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Just your average homeschool week

After all the adventuring and trips to Sydney etc, we have actually been trying to do something resembling "homeschooling"!

One of the new and exciting things we have been looking at here in Defying Gravity land, is trying out Coursera's new computer science 101course. This is a free online course ran through Stanford University which is taking the kids step-by-step through the basics of computer programming in 6 weeks. It is our first real attempt at online learning and so far, so good. The kids are enjoying having something new and interesting to learn and I'm enjoying a cup of tea while they do - that's a win-win around here. Certainly the work is not pitched too high - they are doing the exercises with ease and the lectures are short and sharp 10 to 15 minutes usually, with simple exercises to complete.

We have also acquired the latest version of Dragon Naturally Speaking. This is voice recognition software which allows you to create and edit documents without typing. It's another tool particularly for Video Boy which will hopefully allow him to express himself in writing and focus on content, not typing or handwriting. It is quite amazing how fast you can talk and it will keep up with what you're saying and it is really quite accurate. In fact I'm dictating this blog post as we speak (quite literally).

Don't get crumbs in my keyboard Video Boy!

The kids have been helping hubby with quite a lot of his computer work lately. They have been involved in this testing hard drives, installing RAM, and testing power supplies. It is lovely to see them work with him like this. They are learning skills in computer hardware, he is learning to work with them in a positive way, and I get to get the washing done (another win-win).

We have shelved algebra for the time being and are moving on to geometry. Last week we enjoyed the Joy of Geometry DVD from the Great Courses. We will be looking at the properties of triangles and quadrilaterals, moving on to prove qualities about them.

Whilst in Sydney, I picked up a new board game called Pente - it is one of those "easy to learn, hard to master" games of five in a row. We are loving it - even Video Boy who has proven remarkably astute at it!

In schools around Australia this week, kids in Yr 3, 5, 7 and 9 have been doing NAPLAN exams - Australia's attempt at high stakes testing (more on this later). We will be doing them at home next week, and in a desperate attempt to work on our achilles heel - writing, I had the kids sit down and do a practice paper. Well, although he does seem to be focussing better and less fidgety, Video Boy still carries around a lot of baggage to do with writing. It was an exercise in patience and support! He managed about four paragraphs over a total of an hour (with rest breaks, food breaks, tissue breaks) and a lot of prompting from me (which he won't get when he does the exam). The irony is that his writing is amusing and enjoyable to read. But damn, it's like getting blood from a stone! Oh well, what does Doris Day say? Que cera cera? Whatever will be and all that...

I have also been feeling like we've let the science slide a bit. So after more tears (I should buy shares in Kleenex) from Video Boy because his dreadful mother "makes" them start schoolwork at 11am and "always tells me what to do" (apparently Ritalin does not change your child into something you don't recognise - more's the pity),and then tears from Wombat Girl because I didn't notice her hand up when she wanted to explain some pattern in red books in the bookcase, we finally got around to doing a bit of lapbook work on germs, microbes and cells. They really enjoyed it (told ya so!). 

So many questions from Wombat Girl (eg: "So, what actually makes something a 'living' thing") and so much knowledge from Video Boy (eg: "a microbe would be a living thing, usually single-celled, that you need a microscope to see" - almost a carbon copy of what my textbook definition was!). Then we Bill Nye'd, YouTubed and got our microscope out (from Horrible Science - it works pretty well!). A good morning was had by all (and we now have some more "bookwork" done - yay!).

Note the tissues in close proximity

Insects wing (taken with an iPhone - how cool is that?)

I was particularly impressed with Video Boy explaining to Wombat Girl about how viruses spread through your body:

So our days have been intense, fun, full of tears, joy, learning. There have been times where I want need to know that we have cold sav blanc in the fridge and times where I have been so happy about this decision of ours to home school. Luckily more of the latter...


  1. Ingi
    Thanks for coursera's link!! will see if we can join in. Ds12 is meant to be doing technology this year so will fit nicely. btw do you know of any course that would set out exercises to challenge in with excel or word? children needing to be stretched here and would like to find something already done so I can be freed up for little ones.

  2. Oh, I obviously missed this question! I'm afraid I don't know of any courses for Word or Excel...if I come across anything, I will email you.

  3. Ingi
    we signed up for the Sanford course but are having trouble, what does it mean when it says, "toggle to the website" what website, where? for that matter toogle?
    for ease my email is

    1. Sent you a reply (not sure if it's helpful).


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