Mama's Musings

Seasonal Fun 2: Autumn

Feb 28, 2021

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,...

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Nature Craft for Kids

Oct 20, 2020

I appreciate art & craft for kids inspired by nature, using natural and recycled ingredients. I prefer my children not be exposed to art & craft products which contain ingredients they shouldn’t be putting on their skin (or in their mouths, as they do!). I don’t want to add to landfill once the fun is over, so ideally what we consume when being creative will return to the Earth.

We don’t need to buy expensive natural kits or products to choose nature craft. Instead of looking in a discount store at the over-packaged foam, plastic and glitter items, head outdoors to find treasures you can use.

There are books in the library, and many websites dedicated to creating from nature, but it’s great to be inspired by the items you find, and your child’s imagination. Ephemeral art is a creation that happens once, not with the intention of creating something to keep. It might be a mandala created from leaves during a picnic, or a funny face made from...

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Q & A #8 - Adulthood

Aug 10, 2020

It’s funny, they’ll often joke, if they don’t know how to do something, or don’t know something, “Well, duh, homeschooled.”  And while it’s a joke, I think they might sometimes feel self conscious that they don’t know all the same things as their peers.  But really, their peers don’t know the same things as each other, either!    People have made presumptions about them, their family and their education based on homeschool myths too, which can be awkward.   I find that it’s less common now that there is a lot of positive media coverage of home education.  Once the kids are a couple of years older, they realise they are just as well-educated as those who went to high school, and a couple of them have described it to me as “the ultimate private education”. 

 We each have different skills and strengths.  One thing they all know is that they can learn ANYTHING...

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Q & A #7 - Fun

Aug 03, 2020

Apart from the sheer hard work of juggling six kids and their varied needs, I actually did feel guilty at times that we were on this almost-constant “holiday”. Our kids didn’t have to wake to an alarm, they had lots of freedom through the day with what they ate, where, when, if they were reading a book they really loved, they could just lay on the couch and finish it in a couple of days. We always tried to travel outside of school holidays to avoid the crowds, went to the beach whenever the weather was best, watched a movie after lunch when we needed a rest, took trips to the city on school days so that the shops, museum etc were quieter. And yes, even our “school work” did not seem to resemble “school” at all.

I’m pretty sure some neighbours and relatives wondered what on Earth I was doing to the “poor kids”! It was easier once the older ones were, well, older, and everyone could see that they were turning out better than...

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Q & A #6 - University

Jul 27, 2020

This never seemed to me like a possibility, and I don’t think the kids worried about it too much either. Even when I first went to uni in the 90s, many of my fellow students were not school-leavers and had entered uni via an alternate route.  I've just enrolled  myself in another university course, 25 years on, and the process was quite simple and 100% online.

When my older kids were teens, a Certificate course was a good entry path into further education, so they started studying those as part of what would be their “senior studies” at around 15. For the younger kids, they also chose certificate courses, and they are also accessing bridging courses into their preferred field. These courses are offered by many universities, and I wish that’s how I entered uni – instead of leaping from high school into the foreign land of tertiary study!

Five of the bigger kids have completed Certificate Courses (such as a Cert 3 in Business, or a Cert 4 in...

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Q & A #5 - Curriculum

Jul 20, 2020

We used various resources for learning. Collectively, our children attained academic knowledge from text books and workbooks, apps and online learning programs like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone and Khan Academy, online courses from free 4 hour short courses through to Certificate IV level qualifications, reading, documentaries, You Tube, tutors and mentors, classes – and probably a dozen other means of which I’m not aware! Their learning programs were extremely flexible and by the time they were teens they were almost entirely self-designed and self-driven. Some of their favourite ways to learn, especially in earlier years, included Unit Studies or Projects, co-operative learning (where we’d do the same Unit Studies as other families, and come together to share regularly), and classes like art, pottery, Italian, and co-op group lessons on science and math topics.

It’s good to remember that you’re always free to change things. If a book or course isn’t...

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Q & A #4 - Family Relationships

Jul 13, 2020

For us, home education had a positive influence on our family relationships. Like all families, we’ve had our highs and lows, and several challenges, but I think the amount of time we spent together helped us through these.

Remember that you are family, primarily. Don’t get bogged down in “education” as a priority over your relationships. There’s a lot of parenting left to do! Make the most of the years you have together.

Some good things to consider...

What “family time” does your family value? Do you eat meals together? Have a shared hobby? Go out for coffee or a meal? Commute places regularly? Go to church, yoga, meditation, gym, the pool, sport or other regular outing or activity? Make a commitment to each other to continue these things. If you don’t have specific family time, discuss what you might like to share, and how you’ll all commit to that.

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Q & A #3 - Teaching and Learning

Jul 06, 2020

For me, my children’s learning styles were really evident from a young age. I have a background in Developmental Psychology and Primary Teaching, so I’m naturally interested in children, their growth and their educational needs.

But I also think most parents would be able to see in their children what makes them thrive – are they very active?, do they love stories?, are they good listeners?, do they need very specific instructions?, can they complete a task independently or do they like to have someone to support them?, are their fine motor skills developed enough to hold a pencil?, are they asking questions or making observations about numbers, letters, colours, shape, size – and/or interacting with you when you speak of these things?

I tried not to push my children to do what they were not ready to do. I sometimes encouraged them to try a bit with something that wasn’t that interesting for them (such as improving handwriting, or swimming lessons),...

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Q & A #2 - Handwriting

Jun 29, 2020

We did Queensland handwriting books at about age 6 for printing, and age 10 for cursive writing. I'm not sure anyone finished their books, though, they really disliked them.

I also bought the dotted thirds lined exercise books and would write words and sentences relevant to the children - names, address and other locations, friends, family, pets, words related to their interests... This was a more popular method than the workbooks.

I used to get them to write on my shopping list, or on the calendar, and they wrote cards and occasional letters to family and friends. The older ones had penpals, but the younger ones used email for communicating with friends far away.

As they got older, if it was evident that their handwriting was still both a chore for them and not very neat, we tried keeping a journal. This of course helped with other aspects of writing such as composition and grammar. Most of them disliked journaling, so it was abandoned fairly soon.

For some we tried Copywork....

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Musings on Craft

Jun 26, 2020

Are you creating things with little people?  I often am!  I have a few craft books to inspire, but I don't regularly use them...  I normally search online for a specific theme, eg: "rainbow craft preschool".  Or sometimes I search for activities to use up specific materials, eg: "seedpod crafts".  I have the beginnings of a folder of ideas in Pinterest, but I forget to add to it!

We like to use materials from nature, mixed with materials that can be composted.  We try to avoid plastic, foam, synthetic fibres, over-packaged kits, single-use everything!  I remember about 20 years ago taking my tribe of small children to playgroup and coming home with at least four creations made from plastic and styrofoam, glitter and googly eyes.  And another four the next week.  And over and over until our home was filled with non-recyclable art that inevitably ended up in the bin.  We still have way too many precious creations floating...

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