This letter is for a specific friend, who is terminal, but in respecting their wishes when I was told the news by a mutual connection, about a week ago, I am not directly reaching out to them. I wasn’t sure how to convey some of things that I want to say & time is slipping by the more I wait. I finally settled on an open letter on my blog, because it can still be anonymous (I have tried to leave out too many personal details). I don’t expect a response, and I may never know that they read this, & that’s ok, but I will have done more than sitting idly by & missing any opportunity that I did have to say anything.
To My Dear Friend,
I am sorry that, we never managed to get the opportunity to meet face to face, I know I thought we had more time. I didn’t realise that this past year with COVID, would be the last opportunity & I am sorry for that. Even though we didn’t get to meet face to face though, I have treasured our friendship. I am glad that our mutual connection introduced us. My life has certainly been richer for having you in it, even for the time we’ve had.
You have incredible talents & I have always appreciated your encouragement to do better, to be true to oneself & to phuquemol. You possess a huge heart, and I know your presence will be missed by many. Your friendship is something that I will always carry. Don’t think that you haven’t had an impact on the world, just because you might not see it, because YOU most certainly have.
In the end though, even bright sparks in the world get tired & weary of the fight. It’s more than ok to be done. I hope that you can still find some joy in your time left, as your body succumbs to this awful disease. Rest is coming, just a little bit longer…..
I know it’s unheard of at the moment, for me to write a second post for the month, but here we are. I’m going to try (yet again) to take more time out to write. Clearly, we must be getting back into the groove of things, for me to actual even consider committing myself to writing more.
Homeschooling is going pretty well at the moment. I still have my moments of “holy crap” am I actually doing enough? Which appears to be normal, not only as a parent, but as a teacher. Then there are the moments of are they getting it, please get it this time, please, please get it, I am running out of ideas as to how I can actually convey this any differently & then inevitably a lightbulb moment happens for them or me & a sigh of relief fills the room.
I think I may have mentioned on here that I have always liked the idea of homeschooling (if not, it would be buried in one of my yet to be published, likely never will be finished & published posts & if I have mentioned it, clearly you can tell I don’t really go back & read what I write). At the same time, I also found it easier to go with the path of least resistance in terms of schooling. I mean WHO WAS I to want to educate my own kids? I didn’t study to be a teacher, sure I did some early childhood studies, but after a week placement at a childcare centre, I soon decided to trash that idea, so really, was I equipped to teach my kids, beyond the normal parenting teaching that happens when you shuffle them off to be someone else’s responsibility? For year I didn’t think so.
Then COVID hit & decisions had to be made & changes had to occur. There really wasn’t any viable option for our family other than homeschooling. I admit that I was a little “salty” about the whole situation, because it meant another thing fell on my shoulders & I knew that this was a huge undertaking, at first it seemed almost impossible to do it well. It didn’t help that G was not set on the idea at all, but after a while he came around. We are both grateful that we don’t have to deal with any of the issues we see others having, when there is a reliance on others to teach your kids (issues with access to the web, not receiving offline distanced learning packages, school closures etc). It’s actually incredibly rewarding to not only share your knowledge with your kids, but learn alongside them too.
We actually started doing homeschooling in July/August, so that I could wrap my head around this new change & to show G that this could work, before school started back in September. It was hard though. One of the hardest things about homeschooling is letting go of the idea that we all have in our heads about what homeschooling is, what it should look like & how it should come together. At the start I was also trying to do too much. I was trying to fulfill orders and do school work around it/ at the same time, whilst we were transitioning, but it really didn’t go well. Whilst the kids were learning, I feel that it wasn’t much fun.
Then over Christmas we had a forced break from homeschooling. G was starting his new job & it made sense for him to move into the kids space, for the kids to move into the space that I used as my creative space, & for our homeschooling area & my creative space to move into a larger space downstairs. The move involved some reno’s & took 10 days to get everyone into their spaces. It was hard going, but so worth it.
I stopped doing my own creative projects for a while to focus on homeschooling entirely, which is what I needed to do at the start, but didn’t feel I could. I was literally drowning. So the change in rooms & setup, & the reset it brought, was a welcome relief. It doesn’t mean we don’t have bumpy days, but that’s life in general, you can’t just blame it on something like homeschooling. It feels good to be able to include more creativity for myself into my days now, but I doubt I will get back to where I was for a while, at least until the kidlets are more independent with their learning.
