and then there will be a funky challenge on a blog a catch up with or we will have an idea of what we want to do. Other times I will have need-to-do items with the garden etc and the kids will join me. Quite often the kids disappear into the yard somewhere, together or separately, and tell me about it later. So long as the basic rules of safety and kindness are followed, I'm happy!

Farm Boy proudly displaying his collection of.....dirt

If you are wanting a few ideas to keep you occupied while the kids are playing, these are ten sites to help inspire you, in no particular order!:

The Magnifying Glass

The Snail's Trail

Elsa Mora

By Sun and Candlelight

Crafty Crow

Snap Shots

Crafty Mama

Journey Into Unschooling

Herbal RootsZine

The Handbook of Nature Study

If you are priveledged enough to live in the wonderful land of Oz and would like to learn a little more about your immediate surroundings, try these sites:

Birds in Backyards

The Gould League

ABC Science: Scribbly Gum

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife (if you are unfortunate enough NOT to live in Tasmania, check out the parks and wildlife site for your state. You will find it full of all sorts of info)

Images of Australian Fauna and Flora

What about you? How do work "unstructured activity" time and/or nature study into the day? Why do you think it's important? What, do your kids tend to choose to do/enjoy doing during these times?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

The girls bonding

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


in a journey through our day.

What do you do after you finish learning time?

Usually, we have some fruit and a drink for morning tea and read the chapter of proverbs that corrosponds to the date.


I find a bit of fruit and something to drink mid morning goes a long way to keeping little ones hydrated and less cranky!

Proverbs is a "how to" book for living life and has a handy 31 chapters that matches up with the dates quite nicely.

You'd be amazed the conversation that starts when reading proverbs with little ones.

You'd be amazed how much MUMMY learns about life from reading proverbs!

I want to establish and maintain a habit of opening the Bible every day for myself and for each member of the family.

Reading the Bible together means we come accross all sorts of words and concepts that need discussing and learning. We don't try and learn EVERYTHING each chapter has to offer every day, we just take a great big mouthful and chew on the Word together. If that isn't learning, I don't know what is!

We grab some fruit from the kitchen and the older ones set the table while I make up a jug of drink. We eat, drink and read - discuss sometimes - then pack up. All up, the most time this usually takes is 20 minutes.

Sometimes a particular proverb will be especially applicable ("an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips" was a catch phrase in our house for a while!) so we may discuss it, other times we will just read through with me explaining words or phrases they may not understand.

What about you? How do you feel about reading scripture as a family? Why do you feel that way? What, time of day do you read scripture as a family?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Learning time

in a journey through our day.

What do you do after you finish praying?

We have our "learning time". We use this time to directly talk about things that I feel are beneficial to memorise or at least become familiar with.


Young children can memorise things quickly and easily so it makes sense to me to take advantage of this stage to lay a foundation for later learning.

This time encourages me to have direct conversation with the kids about different topics which helps build our relationship.

It's fun and we like it!


After prayer, we all pile back onto the couch and I get my display folder. The front of the folder is filled with song lyrics for songs and prayers but there are five sheets of paper in the back of the book, one sheet for each week day. Each day has something related to the Bible and something related to general knowledge on it.

Monday - we have a verse and the numbers to ten in Spanish
Tuesday - we have a psalm or part of a psalm
Wednesday - we have a proverb and a poem
Thursday - we have the Ten Commandments and the days of the week/months of the year
Friday - we have the names of the first five books of the Bible and the states and territories of Australia.

I will go into more detail about why I have chosen these things next week.

I read the scripture or Bible based item first then we discuss it and read it again with the children repeating after me OR with me leaving out words for them to fill in.

We then follow the same procedure with the second item on the list, I read through, we discuss, they repeat after me.

We stay with the same items for a maximum of three months before we change them. The focus isn't necessarily memorising, although they do tend to memorise what we are talking about. The focus is more getting a taste for the items and an understanding of what they mean and how their lives can be touched by them.

What about you? How do you feel about children memorising things? Why do you feel that way? What, do you plan to/did you do at different stages of your children's lives to help them learn scripture and facts?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Asking the Questions

I have been asking homeschooling parents three questions:

WHAT is the most important thing for you to teach your child?

WHY is that important to you?

HOW have you gone about teaching them this?

Bek, mother of three boys aged 8 - bub in arms and blogger at Blessed answered like this:

God has been taking me on a journey discovering just this.

I haven't yet been homeschooling for a year and I love how God is guiding me. I believe that my main job is to train my children to love Jesus and make him the Lord of their lives.

I also believe in training my children to be successful in life. This obviously isn't so straight forward as each child has different qualities and trait s and so different training needs.

The only way for me to be able to do this is to rely fully of God everyday, teaching and training me so that I can do the same for my children. We are still setting up new routines (since my focus has been shifted from academic focused to God focused) but we are giving the Bible the pride of place and then trying to work in other things around that.

My biggest challenge is learning to juggle the different ages and stages all simultaneously but we have faith that God is doing a work in all of us. Prayerfully seeking God every day/hour/moment is the greatest tool. The bad days are the days that I haven't put this in the right place.

