Friday, December 13, 2019

How healthy are my unvaccinated children?

When I think about all the wonders of living in our modern era, the thing that I am most disappointed in is our healthcare. It could be doing so much to improve our health, but it's not.

The vast majority of us are living with chronic illnesses, and we don't even know why.

Western healthcare is pharmaceutically-driven to the point where doctors don't seek to find the causes of our ill-health, but rather seek to match the symptoms of our ill-health to pharmaceutical drugs that only treat those symptoms and not the root cause. And if you get put on that drug for life, all the better (for the pharmaceutical companies).

Most doctors don't even realise they're failing us, because they have spent years mastering a healthcare education that was shaped by pharmaceutical companies.

I came up against this in my own life a few years ago, when it was discovered I had goiters on my thyroid glands.

My GP referred me to a surgeon so I could have ultrasounds on my neck to check if the goiters looked malignant. Thankfully, they didn't, so I asked the surgeon what could have caused my goiters. He told me there was no known cause, but it was likely hereditary. I thought that was strange, since no one else in my family suffers from goiters, but he was the expert.

The surgeon's suggestion to me was that if the goiters continued to grow and bother me, he could "whip them out" and then I would simply take one tablet a day for the rest of my life to do the hormone-balancing work that my thyroid had been doing.

In his spiel, he spoke with joy of the fact that the tablet he was offering had relatively few side effects. That was the thing that brought him joy.

Neither my GP nor the surgeon mentioned that goiters can be caused by an iodine deficiency. I found that out from my friend, Michele, three years later, just in casual conversation. She had also been burned by the medical industry and had started doing her own research on everything health-related. She recommended I start taking Lugol's Iodine and even told me where to buy it online, since you can't get it over the counter here in New Zealand.

The change to my goiters upon taking iodine was dramatic. They immediately began shrinking, and within this year have reached the point where my neck looks and feels completely smooth. Another symptom of iodine deficiency has also resolved; My hair, which had been breaking off near the roots, isn't anymore.

If you are mistrustful of our healthcare system, you have a right to be.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the constant pushing of vaccines, despite the fact that vaccines put a toxic load on our bodies and negatively change the way our immune systems operate. How many vaccinated children do you know who are dealing with allergies? What about asthma? Eczema? Recurring ear infections? Tonsillitis? Cancer? Learning difficulties? Inflammatory bowel disease? Neurological disorders?

As you will know, if you've been following my blog for any length of time, I chose not to vaccinate any of my children. I feel really blessed that I stumbled across a book during my first pregnancy that listed some of the negative side effects of vaccines. I had never even heard that vaccines could have negative side effects.

The story we get sold by our doctors and the media is that vaccines are the most marvellous medical invention of our age, that they save lives and that they are incredibly safe. The adverse reaction statistic that gets thrown around is "one in a million." As in, only one in a million people will have an adverse reaction.

Well, I don't even know a million people, but I know a heck of a lot more than one person who is vaccine injured. Something isn't adding up.

My eldest child is now 10 and has no health issues. When we fill in forms asking about what health issues she has, we get to leave the entire health section blank. The same goes for my other two children. We have no allergies, no asthma, no learning difficulties, no eczema, no recurring ear infections, no tonsillitis, no cancer, no inflammatory bowel disease, no diabetes, no neurological disorders. In fact, no medical disorders or chronic illness of any kind.

I recently had to re-enrol all of my children with our GP, because it had been so many years since she had seen any of them.

This good health is despite the fact that all of my children had to be formula-fed from their first week of life, due to my lack of milk supply.

So, what health issues have my children had to deal with over the years and what medical decisions have we made?

My eldest child
We declined the vitamin K shot for Miss L (and all of our children) due to its link to an increased risk of cancer. However, we did give Miss L oral vitamin K as she had a large hematoma on her head due to her turning from a posterior to an anterior position in the birth canal.

Miss L was put on IV antibiotics in her first 24 hours of life because an initial swab showed she might have contracted Strep B. She hadn't, so after a day, she was taken off the antibiotics.
While in the hospital, a midwife recognised that L was positive for Coombs (her A+ blood had mixed with my O+ blood and caused antibodies to develop). L had to spend several days sleeping on a UV bed. It took a while for her jaundice to clear, because my milk supply was not sufficient to help her kidneys flush out the antibodies that had built up with the Coombs.

