Monday, 30 April 2007

Rainy Monday = indoors all day

We may have been confined to indoor activities the entire day, but we had one unexpected surprise! Daddy was home today. Not because of the weather, and not because he's finished his last EVER job in the dreaded shed business. Nope, daddy was home because his prosthetic limb was completely snapped in half. As an above-knee amputee, he can experience these sorts of occasions probably two or three times a year. Being a tradesman, he is more susceptible to problems than if he were working in an office behind a desk. Unfortunately, being self-employed, days like today aren't good. Usually we would be off up to Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) as soon as we can get an appointment at the Limb Centre, but family circumstances are rather unique at the moment, so we've had to make a few quick arrangements and he's booked for tomorrow. That means another entire day away from work. And that's on the expectation that it will be fixed on the day!

So, getting back to my opening remark. We were treated to an extra day with daddy. I was most appreciative to have him here to do some school work with the kids...

DS1 proudly teaches DD2 how to do divisions!

Doesn't DS2 look like he's reading? Try as we might to encourage a few words ... nope, still no talking. Hei aha.

By 2 o'clock we'd all had enough of being indoors but the jolly rain didn't let up.

It was daddy who had had enough before everyone else. Just for that I might send the three big kids with daddy tomorrow. Hmm, what a tempting thought.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Monday, 23 April 2007

Just a ramble today ...

I've been wanting to come up with clever, helpful information to post to our blog but as soon as I look at other blogs I come away thinking they do a much better job. For example I visited a classical blog and was just in awe of the information. Check out classicalschool to get an idea of what I mean. Actually, you know what? I think I started looking at blogs in the hope that someone would tell me why they chose classical , that they started from K or Grade 1 and then outline exactly what their schedule was so that I could just follow in their footsteps ... yes, take the easy way out!

The same is true about joining forums. As you know, I'm on too many to own up to (lol), but due to my isolation and finances (or lack thereof) I rely heavily on the information from forums. Most threads are deleted. All I'm looking for are websites, blogs and opinions about particular curricula. Anything else gets wiped.

If you're interested in Sonlight, as well as a classical approach, then this link homeschool-ed may be useful. I haven't discounted Sonlight as an option and am grateful someone else has provided a helpful resource list.

Now, as you may recall, our eldest is five years old so things like notebooking or lapbooking, let alone a traditional essay aren't part of our schooling yet. In fact, other than practicing his handwriting, with the occasional attempt at copywork, we don't do any presentations. But, from one of the forums, I decided to look at VHSG and had my first "virtual" classroom lesson.

More for my own curiosity to see how virtual classes operate and to see what program they use to do presentational work, I had a lot of fun while I was there. Although I'm not keen on the children using a computer, I'm quite happy to be creative myself with their work. Having left the work force, the only program I have used, is PowerPoint, so I figured there's no harm in checking out what VHSG promote. I don't think a child needs to be introduced to a computer for as long as possible. I don't even think a child needs to use a calculator for that matter. That's probably a weird statement, considering I did so poorly at school with mathematics myself. But, my problem at school was my shyness. Too afraid to ask for help. I doubt whether a calculator would have made much difference to me, but I feel that maths is a mental activity you need to master as opposed to find an aid to do the work for you. DS1 is doing fine with maths, in fact, now that Rob taught him divisions, it's all a matter of practice now. It's been a fantastic ride so far, watching him learn how to do additions, subtractions, multiplications and now divisions. There's bound to be great resources out there and I should probably be able to share the name of a book or two or even a maths site with you, but in actual fact, Rob's taught the children simply because we have no finances to purchase anything. Whether it's the right way or the wrong way, we must all work within our own means don't you agree? Like anything else it comes down to practice.

Maths is one of those areas that you can either push a child too hard and scare them off for a life time, or with the right encouragement, they will love it. But sometimes it can be a delicate point between pushing and encouraging. That's where having your children at home is a good thing, you learn to read your child. It's learning to interpret my children's moods that helps me best. No different to instilling the love of reading. I absolutely loved reading and writing creative essays as a child, and I'm sure our children will be the same.

