Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Maori Television

Rā whānau ki a koe. Yes, Maori Television celebrate their 3rd birthday today. Pretty awesome ? I reckon it is anyway.
After watching Ask Your Auntie (6.30pm ... obviously on the Māori channel!!) on Monday night, I decided to give it a little plug because one of the panel (I think it was Kath Akuhata-Brown), said that although there are breakthroughs with what Māori TV are programming, it is disappointing that New Zealand motels do not have Māori TV available.

I think it's hard case when you consider Māori TV have so many awesome programmes (heaps of multi-cultural stuff included)! Never mind the tourism value. It's all very well and good to promote Māori concerts, hāngī, hongi, kai etc, have all the brochures and postcards under the sun in their reception areas, but do they have access to the channel? Apparently not. But if not, why not?

So like I say, I decided I'd give it a little plug because the channel is mā tātou, not just Māori. Here's something you may not know, they have even got a tri-lingual programme! Kiwi Maara - in Māori, English and sign language – brings gardening and green-thinking to viewers.

Speaking of diversity on Māori TV - I watched an excellent French movie the other weekend with Gérard Depardieu. Don't remember the name of it, but hell it was funny. Reading sub-titles on our little telly in the bedroom is pretty hard but comedy is a universal language eh? Anyway, Depardieu was in jail, but every cell mate he had went pōrangi or had a fight with him because he wouldn't shut up and was forever saying stupid things. Then he escaped with the most dangerous prisoner of them all and that's where the story unfolds. It was brilliant.

Engari, mō taku hē, that one movie isn't what this posting is about. But in a roundabout way it was explaining the diversity of programming that Māori Television put on air. It's great stuff overall.

For those of us that learn languages, resources like this are priceless.

Off my soap box now! tee hee

Ka mutu

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Geography with Postcrossing

One of the first things we established with the start of home schooling, was to introduce postcrossing. Such a simple wee task to be part of a universal idea - to send and receive postcards. To date we have received cards from Finland, USA, Brazil, Spain and Estonia. We have all enjoyed the arrival of a postcard every week and have tried hard to send a few away ourselves. What a great way to meet others. When I read the senders profiles I feel boring in comparison. Some amazing occupations and such friendly messages. You'd almost think we've corresponded for quite some time already!


So, yes, this is a great idea we were introduced to - especially for our family. Even at their young age, our children enjoy geography and learning about different cultures. Postcrossing is an excellent learning activity that takes very little effort and has next to no cost at all.

Oh, and I must share this wee story with you...

DS1 made me giggle when the postcard from Brazil arrived. After announcing the card had come from Brazil, I was about to go into detail about the Amazon when quick as a blink, DS1 looks at me and says "Brazil? That's where they make a lot of your coffee beans eh mum?!"

Does that mean I have an caffeine addiction? I think so!! lol

I've only just remembered to mention this activity because it was only recently that I noticed my blog is finally getting some views further afield of NZ and Australia. I would like to make the assumption that it's subscribers of postcrossing having a quick look. Whomever and wherever you may be, thanks for checking us out!!!!

Left or Right Brained

You Are 30% Left Brained, 70% Right Brained
The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Try the left or right brain quiz for your results. My results are 'interesting'. I'm still trying to digest it. I generally agree with it, just surprised at the vast gap between the two. Fun to do though nonetheless.

From another left/right brained quiz

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe

RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
believes
appreciates
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
impetuous
risk taking


I'm definitely the right-brain.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Loving my Yahoo groups ... Have I joined too many?

I'm not really bothered whether I've joined too many or not, it's only when you get up in the morning, flick on the computer and start downloading the messages from the night before that you start thinking "maybe I should pull off some groups?" Take this morning for example - 130+ messages! Every single one from the groups and newsletters I've signed up to.

And you know what? I wouldn't be without any of them still. Why? Well, I don't know if it's because of our isolation or whether it's due to our lack of finances at the moment, I'm really not sure. All I can say is, I enjoy the groups I've joined and no doubt I will join some more. Let's be honest here Maree, I joined two more groups before starting this post today!! So, yes, more emails in the inbox tomorrow morning. Excellent!

