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...
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...
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...
Grow sunflowers planted in a circle with an opening as a doorway, or tents made with climbing beans… A living place to play! Flowers and vegetables like nasturtiums, cherry tomatoes and purple beans to pick and eat while outdoors. Make daisy or dandelion chains and mini fairy gardens.
Use the bath tub or paddle pool with bark, walnut or seed pod boats. Explore science with hoses, funnels, cups, coloured water and float or sink fun. In a bucket or tub wash dolls clothes and blankets or dress-up items and dry them in the sun. If you have a sandpit, recreate the beach with water, twigs and shells. Imaginative play has endless possibilities and water will entertain most children for most of a long, hot afternoon…
Seashell windchimes using driftwood, sew buttons onto hats or dye them bright colours, watercolour painting, pinwheels,...
Phew! I've been a bit quiet on the blog while I tackle my first full-time semester of uni in over 25 years! It's been a great big learning journey. I have just a few weeks to go before a long summer break.
When I'm not at my desk working or studying, I'm trying to pop out to my garden regularly, because it's so calming for my mind. And harvesting great big bowlfuls of produce is also appealing... we have snowpeas, shelling peas, a couple of varieties of green beans, some broccoli, tons of leafy greens - Asian greens, lettuces, kale, spinaches, several edible flowers, gooseberries, mulberries, black sapote, chokos, lemons and lots of herbs in abundance right now. The chickens are also laying, and two hens had chicks recently. So life on the farm feels great!
To read some of my writing about gardening, go here.
Zeah and I did a Wild Weed Walk the other weekend. We both loved it! I used to take my bigger kids to lots of...
Interested in reading more about including book reviews in your home ed journey? Interested in a TON more homeschool freebies? Check out this collection by Sarah Shelton on the Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies site!
Spring is time to sow the seeds of new beginnings. Begin any family traditions you have had in mind.
Give the garden an overhaul. Feed it well, mulch and prepare for planting. You may be interested in finding a guide for planting by the moon. There are special calendars designed to show the most appropriate times for particular kinds of garden tasks. Old gardeners simply advise – when the moon’s going up (waxing) it’s time to plant above-ground crops. After the full moon, when it’s waning, it’s time to plant your root crops (like carrots and potatoes). If you planted some bulbs earlier in the year, you may be lucky enough to have flowers blooming already! Enjoy the warm afternoons and get dirty in the garden with your little ones. If your garden is a potted one - transplant, feed and try some...