A guest post; by Miss 5

Generally we don’t adhere to a timetable of weekday, weekend and school holiday. Generally we follow a schedule of our own making, and recognise that learning takes place at anytime of the day or night, and we seek opportunities to learn or teach whenever they are presented to us. In April, however, circumstances were such that we decided to have a rest from school, when everyone else was having their school holidays as well. This meant that resuming our “school work” coincides with the return to school for those in the mainstream, and the beginning of Term 2.
Today I was able to take an hour and reorganise my office, and run through what we have achieved and covered in the last 4 months. This gave me a pretty good indication of just how much work and effort Miss 5 has put into her days, and how much she has flourished, given the opportunity to have control of her own learning. Obviously the things she does are on par with her age and development levels, and obviously there is an amount that is facilitated by me as her ideas and abilities may not coincide with each other. But her ideas, and her direction, and her subject matter, as well as the time of day and amount of time spent on her learning; are all hers to decide. I also understand that there is a percentage of society that can not accept that a child of 5, or any child for that matter, will – when given autonomy to choose – willingly make the decision to sit down and learn one subject or other. I can only say that it has been my experience – and the experience of every homeschooler, unschooler and teacher that I have met or spoken to – when interest, passion and encouragement are present, a child will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, do exactly that 😀
So after I had organised the office and filed away Miss 5s work from last “Term”, I sat down with her over lunch and discussed how she thought things were going. I asked her if she liked what we were doing. I asked her what her favourite bits were, and what she thought she might like to do differently, and then we talked about setting goals for the rest of the year. I had to explain to her what I meant by a “goal”, and she understands it as being something that she would like to finish, something she would like to be able to say “look what I’ve done”, and with a deadline of Christmas time. I was about to write the goals down on a piece of paper to put in our work folder, when she asked what I was doing. I explained to her that if I wrote the goals down, it would make them more real and we could refer to them down the track, to make sure that we remember what we wanted to achieve, or “finish”, and to make sure that we are motivated to keep working towards finishing.

(Before I go on, some background information: Miss 5 is aware that I write a blog and that we have a facebook page, I’ve told her that our Moderator needs to see what we’re doing and how well she’s progressing, as part of our “reporting” to the Department of Education. We are a pretty tech heavy family, so she understands that doing things online make it easier for everyone concerned. We’ve started to use the term report as an umbrella term to indicate recording something for the blog or the facebook page, and if I’m being honest, Miss 5 does really kind of like the fact that people read about her. She says it’s like being famous XD)

Our next conversation looked like this:
Miss 5: Why don’t you put it in the report? That way our school Margaret (moderator) can read about it, and all of my friends (by which I think she means fans 😉 ) can read about it.
Me: That’s a good idea, sweetie. Maybe I should.
Miss 5: I could do it.
Me: You could do it?
Miss 5: Yes. I could do it. I could write a report. Well, you know, I could tell you what I want to say and you could write it. Because I can’t write yet. But it would be my report. And I can tell my friends (fans) about homeschool and what I want to finish this year. Can I Mum? Can I do it?
So without further ado, I am pleased to present my guest blogger, Miss 5 😀

I am 5.5 years old and I am doing Homeschool. I really like homeschool because I get to spend more time with Mummy, and because I get to be with my two sisters.
I like learning how to write, and I like playing new games. I love going outside to play and I don’t have to sit on a chair all day.
At normal school, I think, no one gets to go on a hike or a bush walk and chase the birds anytime they want. Which makes me a bit sad.
So far I have learned how to do more of my numbers, and I have learned about spiders and I have done lots of cooking.
My favourite thing that I have done in homeschool has been Chocolate Day. It was the best day EVER! I don’t think kids who do normal school would have a chocolate day, I think maybe the teacher would say they would not be allowed to eat chocolate and candy at school.
The BFG has been my favourite book, and it can write B.F.G, because that’s really easy. I am looking forward to learning about space stuff and going to the library, and maybe we can go to Adventure World for homeschool (this is a blatant attempt to get me to agree to a day at a theme park – which is closed for the winter season!)?
My three goals for this year are:
1) Learn how to read.
2) Learn to do woodwork and build a cubby house with my Daddy.
3) Make some of my own clothes and learn how to do tie-dye, on some T-shirts.
I really love homeschooling lots and I want to keep doing it.

