Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Digital Savvy ~ Review

In this age of technology it is really important for our students to understand fundamental computing topics so I knew I had to review the new Digital Savvy course from CompuScholar, Inc. My teen has been using the information technology course, 'Digital Savvy' which we were given access to for the purposes of this review.

What is Digital Savvy.

CompuScholar, Inc formerly known as Homeschool Programming has a range of computer courses aimed at middle and high school aged students.

Digital Savvy is aimed at grades 6 - 12 and is an overall Information Technology course. It aims to teach the students about computers, various applications, it explores social media, has them creating simple web pages.

The topics covered in the Digital Savvy course are:
  • Hardware, software, and operating systems
  • Managing files and folders
  • Basic networking
  • Online safety and computer security
  • Using Word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs
  • Creating simple databases
  • Image editing
  • Using social media and email communications
  • Introductory website design
  • Simple computer programming concepts
  • Exploration of computing careers

This is exactly the sort of course I have been wanting my teen to undertake.  A good overview of all things I.T and so far this course has been valuable to him.

How We Have Used Digital Savvy

This has been one of the easiest to use programs we have come across in a very long time. It is so well laid out and navigation is a real breeze. As a user you really can't get anything wrong.

After logging in to the program and selecting the Digital Savvy Course we were greeted with the screen below. There are a total of 25 Chapters in the course.

Each chapter contains several lessons, a brief quiz at the end of each lesson. A culminating activity and chapter exam is also included.

It really is as simple as log in and get started right where you left off the previous day.

Below I have shared a series of screenshots showing the progression through the program.


After logging into the Digital Savvy Course you are met with the chapters screen. Digital Savvy contains a total of 25 chapters.



The lessons within each chapter are again very simple to navigate to. Each lesson contains a video and a quiz. All of the quizzes are graded.
 


At the end of each chapter (approximately 3 - 5 lessons) is a culminating activity or project. These are submitted to the teacher (parent) for grading and the grades are stored along with each of the lesson quizzes.



On completion of all the lessons and the activity for each chapter is a longer multiple choice test, which once again, this is graded.

What We Didn't Like

My son and have been chatting about this and there really isn't anything he doesn't like about the course. Some of it he already knows but that will be the case with many things he undertakes. Whilst he still is only in the early chapters the short lessons and ease of use really make this such a simple subject for him and a very hands off one for me.

What We Did Like

For me as the teacher/parent I love that this is completely graded. All of his scores are kept and he can see his grades for each test immediately. He also has the option of repeating the test if he wishes to try and improve his score.


To use the program effectively we need nothing other than our computer and a decent internet connection. Every now and then a pen and paper and a word processing program is required but the bulk of the course is completed through the course itself.


As a busy mum with younger kids in the house that need my attention having the teen able to work independently, even on new to us courses, is such a blessing.



Looking Ahead

Without a doubt we will continue working our way through this course to completion and I am very confident that I will have my other children take the Digital Savvy Course also as it is great computer science basics course.

Further Details

Payment options for courses are either month by month or year long access. To find out more details about this program be sure to visit the Compuscholar, Inc website. You can also find them on your favourite social media channels. Facebook -
https://www.facebook.com/CompuScholar Twitter -  https://twitter.com/CompuScholar

If you would like to read other reviews about the various courses offered simply click on the image below.


Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie Aftermath


We recently experienced one of the worst natural disasters our local area has seen in a very long time. I personally have no memory of anything ever hitting our area as hard as this.

In less than 30 hours our area had 890 mm of rain dropped on us. No wonder it had nowhere to go.



We though, are the lucky ones and whilst being placed on a possible evacuation list was mightily scary our only real threat was that of surrounding roads being cut off.


And cut off they were and still are. The above three images are from a road that we use almost daily. The sheer force of the water is simply unimaginable.



This is a major bridge and thoroughfare for our area and we cross this bridge at least once a week. It is an area of the river that floods regularly, but that happens way down below the bridge, across the old original bridge that is much closer to the actual river flow height.


This newer bridge is several metres higher than the flow of the river and has received extensive structural damage.



For water to bend a light pole is simply mind blowing.