Again, we are in the infancy of reading but DS1 loves it. As much as I'd like to boast he can read 5-6 pages, you'd have to remember they're short pages with illustrations! But hey, I do not detract from his accomplishments! Uh-uh! To the contrary. I am proud of his efforts, and those of his (now) 4-year old sister.

One thing I am concerned with is what food we provide to fuel our minds. I say "our" minds, because of course, we as adults must provide a good example. The importance of having good food is difficult to achieve on a limited, (and in my case non-existent) budget. We try to buy as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible, but the sheer expense throws your mind into a quandary doesn't it? (Gosh, this is a post all on its own isn't it?!) We buy plenty of apples and bananas and ALWAYS carrots!! The kids get their love of carrots from their mother (lol). I must have been a rabbit in a prior life?! I devour them, so I can't blame the children when we've run out of them within two days of arriving in the house! It's like bananas! We can buy a bunch of bananas and poof! they disappear before the day's end. Without fail, they are gone! As for apples, they're gone within three days MAX. We usually munch half a dozen apples between the four of us during the day.

Once the fresh fruit goes for the week, we're left with tinned fruit. And here's the thing, the kids love tinned fruit. I open three tins (400g) and the kids have their plates emptied within minutes of them landing on the table. So on the one hand I tell myself, hey, at least it's fruit, but on the other hand I tell myself I need to preserve my own so I can be sure what's going into it. But that requires good organisational skills (which I used to think I had! but obviously not). I should've brought up large while the summer fruit was available, but I didn't. I'm kicking myself now because I really want to do better. So I joined yet another yahoo group called Master Plan Book in the hopes that I'll improve (or what I like to tell myself ... regain) my lost skills of organisation. We start a three week class next week. Eek! I've never done anything like this before, I wonder if I'll stick at it?

Luckily for me, the children's nana from Tauranga has brought stewing apples today, as well as kiwifruit and feijoa so I shall get myself organised and start doing something wholesome like stew those apples! Mmm, my home-made bread is just about finished. I love the smell of fresh bread! But with the more mouths to feed, the more bread you need to make!

If there's one aspect for myself I want to change, that's to kick coffee for good. I do drink a lot of water throughout the day, but I feel guilty that I can drink three, sometimes four cups of coffee a day. Our children are fabulous at drinking water which I'm pleased about, so again I need to lead my example and drink only water.

I'm sure there must be a way to balance everything ... our tupuna did it, so we should be able to do the same.

Well, I think I'll finish off here. I was hoping to share some interesting websites with you, but I'm afraid I got rather side-tracked didn't I? I hope you managed to sit down and enjoy a cuppa while reading today's entry!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

PS Nana brought us grapes and bananas ... how long did the bunch of bananas last? One hour! How long have the grapes lasted? Three hours so far ... but mummy's munching on them. It's as a last resort for the kids, but that's only because we don't get the luxury of grapes very often. Yum! Fruit, absolutely delicious.

The confessions of a Blog Addict

When you're trying to figure out curricula, methods and schedules, it can be mind-boggling to say the least.

Where do you record your research? Do you scribble on a piece of paper, old exercise book, note pads? I know I do. I create Word documents etc, but basically scribbling on bits of miscellaneous paper ends up being the chosen method. But then you get to the point where you've got too much (well, me anyway). That's one reason I started the school blog - the main reason was to record our homeschooling journey for ourselves, plus share interesting sites and information I have found along the way in case they can be useful to others.

Yes, having a blog is useful alright. You get to voice your thoughts, comment on curricula, share what your schedule is per child and link your readers to other great finds etc. But there are a couple of disadvantages. The biggest one is how time-consuming your blog becomes. Not in the sense of composing a post! No, that only takes a short amount of time - as long as I save in draft and add as I go throughout the day, then tart it up and do final editing later. No, time isn't taken up conversing your thoughts. Time starts escaping when you find other blogs and you think "ooh, that looks neat. I might add that to my blog!" And I am guilty of just that!