A few weeks ago I would be sitting here for hours pouring over every single one, scouring whatever information I could, but now I can actually sit here and start hitting the delete button because I'm so familiar with the threads that I don't need to read them in their entirety. For the past two or three days I've actually sifted through my emails within an hour which is good going. There's still the odd blog I decide to look at, but even the blog names are becoming familiar and the ones I'm interested in are bookmarked. When I think I might be interested in websites, that's when you start spending the extra time on the computer! When you think you've discovered everything along the lines of your chosen method, hello, there's another website to check out! ... and it's a good one! So, my bookmarks are growing and every day I tell myself to start documenting the whole lot rather than clogging the bookmark list.

And that's what I plan to do this weekend. Do some housekeeping on the computer. Sounds like fun?! It's just like house work ... I keep putting it off, knowing I need to do this, or I need to do that ... but always finding the excuse not to bother. So over the next few days I have made a goal to get this done.

I could probably sit here and start listing all the groups I've joined but I've decided I won't at this stage. I could probably also list the websites I've got bookmarked as well, but I won't at this stage either. What's important at the moment is pampering my computer and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.

Did I need to mention this in a posting? My answer is, "yes, why not?" In a year's time or possibly two, I may have everything so well established that I may have forgotten what I did in this infancy stage. There's so many things you do in life on auto pilot that when you're asked how you came to doing it, you need to take a moment to collect your thoughts and think "hmm, how did I find this?" or "why do I do things this way again?" Considering I have a memory like a sieve, I need this little reminder.

Oh, and how many groups am I on? Sixty as at today's date, BUT that doesn't include the 3 I'm waiting approval to join!!! LOL!!!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

How do you eat an elephant?...One small bite at a time!

We are definitely 'cruising' along at the moment. I'm more than happy with DS1's progress. He's reading well, and although I could be schooling more routinely, at the moment I would have to put my hand up and say we are taking things at a comfortable, leisurely pace. DS1 is happily talking, asking questions and thinking throughout the day, so in a lot of respects he is a teacher unto himself if that makes any sense. Most kids probably are, so all we're doing is encouraging them to remain focussed and give clues, or hints on how to sound out words. The rest they figure out themselves.

DS1 has had this 'thing' where he likes to attempt making words up himself, and trust me, they're very much made up. He tries hard to see if he can come up with something. As frustrating as it can be to say 'no, that's not a word', you can't help but commend him for trying. Who's to say he can't come up with a clever word? Let's face it, somebody had to come up with the abbreviations that are used to send text messages or even IM these days didn't they? Well, who's to say DS1 can't be just as ingenious at the age of five?

Rob had his own lesson from DS1 the other day. It was quite gorgeous really. The kids were playing "what animal am I?" and one of them was a ring-tailed lemur. Well, do you think Rob or myself could figure it out? I started to click when DS1 indicated the stripes but Rob was [pleasantly] surprised to learn about the wee creature. The conversation went on for some time which was so cute. You could see DS1 and DD1 really enjoying being able to tell daddy all about them. I wasn't sure if Rob was playing along with the whole "what's a ring-tailed lemur?" or whether he genuinely didn't have a clue. Either way, it was gorgeous.

DS1 has comfortably had his first poem memorised for a number of weeks now and poetry has sort of taken a back seat while we get a little more skilled in the reading and writing department because that's what he's loving at the moment. So, while he's eager to learn to read, I'll keep going with it. As long as I remind myself to take things slowly, or at least at a pace where he's saying 'more, more' as opposed to 'I don't want to do it' or 'I don't like it'.

Yes, just one small bite at a time.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Learning the Nuts and Bolts


Happy child + happy mum = no stress

DS1 is really enjoying his learning at the moment; reading and maths especially. He has always enjoyed adding, subtracting and multiplication. (We haven't attempted divisions yet and I'm not worried about it until we've got a good system for learning his timetables well and truly under our belt.)

We covered a few more letters last night and his reading is improving beautifully. He became upset when I said okay, I think we can take a break now. He just wanted to continue. I was glad Daddy came home and took over for a little while. It was ME who was exhausted, not DS1!!!

I'm definitely satisfied with the Charlotte Mason/Classical approach for DS1. The process of discovering your child's learning styles is quite a journey in itself isn't it? At this stage DD1 enjoys school with us. She can quite often reply to me quicker than DS1 which creates competition!!!! DS2 as always amuses himself while we do things, and when he decides he wants to "play school", he hops up to the dining table and draws his little scribbles, proudly shows his efforts to everyone, then in the blink of an eye, he's off his chair and away to check on his animals and find some kind of mischief to get into.