The kids could not believe their eyes and this was absolutely hands down the best way to show them the reasons why they never ever enter flood water or try to cross a bridge that is covered with flood water.

We simply have no idea what is under that water and whether the bridge is even actually still there, as happened a few kilometers from us.

So whilst we certainly didn't want to experience a natural distaster on this scale and my heart breaks for everyone that has been so severely affected by this, it truly is education at it's best.

Eyes glued to the weather radar, watching the cyclone, tracking it's moves, discussing the eye and then watching how it breaks up as it heads south.

Then sitting through the torrential rain, only to wake and see the worst flooding we've seen right across the road from us.

Nature's fury right there in all its glory.



The vast majority of the time flooding creates nothing but havoc and devastation but every so often it creates a beautiful scene and the stillness of what appeared to simply be a lake was quite beautiful, except that it was covering a road, had entered several houses in this area and took lives, both animal and human.

Simply heartbreaking.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creating A Masterpiece ~ Review

We are currently receiving excellent fine art lessons via the monthly plan from Creating A Masterpiece. Our family has been access to this online program in return for our honest review.


What Is Creating A Masterpiece.

C.A.M is an online subscription based fine arts program, that is suitable for students of all ages. We were provided access to the Monthly Plan option.

The video lessons are presented by the artist herself, in an easy to follow step by step manner.

All the lessons are broken into appropriate levels so that you can easily assess the difficulty of which level would best suit the child.

In all there are six levels, plus an art history section, to choose from. Within each level are several art projects all using a wide variety of mediums.

This is not an arts and crafts or simplistic art projects program. This is a fine arts program designed for school age students. 

How We Have Used The Program.


When we were first given our family access to C.A.M we immediately set out to explore the site. There is a large number of projects for the children to choose from. After a good look around in each level, watching a few video snippets and downloading the printable supply sheets for a couple of the projects, we settled on choosing an introductory level lesson.

 Lessons In Watercolour: Floral Medley

This particular lesson was broken into three step by step videos and it required drying time before moving on to the next step in the video lessons. 

Sharon, the artist, walks the students through every step of the process. At first we tried to keep up with her, only pausing the video when we needed. We quickly realised for us it was better to watch the video all the way through and to then go back and begin the lesson ourselves, referring back to the video when required.

From there we moved on to a lesson using oil pastels.

 Lesson In Oil Pastel: Winter Cabin

This was a longer lesson with four videos in all, which the kids chose to complete over a couple of days.  Each lesson also includes a section with hints and tips to assist you in getting the best out of the video lessons.

My teen decided to tackle one of the lessons with something a little more challenging for him. He does enjoy his art and seems to me to have a natural flair and this program is a good fit for him to be able to work quietly and independently.

 Lesson In Soft Pastel: Country Rooster

As I type he is sitting across from me on the other computer browsing the lessons for his next choice.

What We Didn't Like


There's actually not a lot we didn't like about this program. If I had to pick something it would be that my youngest does not thrive in this type of video based art instruction. This is the third program of a similar nature that we have tried and I have come to realise that for now at least this type of art instruction is not for him. 

He finds it all quite overwhelming, the watching, the doing, the remembering it all and then add in the fact that his piece never looks like the piece in the video and he simply doesn't enjoy it. My eldest two though are fine working with a video based instruction program, so you just need to really know your kids.


What We Did Like


The variety of what was on offer and the depth at which the student can go if they wish. Some of those upper level pieces are really quite involved, so even some of the most accomplished artists will not be bored here.

The fact that this is true art. It is not craft. It is not cookie cutter art either, that you often see in other programs.  

Now that we have settled in to the program I love simply adding 'art' to the list of topics to be completed this week and my eldest two can get themselves online and choose their own project and complete it entirely on their own.

I also really like the variety of mediums on offer in the various lessons:

    Acrylic
    Batik
    Block Printing
    Carving
    Conte' Crayon
    Copper Tooling
    Glass Mosaic
    Gouache
    Ink
    Mixed Media
    Oil Painting
    Oil Pastel
    Pencil/Charcoal
    Sculpture
    Silk Painting
    Soft Pastel
    Watercolor
    Wood Burning


Looking Ahead


We were given access to Creating A Masterpiece for six months, in return for our honest review. It has absolutely found a staple place in our week and it will continue to be used here in our homeschool.

