Saturday, 10 April 2010

April - the end of Term One - already!?!

I sit here today thinking how Term One was an absolute blur to me.

Although I knew we'd be leaning towards the "natural" - or "unschooling" - learning style for a few weeks to a month following the birth of tama 4 in January, I was not banking on my mum dying in March! so natural learning ended up as the basis for our learning this first term.

Brief examples include:-

Health - the kids are learning about caring for a baby having hands-on experience with tama 4. Also the A&E when I thought tamāhine 2 had broken her nose. In hindsight I probably overreacted but having lost my mum I wasn't strong enough in my thinking that it was nothing more than a bad fall with subsequent bleeding nose, so I played it safe and raced to the hospital. Y'know, I'll be surprised if we don't end up with one of the kids working in the health industry with the experiences they've had to date, lol.

Social Studies - I could point out the cultural learning they experienced with their nana's tangi. I'm reluctant to share anything indepth and specific but I'll at least highlight things like getting to sleep in the wharenui and someone always needing to remain in the wharenui with nana (tūpāpaku). Respecting protocol of Te Arawa - boys to the left, girls to the right. Being the immediate family we cannot work in the kitchen with the ringawera but the kids got stuck in when setting and clearing the tables and watched as the operation unfolded each time manuhiri came into the wharekai. Waiata - lots and lots of waiata. Māori love to sing whether happy or sad the occasion, and until you experience it you can only imagine the almighty power it has to unite your people. It's awesome. ... Look, there are probably a truckload of examples I should be able to come up with, but some things are so second nature, one can't think of them too easily. Oh, what about a koha? That's a good one to understand. Without koha (gift, donation, contribution) which today is more in monetary form, tangihanga will be very expensive for the grieving families. For us, we had mum at Tunohopu from Thursday afternoon through to Monday morning, so you can imagine the expenses involved to run the operation. I have many awesome relations who know how to run the entire ship and like any occasion, it takes organisational know-how, manpower and of course funding. These are all relevant pointers the kids were privy to and whatever questions they asked I was able to point to exact examples to explain.

Economics - The first week following mum's tangi the kids and I spent the bulk of that time with whanau (immediate and extended). During that week, they were within earshot/listened as we discussed serious matters of affair such as koha, insurances, funeral costs and things of that nature.

History/whakapapa - The kids understand their Māori names came from our tūpuna (those who have passed before us). And now, having spent more time at the urupa, I think somehow they (the two older kids especially) have a greater understanding/appreciation of their names and can understand the pride in which I have always had with my whakapapa that they now too share as part of their own lives. Whakapapa in itself, is a life-long education. I struggle to remember many of my relations - unlike my mother who was a knowledge-base I always referred to when needed. Now it's a case of making sure I improve that part of my life.

Socialisation - Socially, they excelled during and after the tangi, with many positive remarks making their way back to me, so socialisation isn't an issue. It never has been, but oh well, you still need to chuck that term around to make others happy.

Well, that's just a few examples of their natural learning. Now, can you recall I mentioned we were trialling Ziptales?

Luckily the trial period ran for a month, during which time of course we had mum's tangi, so having 30 days to trial it made a huge difference for me. My overall verdict: I like it. So I decided this week to spend the NZD$50 and buy a one-year subscription. There are a few reasons I went ahead with it. For starters, I think it's competitively priced. There's not many things one can buy in NZ that is competitively priced to stack up against overseas; unless of course we're talking second-hand. For another, I think the stories are a good length at each level allowing tama 1 and tamāhine 1 to work on comprehension lessons either together or solely. That's quite a major point in swaying one's decision ... how many of the kids can I use it with? When I find I can use it with more than one child then it's value for money. Another reason is the back-up service from Curriculum Concepts. I've had a few questions and I've received very prompt and informative replies. And for another reason, I was pleased to receive such a detailed manual when we were simply trialling the programme. The manual is well laid out so you're able to find what you need in the book, eg what level each genre is aimed at etc. Another reason, the variety of genre which I believe is to extend further to incorporate NZ-specific stories. That'll be great too. One of the last reasons I'll throw in is the fact that we use our computers on a daily basis here, so having another programme on the computer to utilise is simply a bonus for me.

One of the other online programmes I've subscribed to in recent weeks is Mathletics. Possibly not too surprising considering we enjoyed the World Maths Day event so much. I'm a bit of a sucker for variety. I like to give the kids as many different things as possible. Rather than be stuck using a textbook for mathematics, I know the kids are enjoying the lessons on the computer. At NZD$99 a pop though, it's not exactly cheap for this family!!! My poor old Mastercard!!!! It's had a little bit of a workout recently. I laugh about what I use my credit card for. Gone are the days I would flick the whimsical spur of the moment buying (like CLOTHES FOR MYSELF!!!) onto the card!!! Nope, if you bothered to look at the statements these past couple of years, it's all related to the kids schooling. (I'm not complaining, aah aah, just grinning to myself at the changes in life, lol.)

For the most part, I enjoy using freebie stuff on the internet. Just check out my bookmarks. I have too many to remember, but at least they're just a click away. And it's good too, because the kids will ask, "Can I do some (eg typing) mum?" and it's like, "oh yeah, we haven't used that one for a while eh?" I'm glad I finally got a bit better organised at categorising the websites by subjects.

I've only got back into manuscript handwriting practice with tama 2 and tamāhine1 this week. It's been really difficult to sit down and prepare it, and I'm not sure if the kids appreciated having to do their lessons, but it felt important to me that I have to snap back into some sort of normality. Whether it's still too early or not, I don't know yet. We shall have to wait and see won't we?

Tama 2 is improving in his school work. He still poses a challenge - always wanting to do the same as his older siblings. When I try to explain he needs to learn the phonics a little more in order to do the same as the others, he gives me that grumpy look which can be interpreted as (queue thought bubble) .... "that's not fair!" or "but why?!" Having this stubborn streak has meant I've got to take a slower pace with him. I can't afford to compare him to tama 1 or tamāhine 1 or anyone else's child for that matter. I keep repeating to myself, "If you push, it will backfire" so it's a case of changing gears to get the desired end result eh?!

Well, I think that's drained enough out of me today. It's been nice to sit down and compose a post today. I enjoyed it, and it was probably rather therapeutic for me I'd dare say.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

1 comment:

  1. It may only be weeks since your mum passed but wow, you and your kids are doing amazing. Chuckled to myself as I read about "because of a stubborn streak I have had to be patient with Tama 2. I was wondering which one of you had the stubborn streak, or should that be most stubborn streak?