Saturday, 12 March 2016

Snippets from this week

Nau mai, hoki mai, and welcome back!

Monday, we awoke to a guest:

I didn't rush to find out who it belonged to.  He was happy to roam around and munch and just hang out with us for a few hours. By mid-morning we finally got him home.

Tuesday morning kura was interrupted with:

Going!!!  Going!!!! GONE!!!

Steel is worthless nowadays, which means the scrap guys aren't particularly keen to pick it up.  Gone are the days when they would come out and collect whenever they were passing.  To cut a very long story short, the scrap metal truck rocked on down the drive this morning and at long, long, last the van and all the sheets of metal, an old ride-on and an old quad bike have (thankfully) been removed without costing us a cent.  Such a relief, because whaiāipo knew exactly how much it was all grating on my nerves.

Within minutes of the scrap truck leaving, a contractor dropped in to borrow some equipment. By the time he left it was near enough lunch, so I headed off to make that while the kids finally returned to their mahi.  Because the morning had been such a muddle, I sent the kids to the lake after lunch while I organised their afternoon kura.


No interruptions, thank goodness! (unless you count mum having a long kōrero with the postie)

Tama 3 enjoyed making the six times table
It's important the big kids know their schedules well enough because Wednesdays, in particular, are our busiest days.  I wish I could spread myself to learn with everyone because I honestly do miss learning alongside the bigger kids for all subjects.  Although we learn many subjects together as a family, we now have three tamariki with total ownership with certain studies.  As wonderful as it is to have the children grow increasingly more independent, I need to work harder to ensure we all network our schedules to sustain that family learning time - even on our busy Wednesdays.

This week tama 5 (that's the three-year-old) has come to me seeking some mathematics. He enjoys hovering as I work with tamāhine 2 and tama 3. By the time I work with tama 4, you will find tama 5 has sat down awaiting his turn. This week, to oblige, I had him look at the pictures in the MUS Primer to count and then we tried a little IXL. This particular day I gave tama 4 an easy lesson so that tama 5 could join in:

As my long-time readers will recall, we use MUS and always have done since tama 1 began homeschooling.  However, tamāhine 2 reached a point where she struggled and it became evident we needed something else. I had a dear friend recommend IXL, so we gave it a whirl.  It seemed to appeal to tamāhine 2, so eventually, we opted for the paid version and I would hazard a guess we have been using it for 14+ months.

The paid option records your child's progress and a report is e-mailed to the parent. On occasion, the child receives awards, which is neither here nor there for me, because oftentimes we repeat so many of the lessons that it can take a very long time (ie days) before tamāhine 2 gets another prize. She was disappointed not to be receiving her awards, so I came up with a sneaky strategy which worked brilliantly. Luckily she is no longer fazed with the lack of awards, so I don't need to be creative about it anymore.  Phew!

IXL also has a free option which lets you do a good portion of questions before a message appears advising you have reached your daily limit.  The mathematics can be aligned to the kiwi curriculum when you set up your child.  They also have an English programme which works similarly (reports, free or paid versions etc).  

Tamāhine 2 responds far better to this visual maths programme, and this week she showed tremendous improvement.  My approach to her learning this year is somewhat different to anything I've tried in the past.  Without getting ahead of myself, I will, at least, record it is working much better for her right now.  We shall pursue with this method and hopefully enjoy more weeks like we've just experienced.

Ngā tamariki enjoyed their short Nihongo lesson.  I printed out Hiragana practice sheets. Once they are familiar with the strokes, I will change practice sheets. To begin with, though, I think it is much easier to practice with a large script. Our lessons may only be once per week, but I am sure they will all learn the Hiragana with correct stroke order very quickly.


Something we enjoy with tama 1, is keeping abreast of the US presidential debates.  We watch as often as possible these days, especially now that so many states have been voting.

