This week was our first week of home education. If every week is like this one we won't ever think about going back to group schooling! We managed all the activities set out by our distance education program before lunch most days. That even included time on the computer doing some Reading Eggs. Henry loved watching the girls on the computer and hanging out with Papa. He did some colouring in while Zoe and I worked on her topic project and I know he was taking notice of all that was going on. On the first day, after Zoe realised she had completed all the book work she needed to do for the day, she said 'Oh that was so easy!'
Don't worry, I know this week is probably not going to be typical and we are going to have awesome days and not so awesome days but I must say, I am very optimistic about our new lifestyle choice. I also understand the book work they do is probably more for Heath and I to show that they are improving and actually learning something.
One afternoon a week the children spend some time in the garden with Nana and Papa for some horticulture lessons. This is some down time for me though the kids love being with their grandparents. The children love their chickens too and we are all learning about how to care for them. Heath has even grown a meal worm farm so the children grab handfuls of the squirming worms and hand feed their chickens most afternoons. These chickens are so well fed!
I think it will take a while for us all to get used to spending so much time together. I have been reading many homeschooling blogs and forums and I have learned so much about this way of educating. Surprisingly (for the teacher side of me anyway :)) I am not that bothered by the kids producing work or doing tests that are unrelated to their real world living. What I am interested in is watching them learn from each other. For the first few days I had the girls in different rooms to do their book work but on Friday we were all together. It worked quite well when they were both doing similar work and when they were doing different tasks, we started learning the art of turn taking. I know even though they are not going to school like most other children, they will learn everything they will need to know to function as a member of society - including learning times tables and grammar - the two huge gaps in my own education that I am hoping to close as I learn with them.
Friday also saw Henry Boy off to his first day of Kindy. The girls missed him and asked quite a few times during the day how much longer until pick up time. At drop off, Henry gave Heath and I a hug goodbye and was off to play in the sand pit with his teacher and some new friends. When the girls and I picked him up at the end of the day, I asked him if he enjoyed Kindy. He said with more enthusiasm that I have seen from him in some time, 'It was AWESOME!'. He said he would like to go back tomorrow but next week would be ok too.
The last week of holidays NannyO and PoppyO stayed for a few days and the children really loved the extra attention. Zoe was very interested in NannyO's knitting and asked to learn. Knitting was something that Mum just could never teach me as a kid and I always thought it was so difficult. Zoe however, picked it up in less than an hour then she taught me. Yes, I finally know how to knit because my seven year old daughter taught me. How awesome is that?
Lily caught the knitting bug too and it was just wonderful to see them both sitting with NannyO learning this new skill. After NannyO and PoppyO went home Zoe has sat a few times to knit and talks about knitting a scarf. Interesting that she understands that winter is months away and it will probably take that long for her to knit her scarf.
We made it to the Gallery of Modern Art before the end of school holidays. There were some amazing exhibits but the interactive kangaroo kids' exhibit held the kids' attention for nearly two hours. Long after NannyO and I lost interest and wanted to go home for a nap! They got to make their own kangaroo masks then they played on a small playground together and with other kids, pretending to be kangaroos. Lily was so convincing as a kangaroo and even Zoe took a few moments to realise it was her sister behind the mask!
The children have developed a love of the library now I have time to take them. I try to get them there every week or so though we have had some fines already! We try to spend at least an hour a day on our reading chair together and all four of us can fit and still see the pictures. For now anyway but Henry is getting so big I am not sure how much longer he can comfortably sit on my lap. We already have some favourite books that I think we will have to buy. The Captain Underpants series is one of them as well as all of Lynley Dodd's amazingly illustrated books about cats and dogs. We have been listening to some Enid Blighton audiobookks too and the kids come out with the weirdest insults from these dated words! Lily called Heath a 'Beastly Grown up!' the other day when he was getting on her nerves.
Other activities they get into is pulling old computers apart (seems to be no end to those around here!), collage from things around the house and in the garden (including about a kilo of mulch that somehow ended up all over the playroom floor!) and lots and lots of reading. Yes, that is Henry with a book next to the sand pit. We grabbed some cheap tshirts recently and they all had fun drawing on them with fabric sharpies. The activity was supposed to produce different results but we had fun anyway. Next is to have some fun with white pillow cases. Stay tuned.
This is just the start and I have to admit, I really like it so far. I like how close I am getting to each child and how much I am learning from them and about them. When I am told my kids need socialisation, and I have been told this a lot recently from friends and strangers, I have quickly learned to smile, nod and agree. When I am asked why we chose home education I now say 'Because we like being together' and I try hard not to get into any philosophical discussion on the merits of group schooling providing necessary 'socialisation' (whatever that means!).