Thursday, January 20, 2011

decisions decisions

Okay, a Plan has been made for our Homeschool Land! How exciting! Woot!

Tonight, over dinner, a team meeting was had. Together, the kids and I nutted it out. Oh, it was hard work, filled with excited chatter, brainstorming, diagrams, rushing for scrap paper to write out ideas and finally, my son saying, "That looks good, Mum!"

Anyone want to know what was decided?

Oh, well…let me look at the Minutes here…written in triplicate…signed by all attending…stamped with the Royal Stamp…

or something like that :)

Our Plan goes a bit like this:

First thing: We're going to go to Outer Space for a while!

The kids decided Mondays are the day we'll devote to Space Travel, and the day shall be called (wait for it, wait for it):
A s t r o M o n d a y! 
(cue: cool reverb sound— dayday…day).

Nice name, hey. The kids also decided I should be the one to come up with fun activities and research for them to do, and they'll fill a notebook with all their findings. O-kay…Lucky for me, I have two friends who have just done a big unit on Space and I shall steal all their ideas and take all the credit. An awesome and deeply diabolical plan…! I plan for us to also get lots and lots of books out from the library, like we did when we were learning about Roman and Greek history. (That poor library shelf was empty by the time we were done).

Second thing: Tennis Day for One

My daughter is going to go off with her friends for a tennis day on Tuesdays—without my boy and without me! My son and I decided last year that it was too busy a day for us, so I was going to cancel the whole thing. But my girl SO so wanted to see her tennis buddies—she loves her friends, the classes, the coach, everything—and I finally realised she could have her day, and we didn't have to deprive her. My friend will come pick her up and whisk her half an hour south for the lessons (and a play, and lunch, and other adventures). My son will get to have his mellow Tuesday mornings, and we might just saunter off to the tennis court five minutes down the road and have a hit sometime too.

"Win Win," I think it's called?

Third thing: Maths   (No…! YES!)

My boy is going to do maths in the mornings, and my girl is going to try maths again. She actually wants to do it. Yeah. I didn't even have to talk her into it. Who'd've thunk it?

She's going to give MathsBuddy a go; it's an Australian on-line program that my son really likes and has talked quite a bit about. It explains things in simple, visual terms, doesn't have competitive or timed challenges (which my girl finds unbelievably stressful), is comprehensive and has had good reviews. My boy will do that program and Life of Fred. My girl will see how she goes. Fingers are crossed that she'll love it. Fingers are crossed that the fear of maths will dissipate, and eventually go Poof! (cue: sound of puff of smoke. Oh, that's kind  of a visual thing, isn't it…okay then, don't cue the sound.)

Fourth thing: English. (easy to plan…a tiny thing, really)

I'd suggested a long time ago that the kids might like to try writing non-fiction some time. Non-fiction? they asked. What is this thing you call non-fiction? Can it be anything but BORING?

Why, yes, it can be something other than Boring! I said. But they didn't really believe me :-)

Then, a few weeks ago, my son and I talked about writing little reports based on things he might read in the very good online magazine Youngzine. Yeah, he thought that would be cool.

And tonight…we decided I should come up with A Fun Writing Challenge for them every week: something non-fiction, something I'd totally surprise them with. I said, "It might be anything—are you up for that?"

"YES!" they both said, delighted. My boy decided I'd assign this mighty challenge on Mondays, and they'd have a week to do it in their own time. "We'll hand it in on Fridays," said my boy. Ah, he sure loves his schedules.

My boy also decided he'd do the next volume of the English workbook he used last year (which I bought and had them both do before embarking on the Grand Freedom Experiment). He said, "Well, it gets English over with." But he doesn't have to do it, and chooses to do it, so I say, Maybe he likes it, too. 

My girl is NOT going to do the English workbook!

My boy also wants to learn crazy complicated words and how to spell them. He wants to write down the dictionary definitions of the crazy complicated words in a spelling notebook (which we need to buy and he plans to cover). He also wanted a spelling test on Fridays, but my daughter put the kibosh on that one. "Too schooly!" she declared. ("Too right!" thought me)

Now, this is the part of the discussion where my girl raced off to get paper and write down all the words she didn't think she knew how to spell and wanted to learn. This is where I started talking about an easy way to remember how to spell disappear and disappoint.