I can't add our timetable yet because we simply don't have one.
We just start when we're ready. Perhaps that's unschooling? I encourage as much play as possible, especially first thing in the morning. If there's one personal habit I cannot break (after working in paid employment for 20+ years and only now am I officially a SAHHM), it's the fact that I need my early morning coffee/s while I sit at the computer to check emails. It is then, and only then, that I'm ready for school. I'm trying to break that habit, but golly it's hard ... and honestly?! it's not working [yet].

The children all enjoy me reading throughout the day. Again I have no set time that this is done, it's just whenever; (and sometimes when I see they're about to start arguing).

Basically, it's like the heading says, we are learning the nuts and bolts which takes not only time and patience but lots of hugs and kisses when his eyes light up after learning something new! That is absolutely priceless and I wish I could take photos of every single time he accomplishes something new.

Every day I am proud of our children, especially when I can share in the joy of their learning.

Like Martha Stewart says "it's a good thing".
(Sorry, corny, I know, but I just had to say it!!! LOL)


There might be 24 hours in a day, but I need more please 19.1.07

I'd like to think CM would be happy with my attempt to follow her methods.
Our kids have more outside life than "inside-being-academic" at the moment.

That's probably more for my own benefit. Why's that? Because I'm only a smidgen of the way through CM's Volume 1, and from what I gather DS1 is Year 0 so I'm encouraging the children to be outside to give me time to read as much of CM as I can. Considering there's 6 volumes, phew! I've got a very long way to go.

DS1 turned five on 8 February, and in New Zealand the children started their first term the day before, so it was a great starting point for us. On his birthday we started with writing his name and starting his first poem. From Laura Berquist's The Harp & Laurel Wreath, DS1 has been introduced to Robert Louis Stevenson's, Whole Duty of Children. Whether it takes him 2 weeks or 4 weeks to learn it and have it written nicely is entirely up to him.

No pressure is the key. I learned that from DS1 probably a week before his birthday when he let me know in no uncertain terms that "it's too much mummy". Fair enough. Just because whatever it was I was getting him to write looked like a simple, short task from my viewpoint, it was hard work from his. So, we both had a lesson to learn from each other.

Over the past week and a half he has been introduced to Story of the World, discussing archeology and history. He has been writing for some time, so that's always a daily ritual. He has the vowels sorted and understands the rest are consonants. We've got the basic "at", "cat", "me", "he" underway. Granted, a few words he has figured out simply through word recognition, like "the" and "and", but that's all good I think.

His writing has improved immensely. He has already surpassed my expectations with his writing, so I'm happy with that. Understanding when to use the capital letters has been relatively successful, just the odd slip up, but how can you fault that?

The map under the glass dinner table is a kaiako (teacher) all by itself for geography. I can leave the children for extended periods and they can quite easily discuss something in relation to the map. It was particularly relevant when Uncle Kerry (Daddy's brother) and wife Tracey came to visit from Australia. We were able to discuss where they live with ease. Obviously that's not the first time we've done this, but it was fun to explore it now that "learning" is more important for DS1. Naturally, when Garth and Yvonne came out from Kuwait (and now of Qatar), the kids are capable of relating they live so far away. It's also fun to just talk about distance within New Zealand and a discussion about the weather usually follows. Having family and friends spread around New Zealand is an all-important lesson in itself.

Would following the cricket be a lesson? I think so. Not being a huge rugby fan (except for Sevens, now that I enjoy), I was brought up on cricket. The more traditional sports were my upbringing; cricket, netball, basketball, hockey, that sort of thing. I ventured off into other sports in my 20's once I flagged those, but the kids showed a keen interest (finally) to learn about cricket last week. I can't tell you how excited I was to drag out those cricket bats. Explaining the game was very exciting. Typical Kiwi summer game. Love it. I class that as PE.

If cricket is classed as PE, then what about go-karting? That requires plenty of skill and coordination. We have the mini tramp and basketball hoops, bikes etc to assist that subject. Yes, I'm happy enough with the sporting activities the children do.

We cover a little bit of nature science. The sounds of cicada or crickets as we walk the track. Relating the berries and fruit trees to the history lessons from SOTW. Discussing wheat growing, irrigation etc.. Watching the birds such as Tui and the sound of their calls.
Te Reo Maori is introduced through daily routines, like it was during my upbringing. Whakapapa, tikanga etc have always been important in our family. I'm grateful I have my father speaking Maori when he comes out to visit, something I will miss if we have to leave Rotorua in the near future. Pronunciation of any language is important to me so I use whatever foreign language I can to give them a broader knowledge and appreciation of language. I'd love to get started on Latin, but money is a factor on that one. Then again, it's very early days so it's not a necessity at this point in time is it?

