DesertSMART EcoFair

In Alice Springs we have a yearly Science Fair.20140808_10265120140808_100006

The schools and homeschoolers are invited to attend a hands-on day to explore a range of science experiments and things to help the environment. Our boys attend a CSIRO workshop where they got to try out testing sugar levels in drinks, wattage in different appliances, CO2 levels, UV protection, water evaporation and making electricity grids. You can find out more about the fair here.

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Highlights of our homeschooling for this year

I found that some of our highlights are mingled in with our low times. But as often happens if those hard things hadn’t happened we wouldn’t have experiences the highs. ūüôā I love when we are on our ‘excursions’ out and about. I love the laughter and the fun that we have. I love the spontaneous prayer times we have and the random conversations we have about everything and anything.

Here are some pics to help you capture our adventures.

We started our year with a trip to Kata Tjuta and Uluru. We had a fantastic time exploring and finding tadpoles and other animals

We started our year with a trip to Kata Tjuta and Uluru. We had a fantastic time exploring and finding tadpoles and other animals

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Our kids join with another family once a week This family live 2 hrs north from us and are some of our kids closest friends. They do some wonderful activities together

About to board the Ghan at Alice Springs

About to board the Ghan at Alice Springs

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The boys first hip hop comp. They got a highly commended and had a ball.

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At the Telegraph Station at Alice Springs learning about the history of the place whilst enjoying some timeless games

We went on The Ghan and then on the Indian Pacific to Sydney. We got to stop in at Broken Hill and check out the mine memorial and then on to Sydney where we stayed at Darling Harbour and went to the Powerhouse Museum and a GameMasters exhibition

We went on The Ghan and then on the Indian Pacific to Sydney. We got to stop in at Broken Hill and check out the mine memorial and then on to Sydney where we stayed at Darling Harbour and went to the Powerhouse Museum and a GameMasters exhibition

Ready to leave on the Indian Pacific

Ready to leave on the Indian Pacific

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We live 16 hrs drive from the nearest beach so whenever we get a chance, no matter how cold it is, we venture to the water.

Bowling with some of our friends in town

Bowling with some of our friends in town

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In July, Elijah (our eldest) was sent to hospital in Adelaide for a series of tests due to a long-winded still unidentified sickness (it’s a long story and for another time) This was a low light that had many highs one of them being when our friends let us use their beach house and we got to spend some time together as a family before heading back to Alice.

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More of schooling with our friends from TiTree

Maths Curriculum

20141125_084839¬†When I first started home school I tried to find suitable curriculum for my children but didn’t know quite where to start. I knew of one website LEM and so I tried to get everything from there. I love their phonics program and decided on a Rod and Staff Curriculum for Maths. I felt a little like I was stepping back in time to my old Sunday School class with them wanting me to use a feltboard and cut out 20 little yellow ducks. But it worked for me and my first boy for the first year.

After that, I found there was a range of things it wasn’t teaching that were part of the Australian Curriculum (at that time it was the state curriculum-everyone was different) and it was so repetitive and… boring, but I still tried to persevere with it, not knowing any affordable alternatives… until a fantastic lady from the Education Department was visiting us on our yearly review and suggested Signpost Maths. It has been a gamechanger. It covers everything we need. Is bright and colourful, hands on and is only around the $18 a book for a year! It is also easy for me to follow and gives me helps when I may have forgotten what a concept is :-).

My boys have progressed quickly and the diagnostic tests it does at the end of the term give me good insight into where any gaps in their learning are or things they need more practice. It has worked for each of my boys so far even though they are very different learners. I would recommend this to any family looking for a solid curriculum that doesn’t require a lot of extras. I have included a link to some sample pages of year 5 here¬†.¬†baptism 065

Why I home school

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I suppose a great way to begin is to say why I began. Makes sense really.

We chose to give home school a whirl the year my oldest turned 5. We knew that we didn’t have to start schooling formally until 6 so it gave us a year to try it out without any real pressure. If it wasn’t working, no great loss.

We love the concept of us as the parents having an important part to play in our children’s education. We want to be the significant voice in our children’s lives.¬†In the Bible (which we see as a guidebook for our lives) we know it says¬†to train a child in the way they¬†should go, and we saw that this was a way we could do this effectively.

We want our children to experience a full life with cross-generational exposure. We want kids that aren’t concerned with talking with a range of people and see that it was natural to not be segregated in their lives.

We saw what flexibility it offers our lifestyle. We can¬†explore and teach to their strengths and take time to work through their weaknesses. We didn’t want to stifle them to the environment of the school classroom or playground.

We don’t waste so much time on behaviour management and so we get on to the ‘fun stuff’ quicker and fly through things that would take all day at school.

We do life together. Our family love to hang together. We learn together.

We by no means want to isolate our children and we don’t hate schools (we have both worked as teachers in schools), but we also did not see the benefits of throwing them into a space which is often survival of the fittest.

This feels right for our family. We know it’s not for everyone. (Though I think people would be pleasantly surprised if they gave it a go).

We take a year at a time. If it’s not working for us, we’ll change it up. But for now… we’re up for the challenge.