Monday, September 28, 2009

Freestyle school

Mostly, people think they know what a school day involves.  When you tell someone you're home schooling your children, they want to know what you DO with your kids.  All day, every day?

At our place, we live, we laugh and we learn (thanks, Diana Waring, for this trio) pretty much all the time and anywhere.  We do 'school' for only a few hours a week.  We read voraciously, talk, sing and tell stories, draw, write and trace, we play a lot! 

We are eclectic homeschoolers, as I choose bits of many methods, and odd pages of this and that resource which suit us at the time.  I now like to say that we are Tidal Homeschoolers (thanks, Melissa Wiley for your website, and Kez for telling me about it), which explains the way we go with the flow of life and the seasons.  

At high tide, we have done unit studies on Rainbows, Mammals, The Five Senses ... we do lots of science and art, and make lapbooks, posters or books.  We play the trading game with Base 1o blocks, learn new phonograms in phonics (ar, ee, ir, er, ur, ear and wor this month) and listen to the kids read (often for chocolate).  We explore topics using library books, documentaries and cartoons (many a time has been when George the monkey or Charlie and Lola have been playing with the same topic as us!).  We clock up hours on computer programs like Mathletics, Starfall, Reading Eggs and Intrepica.  We read Bible stories, cook, do craft, painting, sewing, make music and dance.  Amongst this we go to homeschool excursions, play dates and fellowship.  These are fun-filled, busy days.  We buzz with energy and ideas, asking questions and looking for answers.  

At low tide, we sometimes stay in pyjamas until mid morning.  The kids unpack all the books from the shelves, then sing and read their way through a pile as tall as they are.  I read them another stack.  They play doctors, vets or shops, and put on ballet concerts for the teddies, dolls and mummy.  I clean to a serenade of drum solos, guitar jam sessions and keyboard chaos.  The kids swing, climb and scoot around the yard, watching ants and our resident blue-tongue lizard go about their business.  We thread beads, listen to CDs, surf the net and play with play dough.  The kids build new worlds with lego, train sets, blocks and boxes, or make blanket cubbies.  We play snakes and ladders, Uno, Mastermind and Monopoly.  A game of 'I went camping and in the boot I put ...' is full of crazy ideas and ends in giggles.  There are tender cuddles, dreams shared and hopes expressed.

We can't predict when the tide will be high or low, but it has a rhythm which is fun to ride.  We like the varied pace, being able to fly to infinity and beyond, then float gently back to earth.  

At present, it's low tide in regard to school work.  The workboxes have been neglected for a couple of weeks, as we've had visits with friends, excursions, swimming, gymnastics, started ballet (Miss 4) and set up a quarry in the backyard (Mr 5).  We've read a ton of library books about mammals, a steady stream of picture books, listened to Heidi and Blinky Bill on CD,  and generally enjoyed being outdoors on fragrant spring days.

Time to catch some zzz's ... it's tiring being this relaxed!

(PS. note the wry laughter in the background as I secretly recall the tantrums of over stimulated children, and the long list of spring cleaning still to be tackled ... we might go back to high tide school soon for a rest.  Does it work that way?)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A day in our life

The week so far ...
We have a couple of regular activities (ballet, gymnastics, homeschool meets), but the rest of our days are 'freestyle'.  I'll write about my approach to homeschooling another day.  The past 7 days have been busy.  We had a big shopping trip, dinner guests, a morning at the beach, church, a homeschool excursion, ballet, library, gymnastics.  Plus I was unwell and the kids took turns feeling sick or tired.  SO yesterday Miss J. (4) and Mr E. (5)  had a pyjama and play day (although they decided to get dressed eventually).  I used the time to sort out J's toys and clothes and set up this blog.

Today ... fun Friday!