We don't sit down for 1 1/2 hours. Oh no, I'd be lucky if we do more than 15 minutes at a time with whatever it is we're doing. I got the shock of my life when I read on Sonlight that we should be reading to our children for two hours a day! Although I understood we wouldn't do that in one sitting, just the mere thought of trying frightened me. But, I've tried to apply the same principle to learning. When I see the attention span wanting, then we leave it and return when we're all focussed again. Basically, the children are with me 24/7 so to me they are learning something at some point during that day. They learn values, the concept of time, the appreciation of money and plenty of other practical applications. Not everything is learned through a textbook.

There's plenty of subjects/lessons I have probably left out, but as a general idea, this has been the introductory period for DS1 and overall it's been exciting with the dash of "what the hang am I doing?" thrown in. I'm still trying to figure out the right groove for us, and hopefully things will settle down into some sort of schedule soon.

But, for me, I need more time in my day. When your 5 month old is teething and hasn't slept for three days and nights, never mind your 2 year old getting into more mischief than you'd ever believe, and when your 3 year old wants to do exactly as her 5 year old sibling is doing, I just wish I could hold that clock at say, 10 am for about 4 hours, then I know I'd get a lot more done. Thank goodness for daylight savings. I'm glad they extended it, and I'm certainly glad they're considering extending it even further. Yes please!! That will suit me no end.

Charlotte Mason 29.1.07

Yes, I am 70% confident I've settled on Charlotte Mason for us. [A Classical approach was already decided back in the beginning but I've started considering CM over the past few weeks also.] There's still a lot to read and understand, but I feel prepared enough to start. I'm becoming more comfortable that this approach is our path. In saying that, I am mindful of the fact that things could change. Thanks to my mentor I have been introduced to some amazing Yahoo groups (see below), together with some excellent reading material. As an example, via one of the Yahoo groups I've found an interesting read regarding Charlotte Mason which you may like to check out.

I'd like to mention a site I found this morning ... Catholic Homeschool Support. I think the name sums it up really. From my very brief glance they have stuff like curricula, curricula approaches, suppliers, online resources and of course, advice on how to get started. I would imagine this site will be exhausted by myself over the next few days. I'll record Cathechism Class
to remind myself to check it out as it was mentioned in one of the groups but I haven't done anything other than open the initial page! Hopefully it could be a good site too?!

Also, I think 4reallearning will be very useful once I feel I understand CM more clearly.

Actually, I want to add a list of all the Yahoo groups I've signed up to, just in case any are helpful to anyone considering homeschooling:
There's probably a screed of others I'd like to sign up to, and perhaps some on my list will be removed at some point, but at the moment, each and every email from the groups I have signed up to, has given me immense information, sites to check out, or just a satisfied feeling from reading what others talk about that I have found our chosen approach.

Now, you may have noticed I have an unschooling group on there, but unfortunately I wouldn't be able to answer any questions about unschooling [yet]. That's purely because I haven't researched it to any great extent. One site though that I found out about is Life Without School ... with topics on knowing when to push and Who's in Charge? Good enough places to start I think, wouldn't you agree?

But at this particular point in time, I would have to say that I honestly feel I would not, by nature, fit into this approach. In six months or a year I may feel differently. I am at least open to ideas, so will not dismiss this approach entirely. I will still follow it with interest to see if I change direction, but let's face it, it has taken me two months just to settle on CM! Phew! It's an absolute marathon to get this far!

I will however reiterate that I am open to change and am well aware I may find CM doesn't work for us. At the moment I'm just trying to keep away from a boxed curricula ... but who knows? I may end up following that for all we know!

Today though, I am a CM beginner.
"The Mind Feeds on Ideas"
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923)

More Support from my Homeschooling Mentor 21.1.07

On Friday I think it was, my mentor briefly spoke about Steiner and I have to say, I became curious what the differences are between Steiner & CM. For me, not having looked into Steiner [yet], it was sounding very similar to CM.

If there's one thing all this is telling me, is that, as much as I can sit here and research by myself, I will do things faster with the help of others. More to the point, I can get answers faster. Okay, okay, so at the moment I only know my mentor, but to be completely honest, she's been absolutely awesome with her wealth of knowledge. I told her she was a walking database of information today because she was able to provide HEAPS of information. Wow, that's what I call impressive.

