Five of our six older children did not attend highschool at all, and one attended for her final two years of formal learning at age 15. By the time they were 15, all of our children were working part-time and enrolled in a certificate course, so we didn't really actively homeschool for the senior years. It was a valuable time, however, to share life skills and learn how to become adults. I am grateful (now) for the many, many hours spent driving and talking, and undertaking daily tasks with each of my six adult children throughout their teen and young adult years. For the child who attended school, and also had various sport and work commitments, I feel like we missed some valuable connection and learning time that I enjoyed with the other children.
Some of our teens did study some traditional highschool subjects using textbooks and workbooks supplemented by online research, but mostly they were on their own paths by their mid-teen years and involved with...
In 2022 Zeah enjoyed some themed learning activities about Space! We got loads of great ideas from a purchased lesson plan booklet from Preschool Unit Lesson Plans. Their thematic units are literature-based, easy to prepare, and fun to implement. This saved me some time searching the internet for activity ideas!
I also found so many activities on Twinkl, as usual, and Zeah chose several to download and print. She had fun with My Creative Box space-themed crafts and activities, especially the box that became a jet pack to zoom around the house!
We gathered, borrowed and purchased a number of games, puzzles, and books, and watched our old favourite Magic School Bus DVDs several times! Zeah joined an Outschool Space-themed escape room class, in which both the teacher and students shared their knowledge of space to solve problems and reach a goal. Escape rooms are Zeah's favourite style of Outschool class!
We intended to...
I'm a little behind with this series of posts sharing unit studies we've done. Early last year Zeah's learning theme was Insects. It followed Australia, which was a very broad theme to study. Insects was a fun unit with an abundance of resources available for a six year old, and despite studying insects with the kids for over two decades, I still learned a lot too!
We collected books from our own shelves and the library, and the most popular were those with close-up photographs of various minibeasts. We also gathered some toys and games - some we already had, and a few new items.
When preparing resources for themed learning, first I gather what we already own, then I search online for ideas. We use the library, borrowed items,...
When we had a bunch of children close in age, the school holidays were a welcome chance to drop everything and just play! If we weren't going away anywhere, fun was had at home with friends or family visiting, and we avoided going out as a welcome relief from our daily driving commitments. As a large, rural-living family, there was something on almost every day during school terms!
Now I have only one young child at home, so when we're not going away during the holidays I often look for opportunities to keep her entertained. Sometimes we have playdates with local friends, but other ideas I use include:
the library - our local libraries offer a wide variety of activities during each school holidays. We have six libraries within 30 minutes of our home, so there are different days and times to choose from. The activities are free, and booking online is simple. Of course the library is great for books, story CDs, DVDs and other...
Most would presume that after 25+ years of teaching kids to read, I'd have the perfect system to recommend! I must admit that for each of my seven children, I used many different methods... Here are some of the ways my children finally cracked the code of reading and spelling:
Flashcards of sight words (handmade, and DK and Reading Eggs brands)
Phonics books (handmade, and various brands including Blake, Reading Eggs)
Early readers (various brands including vintage op shop finds)
Alphabet and spelling charts (SPELD worked for a later reader)
Games on PC (Learning Ladder in the early 2000s, and Jolly Phonics)
Card and Board Games (specifically Early World of Learning resources in the 90s)
Reading Eggs app
Reading aloud together daily from picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction
Reading along to audiobooks
Writing (we learn to read by writing, and write by reading - to me, they are symbiotic activitites)
Outschool (this is new for us, so only with reader #7 and in a...
We've recently had a cold that was bad enough that we couldn't go out to work and play, but not so bad that we felt like resting all day, every day. While the symptoms were fairly mild, it did drag on for a couple of weeks, and of course I caught it a week after Zeah, so we were housebound for three weeks! In our family, when a child is sick we watch relevant Magic School Bus episodes that explain what's going on with our bodies when we're unwell. You know you're a homeschooler when catching a cold is a learning opportunity!
Staying home gave us time to read more stories, watch movies together, do craft, play board games, and generally spread toys and busy-ness all over the house! Zeah also attended a couple of Outschool classes, which were a great social connection for her, without infecting anyone! What a relief! She usually loves to go to gymnasics, sport, homeschool group, and swimming each week, as well as seeing friends...
I've written about socialisation several times in the past, including this blog post. I think it's fair to say that the homeschool socialisation myth has been debunked by now! Siblings, cousins, neighbours, family friends, homeschool groups and co-ops, faith meetings, and after-school activities are the most obvious ways we can socialise, but what else is there for homeschoolers? Here are a few ideas you may not have considered...
Volunteering - kids can often volunteer alongside their parents or another carer and do meaningful work in the community. This helps encourage an attitude of service, an awareness of other people's lives, connection with plants or animals, and/or a feeling of belonging. From a young age my own children were involved in the same community activities and events I participated in - a bartering system, various gardening groups, washing an older neighbour's dog regularly, pet sitting, house sitting, and running activities and camps...
For the past couple of months, Zeah has been trying various Outschool classes. She's tried escape rooms, maths lessons, and arts & crafts. She's engaged with teachers from Australia and the US. She's met other children aged 5-8 years, from all over the world. And she's loved it! As soon as a lesson ends, she asks what she's enrolled in next. She finishes every lesson smiling and proud, encouraged and inspired. Zeah is getting a lot more out of her Outschool classes than I expected.
Zeah uses a phone or tablet to access Outschool most of the time, it feels less restrictive than sitting at the computer.
Outschool offers classes across every subject area, as well as classes and groups for specific interests, and social groups. They have something for everyone aged 3 to 18 years. I'm sure we would have used Outschool a lot with our teens if there were more classes in Australian time zones a few years ago.
I presented this weekend at the HEA's National Homeschool Conference online, and there were quite a few questions around learning for teens and pathways to further education.
Our older children are now aged 18 to 28. They had a lot of say in their education during their teen years, which was organised during a meeting with them 1:1 each January (at least). We'd write down goals including social, travel, formal qualifications, other learning such as driving lessons, specific topics they wanted to dive deeper into, sport and recreation opportunities and more. These wholistic plans represented our family culture of a rich learning environment, acknowledged that all learning is valuable, and did not focus only on formal education. I typed them up in pretty colours and put them on their bedroom walls as a reminder!
As well as enrolling in a certificate course or starting an apprenticeship by around 16 years of age, our children, between them,...