For too long I have been fluffing around trying to "pretty up" my blog, add too many widgets, put cute pictures in the margins, all for the sake of what? Who knows really. Considering I like the clean-cut, white background (I've forgotten the website marketing term), but it has better impact, and your page will open up faster than all the fancy themed sites.

Would you believe that in the world of blogging, there's competitions for who has the greatest blogs? You can't even escape competition with blogging!! AND there are bloggers who even make money with AdSense! To those people, good on you. I'm glad you love blogging that much and I wish you well with your achievements. But for myself, I have chosen to give up the addiction before it gets out of control.

What made me realise I had to "wake up and smell the coffee" was while writing my diary last night. As soon as I feel rushed to get the daily "log" written, my writing looks worse than DS2's scribblings! Sometimes I have genuine reasons not to keep up with my diary, like one of the kids has taken much longer to get off to sleep and I'm too exhausted to sit up a bit longer to write my entry. Or perhaps I'm not well, or perhaps I'm doing paper work for our business.

Why is my writing harried lately then? Because I have spent too much time altering the look of my own blog, or reading other blogs. Having dial-up and not broadband you would think you would decide against adding bits and bobs wouldn't you?! Well, throw that theory out the window. I'll spend whatever length of time it takes to get something up and running. I'll let things download while I toddle off and do something else, returning to press a button to continue, and then toddle off and carry on with another task, repeating the process as many times as is necessary.

So, I obviously need a little reminder in what is important... My blog was not and is not here for the purpose of anything more than to record where and how we get to where we're going.

Shows how easily swayed I am though! Imagine if I had the money to purchase online (like the old days). Yes, I can just see me sitting on the computer, going "ooh" and "aah" over different things and going willy nilly with the credit card because I was influenced and acted on a whim.

The only saving grace when it comes to purchasing curricula etc is the fact that I literally have no money. It's quite obvious from my experience with blogging influences, that had we the finances, I would easily go out and buy up large on whatever I felt like only to regret bad choices later.

Gosh, who knew there was a positive in having no money? Fancy that!

So, in summing up:
  • Less fancy add-ons will be found on my blog (fingers crossed)
  • More homeschooling tid-bits/great finds will be recorded for those looking for just that
One thing I cannot promise is a short posting. I have a terrible tendency to be descriptive in my writing. I've always been like that ... practicing for my novel-writing days y'think? (lol).

My writing (I hope) is relaxed and in a style that puts the reader at ease, like having a cuppa with a girlfriend as you gossip about nothing in general!!!

Oh, but one thing I will start doing on my blogs is ... I will finish with a ka kite ano (see you later) and signature ... simple, yet proper closing etiquette. I mean, we sign our names to all sorts of correspondence, we add a signature to our emails even, yet it comes to the blogging world and we simply finish a post and wait for your return.

And there you have it. Today's post has finally come to an end.

So until your return I thank you for stopping by our blog,
ka kite ano
Maree

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Reading with CM

Because of our financial situation I am 98% reliant on the internet for resources. This means printing out screeds and screeds of paperwork, but please note I have no problem with this. To the contrary, I am grateful for having so much available online.

Among the first things I printed out when I decided Charlotte Mason (CM) would be one of our chosen methods, were all six CM volumes from Ambleside Online. Yes, ALL six volumes.

Wouldn't you know it though, they have started to gather dust on the bookshelf as I've carried on looking for other methods, curricula and anything else free I can find on the worldwide web.

Effort has been made to look at the first volume but with the chaos and noise usually surrounding my attempts, I decided I need "peace and quiet to concentrate". Ideally, this time would be up in bed, after the children are asleep and the house is peaceful. Well! Gone are the days I can keep my eyeballs open past 8.30pm, so try as I might I have still got nowhere.