Further Details


I always love a true, 'try before you buy' and you can do this with Creating a Masterpiece, with their free sample project.

To view the various ways to subscribe to the Creating A Masterpiece website visit their subscription page.

Want to know more? Visit their website or follow Creating A Masterpiece on facebook.  



I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see more reviews about this vendor from other crew members simply visit this link. 

 

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Circle C Stepping Stones ~ Book Review



My daughter and I have been digging in to the world of Andi and her pals, with these Circle C Stepping Stones books written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications. We received the first two books, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under The Big Top, in return for our honest review.

The first in the series, Andi Saddles Up, takes the reader back in time to the Circle C Ranch during the year of 1877. The book introduces nine year old Andrea Carter, on her birthday. Andi is extremely excited, given that it is not only her birthday but that she is also now old enough to ride Taffy, her beloved horse.


Andi dreams of learning to trick ride, just like her friend Riley always used to do, but her big brother Chad simply won't hear of it. Chad has been the man around the farm since their father passed away.

Andi goes on to meet a new friend, Sadie, but Sadie's Pa is in a land boundary dispute with Chad and things are very tricky. Can Andi and Sadie continue to be friends?

Whilst they aren't in abundance the illustrations that are contained in the novel are beautiful hand drawn sketches and just add that little extra to the story.

This story contains some wonderful life lessons and Andi certainly learns some hard and painful ones throughout the story.

It's a great one to read together, that's for sure, as both adults and children alike can take something away from this. My daughter read this aloud to me a little each day and after each reading we moved to the free printable study guide that is available on the Kregel Publications website.

The study guide includes chapter comprehension questions, vocabulary word practice, crosswords, poetry writing activities, character activities and more. It was a good way to extend on the reading.

If you have a daughter that loves horses and farm life then she is sure to enjoy getting in to this adventure with Andi.



We also received the second book in the Circle C Stepping Stones series, Andi Under The Big Top.

It's summer on the Circle C Ranch and the circus is coming to town. One needs to remember that it is the year 1877 and having something like a circus arrive in town with all of those exotic animals really is a big deal!.

As you can imagine Andi is brimming with excitement to get along to the circus and to watch the show. She is somewhat wary of the clowns but goes on to thoroughly enjoy the circus.

Whilst there she meets a young boy, name Henry Jackson, who has run away and joined the circus. It seems like it is everyone's dream, to run away and join the circus doesn't it? But is Henry really loving his life? There is much more to his story than first appears.

Andi decides that she needs to help her new friend but at what cost?

Again this installment brings many life lessons. Can Andi really help Henry to find his way back home?

Once again there are a few beautiful illustrations scattered throughout the book and a free study guide is also available to download.

My daughter is slightly above the recommended age range for these books and we did notice at times that they were probably on the young side for her. We did notice on the website though that there are other series following Andi as she grows up so we will take a closer look at those.

Overall we both enjoyed these, although felt Andi Saddles Up grabbed our attention more.


If you would like to read further reviews of these books by other Homeschool Review Crew members simply click on the graphic below.

You can also find more details about this series via Susan K. Marlow's facebook page.

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}


I trust this review has helped you to learn a little more about the Circle C Stepping Stones range.

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie


Crew Disclaimer

Monday, February 20, 2017

Homeschool Transitions

Here we are at Week Four, the final week of the Not Back To School Blog Hop. If you missed the first few weeks why not go back and check them out, there's been some great posts shared by some of my fellow Aussie Homeschool Bloggers.

Week One we chatted about our hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead.

Week Two saw us talking about how we school.

Week Three our focus was on resources for the year ahead.



This year we are transitioning into much more serious work. My eldest has entered his final three years of home schooling and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit freaked out by that for various reasons.

He and I have chatted at length about the future ahead. We've both agreed that ensuring he has a strong educational base to leave here with is of the utmost importance to all of us.

That's not to say that we've spent the past ten years of our home ed experience sitting around twiddling our thumbs because we certainly haven't. We've simply done things differently over the years to what we are doing today.

"Today is about more structure, more focus and more accountability on both of our parts."