We introduced formula when she was a week old, (after doing everything we could to increase my supply) and that gave her the nourishment she needed to be able to leave the hospital.

After a time, the formula caused mild constipation, so we switched to goats' milk formula and I fed her boiled prune juice, which helped alleviate it.

When L was six-years old, she caught the chicken pox, along with her two siblings. I treated her at home, and kept her there until the last of her spots had scabbed over.

L had antibiotics for the second time in her life shortly after we moved into our current house. She was six-years old and had caught impetigo off her younger sister. I hadn't recognised it in her sister, because I didn't even know what it was. I had never had school sores or seen anyone who had. The antibiotics cleared up the impetigo. (Note the six-year gap between her hospital stay at birth and her next medical treatment.)

The third time L had antibiotics was when she was seven and grazed her elbow roller-blading. I grabbed the first aid kit, but then noticed rain through the window so ran outside to bring in the washing, and handed over the wound care to my husband. He didn't clean the wound with an alcohol wipe like I would have done, or put Betadine on the wound. He simply wiped it with water and put a plaster on it. A few days later, L had red shooting lines leading away from the wound up to her armpit. The glands in her armpit swelled up and she got a fever. Paul took her to White Cross, where she was prescribed antibiotics that cleared up the infection.

That was the last time she had antibiotics or required medical treatment, and that was over three years ago. (Paul and I are both very careful with our wound care now. I carry alcohol wipes, bandaids and Betadine or Crystaderm with me at all times.)

Last year, L came down with the flu. I treated her at home with liposomal vitamin C, elderberry syrup, homemade chicken broth and plenty of rest. She came through just fine. She also suffered from a bad cough for a while last year.

Over the years, L has also had the odd cold and vomiting bug, but nothing I couldn't treat at home.

My middle child
My second daughter, Miss S, suffered with reflux for her first year of life, thanks to the formula she was drinking. We gave her Gaviscon as recommended by our doctor, to try and ease some of her discomfort. It wasn't working, so I began giving her homemade chicken broth and coconut oil when she was closer to one, and those both helped.
At 16-months, S had an ear infection that caused the whole side of her neck to swell up. She began to have febrile convulsions, so I took her to the hospital where she was given paracetamol and antibiotics. I now know more about how to treat an ear infection, and wouldn't give her either of those drugs if we were dealing with one again. Fortunately, she is the only one of my children to have ever had an ear infection, and that's the only one she's ever had.

That is also the only dose of antibiotics she's ever had and she's now eight.

At two-years old, L threw a rock at S's head, which caused a puncture wound. I took her to the hospital where the doctor strongly recommended I vaccinate her for tetanus. I asked if I could get that vaccination on its own and was told it only came in a multi-vaccine shot with pertussis and dyptheria, so I declined.

I did, however, bow to pressure somewhat and agree for her to receive the Tetanus Toxoid Antigen. She had that injected into both of her thighs, and is the only one of my children to have received an injection of any kind (other than L's IV antibiotics at birth). If I was doing it over, I don't think I'd even give Miss S the antigen. I don't know if it's a coincidence, and there's no way to test for a connection, but she regressed with night-time bed wetting around that time.

Even if the tetanus vaccine was offered on its own, I wouldn't give that either, because I've continued to research vaccines and now understand them to be even more unsafe and ineffectual than I first thought when I made the decision not to vaccinate.

Miss S had the mild chickenpox at age four, which we treated at home. She caught impetigo a few months later, but I didn't know what it was and she managed to clear it on her own (but not before passing it on to her brother and sister).

Miss S has also had the odd cold and vomiting bug over the years, but nothing serious.

My youngest child
Our six-year-old son, Master J, was incredibly blessed to receive donor breast milk for most of his first year of life, starting at seven weeks, so he had far less formula than his sisters did in that first year.

I was also able to keep up my meagre milk supply for that entire year by co-sleeping with him and breast-feeding him to sleep for all his naps and whenever he woke up overnight, so he received my maternal antibodies in that year as well.

He went to the hospital once in that year for croup. (I actually tried treating it at home with an onion poultice first, but didn't back myself and decided to take him in.) The doctor attempted to give him oral medication for the croup, but he kept vomiting it up so in the end I just took him back home and the croup went away very quickly with no further intervention. (If I'm remembering right, it was gone when he woke up the next morning.)