I’m enjoying the extra reading of late, mostly it focuses around homeschooling techniques & then of course subjects for us to cover/ discuss. All this research leads to a lot of work to plan how to include it into their schooling, but it’s become quite a fun challenge.
In terms of curriculum books, I currently use Scholastic & The Canadian Curriculum mostly for worksheets, BUT, they are just a foundation to build upon. I also printed out the Ontario curriculum to refer back to, but honestly it’s just a guideline, a massive long winded checklist that gives you screw all resources, so mostly I just lament the trees that are now bound within a book that sits on a shelf taking up valuable space.
I really do love the freedom that homeschooling affords us, in part because I know what they are learning, so less time is wasted trying to get my head around what they are learning on any given day, like I was with their online distanced learning last year, not to mention the issues with technology that we were having. The planning & research (I am always trying to improve how I homeschool to adapt to the kids, not to try to fit a round & a square peg into a triangular hole) is definitely more work, but because I am constantly trying to adapt & improve, it also means the experience gets easier as we go. We can be carried away onto other topics that they wouldn’t necessarily cover in school, which is incredibly fun. For over a month now, we have branched out into studying mythology, which has lead us down the paths of the origin of some words, Roman numerals etc. all of which lends to making their learning experience a little more interesting. A topic that we will be covering for many years…
Then there’s the art. I have always tried to do art with the kids when they were in a traditional school setting, but life, the kids being too tired and other things that cropped up into our schedule often pushed art to the side, but not these days & it’s awesome. At the moment we are doing paper mache art & it’s so much fun. Kidlet1 loves sculpture, the 2nd one, is more into drawing, but we’re working on that.
So, whilst homeschooling might mean a little more work, overall, I am loving it. I feel a greater connection with the kids than before (which logically happens when they are glued to you 24×7 too). I love that I can actually understand the half conversations that stem from our learning adventures & am now able to fill in the gaps. This knowledge alone means way less frustration from the kids, and us, so that’s a huge win. Plus, the kids seem to enjoy it, which is even better!
It seems I have no real inclination, or is it time, either reason fits, to do more than a post a month, so here I am checking in for February & giving a summary of the last month +.
A lot has happened & yet not so much really. Normally, we would be either getting ready to go on a trip or most likely getting back from one. It’s become (or maybe I should say it was) a tradition to escape to warmer weather most winter’s, but you know, COVID’s a thing, so that’s not really an option. Now, we pretty much stay home & tick the days of the year off the calendar, without any real direction, stuck in a weird no man’s land, a stark contrast to pre-covid times.
January was pretty good for us to get into the rhythm of homeschooling. G now has his office in the kids old room upstairs, the kids are in my previous creative space & the kids & I have taken over the basement.
The basement setup is pretty nice to be honest. We have computers permanently setup, the climbing wall is here of course, with the futon that was in another room pulled out so that it can be used easily (we often all sit on it as I read), there’s a coffee table to do puzzles & play games & then there is an art space for the kids & of course my creative space in the main area. It works well overall. The kids & I mostly stay downstairs though the day M-F & we try to co-ordinate times to have lunch with G each day, something that he wasn’t really able to do in his previous job.
After months of homeschooling, this move to a new bigger space, has been good for all of us, which I am sure has helped to contribute to the groove we are in. That & the fact that we are all embracing the idea that homeschooling is here to stay for a while, at least, in our house. I tried to juggle homeschooling around everything else, but now, I am accepting the fact that homeschooling comes first & everything else has to be balanced around it. Some days are still a little bit of a struggle, but not as much as they have been before. The kids & I are really in a partnership to learn together.
We are having a lot of fun, not only are we doing core subjects like language arts & mathematics & finding fun & creative ways to learn/ teach it, but we have expanded onto other interesting topics. The kidlet’s favourite subject at the moment is mythology/ history. In the last month, I have lost count of the number of times they have come up to me excited to relate that something they read made so much more sense, because of their mythology knowledge & honestly we have barely scratched the surface. My youngest who despised math, is now excited by it as well, which is a huge step forward. It’s beautiful to see their excitement & enthusiasm to learn.