I would LOVE to hear YOUR answer to the questions! Please either share in the comments or e-mail me at

TasJess AT gmail DOT com

Answers can be as anonymous as you like or contain links to your own blog

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The second step...

in a journey through our day.

What do you do after you finish singing?

We pray.


Prayer connects us with God and establishes a two way conversation through the day.

We are establishing a pattern of prayer in our children's lives for them to continue into adulthood. While it is their choice to continue the pattern or not, it is easier to continue the pattern than to have to establish one from scratch.

It reminds me to check in with Him if I haven't already done so in the morning. It especially reminds me to pray FOR my children.

I can model prayer for the children, showing them that I need to take my self to the foot of the cross, ask for forgiveness and strength and direction.

Listening to my children pray gives me insight into where they are at emotionally and spiritually and helps me tap into their inner workings.

Spending time being quiet each day, even if only a few minutes, can help teach children self-calming techniques. A habit of daily quiet time has been linked to numerous health benefits.

Explicit teaching of an attitude of reverence and worship on a daily basis makes going to Church and other places where this attitude is required (i.e.weddings) a whole lot more fun for all of us! It also helps teach a respect for those around them.

Having this time when I expect them to follow direct instruction (i.e. kneel down, bow heads, close eyes etc.) tends to set a bit of a pattern of obedience for the day. A pattern that MAY be interrupted later in the day of course, but a pattern none the less!


We already prepared ourselves at the end of our singing time by singing "I have knees that bend by my chair..." and "Into My Heart". I will often, but not always, take time between these two songs to review my expectations during prayer times. This is done in a fun, light hearted manner. For example, I will play a game show host and ask them in my special "game show host" voice what we need to do with our hands, eyes, feet etc. during prayer time. Or I may ask one of the older ones to demonstrate to Anna or Christopher what they need to do during prayer times. They love to show off their knowledge and establishing CLEARLY that they know what they should do and I know that THEY know that I know what they should be doing means that stepping outside of these guidelines can be dealt with as defiance in the manner that our family deals with defiance. We don't make a big deal with this, and most of the time it is quite fun. I take the stance that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

*note*: we do pray at other times when not using our "prayer stance" and we talk often about how God can hear us any time, anywhere. We do talk about how when we pray together, it is good manners NOT to distract other people and how keeping an attitude of prayer can help us to concentrate.

When we have finished singing, the children will pray one at a time. Their prayers vary from "Dear Jesus, thank you for the whole world. Amen" to long and complex prayers that can go on for a while! Christopher usually repeats his prayers after me but is getting to the stage where he adds his own bits too. I finish our prayer session by praying for each of us and Daddy and anything else that has been on my heart (being mindful of little knees!) and then we say the Lord's Prayer together.

Next year I would like to start using some resources I collected from Preschool Sunday School Central

What about you? How you work prayer into your children's day? Why do you do things that way? What, if any, resources do you use to teach your children about prayer?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Asking the Questions

I have been asking homeschooling parents three questions:

WHAT is the most important thing for you to teach your child?

WHY is that important to you?

HOW have you gone about teaching them this?

These are big, important questions that one could blog about for YEARS (in fact, I kinda plan to!) but there are some brave souls who have given me their answers, along with permission to share them on this Blog.

J is a Veteran homeschooler with six children ranging from little ones to teens. This is her answer:

The most important thing for me to teach my children is to love the Lord with all their heart, and have the skills to serve him faithfully.

This is my number one priority because this is the only thing that lasts for eternity.

I want to enjoy the forevers with my children, rather than without them.

From my perspective I feel that I am failing in my goal - I see all the problems and mistakes and sins (both mine and theirs), yet the feedback I receive tells me that my children are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

To achieve my goal, I am currently implementing a more spiritual focus to our learning, so that it does not revolve so completely around head knowledge, but that the facts that we learn are absorbed into our heart and hands and become applied to our lives. To achieve this I am attaching more importance to learning to resolve conflicts rather than extinguishing them and to refocusing on keeping God at the centre of everything rather than on the sidelines. Bible reading, prayer and singing are becoming a bigger part of our day.

We are also gleaning wisdom from the delight directed approach and looking for a wider range of ways to understand the world, ourselves and God. Currently this is taking its form in the acquiring of more practical skills - sewing, crochet, cooking, etc for the girls and working on the job with Dad for our son.

These are things that are right for us at this moment. I fully expect to be changing our implementation methods as we change as individuals and as a family. The one constant is to seek Gods guidance and try to follow it.

I would LOVE to hear YOUR answer to the questions! Please either share in the comments or e-mail me at TasJess gmail Answers can be as anonymous as you like or contain links to your own blog com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A walk through our day

I want to walk you through our day What! Why? How? style!

What do you do to start each day?

We sing! We start each day with family worship and the first part of that is always singing.


Lots of reasons!

First and foremost we do this to worship God and get our hearts and heads right with Him.

To write Eternal Truths on their hearts. While we sing various praise songs, scripture songs and hymns they are learning about God and how we relate to Him. God thinks songs are so important, He dedicated at least one book to them in the Bible!