J has had antibiotics once in his life, and that was for the impetigo he caught off Miss S when he was two.

He also had the chicken pox when he was two, but we treated that at home and it was mild, although he did become quite constipated with it.
Like most active boys, J has been to the emergency room or White Cross a few times for accidents - mild concussion from hitting his head on a table, breaking his arm falling off a bunk bed, and splitting his chin open falling out of a tree.

On the whole, he's had more colds than his sisters, which started in his second year of life after he began drinking formula instead of donor breast milk.

This year (2019) I started giving all three children a drop of iodine in milk every few days, and have noticed significantly better health because of it. Maybe one or two mild colds in all of 2019. I've always given vitamin C, but this year I also added in a vitamin D spray over the winter months. That could have contributed to the good year we've had health-wise. Of course, it's also likely that we just haven't come into contact with as many bugs, since this is the first year we've had no children at either kindergarten or school. (We now homeschool.)

So there you have it. That's the health status of my vaccine-free children.

I'm so glad we chose not to vaccinate, and the more I study vaccines and their toxic load on the body, the more grateful I am. Thanks to the tireless research of people like Hilary Butler and Dr Suzanne Humphries, I feel confident in my decision not to vaccinate, and I'm not afraid to treat my children at home for most illnesses they do get. It breaks my heart to see how afraid many of my vaccinating friends are because of the scaremongering that is coming out of our media.

I expect our family will still get its fair share of illnesses over the years, because we live in a fallen world and disease is a fact of life. It doesn't scare me though. We will deal with whatever comes our way by working to build health so that we can better fight those diseases.

I know that lots of you are particularly worried about measles right now, because of the outbreak we had here in New Zealand this year and because of the outbreak and deaths that are happening right now over in Samoa. I would encourage you to look deeper into that situation than what the mainstream media is sharing. This YouTube video by Just Dad offers a good summary of what is going on over in Samoa.

I would also encourage you to research vaccines as much as you can. You don't have to have a medical degree to read PubMed articles. Make sure you read the whole article though, not just the abstract, because the latter doesn't often match the former. The good stuff gets buried in the body of the medical literature.

Ultimately, whether you decide to vaccinate or not, do it from a position of knowledge. Don't just assume your doctor has done the research for you. Ask to see the vaccine inserts and read what the ingredients are as well as the possible side effects.

Then, before you agree to have anything injected into your children, go away and look up the ingredients to find out what effects they can have within the body. We all have different genetic makeups and responses to toxins. If you ask your doctor or nurse whether a vaccine is safe, they will always down-play the side effects, repeating the standard line that vaccines are safe. Don't accept that. Do your own research so you're genuinely aware of the risks before you submit your children to them.

For example, aluminium is the adjuvant used in most vaccines. It forces the body to create an immune response so that antibodies will develop. Find out what aluminium does in the body. Where does it go? Where does it settle in the body? What are its effects? How does a small baby with immature kidney function process this aluminium, compared to an older person with full kidney function? What happens when dose after dose of aluminium is injected into a person?

What I've learned is that aluminium is not used because it's safe, but because no safer adjuvants have been found. It would be replaced if it could be. Although, it's the best adjuvant option we have, it's definitely not a risk-free option.

Check out Vaxxed II, The People's Story, where people who have witnessed vaccine reactions in their own children are interviewed about their experiences. A recurring theme in these stories is that the doctors push for the vaccines, but then deny any link between the vaccines and the catastrophic injuries that result from them and also don't know how to help the vaccine-injured children.

I can assure you that I have done a lot of reading and research on the subject of vaccines (both for and against vaccines), so I understand the arguments people will give for vaccinating.

In my opinion, those arguments don't stack up against the reality of what we are seeing, both on the ground and in the medical literature.

If I am wrong about this, my children don't seem to be suffering for it.

If you have any questions about what I've shared today, please feel free to ask them. I'm happy to talk about this topic, so long as the conversation remains respectful. We can have different opinions without hating each other for them. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Spending less on homeschool

Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me after my last post, where I talked about my budgeting troubles. I received so much great advice and encouragement from you.