So, in our IM conversation today (which, by the way, I have become heavily addicted to), I just had to ask her to try and tell me her understanding of Steiner and CM.
The gist of what she explained is that Steiner revolves around, nature, fairy tales, the seasons, so for example when summer arrives your work might revolve around summer, go on nature walks do everything based on the season, then for other subjects you do them in blocks so you might do 3 weeks on Africa then move onto something else but then go back to the things you learned to refresh it.
In short, CM is more about books and reading, reading, reading. Steiner is about nature and innocence.

Now don't anybody criticise this definition. It is worded in terms so that my little brain is able to understand it, not everybody else. It will help me, when in two or three weeks times, I start questioning "what's the difference, again?" I can refer to this part of my blog to help me remember.

Don't forget, I am overloading my brain with an infinite amount of information which I will struggle to retain ... I know my boundaries. This way, I have a simple record and am able to refer to it when needed.


Borrowed Books 20.1.07

Received the following books from Turina in Auckland on Thursday:
1. Ruth Beechick - A Home Start in Reading.
2. Ruth Beechick - An Easy Start in Arithmetic.
3. Ruth Beechick - A Strong Start in Language.
4. Laura Berquist - Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum.
5. Valerie Bendt - How to Create Your Own Unit Study.
I have yet to start reading them, but will hopefully do so today.

Finding it difficult to read as much as I would like. The books that Nicky lent me will be growing dust. It took me longer than I expected to finish the first of the books:
1. Vicki A. Brady - The Basic Steps to Successful Homeschooling.
2. Rebecca Rupp - Home Learning Year by Year.
3. Elizabeth G. Hainstock - Teaching Montessori In the Home.
4. Valerie Bendt - Unit Studies Made Easy.
5. Jean Hendy-Harris - Putting the Joy Back into Egypt.
So far I have read Vicki Brady's book. I found it easy to read with a down to earth style. I need to go back through it though to make notes for myself too. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of reading by stopping to jot things down, but I guess I should to save double-reading at this point.

Grown Without Schooling
On the NZHED yahoo group, one of the members mentions GWS so I quickly had a look. They all seem to have gone on to do well, so it's encouraging to know.

My Wish List
Remember I wanted to open a separate bank account? Well, throughout our home business operation, I always wanted a decent photocopier. Now that we're getting out of the business, I STILL need a photocopier.

Keeping a Schedule 17.1.07

Shocking! Today I was introduced to MSN. Shocking! Did I do any reading? No. Quizzed the kids on maths for about 10 minutes and that's about it. I bought plenty of things on Trade Me instead, convincing myself they're going to help me get started.

Got the shock of my life when I realised I was bidding against my mentor for something too! What's the chances of that eh?! I decided to pull out of the race with her because I'd already spent enough and besides, we can always borrow it one day can't we?!

I did achieve something today though. I managed to bring some cabinets across from our shed to the house so now I can start storing HEAPS of stuff. Perhaps I can use one for DS1's stationery, another for DD1 and the third cabinet I've got in the lounge under my desk where I can store all the "teacher" stuff. Thank goodness for my big brother. When he and his wife closed the doors on Key Education (their English language school), I had all their stuff stored in my shed. A lot of it I sold or gave away if I felt I had no use for it. Luckily I retained a good half dozen whiteboards, bookshelves, cabinets, filing systems and a bunch of other stuff which I now need.

A Handy Learning Tool
Having a glass dinner table I've utilised that placing a world map under it, so now when we sit at the table we can talk about all sorts of things. Take today for example. The kids were eating raisins and DS1 asked if the word that he could see on the box, beginning with "r" was raisins. I said yes and went on to add that the first word was "
California", which is in the United States of America. So, what did we do? We looked on the map. Brilliant!

Today was shocking though, I feel quite guilty. If this was meant to be a proper schooling day, I would've failed miserably. I shall take a leaf out of Vicki Brady's book and circle the days on the calendar that we should be schooling. I wonder if this means I should use a "classical" style instead? I mean, if I'm easily distracted like I was today, then what does that say about me?