Is this an easy transition for us?

No, it isn't. I'm tired already and we aren't even halfway through our first term. I am already checking the calendar for our next school break and he is most definitely feeling the added pressure.

But we are simply forming new habits and doing so takes time, hard work,  diligence and perseverance. New habits are not formed over night.

Would we have found this easier if we'd been doing what I guess could be called a more standard model of homeschooling over the years? Without a doubt I believe so yes, as it would simply be a natural progression. Do I wish I could go back and change how we have done things over the past ten years. Without a doubt, NO!


I wholeheartedly embrace the notion that children need play and lots of it, even when they are teens. They need loads of time to tend to themselves, to be bored, to explore, to seek out their own interests and to simply just be. Most often the way to achieve this is by lots of unstructured learning and bucket loads of down time. All of which we have experienced over the years.

I also feel we are finding this much harder simply because we are coming off the back of a very haphazard year.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not believe in any way that I have placed to high expectations on either myself or my tenth grader. I know some of you showed concerns when I shared our resource list, but I will come back to how we are using those resources in another post.

He is still doing far less 'sit down at a desk' academic type work than some of this other home schooled and public schooled peers. Granted he's also doing more than others too. But this is not about what anyone else is doing. It is only about him.



Through our entire homeschooling period one of the most important things to me has been one of 'enjoying life'. That really has been of our big driving forces in home schooling. To not be bound by school terms, school rules, school work and everything else that goes along with attending regular school. We are free to do as we please and simply live life on our terms, not one dictated to us by the institution that is school.

I always said that as a home school family if the kids get to a stage where they don't have enough time to simply enjoy themselves then they might as well be in school. Sitting at home on their own completing school work all day every day is no fun for anyone. At least if they were at a high school they would get to talk to other teens.

I have always vowed that our home school would never become like that and so we find ourselves in that tricky place of transitioning.

Of ensuring we keep the wonder, the fun and the excitement alive. Ensuring there is plenty of 'play time' and time for friends, yet making certain that the academics are not being left behind.

Whilst it is still only early days in the year some of the things we have done to help us ease into our new routine is - - >

A thorough weekly check list for the tenth grader. This gives him the freedom to work on what he chooses, but by having a full week's overview he can easily see what he may be favouring and what subjects he isn't getting in enough of.

Using this though is going to take some work. Whilst we've tried checklists over the years, they've never been something we've stuck with so it will take work and even then I can't be sure it is something we will continue with.

The checklist is not only for him though it also helps me to see where he is at and I use the info on the checklist to plug everything in to a private blog he and I have.


The blog is our primary record keeping tool. I am currently adding in every thing he does in his day onto the blog. This means being diligent in snapping photo's, keeping up with everything he is doing, scanning documents and then adding all of this to a post each week.

I must admit though I am really loving being able to open the blog and see what he's accomplished. In previous years there was a little part of me that wondered how much we were actually doing and now I know because it is right there in front of me.

We also need to start a portfolio of sorts, but as yet I don't really know how we will go about that. For now I think at the end of the first term we will go through what has been completed and decide what is worthy to go into the "high school years portfolio". That one needs some more thinking on though.

The other challenge for us is that we still have two younger kids in the house and so we find ourselves in the position of having two kids that have completed their structured work and are off doing things of their own interest whilst the tenth grader is still going at it with his work. That also means that for me I am still 'switched on' for a much longer period in my day than what I have been in the past.

Being certain that we have a serious focus whilst work is being completed, that we are keeping track of work that has been completed in an adequate fashion and also adding in more assignment based explorations is challenging. I also know that the accomplishments at the end of the week are great.

The other factor is he currently doesn't have a direction he is working towards. Now that is totally fine my be and him, but it does leave us in a situation of not really knowing what is going to be important or not. And so for this year at least we are exploring what we can, ensuring we have a wide enough, yet deep enough coverage in the subject areas for him.

As always, plans change, we will always remain very fluid and at any given time if his direction changes then everything he is doing will no doubt change to suit that. These next few years are all about meeting him where he is at and constantly reassessing what we are doing on a daily basis. Actually as I type that I realise that that part of home school is no different.