A kind friend is actually putting together a spreadsheet for me so I will be able to track our budget better going forward.

Paul and I examined our past couple of months of spending and it was pretty clear that the majority of our money goes towards the mortgage, utilities (including insurance), food, tithe/giving and homeschool activities.

A lot of that stuff is immovable, but I've taken a look at our homeschool activities and decided to cut back on some of them next term.

We are only going to go to one of our homeschool groups, although we will still meet up with the other homeschool group for lunch and a play so that the kids can continue to build their friendships there.

The other thing we are going to cut is swimming lessons for the girls. They are both really confident in the water, so I'll just continue Master J in his lessons while the girls play in the pool. J is actually a fairly decent swimmer for his age, but I want him to be really capable since we spend so much time at the beach.

I used the recent government homeschool allowance to purchase the next level of Math-U-See resources for all the kids, so they'll be set for maths for most of next year (depending on how quickly they get through it). I supplement this with RightStart maths games that I purchased at the Auckland Homeschool Conference earlier this year.
Our language arts programme is The Good and the Beautiful. The levels that my girls are studying are offered as free PDFS, which is amazing, so I just printed them off right here at home. I had to purchase Master J's current level, but his next one will also be free. (Grades 1-5 are free and REALLY good. Check them out.)
I get all J's readers out from the library (there's a HUGE selection), and I've been reading through The Well-Trained Mind to get ideas for books to order for him. The Well-Trained Mind has also given me ideas for audiobooks to listen to with the kids as we drive to our various destinations. Here is a list of good quality audiobook ideas for you:

Our favourite audiobooks

  • The Wednesday Wars*, by Gary D. Schmidt
  • What Katy Did*, What Katy Did at School, and What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge
  • Pollyanna* by Eleanor Porter
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis
  • Sarah Plain and Tall series, by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Story of Civilization volumes 1-3
  • The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Goose Girl* series by Shannon Hale
  • The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory* by Roald Dahl
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
(I've put * next to our absolute favourites from this list.)


For history, we will be starting The Story of the World Volume 2, which I purchased from Book Depository. I managed to find lapbook printables to accompany that, for a donation of US$3. I just need to buy manilla folders to use for the lapbooks, and then we're good to go for history.

We are also listening to The Story of Civilization Volume 2 in the car as we drive about, as it covers the same time period as The Story of the World Volume 2 and I was able to borrow it for free from the library.
We are going to finish up our animal biology unit this coming week, as we only have reptiles and arthropods left to go. The kids have loved doing this science unit. Putting together their lapbooks has been a real joy. I've enjoyed learning right alongside them, especially the chapters on birds. Birds are amazing! This unit was really inexpensive to do, as I bought The World of Animals curriculum secondhand, and then printed free lapbook printables to accompany it.
Master J did a couple of science classes at our homeschool group this term, and they were excellent, so I'm going to enrol the girls in a science class each next term. At home, we'll do Mystery Science since we have already purchased a membership and it's lots of fun for the kids.
Our Bounce Back resilience group will keep meeting together next term. The curriculum for that has already been purchased by my lovely friend, Julia, who is taking us through the course. This week the Bounce Back kids all finished their lesson with a swim, which was absolutely necessary in this hot summer weather. 
Music lessons are what cost us the most activity-wise, but I don't want to sacrifice them so we'll just suck up that cost and forego other things.

I'm looking forward to our summer break, when I won't have to think about any of these things for a while, and can just enjoy time with my family.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Where did my Frugal Fun go?

A couple of years ago, I started a little series on here called Frugal Fun, where I shared about the ways I was saving money and having fun doing it. But last year I suddenly stopped sharing these frugal posts, and today I wanted to tell you why.

It was because I got really stressed about money. Like, I-was-struggling-to-breathe stressed. I don't know if it was because of the pressure I put on myself to be frugal for my ironically-titled Frugal "Fun" blog posts, or because money was something my parents often fought about, so it's a trigger for me, but I started to stress over every dollar I spent. 

More frustratingly, despite all my efforts to cut costs, we still ran out of money before the month ended, every month.

All this anxiety cropped up and I was having trouble sleeping, so when I started going to counselling to work through issues from my past, my counsellor helped me realise I needed to hand over my money worries to Paul for a while and just take a breather from them. Paul took over paying the bills so I wouldn't have to think about them, and it did help me unwind from the anxiety spiral I was twisted up in. 