One proud and happy Mama, right here 🙂

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Charlottes web, and some time off

We have had such a giant few weeks here. I had a birthday, very quickly followed by Easter, then Miss 11 months became Miss 1, and Miss 2 turned 3. We have also had a visit with the girls cousin from Sydney. With so much going on in the way of birthday parties, Husband being home, and a little road trip down south with my niece, we have not really done a whole lot in the way of “formal” schooling. There has still been plenty of natural learning happening, though.
We read Charlottes Web over the last few weeks. Being as busy as we were, it took us a little longer to finish than usual. Miss 5.5 particularly liked this book. She is a bit of a country girl at heart, and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the farm, and the animals. Fortuitously, as we started to read the story, a beautiful Orb Weaver appeared in our garden. Of course the spider was christened Charlotte, and our bedtime routine quickly included going out into the garden to see where Charlotte was building her web for the night, and to see if she had caught her dinner. The girls were able to get nice and close, and Miss 5.5 decided she wanted to learn more about spiders.
We spent around 30 minutes watching documentaries on you tube about spiders. Miss 5.5 learned the difference between an arachnid and an insect, as well as how they use their spinnerets and legs to build their webs. She was amazed to learn that spiders spin different types of silk, one type is strong and tough and is used as structural supports for the web. The other is fine and sticky and is used to trap prey. After watching the documentaries, Miss 5.5 – with the help of Miss 3 – asked for a ball of yarn, and used it to build her own “web” on the climbing frame. To anyone not really paying attention it looked like a giant mess of yarn, but she had actually put quite a lot of time and thought into where she was going to wrap her web, and how many times it would be wrapped in certain places or ways. There was some definite thought put into the structure of the web, and by the time she had finished, she could climb into the top of the frame and the “web” would hold her body weight. I was thoroughly impressed 🙂
On the back of finishing the book, I took the girls to Landsdale Farm School, where they could get up close and personal to some of the animals we had just been reading about. Miss 5.5 spent a bit of time looking at the pigs in the pigpen, they were quite a bit different to the cute, pink, piglet type pig she had been imagining 😉 The girls were able to pet nearly all of the animals at the farm, as well as feed a couple of goats and enjoy a ride on the farms tractor-train. It was a really fun way to round out our reading.
One discussion that we’ve been having, that has been brought on by reading Charlottes Web, is the one about where our food comes from. The girls and I have a small veggie patch, and they know that their fruit and vegetables come from plants or vines or are dug out of the ground. But until recently they have never really questioned where their meat comes from, and I have not brought it up, leaving it up to them to question when they’re ready. Charlottes Web describes in some detail how the spider catches, kills and eats her prey. And of course the entire plot of the story is based on the premise that Wilbur, a spring pig, will be slaughtered for the dinner table when the cold weather comes. Miss 5.5 knows what a carnivore is, and has done since she was 3, in a text book kind of way. After reading this book however, I think Miss 5.5 has actually realised what being a carnivore means in a practical sense. We have talked about the food chain, how every living thing relies on every other living thing for something, and how the meat that is on our plates at dinner time comes from an animal. Now it is not unusual for Miss 5.5 to ask me what she’s eating for dinner – meaning what animal – and even what part of that animal. I think it’s a healthy conversation to have with her. I don’t want her thinking that her food comes to her perfectly clean and prepared and in a little plastic wrapper, fresh from Coles. I want her to know about farming and food and how vital it is to us. I want her to have enough compassion for the animals that she will care about how her meat is farmed and processed, and I want her to understand how meat benefits her body and her health.
We plan on having another few days away from “formal” lessons, as it’s widely agreed here that we need some time to rest and regroup after our huge month. In the meantime we have lots of outdoor play to focus on, a kite to fly, a couple of new books to read, and Miss 5.5 has asked to add space to her lessons 😀 There is also Musical Theatre classes, Sports class with other homeschool children and play dates galore. Term 2 is going to be a good one!

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