Yes indeed, I have tried waiting till the kids are asleep, grab the folder and start reading ... but only a few paragraphs later I realise I can't remember what I've read! So, the folder comes back downstairs each morning, left open on the same page ready for me to get my teeth into "as soon as I get a chance" during the day. LOL

On thinking of ideas to give my reading added incentive, I joined the Ambleside Year 0 Yahoo Group, but they were already onto page XXX and were deep into discussions on a particular take (subject), so I feel very far behind - probably because our seasons and school terms are different to northern hemisphere. I just wish I found the group sooner! That's okay though, I've saved what the questions are for each chapter and the aim is to play catch-up, or start from scratch on the next intake/class.

So, what I trialled this week was to read as much as I can as I ride my exercycle and you know what?! It works! And better still, the few pages I have read have grabbed my attention.

Do you remember just the other day I was talking about wanting to be an inspiration to the kids? How there is no greater satisfaction, no greater desire than to teach your children because as parents you are their first teachers anyway? Well, as I started reading the first volume I felt the words jumping off the page as if I had written them myself. I could honestly relate to what CM was putting across. I've never experienced this before, but am thrilled it has happened.

What better incentive than relating to a transcript you might have written yourself had you the eloquence and true train of thought to do so?

No wonder everyone who gets on the CM forums say they love her books. All I want to do now is kick back and start my education with Volume 1.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

I decided that although we're only starting our homeschooling journey, it would be an interesting exercise to see from the outset what kind of homeschooler I am and then perhaps in a year or so, re-sit the quiz for comparison.

And ... from the following results, I would have to agree!!!

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?




Mr. Potato Head You have your ideal of how things should look, but youre flexible enough to allow for change. You are not bothered by changing methods, mid-course if necessary. You use an eclectic combination of curriculum sources. Visit my blog: http://www.GuiltFreeHomeschooling.blogspot.com
Take this quiz!








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BTW I have added a few new widgets, including the option to receive email updates ... and if you wander a little further down you will see a new world map from NeoWorx. I no sooner loaded that onto the blog, when low and behold I had someone visit from China. I had noticed on the first map that I have been receiving visits from China, so that's brilliant. Maybe you are students learning English, or homeschooling families?

Ni hao ma.

I hope you return and put comments one day. Thanks for dropping by.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Why Homeschool? Part Two

Okay, so I left off yesterday semi-avoiding the topic about my reason for homeschooling.

And yet again I will take a detour, but hopefully you will follow the roundabout way I attempt to answer my reason (yes, singular reason) to homeschool.

Here is where we detour - well, we go back into my history for just a second, actually.

When I was younger and would be asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I would adamantly reply, "a Policewoman". Why? Because (1) my dad was a policeman and (2) I wanted to help people.

Where's that crystal ball when you need it?

Wai ka hua, wai ka tohu - who knows what the future holds?

To cut a long story short - I didn't fulfill that dream.

Well, since those times I have travelled a totally different route to what I had envisioned.

I have even taken a few new turns in the past six months and in saying that, I have a few more immediately in front of me.

So, you may recall yesterday I touched (albeit briefly) on achieving my own educational goals. The trouble is, I'm not sure what to study now, because I am such a different person to the one who started studying oh-so-many years ago.

I'm not one for making excuses and I will admit that over the past decade I have started, stopped, changed, and tried my hand at a lot of subjects and after all that, I know now that the direction I was taking then, is not the direction I want to go today.

And this is where I start to turn the story back in the direction of the children.

It is because of the near-future that I realise I can and will return to my studies; and that's thanks to Daddy getting out of his business. For the past 7 years I have tried to be there to tautoko Daddy and the business, and shortly he will take a new route himself. It is in this knowledge that I sent away to Massey, Waiariki & BOP late last year. (BTW I haven't dismissed Waikato, Auckland, Wellington or Dunedin.) At the same time as I sent away for course info I was researching homeschooling.

So, I applied for a couple of courses, but due to financial circumstances not changing fast enough I am now looking at starting in the second semester ... or failing that, I know I will be in a position to start next year.