So for now this is where we are at. A place of forming new habits as we both enter what is new territory for us.

Be sure to read the other bloggers posts linked up below. Simply click on one of the square images to be taken to their blog.





Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

2017 Homeschool Resources

Here we are at week three of our not back to school blog hop. This week our theme is that of 'Resources'. This is generally an area that everyone is interested in. It's always helpful to see what others are using and even more so if you happen to find a new to you product that may just be what you're looking for.

Don't forget to visit the other blogs by clicking on their links in the images at the bottom of this post.

If you still need to catch up on week one, our hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead or week two,  the way we school, then now would be a great time to do that!

I must admit this year has well and truly got a head start on me. I'm still back at January first, in many ways, to be honest. Whilst we've well and truly started back with all of our book work and most of our regular activities I'm yet to actually write up and share a list of our resources for my two younger kids (7th & 3rd grades). The days have been full and have left little time to write I'm afraid.

As soon as I get that done I will come back and edit this post. For now though I do have our resources for my 10th grader which you can see here >>>

10th grade homeschool curriculum

He and I have also started a private high school blog. This is where we will record all of his learning that happens. It also includes lists of all of his resources and go to websites for him. I have started creating his assignments in a blog post too.

So far we are really liking this set up for record keeping and assignment setting. The goal will be to get to the stage where he is adding all of his own record keeping. We will also use this as a way for his over seeing school to easily look in on his work.

Be sure to read the other bloggers posts linked up below. Simply click on one of the square images.






Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017




Well here we are, at the tale end of our schooling years for my first born. Oh how bittersweet these times are!

It's so wonderful seeing him grow and flourish and gain more independence, but those times where he would curl up on my lap, or the hours we spent pouring over picture books, or when he would, completely on his own accord, offer you his very last sweet, all seem like they were only yesterday. How I wish I could have those days back, those slow, carefree, full of cuddles days.

Any how, this wasn't meant to be an all out sappy post so let's get on with it. We are doing Grade 10 officially this year. Following are the resources we have chosen. In some areas it will appear as though we are doing way too much but I am now looking at these last years as a whole, so many of them will continue to be used into next year and maybe even the following, depending on where he is at.

Family Morning Basket

*Read Alouds - his choice & mine
*Logic Of English - we are taking our time slowly working through this, it is an extra but we like it
*Rotations of - Nature Journal, Artist Study, Current Events, Character Study, You Tube Learning

Mathematics

*Math U See - Algebra 1, moving into Geometry sometime in the year
*Life Of Fred - Pre Algebra with Physics, he is continuing to supplement with LOF, keeping a little behind where he is at with MUS so that he can come back around and practice, in a different format, already learned material.
*Brainetics with co-op - full of fun math tricks

English/Language Arts

*Institute Of Excellence in Writing - Level C (with co-op)
*Word Up for Vocabulary (we didn't get to this last year)
*Logic Of English, covers spelling & grammar
*All In One High School - we are going to take a look at the English over there this year, but just working slowly on it, will see how we go with this one
*Novel Studies
*Assigned Reading
*Free Choice Reading

Science

*Exploration Education Advanced Physical Science Kit
*Engineering topics with our co-op, including a Science Fair
*We hope to look at the Physics over at All In One High School, will just see how things are going in that area.
*You Tube supplements from Crash Course Physics and Doc Schuster Physics
*I believe our co-op is looking at Joy Hakim Story of Science for later in the year
*Plus supplementary living books on physics

History

*Big History Project, we will be very much taking our time with this one
*Documentaries
*Living Books
*I believe our co-op is looking at Joy Hakim Story of Science for later in the year (history & science)

Humanities

*Australian Civics & Citizenship with co-op
*Emergency Services Cadets Program with Rural Fire Brigade

Geography

*He is still working through the Visits To Europe he began last year. This is really a supplementary course so it doesn't get looked at all that often.

The Arts

*Drama Lessons
*Musical Theatre Productions with community theatre group
*Documentary Film Making with co-op
*Art Classes with a teacher
*Art Appreciation, morning basket and/or All In One Highschool course

Technology & Design

*Wacom Drawing Table
*Coding with Raspberry Pi with co-op
*We are currently chatting to an Art teacher about the possibility of doing some Technical Drawing classes with a small group of teens.

