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,...
The last theme I shared was when we had a Dinosaur adventure! We've enjoyed a couple of themes since then, which you may have seen on our Instagram or Facebook, but I haven't collated them into a post here ... until now! Australia is a unit I repeat with my children most years through their childhoods. We usually start with Aussie animals and move all the way through history, geology, geography, literature and politics as they grow. This, of course, is because we live here!
We already had a large number of Australian books including a shelf full of Aboriginal Australian stories I've collected for over two decades. With Zeah my emphasis explored the first nations culture and stories more than I had with my other children because I had just finished studying a fascinating, transformational unit through University of Tasmania called Indigenous Lifeworlds. I now realise that we need to have these stories, this culture, as the basis...
I'd like to share about seed and plant experiments and projects which can be done indoors. For so many families right now, it's hard to connect with nature due to limitations on being out and about. Why not try a couple of the ideas below?
Cress seeds germinate within 48 hours and the cress will be ready to eat within 10 days - so as far as gardening goes, this is as close to instant as it gets!
You will need:
egg shells, rinsed
egg carton or egg cups
potting mix or cotton wool
*cress seeds (supermarket, hardware or garden store)
pens to decorate
Try to crack your eggs removing only the top third of the shell. Wash and dry well. Once dry, decorate with faces using a permanent pen. You can also paint the shells, or glue on features such as a nose.
Pop your shells into a cut-down carton or egg cups from the kitchen. Fill with potting mix or cotton wool. Dampen and sprinkle cress seeds. If using soil, don't bury...
Spring brings us longer days and an awakening world outdoors.
The arrival of colour and new life fills our spirits with a sense of hope.
Acknowledging seasonal changes is one way for humans to experience the rhythm of life. As our children witness the unfolding of each season, they grow a little and appreciate the wonders of nature. To know each season through walks, observation, activities, and games helps our children to develop a more intense relationship with planet earth. In most of Australia, the seasons are not as marked as in other climes… There may not be snow-capped rooftops or dazzling autumn leaves, but there are many less obvious signs that we are a part of the cycle of nature known as the seasons.
A seasonal table or shelf is one way to reflect the changes we witness through displaying items from nature, art and craft and dioramas. The table can also reflect festivals and other events that mark the cycle of our year. For ideas on creating a seasonal table...
Following on from the post about our Oceans Unit Study earlier this year, I've collated some info about our Dinosaur Unit Study to share with you. Zeah is five, and she loves learning-by-doing, so we've done a lot of hands-on learning, as well as enjoying an epic Dinosaur Trail roadtrip!
Some of our Term 2 & 3 activities have included:
Castle & Kite, KiwiCo* and My Creative Box* activity boxes have come to the rescue again, with Zeah undertaking lots of creative Dinosaur activities with her Nanny on Tuesdays. I like that I can leave these boxes for them and go into the office, and everything they need is on hand. The activities give quick results, provide something to show off when I arrive home, and there's little waste involved because of how these activity boxes are designed.
(*use these affiliate links for a discount for your family, and mine).
We've found lots of Dinosaur books in the library, op shops, our own shelves, and...
Winter warmth comes from within…
Winter is a beautiful season for connecting with our loved ones and taking time to acknowledge the wonder of Earth’s cycles. While there may not be blooms of colour, scuttling wildlife, or lazy afternoon picnics to enjoy, there are many meaningful activities to acknowledge the turning of the wheel with your little ones.
If you have a seasonal table or shelf, you’ll be packing away your Autumn items to make way for some winter seedpod fairies, perhaps on a white or palest blue cloth with some favourite candles for lighting in the evenings… Sprigs of evergreens, refreshed often, will bring some life and colour to your home and brighten up the seasonal display as well. As time passes, this seasonal tableau can become an important means of bonding the family with nature, and with each other. Like all celebrations, festivals and rituals, it serves as a conscious recognition of time passing.
Nature walks can still be enjoyed in...