Okay, I could probably talk longer on this, however, I will now bring the circle around a little further and just say that today I had a kōrero with a good friend to see what they thought from their perspective. Quite simply we discussed the ultimate dream. And my ultimate dream is? To be kaiwhakaohooho - inspirational.

Utopian? Hey, I did say ultimate "dream"!

So now I have come full-circle to give you my answer: I want to homeschool for the same reason I want to be a parent. I want to be an inspiration to our children.

If I can inspire them, not because I am their mother, (i.e. unconditional love and all that!), but because I have followed my dream through to fruition, because I believed in myself (to fly through the face of adversity) , then they too will achieve their dreams because they believe in themselves and they believe in their future because they are inspired to live to their full potential. To fulfill your destiny is to be all you can be.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Why Homeschool? Part One

A recent conversation I had with a dear friend, reminded me I still haven't written down the "reasons why I want to homeschool". I was about to use this post today to record my reasons, when I decided I needed to take a little time first and think exactly what my reasons are.

In the process, I told myself I should check my emails to get them out of the way, and wouldn't you know it!! I got side-tracked. But I found a very relevant blog in the process!!! So, I've decided to share an interesting post called "What non-Homeschoolers may not know". Now, although I haven't been homeschooling nearly as long, I can still relate to the essence of this post. I'm sure there will be many others who can too.

And now, back to our wee household ...

We are all feeling healthier this week and enjoying the lovely Autumn weather. Having fine weather always helps, don't you think? For everyone I mean. Being able to do something outside (even if it's just hanging out the washing, or sitting on the deck), just having that fresh air makes all the difference. Yes, you could be inside putting the house in order, but at the end of the day, are you happier knowing you have made the beds, done the dishes, got all the laundry done, or would you rather be happier knowing you threw the basketball around with the kids, pushed your toddler on a push-bike because he wants to be like his older siblings, walked to the letter box with the children (which would otherwise be a 2-minute drill), and instead you allow one child to open the box, another child to collect the mail out of the box, the third child to close the box and then (if you have enough), you divvy out the mail for each child to bring into the house and open up (all the while hoping they don't tear anything inside!!!).

Yes, my daily chores may include vacuuming, laundry, dishes, etc etc, but my days of worrying about an immaculately-presented home are well and truly over. (If you knew our living circumstances you'd know I am limited to create "immaculate" anyway LOL!!!!) To be honest, I actually love the fact that our children have toys, books, paper, sticky tape, clothes ... you know, the general children's mess ... I love having it everywhere. Needless to say, we do pick up three or four times throughout the day, but this "mess" (for want of a better word) is one of the main reasons I wanted to be home with our children. I didn't want to be here disciplining every 5 minutes, demanding things go back exactly where it was found ... if I did, I'd have stayed as a working mum, have the children in kindy, daycare, public school. If I followed that 1950s train of thought, then yes, I'd have a lovely tidy house, with my kitchen bench pristine clean awaiting my return each night. Yes, we'd arrive home (about 5.30 or 6 o'clock at night ... in the dark), walk into a cold house, race to light the fire, get dinner on the table, rush through homework, get the kids into a bath, a quick story and tuck them into bed by 7.30 because we all need a good night's sleep to be up early in the morning to race off and go through the motions again.

I may have loved working and putting my all into that environment, but nowadays my family takes priority. For the same 8-10 hours per day, 5 or 6 days a week that I put into a job for someone else, please explain to me why I cannot/should not/would not do that for my family instead? I may not be paid in monetary terms, but instead, I am paid with love, compliments, hugs, kisses, companionship, friendship and memories.

So yes, I'm very happy with the clutter, the spills, the laughter, the tears, the fights (I could pretend they don't happen), the teaching, the learning. For as many reasons as anyone could say homeschoolers should have their children in school, I know we can all come up with twice as many reasons to tell them why not.

Look, at the end of my lifetime, I may not have achieved (or possibly I will, one must remain optimistic) my own academic goals, but the most celebratory feeling I will have will be the knowledge that I truly do know our children and our children truly do know me!! What, in all else that you may achieve in your life, is better or more fulfilling than that?