5am - When P. gets up for work I normally stay asleep, but today J. wakes up and climbs in with me for a snuggle.  Eventually she goes back to sleep.
6:30 - E. climbs in next to me wide awake, and we whisper so J. can sleep.  E. talks about motorbikes and we say 10 things we love about each other.  My heart melts.
7am - J. wakes and wants to read the pile of books on my bedside table.  I open one and show her some words she recognises, then read her a paragraph.  I keep reading after she drifts away.  It's a novel about a pioneer teacher in America, married to an Indian ... the kids ask, beg and order me to get up.  J. 'plays' the keyboard.  They have juice and cereal while I drink peppermint green tea.

7:30 - Kids watch cartoons - Eloise, Curious George, Charlie and Lola, Roary the racing car.  While ABC babysits, I enjoy a shower, search my top shelf for summer clothes, get dressed, check email, put a load of washing in the machine.
8:30 - J. helps me make pancakes, E. watches me write a to do list.  Both stand on chairs and watch me cook them.  We eat ... yum!
9:15 - Kids brush teeth, make beds and dress while I help and chat with them.  E. plays the drums on keyboard while I wash the dishes and realise how loud a real drum kit (which I've agreed to buy) will be!  J. has brushed her hair (hooray) but has also used the conditioning spray on her teddy dog and unicorn and is brushing their fur.

10am - Kids watch ABC programs - Count us in, Behind the News (it's ok today) and Science Clips (electricity - current and voltage).  E. is absorbed in the show.  J. starts to play with dolls and look at books (singing about what she sees).  I write this blog entry so far and decide to let them watch one more show, 'Designers' about icecream production.

11am - We go out the back.  I peg the washing while the kids play in the cubby house, on the swing and various toys with wheels.  I wage war on ants (sorry green friends ... I love nature generally but ants bother me greatly, especially big biting ones).  Sweeping the pavers I almost hit a blue-tongue lizard.  My actions, squeal and the kids' stampede to see don't scare the lizard away as is usually the case.  I'm scared it will think I'm a tree and climb me.  We talk about a reptile show we saw a few months ago, and try to decide whether our lizard is male or female.  I finish sweeping, cautiously watching the lizard, which basks lazily.
11:30 - Out of necessity, we bake bread for the first time this year.  I have chosen an Aussie Damper recipe from the internet, and the kids take turns measuring and mixing the ingredients.  Then we divide the lump in half, and they knead then make various bread roll shapes.  While I clean the bench and floor, the kids watch the lizard and play.
12:30 - Rather late, we take time to pray.  The bread is cooked and we eat it hot.  We decide that we'll have to do this more often!  Before the kids escape, we play a game to review the 'ar' phonogram from a few weeks ago.  I get down the 'ar' jar (a jar full of word cards like start, ark, farm, marshmallow), and put 4 cards face up on the table.  I say a clue (eg. Noah built one for the animals) and the kids race to pick up the right card to answer me.  Each time they claim a card, I replace it with another from the jar, so there are always 4 to choose from.  E. isn't concentrating but J. surprises me with her many correct choices.
1pm - E. and J. are in their favourite spot, on their foldout lounges in the cubby house (it's a home made fort on stilts with a brush-screen roof for shade, and 2 walls of brush screen to enclose a corner).  I'm at the computer.  When their chatter goes quiet, I spy to see if they're up to mischief (usually involving water), but they have only hooked the dolly stroller into the swing and are playing nicely.
1:30 - E. and J. dig in the gravel out the back.  I finally have a chance to put on my makeup.  Then my mission is to find the swimming gear.  Tomorrow we are going to the heated pool for the first time this season.  
2pm - The kids have found me and tried on their swimsuits, which still fit.  I set up playdough for J., while E. does a test on Mathletics (he wants the points to make his rocket reach the top).  He does it twice.  Then J. does a phonics game on Intrepica and E. plays a farm game involving his toy tractor and playdough.