Sport

*Sailing Lessons
*Karate Lessons

Home Econmics

*Weekly Cooking of Family Meal
*Baking
*Washing
*Household Chores
*Managing his own money

Other

*A resume is high on the list
*Studying for his Learners Permit
*Saving for a car eek!

Seems like such a huge year when it is all typed up like that, but even with all of this I am still pleasantly surprised with just how relaxed most of our weeks are. He and I have chatted about ramping things up a little for this year, but mostly it's more about ensuring that whatever he chooses to do he gives it his best shot. As is always the case with each year, we are very fluid. We always have a plan but we are always open to plans changing.


Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Way We School

It's week two of the Not Back To School Blog Hop for 2017!

Have you all been and read the posts from the first week of our not back to school blog hop? If you haven't done that yet please go and check them out. You will find the links to them here at the bottom of this post.

This week our theme is

The Way We School


Like most homeschooling families, this has changed many times over, during the past eleven years for us. I try my hardest to be fluid, to meet the kids where they are at and to find ways that work for all of us. Simply doing what works, as opposed to what everyone else is doing, has been my mantra for quite some time now.



For now what has been working for us is a 4 pronged approach to homeschool. Those 4 prongs are made up of co-operative peer group learning, morning basket family group learning, independent rotation learning and doing one more thing.

I'll give you all a quick overview of each of those prongs and how we roll with them.

Co-operative Peer Group Learning


This is an area that has grown exponentially for us over the past couple of years and for my teen especially has become an imperative part of his education. I am a strong believer that we all need a peer group and even more so as our children age. That's not say that I agree with sending off them for 6 - 8  hours a day 5 days a week to spend all of that time with their peers. No way! But we do need peers, they help us see the world through their eyes, to learn from, to grow with, to bounce ideas and thoughts around. To be there for us celebrate to good times and hug us in the not so great times. Our peers help us navigate the world around us, they assist us in learning how to deal with others both in good times and bad. If we forego those experiences as a youngster then how will we ever learn to navigate the world that is full of strangers out there.

However, co-operative learning for us needs to be quality, it needs to be able to mark off a true day of school. Yes we are absolutely having fun, but we are also learning and learning at a deeper level, not just gathering with others for socialising and calling it educational.



So we currently partake in 2 co-operative learning days a week, during school terms. One runs for 6 weeks and the other for 8 weeks. One is very small with only 4 families involved, but it allows for a real closeness to grow. The small size also gives us the opportunity to really dig deeper in what we are studying and truly spend time on the things we need or want. For example our teens in that little group have spent the last 2 years working solidly through Australian History and a Creative Writing Program. We have time to take our time, we don't need to limit what we are doing to a short 8 week block.

Our other co-op is larger, with around 35 children across a wide group of ages in attendance. This co-op is a bustling hive of activity and all of us enjoy our co-op days immensely.

Morning Basket, Family Group Learning


I've mentioned our morning basket time a bit here on the blog, simply it is a way for us to gather together as a family. To bring all the various ages, abilities and interests of my kids together. A time to begin the day, to bond and to grow together.

As the kids have grown they have needed to branch out and work more independently, morning basket has been our way of keeping at least part of our day for us to all be together.




Independent Rotations


This part of our day is exactly as it sounds. Independent Rotations follows straight after our Morning Basket time. Basically each of the children complete independent work and then I rotate through seeing each of them.

Each child heads off to their own area to work independently. For my 8 year old this means still having me very close by, but slowly he is becoming more and more independent in his work.  As soon as he and I are done, he has some free time.

I then move on to my middle child to go over her work and to complete anything we have that we do together. We also use this time to do more reading aloud, when it's just us and she can choose a book she really wants to read.

Then she joins her little brother for a spot of free time and I head over to see what my eldest is up to. We don't meet every single day, but at least twice a week he and I will sit down together to chat about what he's up to and where he is headed.

By that time it is well and truly lunch and we are all ready for a break.

Doing One More Thing


Now this is one area that I am really not very good at. We always start the year out well but I do tend to let this slip by the wayside. So once again my plan is to be more intentional with our 'doing one more thing'.

