May is the month when we have our yearly visit from our Department of Education Moderator. She is a lovely lady, and the girls adore her. Which makes moderator visits an easy and pleasant event.
Basically the way it works is; The role of our Mod (School Margaret, as the girls call her), is to act as a liaison between us and the Department of Education. She helps us make sense of the curriculum – and believe me, help IS needed. If you have ever taken a look at the Australian curriculum, you would know what a long, convoluted and barely understandable document it is, and as a home educator, we get no training in how to decipher it, or how to apply it to our everyday – She offers us information on curriculum and syllabus, she offers advice on how to proceed with our plans, she offers tips and pointers on how to make sure we don’t have any gaps in what we’re doing, and she keeps an eye on the children, to make sure that they are making consistent improvements. The moderators do not enforce particular styles of home education (although they may have a preference that they try to steer you towards), and they do not enforce a particular style of reporting (although they may have their preferences and try to steer you in that direction). I see my relationship with our Moderator, as a give and take. She is incredibly helpful, incredibly flexible, and incredibly encouraging of the style of homeschooling that we implement, so therefore, I will do my best to report in a way that she prefers, and take on board advice or requests from her, that might make her job easier – and in turn make my job easier. We have to work together, and we both have the best interests of my children in mind, so cooperation is paramount. On reading my report, and having a chat with the children, and viewing some of the work they have done over the previous 12 months, the moderator will write a report to the Dept. Ed recommending another 12 months of home education.
This year, things are a little different. Firstly, Miss 4 is officially registered for home education. Secondly, another child means a second file of paperwork and reporting. Not that I do a whole lot, but with 4 children, anything extra is an inconvenience! Thirdly, half way through last year, I gave birth to Littlest Miss, and the pace of our lessons and extra curricular activities, slowed down dramatically. And I will admit, that as May draws closer, I have been getting a little bit concerned with thoughts of “have they done enough?”. And lastly, I am facing a hugely busy 2 months between now and May, and because of this I may or may not be in a position to give my report the attention to detail that I prefer. So I made the decision to write it out now.
Over the last few weeks I have been preparing a spread sheet that lists each General Capability, within each Key Learning Area, with links to each Curriculum Code, for each grade, for each of my children. This sounds like a lot, and initially it has been, but now that it is set up, maintaining it will take a matter of a few minutes, every few months. It will keep the authorities happy (hopefully) as it shows the links, codes and practices that they want to see, it will make my life easier, because in the long run, it means less paper work for me, and it is a pretty useful tool, simply to highlight any potential gaps that may be present.
Further to the curriculum spreadsheet, I have also completed my usual point form summary of what Miss 7 (and now Miss 4) has done over the 12 month period. As I mentioned, I was initially a little concerned with the content of her 12 months. With a new baby in the house, it feels like we’ve done not a whole lot. BUT, while I was typing up our summary, Miss 7 has actually done SO MUCH!! SO much! It has been a pleasant surprise and a great reminder of the awesomeness that is homeschooling. The amount of excursions and outside activities, that she has done, compared to her mainstream counterparts, is incredible. So I thought I’d share it with those of you who might be curious. And, lets keep it real, because I want to have a little “proud Mama” moment. 2017 was a really tough year for us personally and to still achieve this for my daughter – and to witness her own personal achievements – makes it a little sweeter.
Year 1 (May 2017-May 2018)
In June 2017, I gave birth to our baby girl. In the months that followed, the pace of our home schooling schedule slowed significantly. During this time, I relied on the process of natural learning, and Miss 7s innate curiosity, to direct her lessons. Obviously, with a newborn, there was a large period of time where our movements were restricted to home and lessons were kept short and simple; cooking, gardening, watching documentaries, helping to look after the baby, playing with her friends and her sisters, verbal discussions, learning apps on the iPad etc. During this time, I concentrated on Miss 7s ability to read, and improving this skill with her. Since the beginning of 2018, as the baby is bigger and my younger daughter is now registered for home education as well, lessons have begun again, more regularly, as have our outings and excursions and workshops/classes.