When I felt ready, I took the bill payments back over. Ever since then, I've been trying to figure out how to balance our budget, but I still find we run out of money before the month ends, so I'm obviously not doing a very good job of it.

This month I was inspired by the YouTuber Frugal Fit Mom to be proactive and find ways to bring in more money when we were getting low. I was able to do this through World Organic sales, by selling homeschool curriculum we no longer needed, and by babysitting for a friend. That really helped me feel like I was taking constructive steps towards my budgeting problems. 

I also did an eat-from-the-pantry challenge where I got creative in the kitchen to use what we had instead of shopping for more ingredients. That was actually really fun, and I enjoyed the puzzle of it - figuring out ways to turn what I had into edible meals. 
One night I made my own pasta sauce out of homegrown cherry tomatoes that I had frozen last summer. Another night I made a stir-fry to use up all the odds and ends of vegetables that were in the fridge. A third night I pulled out pinto beans from the freezer and made Mexican Rollups. There were enough left over to freeze for another meal, and I was able to pull those leftovers out for lunch this week. I also made a delicious creamy basil pesto spaghetti and meatball concoction that became my son's new favourite meal. 

All in all, it was a good end to the month, but I want to do even better next month. 

I would love to get a handle on our finances so that we don't overspend at the start of the month and then run out by the end. If you have any tips on how to budget on a monthly income, when expenses each month are variable, I would LOVE to hear them.

Also, please share any resources you've come across that have helped you learn how to be wise with your money. 

Thanks friends!

Emma 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Our homeschool schedule for term 4 2019

Term four is already shaping up to be a busy one for me and the kids. I fear that my homeschool goals might not actually fit into the amount of time we have in a day, but we're going to give it a jolly good crack.

Activities outside of the home
This term the kids are all doing swimming lessons because I want them to hone their swimming skills before our summer holiday. We will be spending lots of time near water, so swimming skills are vital. 

In our Christian homeschool group, we are doing cricket for our sport and a Christmas nativity musical for our art. The kids are learning to read sheet music and are being instructed by one of our homeschool mums, who is a trained singing and piano teacher. 

In our other homeschool group, Miss L has signed up for polymer clay modeling, a dance class and a Lego creations club. Miss S is doing Minecraft computer coding, creative journaling and the same Lego class as Miss L. Master J is doing a class about epic voyages, a science class and a sports class. 

L and S are continuing with their music lessons this term. L has just moved up to a three-quarter size violin, and S is preparing for an end-of-year piano recital. 

This term J is doing club athletics, because he LOVES to run. 

We are also continuing the resilience course we started last term with three other homeschooling families. It happens once a fortnight. On the alternate fortnight, the kids go to an after-school club at our church. The theme of the club this term is 'The INCREDIBLE Word.'

Book work at home
All the children are doing The Good and the Beautiful for their Writing, Art and Geography curriculum. I can't say enough good things about it. The stories are inspiring and wholesome, the teaching is rigorous and the art is beautiful. L has just moved up a level, so I spent this long weekend printing, stapling and hole punching the curriculum to get it ready. I'm excited to start it with her. (I love learning alongside my kids.)
The kids are doing Math U See for mathematics and are all almost ready to move up to the next level. I'm waiting for our homeschool allowance to come through from the government before I purchase the next books for everyone. 
For science this term we are learning about animal biology. I purchased a Christian curriculum called The World of Animals, from a Facebook homeschool group, and have put together a looping basket of supplementary reading material. 
I've also made lap books for the kids, so they can add interesting information they learn about animals as we go along. The lap books are divided into 'Mammals,' 'Birds and Fish,' 'Amphibians and Reptiles,' and 'Arthropods,' to correspond with the different units in The World of Animals curriculum. I found animal lap book printables at Catholic Schoolhouse and at Homeschool Share.
We are just wrapping up The Story of the World book one, so I have ordered book two from Book Depository. I'm keen to make a large timeline with the kids, to recap everything we learnt about ancient times before we move onto the next book. 
I've put together memorisation books for the kids, because I want to make it really simple for them to memorise poems, Bible verses, geography facts and other useful information each week. 
My goal is for the kids to learn one Bible verse each week, so that they have a stack of them stored up in their hearts and minds for all the different moments in their lives when they need encouragement. I found bible verses online that people had created to look beautiful, so I printed them off and glued them into our Bible verses book. 
To help us memorise geography facts, I'm searching out catchy songs on YouTube. The best one I've found so far is this Rock the Capitals song about South America. If you know of any other good ones, please send them my way.