2:45 - P. arrives home from work.  The kids have a snack and sit down to watch playschool.
3:30 - I go out alone, grocery shopping to restock the house for the weekend and week to come.  While I'm out P. watches the kids ride their scooters on the front footpath and they fold and put away todays washing :)

6pm - We all unload the car and all help put the shopping away.  
6:30 - Dinner is usually earlier.  We have leftover spaghetti, but J. ends up eating cereal for dinner again (little miss fussy).  E. has icecream for dessert.
7pm - I call Uncle M. to plan tomorrow's pool adventure.  E. and J. chat and giggle on the phone.  Then teeth are brushed, pyjamas put on.  We snuggle on the lounge and I read a few library books.  P. has disappeared to get the beds ready (have a rest).  E. and J. tiptoe in to surprise him, have a rumble, then we divide and conquer for prayer and goodnight hugs.  We swap kids, say goodnight again.  
8pm - I type this blog post and try to get back my 'Comments' button. We send both kids back to bed a couple of times.  
8:30pm - The kids are asleep.  We ran late, but it's been more peaceful than last night (both had trouble falling asleep, listened to 2 CD stories each and needed lots of settling).  P. is watching footy.  Finally I finish this and wonder whether to publish it.  

Might as well!

Why 'Island'?

Many of the stories I have written (none finished or published yet) have been inspired by island dreams and ideas, or set on an island.  It's one of my 'heart words'.

Some of my favourite holidays have been on Islands ...

*  Stradbroke Island (Queensland), the stunning scene of many family holidays in my Aunty and Uncle's beach shack (the shack grew up with us, and is now their lovely home).

*  Tasmania, visited with Dad and my brothers when I was 17.  I loved the tall trees which lined scenic drives, bush walks and magical views from mountain tops.  

*  Skiathos (Greece) where I had a free holiday for a week after chaperoning a student to his family home.  What a treat!

*  Vanuatu, where we met lots of friendly locals, travelled with local church friends and I went snorkelling for the first time.

*  Papua New Guinea, one big island, where we went outreaching in Mt Hagen in the highlands.  People were so generous, friendly and eager to meet us.  I saw people carrying machetes everywhere, including children.  The potholes in back roads were as big as our minibus. 

Playing the word association game for ISLAND - isolation, escape, peace, nature, pristine, perfect, palm trees, coconuts, shipwreck, castaway, holiday, beach, treehouse ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why 'Chrysalis'?

I love words.  Chrysalis brings to mind ...

*  something plain turning into something beautiful 
*  preparing to emerge in full colour
*  being born again 
*  becoming who I was created to be
*  what's inside 

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, 
it became a BUTTERFLY.

Let your beauty be that of your inner self.  
1 Peter 3:4

What lies behind us 
And what lies before us
are small matters compared to
What lies within us.

Transforming, evolving, growing up, becoming, creating ....
order from clutter
clean house from mess
a story from a jumble of words
clarity from confusion
peace from chaos

My nickname, Butterfly, was already taken as a blog name ... and now that I've found Chrysalis I like it because it lets me play with a new word!

The many faces of me ...

(from journal Jan 2009)

I am a writer, journalist, journal-keeper, list maker ...

I am a teacher, student, researcher, bookworm ...

I am a dreamer, thinker, problem solver, mathematician, puzzler ...

I love painting abstract scenes and dreams on canvas, sketching designs for kid's rooms and cubby houses, inventing new toys, drafting house plans ...

I am a wife, sister, mother, child, friend, neighbour ...

I am an angel waiting in the wings, walking in the Spirit, ready for the invitation to meet my Lord in Heaven ...

I am an obsessive reader, library frequent flyer, bookshop browser, internet trawler ...

I am a swimmer, bike rider, hiker, dancer, climber, driver ...

On any day, I might be dreamy, smart, whimsical, sensible, cautious, imaginative, creative, forgetful ...

I am myself and I am becoming me.  

I'm glad 
to be alive 
in a place 
where I can choose 
which me to be today, 
and can 
follow my dreams.