Over the course of the 12 months, I was beginning to notice small gaps in Miss 7s learning. In order to help eliminate this, I have purchased a number of textbooks, for her to complete on a daily basis. The subjects of these books are predominately Maths and English, as I feel that all other areas are being fulfilled satisfactorily. I have identified a couple of areas that I feel require extra attention, and have taken the steps to find the best way for us to do so. An improvement in Miss 7s writing abilities, is my main focus on the upcoming 12 months.
Moving forward, from June 2018 – June 2019, our family has planned, a 12-month caravanning tour of Australia. We see this as being a fabulous opportunity to connect as a family, strengthening familial bonds and relationships. We believe that the learning opportunities that will be offered to the children will be invaluable, and the education that they will receive on the road will be so incredibly unique, that we feel we cannot pass up the opportunity. In this regard, subjects such as PE and Health, HASS and Science will be adequately covered in a natural learning environment, as we travel. To facilitate progress in the areas of Maths and English, I have introduced EXCEL textbooks, for Miss 7 to complete on a daily basis. This will continue on the road, and will ensure that she remains up to her year standard in these critical subjects. Coupled with the textbooks, Miss 7 will complete a “travel diary” documenting our time away, as an ongoing project, as well as practice for her writing skills. We have also purchased various educational games to take with us on the road, we have educational and learning apps for the iPad which will be coming with us on the road, we have a NETFLIX subscription so that she may continue to watch the documentaries that she loves, and we have an account with BORROWBOX – an online library account – so that Miss 7 may still borrow books from the library, as she does currently. We have also registered in an online AUSLAN course through AUSLAN Australia, which we will continue to complete, on our travels. Leading up to our departure, Miss 7 has been studying a map of Australia, as well as Google Earth, to develop a “bucket list” of places that she wants to visit during our time away. She has been researching attractions and points of interest, and has determined that we will visit every zoo in Australia as well as, as many “big” icons, as we can (the big banana, the big pineapple, the big merino etc). To further help document her journey, as well as learning a new skill, Miss 7s grandfather bought her a digital camera, to take with her, in order to take photographs of her travels. I believe the educational experiences Miss 7 will be exposed to, on the road, will be immeasurable, and I am confident when she returns, in 12 months, she will be academically on par with her peers.
- Miss 7 has successfully mastered the basics of reading. She will read a variety of different texts, both fiction and nonfiction, and demonstrates the practice of “sounding out” and recalling learned “rules” to determine unfamiliar words.
- Miss 7 has successfully completed a year long Foundation Music class, where she learned the basics of reading and writing musical scores. She also learned the basics of playing a musical instrument, and participated in an end of year concert – where she was the only student to perform an original composition.
- Miss 7 participated in a Home-school Art Exhibition, that was displayed in conjunction with Book week, and the theme “Escape to Everywhere”. She completed a piece of progressive art, based on her desire to escape to Paris. She displayed a learned knowledge of art, by selecting the style of “Pop Art” to emulate in her work.
- Miss 7 participated in two (2) Home-school sports carnivals in the Swan Valley, where she demonstrated team work, co-ordination, strength and an ability to follow direction. She was also the recipient of more than one ribbon on each day.
- Miss 7 has consistently displayed empathy and compassion towards her peers, understanding that some children may be shy, or new to the group. In these instances, she will introduce herself, as well as her sisters and her friends, and will extend an invitation to the child in question. Miss 7 also displays a natural inclination to help and include children with special needs. Miss 7 has consistently extended friendship to a young boy with a disability, and even furthered her learning of AUSLAN signs, in order to communicate with him.
- Miss 7 has participated in the Joondalup Lantern Parade, which included an 8week art class, leading up to the event. On the night of the parade, she joined her peers and participated in the street performance.
- Miss 7 was afforded the amazing opportunity to help my midwife use a doppler and ultrasound machine, and scan her own baby sister, while I was pregnant.
