Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 wrap up

It's Summer here, but you wouldn't know it.  It's mostly rainy and cold, but we don't really care much.  Life goes on, albeit with less swimming than is typical for December.

We haven't declared the year over yet, though this week we've shifted into holiday mode ... baking, visiting, playing, enjoying the company of those who have finished work and school for the year (as of today, that includes my hubby, hooray!)

I didn't have a big scramble to finish curriculum for the year in order to be ready for the next year or to tick off the current year.  We don't care much for school year labels or stopping and starting on particular dates, though we do generally change our pace to be available when friends have free time.  I'm always vague about time, days and dates, and even though the calendar says the year is over already, I find it hard to believe ... I feel like its just beginning!

Before I get all philosophical about time, here are some recent happenings and reflections:

*  We met Beverley Paine, who in Australia is a home ed pioneer and veteran, ideas person and somewhat of a guru, especially in Natural Learning.  She has also perfected the art of inspiring and building up people's confidence.

*  Elijah is still enamoured with books about Knights, and has tackled his first few chapter books ... Adventures in Odyssey - Revenge of the Red Knight, a couple of books from the Toby Digz series and totally unrelated Club Penguin choose your own adventure books.

*  Jasmine adores ABC Reading Eggs, and manages to pass the quizzes at the end of each map BUT has reached a level that she finds hard to do alone.  She refuses to repeat any activities, and insists on continuing on to harder lessons.  Her persistence, frustration and desire to read create an interesting tension at times!  I try to figure out when to help and when to stay out of the way.

*  Life of Fred has been a BIG hit in our home.  I've been reading from the first books, Apples, which covers very basic maths, but I didn't want us to miss any of the fun bits and interesting tangents which make the series so appealing (Archimedes for example).   I've also just started the 4th book, Dogs, with Elijah, for a bit more substance, but he will also listen in as I keep go through Butterflies and Cats with Jasmine.

*  Maths wise, most of the real learning happens incidentally (counting money, measuring, games, travel etc) but for various reasons we choose to use textbooks a few times a week ... Targeting Maths books, and CD rom 'labs' (which are a lot of fun) and Singapore Maths text and workbooks, easy to work with and useful and tolerable.  If I needed a program right now, I'd probably buy Go Maths (comprehensive, challenging, fun, relevant), but I just can't justify it with all that we have, and the eclectic mix we have offers the diversity and freedom we seem to need :)

*  I finally bit the bullet, though, and bought All About Spelling.  We had been 'using' LEM Phonics, but when you have as relaxed a routine as we do, it's not ideal to have a program which needs a regular, solid block of time each day.  So far we like AAS a lot.  Why?  It's quick, easy and fun, and I love that it doesn't zap all the desire to write out of the kids, so they still want to ... Write!!!

*  Real writing that they choose to do (sometimes with a gentle nudge) ... lists, journals, copied Bible verses (we call treasures), letters, cards, game clues.  For my own inspiration, I love the 'Kid Writing' concept, free ebooks full of tips and ideas at the Nellie Edge website and Nurturing the Write Relationship - Developing a Family Writing Lifestyle and Traditions, by Mary Ann Froehlich (bought through Heart of Wisdom)

*  Speaking of Heart of Wisdom, the website and ebooks have been a great source of inspiration and ah-ha moments for me recently.  The Bible first approach at the core of it articulates so well what I was trying to figure out this year.  I knew what I didn't want, and had a fair idea of what I did want, but the Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach helped me fill in a few gaps in my understanding and simplify my (very complicated) picture of our ideal homeschool.  The free guide to choosing and using resources renewed my confidence in my choices of what to read and not read with the children.  I am adopting the HOW concept, but am not following Robin's 4 year plan or using the unit studies.  What we are doing, I will write about more next year, as it's a work in progress.  In the eyes of the kids, it will flow on well and look similar to this year, but in my head and on paper, it's somewhat tidier :)

I don't have time to write about all the other resources we've loved or abandoned this year.  As far as explaining the always changing, always learning way we do things here, Renelle said it better than I can right now.  It's all a blur as I'm excited about what's happening now and what's in store.  I have rambled today.  Hope I haven't put anyone to sleep!  

I hope you enjoy this special season with the people you love.

All the best,


  1. Very nice wrap-up! Your less swimming for December comment, gave us our smile of the day - it's hard for us to imagine ending the year in the middle of summer :)

  2. You're sounding fairly content with how your schooling is going. Its nice to get to that point, isn't it?!

  3. Yes, normally this time of year we'd be at the beach EARLY so as not to get sunburnt, or a late swim after dinner. Instead we're set for the coolest December on record. I love seeing snowy pictures in overseas blogs :)

    I guess I am more at peace with how we do things now. We are thriving and happy, and I no longer feel guilty about not conforming to any particular philosophy. It's kind of like taking a standard recipe and adjusting the measurements and ingredients to suit our tastes, allergies and seasonal availability. It's taken a bit of tweaking, but it suits us and mostly it's fun!

  4. Sounds great Vanessa! You've given me some curriculum ideas. I hope you had a lovely holiday :). And I hope the weather has improved too. Nothing worse than rain and chilly weather in summer! Here I am wishing for more snow and less rain ;)


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