Registration, holidays, an anniversary and a birthday

We received our home education registration last month. It was a surprisingly easy process which required a learning plan for each student and the HEU accepted the plans with no questions. After 10 months I will have to do a report on how the girls are going but I am not too worried about that. The girls also decided they needed a break before the official school holidays so they had two weeks off recorded study and now the school kids are on holidays the girls are back into their studies. They worked with me to create a daily task check list again this term though I somehow talked them into adding a few more tasks. The incentive of Animal Jam is working wonders!

Heath and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary last weekend. I was not working this year at the baby expo and we managed to get out for a lovely Japanese dinner at Soutbank on our own. However, we were home before the kids went to bed because we were cold and tired! And old. Clearly.  
Zoe celebrated her eight birthday on Saturday. She loved opening all eight of her presents and was even quite gracious with her new things and her siblings. For about an hour. Then all hell broke lose and the girls were sent to their room for a while. When they calmed down we took her beautiful friends from a few door down to the cinemas to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. It was AWESOME!!! I think it was even better than the first one and that movie was pretty good. The new Tinkerbelle movie comes out this week and I will take the kids after school holidays are over. Ah they joys of avoiding the school kid crowds :)
Zoe then had a lovely dinner of Japanese chicken curry with her friends and she even got the cake she ordered. I have to say it was disgusting and none of us were able to eat very much of it! 

Last week we went to the science centre. I have never been there and Zoe has been there only once with the school last year. It was seriously great fun (as you can see in the photos!) and I am now saving up for the museum membership for the family so we can have unlimited entry into the science centre. We also visited the Discovery Centre in the museum just to find out how many eyes spiders have - a Henry question. It turns out most have eight and the children were fascinated with a story told by one of the museum curators. He told us he had a couple of pet redback spiders when he was a kid in a wooden box with air holes. He came home one day after school and one of the spider's egg sacks had hatched and the babies had crawled out of the air holes! You should have seen the kids' faces when he was telling us this! I am so glad none of them asked me to get them a pet spider!

Earlier in the month we went for a drive to the Ipswich Art Gallery. There was heaps for us to do in the wind exhibit for kids and we made aerodynamic (or not!) containers for the wind tunnels. It is possible I had more fun than the kids...
We also made it to the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens. There was lots to do there too so I think we will have to go back there some time soon. Fortunately we have quite a few friends we can meet up with when we go out. 
Zoe has been helping out more in the kitchen thanks to a few episodes of Masterchef. She can peel potatoes and apples as well as make a simple salad. This is so cool as she hangs out with me while I do the rest of dinner and the other two monkeys play together.

Our little Lily had her first choir performance this month. She was just the cutest thing on stage trying to remember the songs and I was so proud! It was a huge day but she still came home with a smile of her face. Sometimes she tries to tell me she doesn't want to do choir any more (usually when there is something on TV Saturday morning!) though she tells me after every class how much she enjoys singing and her friends in choir. I have noticed she is also singing more around the house and I have caught all three children singing together. Cute overload.

So, after six months of learning at home full time, I have come to a few conclusions about my children...
They still just want to play. Every day, all day and usually together.
Non toys seem to be played with more often than toys.
They love getting out of the house and they love staying at home.
They love meeting new people and making new friends though they usually only talk about their favourites.
don't really know how much they have learned in any given subject area as I have not had them do any assessments. However, I know their language has changed. They use a much broader vocabulary with a slight British accent (thanks to the many audiobooks they listen to every bed time and most days). I know Zoe is reading more and not because I have overtly taught her very much. She is reading what she needs to in order to get the information she requires usually on the websites she likes to visit or a book she finds interesting. Having said that, I know I need to work with her more in her phonetic awareness as she seems to have skipped that part in learning how to read. I know now, at least with her, more direct teaching of the phonetic basics is needed before they can move on to more complicated parts of the language.

I often wonder how much information is being retained then one of them will come out with something I didn't know and cite the source correctly (then I look it up to be sure). When we were at the museum the other day we were all marvelling at the platypus. I commented that they had a venomous spur on their hind feet. Zoe informed me that only the male had that defensive trait. She learned all about it on a clip she saw on The Kid Should See This

Some days I still despair the bickering won't end and other days I marvel at how simply beautiful they are to each other. They use encouraging words and make one or both of the others smile at their generosity or their unique humour. 

Some things I have learned about myself...

I am torn between wanting them to play because they love it and knowing they are still learning all the time, and wanting them to do something that the rest of society deems much more productive and assessable (school work).
I want to take them out every day but I love staying home as much as they do. I feel bad when I think they could be taking part in some amazing discovery learning at one of the many establishments within a few kilometres of our home instead of playing in our yard all day. However, after going to the science centre or museum for a few hours we are all so exhausted that we come home to just veg out together. Then it takes a couple of days to recover.
I have to stop myself from wanting to force them to learn something that probably doesn't have any immediate relevance or interest to them. From wanting to make sure they are up to speed with their age peers by giving them some kind of test and to make sure am doing a good job (not so much that they are learning!) I have to remember and trust them that they will learn what they need to know in their own time. That doesn't mean I am not providing a rich learning environment, I am but I also think being at home with together is the right environment for us :)