- Miss 7 collected and took care of silkworms. Observing them grow from small caterpillars, to very large caterpillars, to cocoons.
- Miss 7 has helped to, successfully, raise tadpoles, from eggs through to froglets. This is an ongoing project.
- UNITS STUDIED
- Miss 7 completed a unit on Art. The unit was ongoing for a period of approximately 4-5 months, and included use of different art mediums, different techniques and language associated with the visual arts, studies of particular artists, and creating original artworks based on what she had learned.
- Miss 7 studied the artists; Picasso, Cezanne, Kahlo, Kandinsky, Monet and Warhol. She also learned about drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, textile art, jewellery making and body art.
- Miss 7 learned about components of visual arts; such as Line, Shape, Size, Texture, Tone, and Colour. She discussed concepts such as “what is art”, “what makes art GOOD”, and “who gets to decide”.
- Miss 7s art unit included excursions to the art gallery, a felting workshop at Milktooth Art studio, and participation in the Home schoolers Art Exhibition.
- Miss 7 has been working on an “Around the World” unit for approximately the last 3-4 months. This unit is based on her subscription to the Little Passports. So far, she has learned about Australia, Indigenous Australia, Japan, Ireland, Mexico, France and India.
- With each country, Miss 7 has studied the flag (including the symbolism of any colours or images on it), the language (including learning how to say a few words, or sing the song Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes), native food, native animals, national holidays and/or costumes, landmarks and monuments, and geography.
- Miss 7 has used various atlases and maps to learn about countries, continents, direction (north east, south and west), and can usually find a country, if given general directions in where to look.
- Miss 7 has watched you tube clips on the different countries, and has also watched documentaries on various countries and/or regions around the world. Documentaries have included David Attenborough’s ‘Madagascar’, ‘Frozen Planet’, ‘Blue Planet’ and ‘Blue Planet II’, as well as ‘The Mysteries of Easter Island’, ‘Tutankhamun’, ‘The Book of Life’ (about the Mexican Day of the Dead), and Steve Backshalls ‘Deadly 60’ series.
- Excursions that have supported this unit have been; eating in a Japanese restaurant, eating in a Mexican restaurant, the Tutankhamun exhibition at Perth convention centre, the Holi Festival of colours at Perry Lakes Reserve and the Zoo.
- Miss 7 has also collected various coins from countries like New Zealand, Canada, China and Taiwan, she has cooked recipes from countries like Ireland and Mexico, and she has looked at the learning app Duolingo, and Google Earth, to supplement her learning.
CLASSES, TOURS AND WORKSHOPS
- Dance class (Miss 7 discontinued dance class in June of 2017, on the birth of our latest baby)
- Swimming Lessons (Miss 7 discontinued swimming lessons in June 2017, on the birth of our baby)
- Music class
- STEAM co-op
- Lantern art class
- Jnr Archaeology class (3week workshop, completed in March 2018)
- Drama Workshop
- Water Corporation
- Macramé necklace workshop
- Essential Oils for kid’s workshop
- Constable Care safety talk
- Bike Safety day at Police Head Quarters
- Bunnings Father’s Day gift workshop
- Milk tooth art studio Felting workshop
- Ceramic class
- St Johns Ambulance children’s first aid workshop
- Body Movement workshop
- WA Reptile Park tour and talk
- Perth Zoo tour and talk
- WA Ballet company tour and talk
- Worm farm workshop
- Nearer to Nature class (3 classes held on three separate occasions)
- The Pinnacles
- Tadpole hunting (various creeks and waterways)
- Hillarys Marina (rock climbing and exploring tide pools)
- Armidale reptile park
- Caversham Wildlife Park
- Landsdale Farm school
- Perth Science Fair
- The Children’s Forest (Whiteman Park)
- WA Aviation Museum
- Swan Valley Home-school Sports Carnival
- Bells Rapids
- Yellagonga Regional Nature Space
- The Beach