I’m also trying to spend more time with them creatively, we do cooking every day, but I try to include other creativity. We do journaling, have done some 3D cardboard art & some sewing, but we are going to get into some paper mache & more too.
Besides homeschooling, I have been trying to keep up with orders & managing delivery issues with the postal system (mostly timeframes for things to arrive) with COVID outbreaks in some areas, that are causing longer, than what has become the normal, COVID delays. I do love my creative time, which is mostly spent sewing though, fibre art is my thing, at this point. The open space is a little weird though & I am considering if I should try to hem myself into a corner like I was before. but hopefully, I will get used to it soon enough.
G loves his new job & although he has some pretty weird hours sometimes, he doesn’t seem to mind at the moment which is good. He’s so much happier than he was. Sometimes, you just need shit from a different horse, to mix things up a bit. It really is good to see him happier.
As much as we have found our groove, social isolation, lockdowns & the general reason why we stay away from everyone, have made some moments a little harder to deal with though.
Kidlet 2 burned themselves with boiling water a couple of weeks ago, but is now healing up well. Having to decide which hospital to take them to in terms of least risk of COVID, is not a decision that I wish on anyone though.
Early in January, a beautiful soul, Belinda, died of ALS, which was hard. I knew her through the jousting community & medieval events. I loved the time that I did have, to get to know her & our signed conversations (she used ASL). It won’t be the same to attend some events & not see her there. It’s also weird not to have gotten the chance to say goodbye.
In the last week, I found out another friend is terminal too (not ALS). I regret never getting the chance to meet face to face. If they happen to read this, I hope that they realise that they are an amazing talented individual, that I admire greatly. They have a heart of gold & the spark of joy that they bring to the world is one of a kind. Enjoy the time that you have with your close family & friends.
In other more uplifting news, I have also become an aunt again, this time to a blood relation on my side, which is both exciting & bittersweet, due to distance of said relations. There clearly isn’t, nor can there be any timeframe to actually see & meet this new family member, so for the moment, I am trying to savour the little messages I get & not get too discouraged by the reality that it will be years before we see them. On the brightside, our absence is being filled by so many others, which I am trying to see as a good thing, especially everytime well meaning people tell me that lovely tidbit of reality to make me feel better (it actually doesn’t make it better though). However, I am finding, if you keep smiling through it all, “everything’s swell”.
This month, February, see’s G’s late mum’s birthday happening on the 15th, she would have been 72. Normally, we would go to see the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Nature, because they were her favourite thing, in her memory, but clearly that can’t happen this year. I am thinking perhaps we will work on a butterfly project we have been working on for a while in her memory, but that could change. It’s weird to break our butterflies at the museum tradition, after so many years. She passed away in 2004.
This is also my birthday month. With COVID, my birthday has suddenly become more exciting than normal, mostly I think because it’s something to look forward to. Kidlet2 has taken on the planning of the “event” which is really quite sweet (I have been teaching them the skill of planning for events as part of homeschooling studies) so I am looking forward to what she has planned.
And on that note & hopefully ending with some cheer & hope, instead of misery, which was where it seemed this post was heading for a little bit, I will sign off. Perhaps I will add some pictures later, to break things up, or I will call it quits & say, if you are family & friends that I am actually in touch with, you know where to see pictures that relate to some of my write up in this post.
For the last few days, we have been painting. Only two rooms, but boy is it a lot of work. Today, we called it quits for the painting though. Geoff’s new office, which was the kids room, is now painted. The room was a light green & yellow, which we had to cover with primer & now it is a copper (ish) brown colour.
The kids room, which was my creative space & our home schooling area, the past few months, also had a repaint. It went from the crappy beige that is the main colour of the upstairs, to an aqua colour (Island Breeze is the name) with nice white trim. The kids picked out the colour, which I thought was nice. L saw it today & said WOAH, but it was a good WOAH
Tomorrow, Geoff will seal the edges, around the baseboards etc & hopefully by Sunday we can move the kids into their new space & Geoff into his. Geoff, starts his new job Monday, which is completely remote & Monday I will be back to balancing, home schooling my creative work, the work with the new business & life in general, fun times all round.
Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, December 31st 2020, a time to reflect on the last 12 calendar months. Why? I’m not sure. It’s just something that most of us have always done, or have done for so long that it’s ingrained into our psyche, so let’s continue to follow the crowd. Buckle up, grab some refreshments & enjoy the long winded read, coming up is the last 365 days in review, for our little family of 4. It starts out by month, then all the days melded into one, so it becomes one big mess of thoughts.
We started the year with a bang! This time last year, we (Geoff, his brother Steve, the kids & I) were on a plane from Montreal to Lima, Peru. We arrived very early, new years day. I’ve spent a great deal of time this year, grateful for the fact that we jumped at the opportunity to go to Peru when we did. Peru has been on our list for a while, in fact we were originally planning to go in March this year, (around March break), but brought it forward with Steve here, as he was keen to come along & the plans that we did have in February changed that were were accounting for financially, so we figured why not do it when we did? Best decision!
It was an amazing trip, we spent time in Lima, Cusco (where I even got to check out the hospital facilities when I was admitted for salmonella poisoning, boy was I sick, the kids were amazing, even though they were so bored & I really appreciated the hospital staff there too), Machu Picchu & the Amazon Jungle to name a few. So many wonderful memories & great for the kids to experience another different culture to either Canada or Australia. I’ll have to finish my posts on that trip soon, it’s long overdue (clearly, being a year, since we we were there).
After we got back, right around Australia Day, Geoff’s brother, Steve, flew back to home, to Australia. I’m glad that he came over when he did too, because little did we realise that would be the last time we would see any family in person, for an undetermined period of time. I think we will be lucky to see family from either Germany, the UK or Australia by 2022, or as I like to type it 2020 (2).
In early 2020, I was part of the Animal Rescue Collective, here in Canada. With all the bushfires that were raging from late 2019 to early 2020 in Australia, a request went out for people worldwide, to help wildlife carers with handmade items such as pouches & the like. So of course I was part of the collective that helped not only financially, but with organising getting physical items to those in need. It was a lot of work, but I’m happy I helped in the small way I did & appreciate all the other friends & family that also helped in making items & even delivery to different places in Australia as well.
February, saw L have the last of his appointments for his concussion that he received near the end of 2019, at school & Geoff went to Berlin, Germany, for a conference that he had been keen to attend for some time, again something he was really happy he managed to go to, given the current state of affairs.
Then came March. To be fair, what unfolded wasn’t an entire shock. I wasn’t oblivious to what had happened in China at the end of 2019 & the news articles that described a new deadly virus. I’d been tracking it for months (hard not to miss the stories) watching as news reports of it’s spread to different parts of the world occurred & the devastation in Italy was heartbreaking, but even I hadn’t quite fully grasped what this could mean, mentally, I knew what was logically going to happen though. This was unchartered territory though.
The kids had their last day of in person schooling, by the local school board, on Friday March 13th, which humours me greatly (the date, NOT that it happened). I had told them (the kids) that morning to bring everything that they could home that day, as I expected they would not return for a long time. Logically it made sense, even if my brain was saying WTF? They did bring home some stuff like their pencil cases, but they left shoes & other things, which was to be expected. They haven’t set foot in their old school since. They did distanced learning at home until the end of the school year (which is June here) & now they are fully home schooled, as I pulled them from the school board entirely. BTW, we did get the rest of their stuff back, by appointment, just before the “summer holidays”.
I know that I don’t OWE anyone an explanation for why I pulled the kids, but I get that people are curious. Basically, it was the best choice for us. I knew that in reality, they could NOT attend school in person. There would be certain risks to them attending in person, that we didn’t want to take. I also knew that the expectations for online learning at over 4 hours a day, for each kid wouldn’t work either (we actually try to limit their screen time, & find that too much screen time can be hard on them, just like sugar, we don’t ban either, but we are mindful of it. As well as the large amounts of screen time, we knew we would have technology issues, having 2 kids streaming video whilst G needs to work, which I know would be an even bigger disaster than it was from April – June) was not something I wanted to do again. The other option on the table, would’ve been to get packets of printed materials from the school, every week or so, also wasn’t ideal. If the kids weren’t attending in person to reduce contact, having to pick-up packages every week or so, seemed like it might be a little counter-productive. Logically, after all that, the only option left, was left home schooling. I had to prove to Geoff that it could work, as he was skeptical, so in July I started to do research in ernest & by August, I started doing proper homeschooling lessons with the kids, to get the rhythm going.
