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...
This year, Zeah is Prep age. Kids at Prep in our state are 4-6 years old. Or I could just tell you that last month, Zeah turned five! We plan our 'schoolwork' around themes. So as well as doing some basic literacy and numeracy activities, and learning to swim, and lots of play and mess-making, Zeah learns about a different theme each term.
Term 1 was Oceans, and some of the activities included:
Castle & Kite, KiwiCo and My Creative Box activity boxes have all been huge blessings since I started a new job while still studying fulltime. I'm working casually this year (and mostly home-based) in Community Engagement, which is a dream job for me! I'm studying Sustainability online via the University of Tasmania - Sociology, Indigenous Lifeworlds and Engaging with Sustainabilty units this semester - all three are quite content-heavy with plenty of written assessments! I only have another month or so to go until I get a break...
Autumn is harvest time. Embrace nature’s abundance...
Immersing children in the rhythm of the seasons assists their unfolding as spiritual beings in a physical world. Recognising rhythms – night and day, the seasons, lunar cycles, festivals and traditions – have become less important to us as humans. For our ancestors, these were the essence of life.
If you have not yet set up your own seasonal table or shelf, as described in previous Seasonal Fun columns, it is a wonderful way to explore the ways that our environment changes through the year; and to display works of art, items from nature and books. If you have a table, it is now time to pack some of your summer items away (don’t forget to photograph the display first) and gather items for autumn. Our world abounds with gifts in autumn, take a walk with your child to gather a variety of seeds and coloured leaves for your display and craft activities.
Nature walks can be enjoyed from babyhood. Usually,...
I'm SUPER excited to be involved with the 2021 Australian Homeschooling Summit! I really enjoyed presenting the past couple of years, and also watching the other workshops (both live, and later, because everything is recorded with access forever). In 2021 the Summit will be all online from Monday 15th February.
These Summits are fantastic for increasing your confidence in home based learning no matter what your family's circumstances. With dozens of Aussie presenters doing different workshops, there really is something for everyone!