All this simply means is that after lunch we do something else. It doesn't mean that it is an afternoon spent tied to the books. So basically it could be an art project, some history reading, a documentary to watch, a science experiment to complete etc etc.



In my head I see us rotating through topics and subjects for this part of our day and I have begun writing out some plans for this, but in reality it is more likely to be, let's just see where it takes us.

And that then brings us to the end of the day, or the more structured, formal learning part of our days anyway. It's been working well for us and it is a routine we will continue to put into place until it longer works.

How about you? Do you have a routine like structure to your day? Please share it the comments so others may be inspired. Or if you blog, why not join us in our blog hopping fun.

Be sure to read the other bloggers posts on 'how they school' by visiting the links below.






Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hope, Dreams & Goals For Our Year Ahead


Well the start of a new school year is already upon us! Once again I have teamed up with some of my Australian Homeschool Blogging friends to bring you four weeks of 'not back to school' blogging fun.

Over the coming weeks we will all be blogging about our year ahead, and what we envisage that to look like for us. At the bottom of each 'not back to school' post you will find links to the other bloggers that have joined in. Simply click the image and it will take you to their blog and their post on the same topic.

This is such a great way to get a well rounded overview on differing ideas. Two heads are better than one, so the saying goes and when it comes to planning for and setting up your year ahead this is definitely the case.

If you are interested you can view past Not Back To School Blog Hops at this link.

Our first themed NBTS post is one of looking ahead, one of dreams of the future and of the goals we've laid down, not only for ourselves, but for our children, our family and our homeschools.

And so as Walt Disney said:


We've had such a tumultuous eighteen or so months that our lovely homeschooling groove really has fallen by the wayside. We kept up our academics as best we could but it was very haphazard and snippets of time were grabbed when we could get them. Then there is the constant battle of the screens in all of the their various forms that have invaded our days and have affected how they pan out.

Now I take full responsibility here for that one. I spent many years fighting screens, and not allowing mindless game playing, until finally giving in to the dreaded peer pressure, which at the time was Minecraft. This it seemed, has opened the flood gate. I know I am in a place where it can't be closed and in all honesty I don't want to close the gate completely. There are many valuable uses for the various screens and let's not forget the joy my kids derive from them. We all need a little mindless downtime here and there.

As most of you are aware we were also experiencing some major life trauma's and my guard was down a great deal of the time. I just didn't have the emotional capacity to worry about my dying friend and how much time my kids were spending on screens. After all my kids are all fighting fit and healthy, my best friend was dying before my eyes. And so the kids easily gravitated to their screens more and more. Whilst part of me regrets allowing that to happen, I am choosing to give myself some grace here. Last year was a majorly 'sucky' one and I know I was doing the best that I was able to do given the circumstances.

We've also moved from a very home centered school day to one where we partake in two relatively academic co-ops. These have been a wonderful addition to our lives in many aspects, but in part they have also made learning at home with just one's brother or sister appear a little boring.

So, whilst I do have a long list of hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead, my number one focus will be on bringing back the joy into our homeschool. Bringing back our focus, our routines and connecting our hearts once more so that our days at home together, albeit different, are just as joyous as the days we spend with our co-op friends, or the time the kids are playing with their screens.

It's called balance isn't it and that is my main driving force for the year ahead. Bringing back the balance.



What about you? I'd love to hear what your hopes and dreams are for the year ahead. Please share them in the comments.

Don't forget that there are some other wonderful Homeschooling Blogs joining me in this post, just scroll down a little and click on the images to be taken directly to their posts about their hopes and dreams for the year.





Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Easing In To A New School Year



Can you smell it?

The wonderful smell of a new year, with all of it's gifts just waiting to unfold before us.

The plans have been made, the books have just about all arrived, shiny new stationery is sitting here just waiting to be picked up and used.

If you're anything like me, the days just before a new school year are always somewhat bittersweet. I still yearn for the long, carefree days of summer, but at the same time I am so eager to get back into some kind of regular routine.

Eager to open up and begin exploring all of the possibilities that a year ahead of learning will bring. Eager to jump right in and fill our days with all of that learning goodness.