New Additions

Forgot to mention, we now have my mentor's piggies. Two kuni kuni pigs. Latte and Fudge. Unfortunately they got out of their pen at my mentor's and had the munchies on the landlord's roses etc. But, at least Josh, Jessica and Jack can still visit them ... until Christmas ... more than likely they will become kai at Christmas time unless the kids protest too much. So now we have two koti (goats); Sika and Pata and the two poaka (pigs) Latte and Fudge. Now all we need is another dog. Unfortunately we lost our beautiful Siberian Husky two years ago and haven't replaced him (yet). Somehow that may change now that we have a growing animal population.

Keeping a Diary
Last week the children and I went to nana and koro's and my brother Warrick had dragged out a bunch of my diaries dating back to the 1970's. I've brought them home and have them on a bookshelf. Would you believe that I have written a diary for over half my life? When you see them lined up it makes you feel old!!! But, I figure that if I can keep a diary of my daily life, then I should be able to record more often on this blog Our Schooling Journey. So I am hoping to post things weekly, if not daily.

Family Time 15.1.07

Time Out
I'm so glad that Daddy took the weekend off. Quality time has been lacking of late. This was the first time since Christmas that Daddy had taken off. Saturday didn't really count though because he ended up driving to Auckland to pick up his $10.00 Trade Me purchase... another ride-on. Yes, it may have cost in diesel and time to pick it up, but yesterday he spent all of half an hour and got it started. So now I'm just waiting for him to get one of the ride-on's going so I can finally mow the lawns. Because we've been without both a ride-on and Daddy here to fix it, the lawns have grown totally out of control, so I can hardly wait to get out there again. I use the lawn mowing time as my time out, I find it very therapeutic, so I'm eagerly awaiting a fully-functioning machine.

Half the day has zoomed by already and I need to get back to researching the material. I finally finished reading the TEACH bulletins that I've printed out. Phew!!! That was a marathon, but well worth it. Loads of inspirational ideas.

As soon as I've digested enough information I want to establish a semi- "business plan". In order for me to achieve anything I need to stay focused and business is the only language I truly understand. I'm hoping it will keep me in line, not the kids. I'm not saying I'll be setting up a bunch of rules and regulations, but more a vision statement, goal setting etc. No different to anyone else, but it's the method (or a mindset) that works best for me. Today for example, half a day feels like it's been wasted because I placed too much focus on chores (and emailing). Unavoidable doing chores, but somehow it's too easy to be distracted writing emails.

It's not like I'll be saying "kids let's get started because it's 9 o'clock". No, it's nothing like that. If it were, I realise I might has well send them to a regular school. Nope, it's about making sure that while they learn at their own pace, in a happy, relaxed environment, I'll be busy in the background making sure I achieve my own personal goals.

Finishing my paid employment
Yes, my old boss will be back at work today and I should be writing my letter of resignation. After 11 years I'm reluctant to throw in the towel. Do I hold on to the few precious hours I work just in case I "fail" at being a home educator? Do I hold on to it so that I earn just a few dollars for myself? Do I hold on to it because I really don't want to leave that part of my life behind yet? I'm struggling with the decision unfortunately. One of the reasons I think I'm still holding on is because I still kid myself that I can study my own course of study, and if I do, then I need the contacts. Hmm, it's a toughie. Best not be hasty with the decision then.

Get Ready ... Get Set ... 13.1.07

Countdown
DS1 and DD1 are keen to get started. Although I want to mark the official date we commence (which isn't till February), I'm hardly going to make the children wait am I?

DS1's birthday is on the 8th of February, being two days after Waitangi Day and one day after the 7th Annual Home Education Celebration in Auckland. I'd really like to make it up to Auckland to enjoy a family day and meet as many families as possible. I feel the event will give me the added incentive and confirmation that we are doing the right thing.

The bookcases are filling up; granted they're mainly stocked with toddler story books, but considering DS2 will be pottering around when we do get started, I need the likes of colouring books, crayons, story books etc for him to join in with his own "school work".

Brainstorming
DD1 has been asking me about rainbows. For the past few weeks she has been fascinated with drawing rainbows. She's asked a number of questions about them (apart from the obvious about colours) so I asked them both what sort of things they would like to learn about. So, we have a list of ideas to work on. Now mummy just needs to be confident and start!!

Nicky has kindly dropped off some books for me to look at which I cannot thank her enough for. I've read through the Education Choices magazines and "browsed" would be the word to use for the booklets from MoE. It's a good feeling when you feel like you can skim over stuff because you know you've read it somewhere before.

