The start of our third year. And there were two.

I have been trying to get to this for at least 6 weeks now. But, as I’ve learned, adding an extra member to the family has actually taken away about 4 hours from the day. I don’t know where those hours have gone, but I don’t have them anymore. I don’t seem to have time to do anything! But today I am forcing myself to make a dent in the paperwork I have been neglecting. I have to do it now, before it gets too bad, because this year I have TWO students 🙂 This year my little Miss 4 should be starting pre-primary, which is the first compulsory year of schooling, here in WA. And I just can’t imagine ever bringing myself to do that to her. She’s only 4. So she has been officially registered with the department, and luckily for all of us, we can now offer her all of the time in the world. To play, to explore, to be outside, to be little.

I sat down to write our this blog post as a summary of the last three months of 2017, and I was thinking to myself that, with the arrival of our Littlest Miss, and all the challenges and joys that a newborn in the house brings, there was actually not as much “school work” being done. And certainly I had not been as diligent in the recording as I usually am. But going back through the posts in our Facebook Page, that I use as a photo diary, I was actually surprised with just how much we have accomplished. It may not be conventional schooling, but it certainly is a true education.

So while I was living in a fog of sleepless nights, baby brain and newbie snuggles, this is what Miss 7 got up to.

Miss decided she wanted to learn about different countries around the world, and started with Australia. She did various worksheets on Australia, played with Australian money, visited “Australian themed” wildlife parks and playgrounds, and made Traditional Australian food. She also include the indigenous flag and some indigenous languages in her unit.

During her cooking lesson, Miss 7, with the help of her sisters, had to read the recipe, measure out the ingredients and make the dish. Using this method she made Anzac cookies, Damper Bread, and (with a little help from me) Pavlova.

The girls spent around 3 weeks in total on Australia, before moving on to Japan. During the unit on Japan, they followed pretty much the same pattern of learning. They learned about the flag, coloured in a map, and paid special attention to animals native to Japan (being the little naturalist that she is, this was her favourite part. She watched documentaries on the Sable, the Spider Crab, Koi Fish and the Japanese Macaque, declaring that the crab and the macaque were the most amazing animals ever!). We ate at a Japanese restaurant and made sushi, and they also learned how to sing “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” in Japanese. I can’t seem to upload the video, it it can be seen here.

As the year drew to a close, I began to struggle more and more with my responsibilities as a home educator and my responsibilities as a mother, especially of a newborn. And I decided not to push the around-the-world unit. We concentrated, instead, on excursions and opportunistic learning. And birthdays 🎉

Notable excursions included the Dinosaur exhibition at the convention centre

A trip to the Perth Aviation Museum

The girls also attended a homeschooling sports carnival, where they competed in races and played games, made friends and won ribbons. They were both on the yellow team, and just had a ball!

We have also had a run of life cycles and up close encounters with critters. Friends of our had the opportunity to hatch some chicken eggs in their house, and the girls were lucky enough to be invited to go and watch. They loved seeing the pipping stage, and of course the chicks were a hit. We also got our hands of some silk worms. Just quietly silk worms would have to be the most high maintenance life-cycle examples to keep in your home!!! The amount of mulberry leaves that they eat is incredible. We had them for around 6 weeks, but sadly they all died before they could complete their cycle. The most exciting development in this area is the motorbike frog that has moved into our backyard, taken over our swimming pool and hatched at least 500 tadpoles! We have given taddies to almost a dozen local families and still have so many. The girls go out every day to check on the tadpoles and feed them – they like spinach. They have researched how to care for tadpoles, and know that we are expecting around 100 Motorbike froglets in roughly 8 weeks time 😱 On a side note, the Motorbike frogs are just stunning to look at.

So now we find ourselves in 2018 (how did that even happen?!) my Miss is 7, my little baby is 7 months old and I am homeschooling 2 children. I have been trawling the Dept Ed websites for inspiration on how best to report to the dept. with 2, and still school them the way that I want to. And I think I have figured it out, at least for now. The girls have picked up where they left off. They have started on Ireland, the country of their fathers family, and coloured their flags and maps, ready to put up on our Wall of Nations. They have selected recipes for Irish soda bread and Irish stew, with Guinness (for Daddy). They are also practicing the same “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” song, in Gaelic. They have told me, however, that they need more practice, before I film that one 🙂

And this is what lessons look like in our house now 😍

Before I go, a little note just on Miss 4, as this is now as much about her as Miss 7. She seems not to have the same aversion to writing as her sister. In fact she is quite eager to practice her letters and wants to write full sentences, so she already does a lot of copy work – especially for someone who is basically unschooled. The other day I came across this little sample.

2018 is looking pretty good 😃