It was a lot of hard work to start, still is to be honest, mostly I think because I have been so focussed on trying to make sure that the kids don’t fall behind, but I am starting to relax a little more. I find that the kids learn so much more when I am not pushing them constantly to do everything I hoped to cram in, which makes complete sense, but then I have moments of doubt. I’m sure that some weeks I am cramming more information into them then they would be getting at school, but I’ve appreciated that there’s cramming & then there’s retaining information & actually learning & both are often very different. Homeschooling your kids is definitely more of an investment in their education than sending them off to a bricks & mortar school, but so worth it too. Homeschooling in the middle of a pandemic, is an entirely different ballgame to normal too. To be fair, I’ve always liked the idea of homeschooling, but until I got the push to do it, it was just something in the back of my mind. Over the years many have thought that we were homeschooling because of all the things that we typically do with the kids, which always amused me. Now, that I have stepped into what I felt was the impossible, I really want to keep going with it after the pandemic, just to see what it COULD be like if you had more access to different resources, other than the web & books. I really missed the physical experiences, like museums & Upper Canada Village & I know the kids have too.
One of the things that I have appreciated about COVID & our decision to restrict our movements, is that it also limits the outside influences that the kids would typically get from their peers, especially within the school setting. I don’t have to hear that xyz has lmnop toy & how awesome it is, even though they know very little about it. E has had so many toys bought for her by other kids for birthdays & she gave away most of them this year to other kids in need, because she realised she didn’t really want them. Honestly, it’s been a great 10 months to re-evaluate things & simplify. Not only material things, but some relationships with others. I have less of an inclination to put much effort into some things & it’s liberating. I have also gotten a bit lazy with putting effort into the relationships I do want to maintain, so there is that downside, I guess. I am also getting older, so less inclined to do much, totally catching up to Geoff on that front.
I, like E, miss the company of some though & hugs, boy do we miss hugs, but 10 months in & we’ve mostly settled into the acceptance stage of the stages of grief with the pandemic. We get hugs from those in our bubble (when we can) & of course the 4 of us always make sure to give each other daily hugs. Even without the hugs though, there is a stronger sense of community & a stronger connection with some (even though I have let some relationships be), which I also appreciate.
Some of the other things of significance, that have happened this year, would be L asking me to cut his hair, after E asked to have all of her’s cut off (L had been growing his since birth, although he didn’t really get hair until he was 3). I as surprised that he decided to cut it all off, but was really happy that it appears to have been his decision.
Geoff & I also organised getting our PCOC cards for sailing, which was fun over a couple of weekends. I was incredibly nervous, but the guys that we did it with were really good with following covid protocols.
E did a 22km bike ride & raised $550 for the Terry Fox Foundation, something that she decided to do on her own, not sure if she will do another 20km ride again like that, but we were all really proud of her.
With basically no travel, other than Peru, this year, we have been doing reno’s in the house & are currently in the process of switching up the house, so that Geoff will have the kids old room, the kids will have the room that I had as my creative space & homeschooling & my creative space will now be in a slightly better layout, downstairs (we have been painting the last few days & need to paint tomorrow).
Some big news for Geoff was that he left his job, where he was for almost 10 years for a new job. As part of that, we started a new business, which we managed to organise just before xmas this year (basically, it was all sorted within a couple of weeks, damn it was crazy).
One of the other big things that we have been doing this year, is planning our next adventure, not sure when it will happen, but I think it’s important to have something to look forward to, after so many disappointments in our family (more so the kids & I). I was especially cut up that I missed my brother’s wedding this year. Unlike, times gone by, when you could just hop a plane, I have no idea when we might get back to Australia. Then again, if we were living in different states to family in Australia, not sure it would be much better (it would actually be better, but let’s not focus on that, because it’s not happening). Anyhow, our latest focus, is to plan sailing adventures, at least that has the potential to happen here & isn’t reliant on air travel.