And this is where my son said, "Yep! That looks good!" and wandered away from the table.

Meeting over!

So anyway…that's kind of the whole plan.

Yes, it is amazing! So complicated! So intricate! So comprehensive!

We think so too!

I also wrote down all the things we're booked in to do, on one sheet with the days in columns, so the kids had a visual of their week. And my girl got super excited about tennis day. And my boy saw all the music he would be doing and was very pleased.

Which makes it all good.

It makes us a team. In cahoots! It makes us Co-conspirators! Planners! Thinkers! Independent learners! Interest-led homeschoolers!

It makes us, Us.

AND on a side note…

One thing they didn't decide on, but I know they'll do and do always, is this:

read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read and read.

This is where most of their learning will come.

They'll read about Mars and Romans and Nanny Piggins and fairy tales and ancient Greek mathematicians. They'll read about fairies found under beds and cats who rescue people. They'll read about science and grammar and geography. 

They'll read books and science magazines and online newspapers. They'll read characters' dialogue on Dragonfable and they'll read each other's stories. 

They'll read and talk about what they're reading and be inspired to write. They'll read out loud to me, just like my son is doing Right. This. Minute. 

They will read and need it as much as breathing. They are so lucky to love it. I'm so grateful they do. 


  1. I'm pretty sure that schedule would do me in!
    I'm a "don't leave the house sometimes for a week" kind of girl. :)
    We go, and go, and go... and then we stay, stay, stay. (Lots of staying when it's cold and snowy.)

  2. I love this so much! It actually brought a tear to my overly-emotional, hopefully-not-entering-menopause eye.

    If your boy likes spelling and language-y stuff, is there any chance he'd be interested in this: ??

  3. Stephanie, I know! I said Busy was coming! I was actually feeling really overwhelmed with all the things starting this School year, and my kids' huge list of learning 'wants' until I sat with them and we made our Plan. Believe it or not, this was me trying to keep it Simple! :)

    We've picked one thing off their massive wishlist (which was 2 pages long), and I'm excited about the Fun Writing Challenge, and everything else will happen or not depending on how keen or motivated they are. As for all the things outside our house that we have to go to…well…hopefully our mornings and most days will be mellow enough that those afternoon things won't overwhelm! Crossing more fingers!

    Thanks so much for the comment, Stephanie. I love all the things you guys do when you're pottering about at home, and I hope we keep lots of space for that too.

    Thanks, Deb—hopefully I didn't make you leak too much! I checked out that link—HOW DID YOU KNOW?? Another thing on my boy's wishlist is learning Latin and Greek. The flashcards and textbook that goes with them look right up my boy's alley. You rock. Again!

  4. Oh Helena, your enthusiasm always makes me smile. Wish my boys were so motivated. Adem would "choose" to spend all his time online gaming. Zak is the unschooling dream child but Adem see's no reasoning for trying new things or seeking out new worlds other than game worlds. So...that is where the teacher in me needs to come out! Having said that, for now we still have NO plans, they are running around doing whatever they want AND Adem is actually going down to stay at a friends house for a couple of days for a change!

    Hugs and smoochies lovely! Have a great day! :-)

  5. Oh, my son wants to come to your house on AstroMonday. He loves everything and anything that has to do with space. From the time he was two he has wanted to be an astronaut. I think his biggest thrill in life was the day he went to the bathroom at Kennedy Space Center and John Blaha was in there. He loves to tell people that he got to pee with an astrnaut.

    Kathi Still trying to figure out science for my 3rd grader.

  6. I love your plan. And I forgot to say last post that I love the photos you take to illustrate all those ideas and feelings! And secretly, I know you and your two geniuses have many many other learning plans that are not actually mentioned on this list!!! It's all very exciting and ALSO motivating for readers such as me who was beginning to lose her way about getting around to learning/doing/writing/reflecting this year.

  7. Oh I love your list totally!!! We did everything on our list when we were co-conspirators... Not quite so much of everything else!!! Everything except first aid, I did a boring as death course when I was a kid and I just can't get excited about it. From the mother who doesn't even buy elastoplast I can't bring myself to having kids that know about injuries - real or perceived!!! Otherwise we have writing fun everyday - its like art and we have a rotating theme through the week... not hours and lots of illustration... I will blog sometime!!! Happy weekend and all the best for ASTRO MONDAY!!!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.