My friend Auriel popped round on Friday and asked me what style I will be using. Would I be following the curriculum we'd discussed a few months back? I confidently said that I wouldn't be using a set curriculum and that "today" I feel I would like to use a Charlotte Mason/Classical/Unit Studies style. But in the same breath I explained that I have picked up from others that I will probably change as time goes by and the children indicate what works for them. At the moment we just spend time playing and using the whiteboards. I'm "trying" to read to them for two hours a day and in all honesty I'm finding that a challenge. Yes, I'm "reading" for two hours, but that's "me" researching, and not actually "reading to the children". I keep telling myself that the more I read the more confidence I will build which will give me the momentum to get stuck in. (Or is that just me trying to justify my lack of two hours for "them"?)

Speaking of reading, I'm off to read some more. I'm hoping that by this time next week I will feel I have read enough and am ready to GO!!

2007 - Bring it On!!! 5.1.07

The start of a New Year and I'm still no closer to choosing a curriculum. That's okay though. Preparation is the key I tell myself.

I have spent the good part of the past month reading, reading and doing more reading. The trouble is, if you asked me where I read about something I wouldn't be able to pinpoint the website or blog. I have bookmarked SO many sites I wonder how other home educators manage the time doing anything in the day when there's just an abundance of information to be read.

Yesterday I was so excited when the mail carrier delivered the mail. The magazine from Emmanuel Books arrived. I'd forgotten I'd even ordered it!!! I've never received so much mail from USA!!!! Just on Christmas I received Memoria Press, material from Seton Home Study School and Kolbe (well, that actually came from Kawerau so that kinda doesn't count).

Within a short space of time one goes from knowing nothing about home schooling to recognising things like Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Unit Studies, MODG. Then there's things to know like Blackberry Shed, LearnEx, Laura Berquist, ... as you know the list is endless. Wow!!! It's just one huge learning curve. The latest one I've now learned, thanks to Nicky, is Harvest-Curriculum-Swap.

Without the suggestions and input of veteran home educators, I would probably still be lost. Knowing other families viewpoints when it comes to particular curricula eliminates a lot of questions, but when things are tried and tested by others, you've at least had a head-start. The home schooling family is there to help you, because they've all had to start somewhere. The piece of advice that stands out above all others is, "what curriculum and style suits one family, won't necessarily suit another".

I've already spent $18. This time last month (ie first week of December 06) I contacted Kay Christensen in Auckland who wrote The Home Schooling Guide to Applying for an Exemption. Over 50 pages filled with loads of information for a novice like me. I'm glad I got it. Even though by this stage I knew I won't need to apply for an exemption until DS1 is coming up six, I figured if I familiarised myself with the Ministry's requirements, then I'll be better prepared this early on in the game.

One thing I'd like to organise before too long is a separate bank account. It would be interesting to know how much I spend - especially on books - over the coming years. You can just get so carried away I bet. As soon as I start reading something I think "ooh, I'd love to buy that". I'm quite sure if I had the money I wouldn't hesitate. There's something about the idea of having a house FULL of books isn't there? Unfortunately I can't buy anything (yet).

Big Changes for FamilyYes, this year we plan to be out of the industry Daddy is currently in and he will either go back to the trade he knows inside out and back to front, or perhaps he'll be boring and try to find a desk job. No, I can't see him doing that just yet.

Perhaps we will be shifting from Rotorua? I hope not, but depending on job prospects, we will go where the money is.

So, here's to 2007 ... we're ready for it!

Small steps ... the beginning of Our Schooling Journey 31.12.06

I wanted to commence this blog before we "officially" start homeschooling our children. To date Daddy and I have four children, DS1 (4 - although he is quick to remind everyone that he will be 5 in February 2007), DD1 (3), DS2 (2) and DD2 (3 months).

I am hoping to utilise this blog by recording our progress from our fumbling beginnings, making note of what brought us to this point and where we hope to be over the coming year/s.

The Biggest Question
The biggest question wasn't "Do you think we should home school?" ... no, I knew that answer when DS1 was born. Without doubt I wanted to home school.

The biggest question was "Where do I start?" quickly followed up with "Can I do it?" (i.e. will I disadvantage the children because I'm not a qualified teacher? ... that sort of thing).