We also sing together because it is hard to stay mad with someone you are singing with (scientific fact I'm sure!). Whatever scuffles have occurred as we started our day can be let go as we hit the "reset" button. If there have been no scuffles to smooth over, it still draws us closer together.

Lung capacity, blood oxygenation and heart rate are all improved by SINGING. This aids in improving concentration levels and productivity. True story!

Singing is wonderful speech therapy. While we haven't had any issues with speech difficulties (unless you count teaching how to keep quiet!) in this house, singing does serve to improve the kid's grasp of the physical actions of speech. They are exercising their speech muscles and controlling their breathing, clearly forming words and having a go at sounds that they may usually avoid in their normal speech.

Singing uses both the Left and Right brain, exercising it completely and creating neural pathways that will be used for language, math and all those other "academic" ventures. The link between math and music has been clearly made by scientists and it is pretty obvious when you think of all the patterns etc. we find in music.


We take it in turns to choose one song each, starting with the oldest child - youngest child then finishing with Mum. My choice is usually our Hymn of the Week. I randomly select a hymn that I know that I'd like to teach the kids (some weeks are more random than others, sometimes there is a hymn that fits in beautifully with another aspect of our life or schooling, other times it is just luck of the draw).

We always finish with two songs to prepare us for prayer.

The first is "I Have Hands" which ends with:

I have knees that bend by my chair,
I have knees that bend by my chair,
I have hands that fold in prayer,
when I talk to Jesus

Then in our "prayer stance" we sing Into My Heart

If I were to give ten tips for family worship with preschoolers and toddlers they would be:

1. Use the KISSS principle – Keep it Short and Simple, Sweetheart! One song and a prayer done well has far more impact than a twenty minute session which leaves everyone in tears – including Mum!

2. Keep things predictable. Have worship at a fairly predictable time. After breakfast works for us, everyone is awake and fed and linking it to a feed time means we don’t forget. We don’t forget to eat very often in this house! Also if little ones know what to expect, they will be more likely to cooperate.

3. Have REALISTIC expectations. You are not going to have the Von Trapp family singing harmony in your lounge room. Expect there to be disasterous days. Expect to be singing solo for the first year or two of worship (I did!). Expect to have to teach your children how to behave during worship. Then you are less likely to be disappointed!

4. Realise that teaching and training your children is in and of itself an act of worship. It is hard to feel worshipful when you have to stop “Jesus Loves Me” ten times to administer correction, but correcting and teaching your children IS an act of worship.

5. Stick with it. If you are having worship as a part of the rhythm of your home, it is because it is important to you. Focus on the long term, the ETERNAL, benefits of family worship. It makes it easier to start family worship yet again when it resulted in tears the previous five times.

6. Personalise it to suit your family. At the moment, we have one song each, our pre-prayers songs, family prayer and The Lord’s Prayer. Totally different to what we did last year and I dare say it will change again next year. Do what works, and if it doesn’t work, change it.

7. Have clear expectations. Before worship starts, tell the kids what you want them to do with their hands, feet, eyes, mouth etc. during singing time. Eventually, get THEM to tell YOU and their other siblings what the expectations are (firstborns especially love this in my experience!) then when those things are NOT done, it is clear defiance and it can be dealt with in the way your family deals with defiance. There will be no space for argument or compromise and kids respond to clear boundaries.

8. Include them in choosing songs. This gives a feeling of ownership. At the moment I could quite cheerfully NEVER sing “The Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock” OR “Whose the King of the Jungle” but we sing them every day because the boys love them.

9. Don’t expect to see fruit straight away. My kids still go mute during worship, then the other week while he was wandering around the back yard Farm Boy belts out “How Great Thou Art” at the top of his lungs. It gets written on their hearts, even if you can’t see it.

10. Make A Joyful Noise! Find a reason to laugh during worship. “I have fingers that tickle, tickle, tickle” is a verse of our pre-prayer song and it always makes us laugh. You can take a moment to tell the kids one reason you are thankful for them, one thing that makes them special. Whatever it is, make worship a pleasure, not a chore!

What about you? How you start your schooling day? Why do you do things that way? What, specifically, do you do?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stating my intentions

I have a blog already. It is more of an online journal really and as such it is a glimpse into my mind. Full of snippets, topics, unfinished thoughts, amusing anecdotes and more. So why am I starting another one?

Well, as I spend more time communicating with homeschooling parents I am fast coming to the realisation that too many are starting their journey IN THE WRONG PLACE.

Too many are starting with investigating curriculum, researching approaches and swapping organisational techniques. All of these are good things, but they are not the places to start.

We need to start with three little questions. WHAT? WHY? HOW?

WHAT are you trying to teach?

WHY are you trying to teach it?

HOW are you going to teach it?

If you get the what and the why sorted out, the how will largely be taken care of.

So on this Blog I will be asking people to share their answers to those questions. I will also share some of my answers and I will share snippets of my own journey with my children, but me sharing me is not the primary purpose of this Blog. I want to inspire you to ask yourself every day:

What am I teaching?

Why am I teaching it?

How am I going about teaching it?