I wrote this post a few months back, and it got way out of hand very quickly, to the point where I just had far too much to add to it, and gave up. So i’m just going to publish it as it is. So think of it as ‘home ed-as it was four months ago’!
How do I sum up the natural education of five children in one blog post? Just cataloguing one day would be a mammoth read. We still unschool, and most likely always will-it’s so perfectly suited to our life (and my hatred of and inability to keep to schedules and regimentation), and the sheer amount they learn about a huge range of subjects is mind-boggling. I have finally gotten rid of all school-mind, relaxed and accepted that yes, unschooling really DOES work for young children. Meanwhile, the kids happily got on with it, as they always have. After our travelling we’re sticking close to home and enjoying our comforts while we can.
Our most useful thing lately has been this whiteboard, picked up from a closing-down sale. The many things that are read, commented on, then lost in the million other same things can now be recorded in the lounge room and re-read until they’re stuck in those little heads. They choose what they’d like to put up there, like the poem, Auslan and Word Spy stuff below, and we change it every week or two. Yes, they enjoy rote learning when they decide what to learn.
Before it’s taken off the whiteboard I copy it into the Family Fact Book-so anything they know was on the board, but just can’t remember, can be looked up.
Narnia has also been the obsession for the last three months or so. First the audiobooks, then the BBC miniseries, all accompanied by Narnia guidebooks (and of course, a set of the actual books). There have been discussions and investigations on religion, cinematography and special effects, and the contrast between movies and books and why they have to differ. There has been endless roleplay-my kids will never miss a chance to live in pretend-land. Frosty with his very enthusiastic stick-swords does try my patience though, especially when he’s Peter and his unsuspecting brother is the wolf.
History is another big theme, which is extremely interesting to me as I know virtually nothing about it. It just wasn’t covered at school. It started with a lift-the-flaps Roman town book and has snowballed from there into ancient Egypt and the Vikings, with the girls planning their future travels to ancient ruins all over the world, and Oods learning some Latin. Everyday life is the interest here-not so much the rise and fall of empires as how they built their houses, what they ate and what they believed in.
Language in all it’s forms is another obsession-but not so much the Auslan, which i’ve been rather slack with. The Word Spy books have sparked much language play and interest, contributing to the interest in Latin and therefore Rome (it’s all connected somehow!) Secret languages and codes abound, and little symbolised signs and notes are appearing everywhere. I’ve no idea what they’re doing, and they like it that way. Because it wouldn’t be a secret language if I knew it.
Lols and Sparkles are now fluent readers. They seemed to do this secretly, they didn’t want all the instruction that Oods did. Just the basics, then they were happy to decode the rest themselves. I’m still not exactly sure how well they’re reading, but they seem to be able to read books around the calibre of Aussie Nibbles just fine. Oods is reading Harry Potter at warp speed, she’s definitely following in my reading footsteps-she hasn’t hit my speed yet, but at the rate she’s going she may actually overtake me one day.
Craft for the girls has progressed to making real stuff, with much less mess-I knew it would all finally be worth it one day! I still have two little confetti making boofheads who make an insane amount of mess, but at least I know that light at the end of the tunnel is not a train. The girls took it upon themselves to learn to knit and can all do so, and the clones have just learnt how to form stitches in crochet. Oods, meanwhile, crocheted me a pair of slippers completely from her head that fit me perfectly-meanwhile, the one I made her is too big. Yes, I have been outperformed by an eight year old, and yes, I am proud (and only a tiny bit miffed, promise). I really, really need another sewing machine, because I often have to wait to use mine. Bags, skirts, shoes, doll clothes, gauntlets-you name it, they’ll hack up some fabric and have a bash at making it completely from their heads-and it usually works.
They take it in turns to cook independently, with most recipes coming from their heads. There’s been some interesting food made, but they seem to have the basics of cooking nailed down now, and can turn out cakes, biscuits and breads of acceptable quality. I really like this one, because them cooking saves me some cooking. And what is a more important skill than cooking? Except maybe gardening, which has been mostly abandoned to the husband now the cold weather has hit, although Lols (his mini-him) still gets out there with him.
The boys are about equal ability at the moment, and I think Frosty may have overtaken Shorty in the academic stakes in the last month or so. I treat them both as three, and forget that Shorty is actually six and ‘should’ be reading. Ha! Good luck with that! They do lots of drawing, tracing and colouring, as well as many hours of wrestling and whacking stuff with sticks. Whoever said boys and girls are the same had never actually exposed themselves to children.
Finally, the natural world remains a constant interest, with more Attenborough documentaries, some snake handling and a wildlife show complete with wombat fondling recently. Jackie French’s kangaroo and wombat books are on the library shelf right now.
The kids still don’t use the computer, we still don’t have a television, so we’re still Amish sympathisers-but looking at all the above, who has time for that junk? I stand firm on my low-tech stance, figuring there’s far more worthy and interesting (and real) things to do, and they’ll pick it up easily and quickly when it’s time-just like we did. And yes, I apply the same rules to myself too! Internet once a week works just fine for me-I prioritise the most useful parts and ignore the rest.