It seems I have entered another world of uncertainty with home education. Since I became pregnant with Zoe I have had the thought in the back of my mind - 'Am I doing this right?' I know I am not alone, children don't come with any sort of Idiot's Guide to Being a Parent (regardless what might be on the book store shelves these days!) I know many parents struggle and wonder if they are doing the best for their children. I also know these parents are the best kind. I have read so much about parenting over the years and I still have no idea, really. Don't tell the children that, I don't want to shatter the illusion just yet!
Home education has just added another layer of 'Is this the best thing for my kids?' to the day to day choices I make for them. Most of the time I am really ok with all of this. After all, I read somewhere - education is not a race. I know in my heart they will learn all they need to know... eventually. And that is the issue. What should they know when? is a question I have often asked (and researched) as well as How do I know what they know without using formal testing and assessments? Then I started thinking - did I test them when they were little and learning how to smile? Or walk or talk? Well, I don't think I did. Nothing formal anyway. I just observed and so this is what I am going to continue doing. Having them with me all day every day I am able to to know how they are learning and I will be able to help them when they need it.
So what are we actually doing? Most days we don't have much of a schedule and though I am usually a routine kind of mum, I am OK with the easy flow of our days. I read to them every day. Some days I read for hours over the course of the day some days just one chapter or one book though they love their audio books every night when they go to bed.
Some days we have a look at a science video to get an idea for an experiment. The other week the children wanted to make rock candy. I never knew this stuff existed but they assured me it tasted great. The experiment involved heating sugar and maple syrup and letting the sugar grow crystals over the course of a few days. The children were fascinated with the end result but only ate a little as it was very sweet.
We bake a few times a week and the children are learning how to mix things properly so they don't always end up with flat cakes (though they don't mind eating those!) Zoe is also getting better at reading recipes and fractions.
The other day we had rainbow lorikeets in the cubby house tree. It was a rare treat as we have not seem them in our yard before. This took us into the yard to inspect the tree they were in as well as the other birds who are usually in our trees. Most days the children start constructing something usually involving half a ream of copy paper and a roll of sticky tape. Lily made a castle complete with a princess that I just loved. I really need to take more photos of the things they do so I don't forget how creative they are when left to their own devices.
We use the computers most days too. The children love Study Ladder and I love it too as I can set activities for them to complete and I can monitor their progress. Study Ladder has a number of subject areas though while the girls are learning to read I am concentrating on pre-reading activities to make it easier for them. Reading Eggs is another favourite though they would prefer to spend all day on Engineering-games. Henry likes to sit behind them just taking it all in and he usually doesn't bother them too much.
The girls do some copywork almost every day along with a page or two out of their maths workbook. I have some great maths and literacy games we play (bingo is a favourite) and Henry joins in too. Today we were playing sight words bingo and though Henry doesn't know many letters he was matching the words on his bingo page. The fractions bingo was even more fun and the three of them had game after game and played for more than an hour one afternoon. Every day they are drawing or colouring in something. I think for now this is enough though later I will teach them more formally how to see and draw as well as painting and sculpture. When they are ready.
Wednesdays we get out and go to the park to meet up with other homeschooling families and the children have their Spanish lessons. I get to sit and chat for a while with some lovely mums then the kids run around until they are so tired we have to go home.
Every day they play, usually together and their games are so much fun to listen to:
Zoe - And you said 'but what about us?'
Lily & Henry - but what about us?
Zoe - oh that's right I forgot!
and the game goes on. Sometimes I get into a game with one or more of them:
Henry - and you said 'how did you learn to drive that car upside down?' (as he throws the matchbox car across the yard)
Me - how did you learn to drive that car upside down?
Henry - my mum taught me!
Me - and you said 'don't you have to go and cook dinner so no one is hungry tonight?'
Henry - don't you have to... wait... NO! Keep playing with me!
I nearly had him there!