And that's it for term four. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Memorising the times tables

Image result for times table image
Our family started homeschooling two years ago, and we've slowly been figuring things out along the way. I realised recently that my approach to education is three parts classical, one part unschooling.

There are things kids need to learn while they're young and they're minds are like sponges that will allow them to make connections between all knowledge and will also set them up with a strong foundation for later in life (classical education). However, there are also great benefits to allowing the kids to create and imagine and learn by following their interests and participating in real life (unschooling).

The unschooling part comes easy. I just run with whatever has taken my children's fancy and provide the resources to support them in their endeavours.

For the classical education approach, however, I need a bit more structure and organisation in my life.

To help me (and any other homeschooling parents who want easy access to memorisation tools), I'm going to post what I find helpful here on Craving Fresh. I'll leave links to all these posts up on my Homeschooling tab above, under the heading Homeschool Memorisation Resources.

Times Table learning guide
Maths Is Fun has put together a really great guide for learning the times tables. It has games, printables, an explanation on how to approach the times tables, and more. 

Times tables skip counting songs
For memorising the times tables, I've found the following skip counting songs on YouTube by Planning Playtime really good because they're so catchy. They use well known songs, which makes it feel like the job of learning the times tables is already half done.

Skip counting by 3 to the tune of Where is Thumbkin?

Skip counting by 4 to the tune of Row, Row, Row your Boat.

Skip counting by 6 to the tune of London Bridge is Falling.

Skip counting by 7 to the tune of Mary had a Little Lamb.

Skip counting by 8 to the tune of This Old Man.

Skip counting by 9 to the tune of Ten Little Indians.

Skip counting by 12 to the tune of Jingle Bells.


Now, I'd love to hear from you if you've got any other great suggestions for teaching the times tables. Just share them in the comments below. I can always update this post with more links that will benefit us all. Thanks!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Our homeschool activities in Term 3, 2019

Tornado Tammy Science Show

With homeschool, we have the freedom to choose our schedule, so we really could do anything we wanted to. However, there are so only so many hours in the day, so much energy this mama has, and so many dollars in the bank to pay for activities.

These are the things we've decided to focus on as a homeschool family this term.
Music is always a priority for us, so S is continuing with her piano lessons and L is continuing with Suzuki violin lessons. I want to start J in lessons too, but I'm delaying until I think he'll take them seriously, because they are so expensive.
Each term we do one sport and one art class with our Christian homeschool group. This term, the girls, who are in the intermediate age group, are doing netball and charcoal art. J, who is in the junior age group, is doing ball handling skills and crayon and dye. We're also going on a group trip to The Old Lolly Shop in Takapuna, where the kids will get to make their own lollies.

With our other homeschool group, L has signed up for a Jazz dance class, a polymer clay modelling class and a Lego class. S is doing creative journaling, Minecraft computer programming and a Lego class. J is doing a Little Ferns nature class, Art Play, Maths Fun and Kid Sports.
We've also joined in with three other families to do a resilience course called Bounce Back. We had our first session last week, on the importance of telling the truth, and my kids all loved it. My homeschool-mama friend, Julia, is taking us through the course, and she's doing an excellent job. Thanks, Julia!
The girls have almost finished their club netball season. S only has one more game to go, and I think L will be finishing shortly after her. We love netball, but it sure will be nice not to have to go stand in the cold on the netball courts three times a week.

I've signed the kids up to do the Auckland Home Educators cross country this month. We're trying to fit in training whenever we can and have found a good track that's the right length, and where I can keep an eye on the kids no matter where they are on the loop. I'm enjoying having an excuse to go out and get fresh air and exercise with the kids during the day.

The kids are also taking part in a once-a-fortnight after-school club at our church. This term the theme is 'The Circus.'

For bookwork this term, we are continuing to work through: The Good and the Beautiful for language, arts, geography and literature; Math-U-See for maths; Mystery Science for science; and The Story of the World for history.