- Dinosaur Exhibition Perth Convention Centre
- Tutankhamun exhibition Perth Convention centre
- Fruit picking
- Busselton Jetty
- Geographe Bay
- Bunbury Dolphin Centre
- The Gravity Discovery Centre in Gingin
- Holi Festival of colours
- Star Swamp bushwalk
- Moore River camping and exploration
- Joondalup Lantern Parade
GROUPS, CLUBS AND SOCIAL MEETINGS
- STEAM co-op
- Burns Beach to Butler playgroup/co-op
- Perth NOR west home schoolers social meetings (this group of children meet every 2-3 weeks in various locations purely for social purposes)
- Just Jump Wanneroo
- Miss 7 has made friends with various children and an effort is made to facilitate regular contact between her and her friends
LESSONS, SUBSCRIPTIONS AND WORKBOOKS
- The Little Passports subscription
- AUSLAN Online
- Excel workbooks – both English and Maths
- Various learning apps, including;
- Teach Your Monster to Read (reading app)
- Scratch Jnr (coding app)
- Little Alchemy (science app)
- BBC Earth (HASS app)
- My Incredible Body (science app)
- Toca Elements (science app)
- AUSLAN tutor (LOTE)
- Literacy Planet (English app)
- Word Mania (English app)
- Build a body (science app)
- Stop Motion Studio (Design/Enterprise app)
- Water? (science app)
- Patchwork (critical thinking app)
- Blokus (critical thinking app)
- Google Earth (HASS app)
- Progressive art project for submission for the Home schoolers Art Exhibition.
- Miss 7 has written a script adaptation of the story of the Three Little Pigs, and also made masks for a performance of it.
- Stop Motion animation productions using the app Stop Motion Studio.
- Completed the building of the cubby house, with her father.
- Miss 7 has raised silkworms to the point of building a cocoon. Unfortunately, none of the silkworms survived.
- Miss 7 and her friend built a raft out of almond milk cartons, to see if it would float in the pool, and hold their weight. It did.
- Miss 7 has raised tadpoles, from eggs to frogs, in our backyard wading pool. She has observed the metamorphosis, researched the breed of frog and how to care for the tadpoles. She has fed them on an ongoing basis, handled the animals and cared for the frogs.
- As part of her ongoing care for the frogs, Miss 7 has built a habitat, applying the knowledge she has acquired, on what environmental elements the tadpoles and frogs will require.
AREAS REQUIRING MORE ATTENTION
- WRITING; Miss 7 has consistently shown a resistance to writing. She finds the mechanics of simultaneously forming the letters, spelling correctly and thinking of what she wants to write, to be quite an overwhelming task. Because of this, her handwriting skills, letter formation (she will still reverse her letters) and particularly her spelling seem to be slightly behind her reading skills. Moving forward I will be implementing daily writing in a travel diary, where she can record her favourite parts of our upcoming trip, and add mementos as well as photographs. I am hoping that this will interest her enough to improve her abilities. I have also purchased an Excel Spelling and Vocabulary textbook to supplement the English textbook she already uses.
- MATHS; For the most part, I am quite pleased with Miss 7s mathematical abilities, however, since purchasing the Excel Maths textbook, I have noticed some gaps in her learning. Mainly in the area of statistics and graphing. I intend to do some additional work with her in this area, and I am expecting that she will fill in any gaps, as she moves through her textbook.
So…wow huh?! Turns out she has been one busy little lady! Miss 4s report looks pretty similar to this one, just not as long, as she has only been “official” since January, and what she was involved in, last year, doesn’t really count. AND, in case you missed it, we are off on a 12 month, round Australia trip! YIPPEEEE! The kids, my husband, and I are so very excited. Departure is set for mid June, and is only 3 months away. In the next 3 months we have to pack up the house, ready the car and van, find a cat-sitter, and continue with school, as usual. Then….. Roadschooling for the win 🙂
Watch this space!