However, the kids on the other hand aren't generally as enthused as I am to begin a new year. Now please don't misunderstand me here, they are always happy to get started again and are especially eager for all of their regular activities, classes and co-ops to begin again but after such a long summer break it does take them a while to find their groove.

These are always the moments when I consider year round schooling once more, however I know for at least this year that's not how we're going to roll. When the children were younger and we were a great deal more relaxed in our homeschooling, year round worked for us perfectly.

Now though as the kids are all growing so quickly and things have gotten somewhat more structured, sticking relatively closely to school terms is what's working. Not forgetting that we are now heavily involved in two co-ops that also meet many of schooling needs and both of these fit within the regular Australian school terms of four per year.

Anyway, I digress. Today I wanted to chat about the first couple of weeks of a new year straight after a very long break from regular lessons.

I learned very quickly and very early on in our homeschool days that the kids find it incredibly difficult to simply jump back to all that is expected on the first day of school and often times they are still struggling to find a good groove into the second and third weeks of the year.

This is where I've learned to slowly ease us back into things extra gently. It makes the transition as simple and smooth as possible for everyone.

So this is what works for us, not saying it is the best way, it's just something that seems to work well here in our home.

You would think that I would want to jump everyone very quickly back into the 3R's and of course we do need to get back to the basics of homeschooling. However that is not at all what I do.

Day one will see us gathering together at the table, chatting about the year ahead. Even though we continually do this in a less formal manner throughout the summer break I always like to make sure we have a more formal discussion about some of the plans ahead.



From there we will have a look through the new offerings in our morning basket and hopefully get somewhat excited about what we find! I'll try and have the kids guide me here with what we actually begin from the morning basket, but it always involves lots of reading and generally some drawing.

We will most likely head out for a casual lunch to celebrate our first official day back and folks that's about it for day one of a new school year. We may come home and watch a movie together but really it is a very laid back, casual day.

Now day two is where things can get weird. Day one is generally always a pretty great day and therefore I'm super keen to add in a bit more the next day and I've learned from experience, trust me, that this is the day the heels will dig in. So this year I'll be trying my hardest to simply allow day two to flow, if the mood is great I will have an art or science lesson prepped and ready to go but if we don't get to it then that's ok too. There's always a documentary to watch together.

Over the coming days we simply and slowly begin adding in little chunks of extra's. A history lesson here, a maths lesson there and continue along that way until we are back into our regular days and routine.

Which in my head this year see's us following this basic structure. On a day in which we have no co-op and are home all day it will look like this. Begin all together with our morning basket, break into our independent rotations, with morning tea during this time and follow that up with an after lunch session of art, science, history or geography. I will try at some stage to come back and post in more depth about how we structure our days.

So it really is a quite simple way to start the year off but at the end of the day if we don't have our kids hearts then we also don't have their minds. Therefore working together in a way that mutually suits both of us is simply the best way to get our year off to a great start.

If you've struggled with the back to school blues with your kids I encourage you to let go of the long list of items to be checked off your list and just allow the first couple of weeks of your year to flow in gently, like a beautiful, slow flowing tide. Trust me, you will be rewarded in the long run.

Here's to an amazing year of connection, fun and learning in your homeschools.



Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Homeschooling Help Booklet - Free Printable



I've been helping out a couple of friends with preparing for their year ahead in the homeschooling world. For those of us that have been doing this for years we know how crazy it can get when trying to make the best possible decisions for your children, your homeschool and your family environment.

It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of what all your homeschool friends are doing and comparing your list of ideas against theirs. It is always in these moments where we need to come back to us. To our children, to our family and to the things that we hold dear.
To help my friends in a way that is as least overwhelming as possible I put together a very simple Free Homeschooling Help Printable Booklet.

It contains all the important stuff when it comes to thinking about the year ahead. Not only what we will utilise for specific grades but it also covers some of the heart stuff. The things that are truly more often, more important than the subjects and the resources.


The booklet is twenty pages, with a very no frills design. Simply print it off, grab a cuppa and start completing it. If you're anything like me though you'll work on this over quite a few different sittings.

If you have friends that are new to homeschooling or that may be feeling a little overwhelmed please share this blog post with them.


Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 


Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?


Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.
 

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