Homeschool is feeling a little busier this term, but I think that will ease off once the netball season comes to a close and we've completed the cross country.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How we homeschool in New Zealand

I've had several people get in touch with me and ask about how homeschooling works here in New Zealand, so it's been really helpful to be able to point them to the posts I've written about what our family does each term.

If you're considering homeschooling, please know that there is no external moderation. It's up to you to decide how to educate your children.

You do, however, have to apply for your children over the age of six to be exempt from going to a formal school. I recently completed my son's application and we received his exemption in the mail after having to answer an email where I was asked to explain in more detail how I was planning to assess him and what my educational goals for him are over the next 12 months. It was the first time I'd needed to provide further information on an application, so it was a bit nerve-wracking, but all went through fine and we received his exemption certificate in the mail with plenty of time to spare before his sixth birthday. I was so relieved.

Writing the exemption application is a good process, because it gets you thinking about how you want to educate.

The hardest one for me to write was the first one, because I hadn't homeschooled before and really had no idea what I was going to do. My plan turned out to be nothing like the reality of it, but that's okay. No one holds you to your plan. I think it just assures the Ministry of Education that you're serious about this homeschooling business; that it's not just an excuse to neglect your kids.

For us, homeschooling looks like a structured term time where we do: some bookwork at home in maths, English, science and history; lots of audiobooks and read aloud time, as well as quiet reading time; participation in club netball for the girls, participation in two different homeschool groups where all three kids take various art, sport, dance, computer programming and science classes (plus hang out with friends); chores and housework; music lessons; and, most importantly, lots and lots of unstructured play time.
I also try to fit in excursions from time to time, when I can.  Last week we went to the zoo; this week we went to Tui Glen playground.
When the kids are left to their own devices, their default play is Lego. They can spend hours creating and exploring imaginary worlds with it. They also regularly play board games together, which Paul and I join in on sometimes. (Our family favourite at the moment is King of Tokyo, closely followed by 5 Minute Dungeon.) The kids also like jumping on the trampoline, rollerblading, climbing trees, playing with the cat and the chickens, or pulling out art supplies and getting creative on the dining room table.

Oh, and lately the girls have been teaching themselves to play songs on our piano keyboard using YouTube tutorials they search up on our iPad. My eldest daughter, who is officially learning violin, not piano, can be found at our keyboard most hours of the day, practising piano.

That's what kids do, when given lots of unstructured play time. They follow their interests and teach themselves things.

Our family follows the school term, because all of our structured activities happen during term time,  but we make the most of our holidays. I always find I need a good one by the end of the term, as I'm exhausted. We usually go to the beach where we get to recharge in nature, but this past holiday we did something different and went to stay with family in Christchurch. It was exciting for the kids, getting to travel by airplane for the first time in many years, and getting to explore a new-to-them city.

We loved spending time with our Christchurch family, and we also got to visit lots of wonderful places while we were there. We were lucky, because our holiday coincided with KidsFest, so the children got to do many activities free or cheaper than usual.
We visited Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, which was amazing and just seemed to keep going forever. The kids fed and patted so many animals, even eels.
We explored the new five-story Tūranga library (we can't call ourselves a homeschooling family if we don't visit the library). Tūranga had a Lego play area and a virtual reality machine, both which sucked the kids in for ages.
We played on the Margaret Mahy playground.
We rode the gondola and got to see amazing views out over Christchurch and Lyttelton Harbour.
We played at Taylor's Mistake beach, which satisfied our usual holiday beach-time urges, even if the water was freezing.
We spent two nights in Hanmer Springs, where we got to swim in the gorgeous hot pools, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
We caught up with old friends of mine, and did cupcake decorating.
We caught the tram around Christchurch's CBD and got to see buildings that were damaged by the earthquakes, as well as new buildings that have sprung up to replace the destroyed ones. We hopped off the tram to explore the Christchurch Museum, and then hopped back on again to finish the circuit.

In all the downtime in between our various excursions, the children played with their cousins - building Lego, practising songs on the piano and getting creative with art supplies on the dining room table.

Kids are always learning, even if it's just how to negotiate the swapping of one Lego piece for another - the kind of skill that will be useful for the rest of their lives.