Monday, January 30, 2012

Not back to school!

Today, by rights, I should have woken my cherubs up at 6:30am, got them into their uniforms, madly packed a lunch of some description and put them on the bus for their first day of high school. I also have a funny feeling that Video Boy would have lost his timetable by now and Wombat Girl would have been sadly disappointed to learn place value again in maths.

I Googled "high school classroom" and this is what I found:

Awww... doesn't it look like fun? Smiling, happy kids, with smiling, understanding wonderful teachers and an iPad each! I wish I only had 4-5 kids in my classes when I was teaching, I might have stayed in the profession longer!

And today, quite a few of my friends posted pictures on Facebook of their tweens about to start their first day of high school, all in shiny new uniforms.  So I could have a record of this momentous occasion, here are Video Boy and Wombat Girl on their first day of high school:

Therefore today, in celebration of not having to get up at 6:30am and get into uniforms and on the bus and into a crowded (hot) classroom, and not being overwhelmed and having to relearn stuff we learnt years ago, we went around to our homeschooler friends place and did this instead:

Solving puzzles

Cuddling newborns (for the first time ever!)

Rush hour

Healthy lunch

Swimming (it was very hot here today)

Bit of algebra for Wombat Girl because she asked for it
(it's really hard to come up with equations off the top of your head!)

We rushed home just in time for my chemistry tutee (is that a word?) at 3pm. We were reviewing the periodic table. "What is Ne again?" my tutee asks. "Neon" pipes up Wombat Girl. Guess we had that covered!

All in all, a lovely day and brilliant start to our "high school"!!!

Oh and we'll be joining in the "All Aussie Not Back to School Bloghop!

Our Worldwide Classroom

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 - Homeschool High School!

We mostly follow the NSW school terms here. Taking it easy during (and immediately before and after) the school holidays - i.e. Mum doesn't force encourage bookwork or formal learning (although of course, it happens all the time!). But I do have my limits on how much Minecraft/YouTube actually constitutes an education!

Last year I spent a lot of time and effort (before my Board of Studies inspection) putting together a very teacher-like plan of what syllabus outcomes we would cover and when!

By Term 4, we were only vaguely following it, as we had morphed into a pseudo-natural learning frame of mind and had changed the way we view learning a lot.

This year, come about October, we have our follow-up visit by the Board of Studies inspector (can't believe it will be two years since we last saw him!). So I guess at the back of my mind, I am conscious of having to "tick some boxes" for planning and record keeping.

Tomorrow, the kids would both be entering Year 7 - the first year of high school in Australia, and "Stage 4" of the Board of Studies curriculum. The ex-teacher in me couldn't help having a browse around the 7-10 syllabi, and listing out the relevant outcomes. The natural learner in me has resisted putting them in a narrow timetable! In addition, the kids are working at Stage 5 and 6 level for lots of maths and science, so I have included them in my "plan" as well.

I guess I just wanted to get my head around what they would be doing at school, but feeling reasonably comfortable that we can stray from the "path" and still be getting a better education than if they were stuck in an age-locked classroom. 

I have also (almost) decided to ditch the teacher's diary this year:

and instead go with my self-designed record of what we did and how it relates to each Key Learning Area or subject - that we I can incorporate all the "little things" into my record keeping:

And of course, I have this Blog, which apart from being a space to get to know other inspiring homeschoolers and keep the relatives informed, has been a great space to record and reflect on our learning journey.

And if you happen to be in NSW (or even if you aren't and are looking for handy resources) don't forget to check out the Board of Studies Curriculum Support pages, where there are heaps of links to programs and units for all ages and years, and very often worksheets and Power Points to accompany. My hint to non-teachers is just skip to the "learning activity" section of any unit and pick and choose activities that suit you and your kids, rather than wade through pages of teacher-speak and try to follow a lock-step curriculum.

We are so looking forward to this year! And very happy to be High School Homeschoolers!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pigeon House power!

You don't mind if I post about something the kids didn't do, do you? Nah, I didn't think so!

Yesterday as part of my new part-time job as a Discovery Ranger, we took a group up Pigeon House Mountain (Didthul - is the correct indigenous name) in Morton National Park. (at this rate, I may as well give you my full name and the kids names so you can figure out my real identity!!)

Well, we would have, except no-one turned up! A friend of ours and the boss's kid do not paying customers make. Anyhoo, we did it anyway. It was meant to be a geology field trip, busting the myth that Pigeon House is an extinct volcano.

It is a 5.5km out and back hike, with some very steep sections!

Note the Grade 1 hike! That's steep!!
 Put your treadmill on 13% (if it goes that high) and experience my pain!

But it is an amazing walk, with beautiful flora, interesting geology and spectacular views from the top!

Our little group, ready to go!

The rocks at the start of the walk are 500 million year old
 folded metamorphic "basement" rocks

Woollsia pungens - snow wreath - beautiful honey scent

Drosera sp. - Sundew - a carnivorous plant that lives in waterlogged soil

Native snail

External mould of a pectin shell - a marine fossil - found at the base of the "house"

Yes - it was a steep climb!

260 million year old Nowra Sandstone!

My house is out there somewhere...

Stunning scenery - rivers have eroded down through the
 layers of sandstone and mudstone to form this landscape

Banksia serrata - old man banskia

Nowra sandstone cap forms the "house" on the top.

A sweaty Ranger Ingi at the end of the walk!

We have actually done this walk as a family two and a half years ago - in the winter, when sensible people tackle it!

We are very lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world and I love that I can share it with you!

Monday, January 23, 2012

This and that...

Been pottering about, these last couple of weeks of the summer school holidays.

Wombat Girl designed her own board game...

And then we had to test it out...

Got a new printer!! Wireless - no more tripping over USB cables! Yeah baby...

Wombat Girl thrashed her mother at Go...

Bit of Blokus...Video Boy played too!

The jigsaw puzzle from hell...still going...

My little, tiny "vege" patch is going great guns and I was able to use fresh chillies and basil in our dinner...

Bit of jumping, bit of talk games...

Creating something in Minecraft out of something in Eragon (or something)...

Yanno - bit o' this, bit o' that!!

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...