So, Where Do I Start?
As DS1 fast approaches his fifth birthday I begin my research. One of the first things I did was phone the Education Department here in Rotorua to ask for an exemption application. At the same time I use the internet simply typing in "homeschooling in New Zealand" and one of the results is http://www.home.school.nz/homeeduc.shtml - a fantastic find full of helpful hints, links, you name it, I was feeling encouraged with the information. I learn that in New Zealand we don't need to apply for exemption until a child reaches the age of six which is handy to know because (1) I didn't know that and (2) I figure I can research curricula at length as opposed to rushing things, i.e. get started on the actual educating and worry about authorities later. The other FANTASTIC website is http://www.hef.org.nz/. Barbara Smith has been so helpful for all sorts of advice. I contacted her when it came time to starting the Catholic email group ... more on that shortly. What a wonderful taonga (treasure) Barbara and her team are. For all the newbies like myself, Barbara sent me a SCREED of back issues of TEACH bulletins. I have spent my spare time reading and devouring as much information as I can from these. I cannot wait to subscribe to TEACH and Keystone!!! I just thought, you know what reading these remind me of? Reading my Treasures magazine. As soon as I would receive that in the mail (which I do not subscribe to anymore due to finances), I would devour every line. The connection it brings to other mothers and the information you need, especially when you're new to the parenting game, are just invaluable! Then, once you get into the routine of being "mummy" the magazine became a friend that you couldn't wait to catch up with when the next issue came out. Yep, that's how I would sum up TEACH. At the moment I'm very new to home schooling and it's my teaching tool which will eventually become the friend I look forward to catching up with. Does that make sense? Well, it does to me.

From here I joined my first Yahoo emailing group. Again, this is all new to me but I soon find enough confidence to attempt my first message asking what curriculum other home educators are using. By the most part it appears families make up their own, which threw me a wee bit. I didn't realise that was possible, but there you go, you don't know until you ask do you?

As I learned more it became increasingly important to me to find a Catholic curriculum. So, I ask my Yahoo group if they know of any Catholic curriculum and being the wonderful providers that they are, I am given plenty of ideas. This then had me wondering ... is there a Catholic Home Educating emailing group? After sitting on the idea for probably a week I decide to contact the few names I classed as my "home schooling network" to see if they knew of such a group. It appeared there wasn't, so I decided to ask further, would any of the ladies would be interested in having one? ... and not surprisingly, the ladies replied 'yes'.

Now, being new to the whole home schooling exercise, I decided it best that a veteran be the moderator, even though everyone replied saying they were happy for me to get it started. But after a couple of emails, Lorna Price kindly accepted the challenge and as at 30 November 2006 we now have our own group ... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NZCatholicHomeEd/. We are all very excited and I especially feel proud that I came out of my shell to do something like this.

While achieving all this I made my first "home schooling" friend ... Nicky. Our families immediately hit it off which thrills me to bits because both Nicky and I are rather shy so forming this friendship is wonderful and in a roundabout way it affirms my belief that home schooling is the right thing for us.

Creating the Classroom
To prove to myself that I am serious about home schooling, I boldly removed our home business out of the "office" and have now established the "classroom" in its place. (Much to the horror of Daddy when he came home one night to find his paperwork etc thrown into the smallest bedroom in the house!!!!) But the kids and I are creating a wonderful environment which will be a continual "work in progress" for many years to come as it will grow/develop/change with the children.

Where to in 2007?
That's a good question. For our family 2007 will be a particularly interesting year. It will be the closure of one door and the opening of another. We will be farewelling our business and face a new challenge of either a new home business or Daddy going back to being a paid employee. Being self-employed has thrown a lot of challenges with the rewards not being as we expected.

I would like to think that I will have joined a local support group and have DS1 (and perhaps DD1) happily involved home schooling and one of the biggest hopes of all is that I break out of my shell for my children's sake and involve myself in at least one personal activity.
At the sound of the tolling midnight bell
a brand new year will begin.
Let's raise our hopes in a confident toast,
to the promise it ushers in.
May your battles be few, your pleasure many,
your wishes and dreams fulfilled.
May your confidence stand in the face of loss
and give you the strength to rebuild.
May peace of heart fill all your days
may serenity grace your soul.
May tranquil moments bless your life
and keep your spirit whole. -- Anon
God Bless us all in our Schooling Journeys

Moving our blog site from the homeschooling blog

I have decided to move our homeschooling blog from homeschoolblogger blog site for a few reasons, the main one being that I find blogger more user-friendly. I couldn't figure out how to download photos and other stuff on homeschoolblogger.