Whilst doing home schooling & trying to run the house, I have been doing my sewing & other creative arts too. There was a bit of a slump with it all, at the start, whilst I was trying to get my head around the whole pandemic, but looking back at pictures & notes, I still managed to create a lot. I donated hundreds of items, mostly headbands, masks & aprons, as well as made a lot of little gifts for kids for birthday’s to make up for the lack of birthday parties, to the tune of a few thousand dollars in product, which I am pretty proud of & appreciate the support that I received from others to do so.
Overall, it’s been an interesting calendar year. Not sure that I would necessarily like to repeat the last 10 months, but I don’t really see 2020 (1) haha /2021 as anything more than an extension of 2020. I know a lot of people are holding onto this coming year being so much better, but in reality, the current state of things will be in place for at least this next year. Expectation is the source of disappointment, so if you have low expectations, everything else is gravy. 😉 I appreciate many of my experiences in life, for what they have taught me & this year, I have realised that as much as I enjoy the company of others, I also enjoy the lack of commitment this year has afforded me (let me tell you, October’s birthdays were more manageable than any other year, without a multitude of kids to entertain haha)
Anyhow, on that note, I will sign off for the calendar year, play some minecraft & head to bed.
In an effort to clean up & update the website, as well as fix the fact that I have actually managed to lock myself out, so I can’t actually login & update it easily, today is the day I’ve decided to delete it all. All that SHOULD remain if I do this correctly, will be this blog & the photo album (also rather outdated in looks, but a different plugin, & I only want to do so much in one day). The crappiness of the main site has annoyed me just long enough to do something about it. I started moving some items over into this blog from the site, so you will find recipes and posts that link back to our wedding and the Creative Arts I posted, just as blog posts.
For prosperity purposes, check out this outdated look, isn’t it special?
Wish me luck. I’ll be relying on the quick backup, I did a few weeks ago, before I started moving everything over hoping I don’t get distracted & delete the wrong folders.
So, seeing as we’ve decided to take the leap into home schooling, most of my posts will touch on it in some way, because this is a huge part of my life at the moment… edumacating my kids.
In among the worksheets I found for the kids relating to James’s and the Giant Peach, was an activity to research the history of planes. It related to a couple of sentences where a plane made an appearance in the story. Don’t get me wrong, the insertion of a plane into the story, was a necessary addition to the story’s outcome, but initially when I found the activity I thought, wow, that’s clutching at straws! But, really it’s no different to us taking pause yesterday & discussing gardening trivia from facts discussed in the book. Perhaps we should do more research into that too? Or, I could go with my gut & leave that one alone for now. I feel like maybe we could return to researching some of the gardening facts in the spring again, when we could actually look at getting a colony of ladybugs to help eat the little pests that eat the plants & dig through the compost pile for worms & spread the beautiful rich soil they have mulched down in our different garden beds.
As much as home schooling is a fair amount of work, I must say that I really like the sense of ownership & pride that one feels whilst doing so. Home schooling these days is obviously very different in a pandemic & with at risk individuals in the house it certainly is isolating, compared to much of what you read about the beauty of it. We aren’t taking advantage of museum passes we already possess, like our air & space one that would be ideal for this subject. Not to mention that our library cards have been cast aside with them, joining the large pile we no longer make use of.
We are very fortunate to have internet access though, which of course means we still have a plethora of information at our fingertips, so I am incredibly thankful for that, as so many don’t even have that. That being said I still get very excited when we’re doing home schooling activities & I can share a physical item with them. Today, it was a newspaper from September 11, 1908, and pictured above. *
The kids though it was cool to have a newspaper that’s over 110 years old in our home, even though I know that the concept was a little mind blowing to consider. “A newspaper, that’s older than the combined age of the four of us, huh, ok, that’s cool.”
I love that, home schooling has made my more acutely aware of how a couple of sentences in a book can set you off on on so many different paths of learning.
* I actually only have this newspaper in my possession because I was given a few by a friend, for a creative project. The old newspapers didn’t quite work for the project I had in mind at the time because they are so old & brittle, but are pretty cool still. At some stage maybe, I will find a suitable project for them, that preserves them instead of my original plan that was to reuse & somewhat deface them, but I’m in no rush.