Thursday we watched the Democratic debate on CNN.  (Certainly made a change from listening to the Republicans.)  Of course, I'm not likely to share my feelings about it all in this public forum, no thank you very much. We simply enjoy following the politics, especially from this super power nation.  And, I count that towards Government Studies, Current Affairs, etc.  Because it's playing in a couple of rooms, the kids can't very well escape it. (Even tamāhine 1 and tama 2 and tama 3 will occasionally stop to take it in and periodically ask a question or two.  We will expand on this next term.)
During the previous presidential election, tama 1 enjoyed his (extremely) in-depth studies of the American Government.  I'm so glad we studied it then because tama 1 maintains that same interest. He is more informed with what's going on in the political arena both here in Aotearoa and overseas than his parents at times! Perhaps political science in the future?  Hope so.


I had these four working with me in the classroom while the big kids were - wherever - doing their mahi.
Tama 5

Tama 4

Tama 3

Tamāhine 2

In the above photo, you can see tamāhine 2 is working on her reading.  We have had ClickN Kids ever since tama 2 was learning to read.  He's 11 now, so that's what? Five or six years?  He loved it and completed ClicknRead with ease (yay!) and then I tried him with ClicknSpell which he enjoyed. (I don't recall if we finished the entire ClicknSpell though.)  

One of the beauties for me with ClickNKids is that it is a lifetime membership.  You simply change a child's name and start all over again.

Not only did I use it successfully with tama 2, but I also used it successfully with tama 3 and he is now using ClicknSpell.  Which brings me to the photo of tamāhine 2.  

I reset her lessons when we started back this year because the break proved too long. Unfortunately, she had forgotten a lot more than I would have liked. (You can reset the lessons under the parent access, just as you do with Reading Eggs).

Her daily reading now is Progressive Phonics after mathematics, then either Reading Eggs or CliknKids in the afternoon following Geography. Whichever one we didn't do after Geography, I try my best to squeeze that in after kai each evening.  It all depends on the day, though.  She enjoys this new format and I am determined to have her reading (more fluently) by the end of the year.

The schooling that I am doing with tamāhine 2 now, would not be able to work if the three big kids did not take complete ownership of their studies (well, in all fairness, tama 1 was already in control of his, I just needed to get the other two completely independent).  It was either they took over, or I send them to school because I was failing my second daughter. And yes! I definitely did look at prospectuses of a number of kura.

From 3.00pm NZ time we watched the 12th Republican Debate.  Tama 1 and tama 2 sat in the lounge reading their science while watching, and I listened as I worked in the classroom.

As I was working my printer ran low with ink.  Hardly exciting!  Yes, that's true.  But, having refilled the ink, said printer decided to pack a sad.  No matter what I tried it didn't work. I've never received a message like this before:

We paid good money for this printer yet it's been a headache ever since we purchased it.  I mucked around for what felt like far too long and then decided to flag it.  The upshot of the printer failing meant I couldn't print our History pages!  Grrr...  As a homeschooler, we can't do without a printer for very long.  As a small business, we definitely need a printer even sooner!

With all that frustration, I decided to exercise and watch the follow-up discussion to the Republican Debate with the boys. Tamāhine 1 joined us once she had finished with some of her kura.  The big kids also made dinner to allow their mum to shower after exercising.

Friday night our family settled in and we enjoyed the final of Masterchef Australia 2015 (yeah, that's how far behind we are.  Typical.). I'm not a fan of reality shows except Masterchef.  I loathe any other reality show.  What a close race.  We loved both finalists and were thrilled Billie won.  We would have been thrilled if Georgia won too!  They were both very deserving of being in the finals. There aren't many programmes we watch on TV yet Masterchef has always been a hit with everyone in our family, and it's nice to blob out at the end of a week in mum and dad's room to watch something as a family. We don't do it nearly enough.


Took the printer back to the shop. I don't have time to have it fixed, so we bought a new one.  I wonder how many printers I've had over the years?  Nothing is built to last anymore.

Right, my youngest son is hinting I need to clean the house.  I said I was going to mop the floors and he's taken it upon himself to help mum with some extra chores:

My fitness this week.  I've run 16km.  A great improvement, but I won't be running any marathons soon.  Am I planning to?  No!!! Seeing as I'm unlikely to have another pēpe I just want to get my weight down to where I'm happy - hence no photos of me on the blog.  Hell no!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

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