To LIVE as a family is to BE a family (and vice-versa). Hey, not bad Maree. Pat on the back for thinking up that one!

And on that philosophical note, I must away. Our beautiful 7 month old girl, DD2, is calling me from upstairs to let mummy know she is awake and ready to join her family!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Classwork with the children

DS1 is enjoying his time on the computer. Broadband is a definite must though. Waiting for things to chug along with dial-up can be hideously frustrating - even for a child!

I only introduced him to the computer [proper] in the past fortnight. I'm not too keen for the children to learn from/on a computer, but in today's day and age, I guess it's part and parcel of their education, or is that my own perceived expectation?

At the moment it's quite easy to monitor and limit his access time, but no doubt once confidence builds and attention span lengthens, I'd say he'll start kicking his mother off to have "his computer time".

Most of the schooling however is the good old fashioned way; writing in his exercise book and reading. He manages to read for about 10 minutes at a time before he's had enough. Then it's play time with siblings and animals etc.

Luckily for me, Rob has been the main kaiako for maths with the kids. Mindful of the fact I need to become confident with teaching the subject myself, I thought I'd see if DS1 was ready to learn multiplications a little more difficult than he's used to.

Well, we fumbled along, and he registered the bulk of what I was trying to do with him, which was great. Certainly gave me a bit of confidence with tackling a subject I've not particularly enjoyed since early childhood.

Creativity abounds with the children when it comes to craft/art. We are extremely limited in our abilities to purchase materials, so the children amaze us with what they are able to produce with the barest of essentials. As much as they have learned to be so resourceful, I certainly look forward to the near future when our financial situation will change so the children can really get in amongst all the wonderful craft projects I'd like to do with them.



I shouldn't finish today's post without acknowledging our beautiful DD1. She is great with numbers and I had a reminder of that yesterday. Uncle Warrick came out for a visit and the children had just finished their school work. I had them show their work and when I asked
DD1 to talk about her efforts, she surprised me when she recited and wrote the numbers without a problem. It's not that I didn't know she was good with her numbers, it was just wonderful how confident she said and recognised them all.

Today is DD1's birthday and I'm more than pleased that our little 4 year old is enjoying school too.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Teaching the Classics

On previous posts I have expressed my desire to introduce Classical, but that's all I've said about it so far. This is one of those areas that will remain under construction for some time yet. Why have I picked Classical? Hmm, that's a good question, one which I struggle to have a sensible answer for I'm afraid. All I can say is I have a good feeling about it. I can "sense" DS1 is classically-inclined. I realise that may sound like a load of gibberish, but it really is the best way for me to explain it at the moment.

Now, of course, there's the possibility that it's me who wants to do classical because I think it will be exciting. By all means, I am guilty of enjoying the idea of studying Latin and Greek that's for sure. Having been to Catholic schools I was always annoyed that we weren't taught Latin. Now I feel like this is an opportunity too good to pass up. But putting it into perspective is the tricky part. I need to work out that I can see the benefits for "DS1", as opposed to pleasing "me". Naturally I can always learn these things myself even if it transpires that classical is not for DS1 (or any of the other kids for that matter). More than likely, yes, I will learn Latin for my own educational purposes. Over the past 5-10 years I have made so many excuses why I haven't finished my studies, but now because I have the opportunity to mould our children's future, that I realise I have my own future to think about as well. So, yes, I hope that DS1 will fit straight into classical and enjoy it, because that way it will make it so much more enjoyable to be in there with him. Even taking the step to start reading the Great Books is a test of my sustainability!!!! I could only wish to aspire to be so intelligent like Plato, Socrates etc!!!!

As I say, though, this is a work in progress. I cannot say for sure whether DS1 will take this route, but in the expectation that my motherly-instinct, my gut-feeling - however you wish to describe it - is correct, then I look forward to giving future updates about our classical learning.