Who doesn’t like Roald Dahl? I guess that there are some that might dislike his writings, but they don’t exist in in our house, thankfully. His writings are fantastical in nature & honestly in this new & still rather dystopian reality, a welcome distraction. The world needs magic & what better place to find it than books.
Today, I decided to start our Roald Dahl journey with the kids, starting with James & The Giant Peach, as part of our home schooling, a way to insert some fun into our literacy studies. Kidlet1 is very adept at reading & doesn’t go far without a book in their hands & whilst Kidlet2 is following in their older siblings footsteps, reading to them both is a great method to teach them to pay attention & retain information, without putting undue pressure on Kidlet2 to read faster than they are comfortable with, inadvertently.
I had intended to drag the reading out all week, but instead the kids kept begging me to continue, “Please keep reading the next chapter, Mummy”, so I did, I read all 39 chapters & now it’s done. I know I could’ve told the kids, no, let’s save it for later, but they were so keen to know what happened that I couldn’t do it. To be so engrossed in a story, that you NEED to know what happens & cannot fathom the idea of stopping, is a wonderful experience.
We broke up the reading of course with a few breaks for food & a little time to run around outside for a “recess break” etc, but we also stopped every so often at different stages of the story to predict what might happen next, which was fun. We looked up locations & information mentioned in the book, like how a grasshopper makes noise, the popularity of ladybugs (called ladybirds, in the story) with gardeners and other real life facts contained within the pages. We did some maths with the shoes the centipede wore and more. Then there were the worksheets that we did as well. Speaking of worksheets, we still have a few more to do, some of which I admit I copied by hand after doing a search online (& then copied for the kids to write in the answers) & others that I printed such as this one, which was free. We’re going to continue to work on the ones left tomorrow.
Pretty sure we won’t be dragging out this activity for a week, but maybe I’ll just make use of the “extra time” to do something else after we do all the activity sheets I have. I do have a small pile of sheets, but given the kids interest, I’m pretty sure we can cover it all in a day & best to do it all before we move onto a new book. ?
Final note about our home schooling journey so far
I have to admit that sometimes I find myself wondering that IF the kids do return to the public school system in the future, will they get a little bored? I’m almost certain they will look on it as a holiday at the moment. With only the two of them, there’s less time to muck around, than you might have in a classroom with a few more students. Today, was very successful, but also a very LONG day. I ended up doing supervised school work from 9-5 (with short breaks between, as mentioned) & whilst we covered a lot, I think the kids needed to run off more energy than they did. It’s a tough balance though, I want to foster the idea that if they want to extend our learning together, they can do so as needed, after all, learning should be fun
Guess what arrived today? Our little piece of sweatshop labor, disguised as wooden peg dolls.
It was one of the highlights of the day, (which says a lot about the day we’ve had), actually, it might make the day seem less difficult than it actually was. hmmmm…
Anyhow, the idea behind these is to make the peg dolls a dollhouse. We haven’t quite settled on the dollhouse design though. At first it was to be a wooden dollhouse, but now it appears it will be sewn. I’m sure it will change again, given how quickly they changed their mind about a wooden structure to sewn, which is fine. I’ve been making them take notes throughout the design process, so as it evolves, so too do their notes. Honestly, it’s a fairly accurate portrayal of my design process too. I start out with an idea & along the way I either tweak it a little OR it changes entirely.
Anyhow, back to motivating them to finish their work, before the fun stuff…
Following on with my previous home schooling post, I thought that I would share some thoughts & resources that have worked for us, even though I am VERY new to the game.
In my flailing about, stage of the journey, I found myself caught up with the idea that I had to follow the ministries curriculum policy documents to the letter & was a little stressed, I was also getting pressure from G to do so, but there really isn’t much in terms of support material. The letter that the School Board sent the other day could make one believe that there is an actual useful amount of material given, but when the goal is to get butts on seats in schools, you can understand why the material is a little lacking. I’m only using the policy documents to refer to.
If you are on Facebook, you can join a lot of online groups & pages which share information. I found them useful to peruse, but would recommend not getting too bogged down in them or the politics. Home schooling isn’t all about religion, although sometimes it can feel like there’s far too many posts that link back to religious curriculum’s. I have certainly “happened” across some great non-denominational resources for us, via these groups. I also need to give due credit to with friends & others who had experience with home schooling that I spoke with.
