Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Our homeschool activities for term 4

Hey friends,

Last term I jumped from homeschooling one child to two, and this term I've jumped from homeschooling two children to three. Luckily the pattern stops there, since I don't have any more children to homeschool.

This term our schedule should be a little lighter than previously. The girls have finished club netball for the year and J has finished Kindy. We've also taken a break from formal swimming lessons for the term, although I'm planning to take the kids for casual swims at the pool when our other homeschool friends are there.

J's Kindy graduation ceremony was really sweet and made me cry. I had been thinking I'd keep him on at Kindy till the end of the year, or even until he turned six next year, but he asked to graduate. I think it was a right of passage for him. He'd watched all the older children at Kindy turn five and graduate, so his expectation was that he'd do that too. It seemed like a bit of a shame to have him leave when he didn't need to, but he had been there for over two years and was ready to move on, so I agreed.

He'll be pretty busy homeschooling anyway since, now that he's five, he can join our Christian homeschool group. The group meets once a week to do a sport and an art class. This term we're doing netball and string art. (Last term the activities were Maori and Celtic folk dancing.) It's pretty awesome that the sport for this term is netball, since that will allow the girls to keep up their skills in the off-season, and it gives J a chance to learn the game the girls love so much.

With our Christian homeschool group we'll also be going on a couple of excursions. One is a picnic at the Auckland Botanic Gardens and the other is to watch the stage performance of Shrek the Musical.

We are also part of another homeschool group that meets once a week. In that group, both my girls are taking a robotics class and a creative journaling class. L is also doing a jazz dance class while S and J do a Christmas crafts class together. J will also do Kiwisports so he can burn off some energy. This particular homeschool group meets next to a library, so J and I always spend the first hour reading books together. We both love it.

J has been desperate to do athletics all year, because he loves running and jumping. I took him to his first meet up with a local club this week and he loved it. Neither of the girls are keen to do athletics again, but I'm hoping they'll get so bored watching J every week, they'll end up joining in too.

L is continuing her Suzuki violin lessons and I've been amazed by how much progress she suddenly seems to be making. She spent most of the year working on variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, really mastering her technique, but now all that groundwork is paying off as she has started learning new songs in rapid succession. It's making practise time much more exciting for all of us, I tell you.

S is also continuing with her piano lessons this term, and even though she isn't doing them through a Suzuki teacher, I've been encouraging her to practise all of her songs every time she sits down at the keyboard, just like she would with the Suzuki method. It means she warms up on the songs she knows well, before tackling new songs. It also means she never forgets a song once she learns it, so she will always have a large repertoire to play. And it means she spends most of her practise time mastering songs, and only a small portion of her practise time on the difficult task of learning new material, so that overall she feels more competent about her skills whenever she sits down at the keyboard.

I have both girls filling out a 100-days-of-music practise chart at the moment. Once they've completed their charts, they'll be rewarded with a prize that they can not earn any other way. It was a motivation technique I picked up from the Andrew Pudewa homeschool conference this year and it's been really motivating for both girls. (Andrew Pudewa is the director of The Institute for Excellence in Writing and a regular speaker at homeschool conferences. I picked up so many helpful ideas from his conference.)

J isn't doing any formal music lessons yet, but we bought him a ukelele for his fifth birthday and he has fun strumming on that and doing his music practise like his big sisters.

The only other formal class happening this term is an after-school art class that L goes to. She's been going to this art class all year and absolutely loves it, as well as the group of girls who take the class with her.

I recently renewed our annual Friends of the Zoo pass, so we'll be spending lots of time at the Auckland Zoo while we have that. We went there with friends during the recent school holidays, but it was so busy I felt exhausted by the end of it. I love going during the week when it's not so packed. One of the perks of homeschooling!

This morning the kids and I went to a Literary Quiz organised by my wonderful friend, Erin, from Auckland Home Educators. The kids had so much fun and are already asking when the next one will be.

The homeschool shelving unit I set up in our dining room is working really well for housing all the kids' schoolwork. J has his work in a little filing divider under the stationary on the top shelf; L has her bookwork on the next shelf down; S has her work on the shelf under that; And I use the cupboards at the bottom to store stamps, water paints, washi tape, drawing paper and various flashcards and educational games.

Today I decided to set up a second small bookshelf in our dining room to house our shared homeschool library. This library includes reference books, bibles and read-aloud story books. On the top of the bookshelf I've set up a looping basket, which I'll explain shortly.

For our main unit study this term, we're studying Ancient History using The Story of the World curriculum.

To support this ancient history topic, I've set up a looping basket full of books I bought secondhand from the library's three-for-$1 stand. The basket lives on top of the new bookshelf in the dining room, and is easy to carry to wherever we want to work.

This week I took the basket out to the deck and the kids worked on our outdoor table there. We were learning about how the Minoans used to somersault over bulls' backs to entertain crowds in vast arenas. Immediately my kids had to try this for themselves on our trampoline, imagining they were somersaulting over bulls' horns. I don't think they'll be forgetting about the Minoan bull jumpers anytime soon.

For Language Arts and Literature, all the kids are doing The Good and the BeautifulThey're each on a different level, so I sit down with them individually at different points of the day to help them with their work.

I also get the girls to do copywork each day, which is something I picked up from Darci Isabella, a YouTuber who homeschools, and then which Andrew Pudewa also spoke about as being highly beneficial for helping kids to adopt sophisticated patterns of language. We tend to alternate copying a Bible passage with a poem.

I recently purchased Math U See Delta for L's maths curriculum and am finding it excellent. L watches a DVD at the start of each lesson, which explains the maths concept for the lesson in an easy-to-understand way, and then she works through the pages for that day's lesson.

I want to purchase Math U See for J and S as well, and hope to do so when our government funding for homeschool comes through sometime soon.

In the meantime, S is doing Step Ahead Maths and J is doing maths worksheets that I print off for him from I bought a lifetime membership earlier this year, and I'm so glad I did because J requests multiple worksheets daily. At the moment he's going through a connect-the-dot picture phase, which has actually been really good because he's learned his numbers and his alphabet doing it, and has also learned skip counting in twos, threes, fives and tens, which will help him with multiplication later.

I also try to do lots of hands-on activities with J to help him cement his alphabet and numbers, like drawing them in coloured salt, or forming them out of play doh, or painting them with water paint.

And if you made it to the end of this post, you're amazing! I think I'll stop there, but feel free to ask any questions about what we're doing.

Emma xx

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