The great advantage of home schooling for me, has been the added flexibility to find resources that fit the kids, not the other way around, as well as a real connection to their learning adventures. Now, when they ask a question or make a half statement, I have context & it’s pretty amazing.
Now, for some of the resources that we’re using at the moment. The first one is the Complete Canadian Curriculum. I have grade level books for both the kidlets. The books give you a quick rundown on different topics of learning, which you can then build on, but as the link states, it doesn’t really contain enough information to use as your sole resource for an entire year.We also use grade level Scholastic books for extended activities, Scholastic books are quite popular with teachers, which I admit I really liked. Both the Complete Canadian Curriculum & Scholastic books can be purchased from Costco for a reasonable price, if you are looking for them & know someone with a card (cheaper to buy in person than online too).
Whilst we have had issues with sole reliance on online resources, I am not entirely opposed to them. I found that Khan Academy is a wonderful one, just like everyone says. You can use all their online resources regardless of whether you have contributed towards the running costs or not, which I love, they really do stand by their “equal access for all” stance. They have some wonderful videos that explain many of the areas of teaching which we love. The site keeps track of their progress as they do various activities. Mine think of it as a game, so are always keen to do their Khan work, as it gives rewards for finishing tasks etc. I honestly can’t say enough good things about it. As an aside, my oldest has started to do coding, which was an added bonus in terms of topics on offer & I personally love that the tutor in the videos is female.
We use duolingo a little, but I admit that we are actually not really doing too much French. It’s a wonderful resource though, we used it with the kids to learn some Spanish before we went to Peru in January this year. I have actually focused more attention on Sign Languages (Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and ASL) mostly as I have ties to the Deaf community & studied to become a qualified Auslan interpreter years ago. Honestly, at this stage, it’s far more useful than French, at least in our family unit.
In my opinion there’s only so much textbook work that you can do before you get bored, so we’ve gotten a little creative with other modes of learning.
To counteract the social limits with COVID & balance that with some social activities, as well as the fact that we’re considered an at risk family unit, I came up with the idea to organise pen-pals for the kidlets. There are so many wonderful resources available online, as to how to write a letter. For us I found, this reading mama had a fairly decent resource to start. We’ve been doing a mixture of handwritten (snail mail) notes & email to both kids & adults. At the moment we’re all caught up on messages, so they’re learning the skill of patience. Writing letters to other’s is also a great way to encourage literacy skills, without the kids being as aware as they are when we’re doing book work, for which they aren’t seeing any sort of imminent return.
We’ve always used everyday activities to teach practical life skills, that hasn’t really changed, these days, they’re more involved now than they were pre-covid, due to their 24×7 presence. At as someone who picked up my lifeskills outside of the home, I have always been a huge advocate of teaching mine as early as possible.
Both of the kids love to cook, so I use that as much as possible. Cooking is so much more than just filling a need for sustenance which many don’t think about. I use it to improve on skills of language, teaching colours, textures, mathematics, fine motor skills, science & art.
There are basically crossovers in any subject matter, art easily crosses into science, language, math etc. Even chores like cleaning, washing clothes & dishes etc can all be educational. We recently started playing D&D with the kids, which they are embracing with enthusiasm, they don’t even notice the mathematics, the language & literacy skills (the character writing is particularly impressive), among other skills.
We have a nice library of books at home, being a bit of a bibliophile is great to be honest, because these days, we just aren’t going to the library like we used to. To be honest I miss libraries, but this is the new norm for us, so we are going with the flow. That being said, there are some great online resources to borrow/ read copies of virtual copies of books too if you don’t have physical books.
The kids still ask about when they might get to go back to school to see their friends, but they also understand that at the moment, this is the safest option for us going ahead, for what feels like an undefined period of time. Best make the learning experience as much fun as possible & enjoy the flexibility our current situation affords us.
I hope that you find something I have mentioned of benefit. Just because it works for us, does not mean it’s destined to greatness on your journey. I very much believe that in the end you are responsible for your own decisions & have to live with them, others, do not. Make your own path & all the best in your educational journey