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The Lee Academy

Free to play, learn and love

Precious minds

So this is a photo of Mr 6. He has been busy in his own little world, creating his first language. This one was called the Rufus Code, however, he says that it’s not good enough. He’s aim is to create a whole new language.  He is now using these codes as a really fun and engaging way to spell new words, make sentences and like a ‘secret ANZAC soldier’, pass secret messages to people to work out.

Totally stunned.

I am loving how much this space has allowed him to shine in his own brilliance.

Mr 6 is shining with all his science knowledge, creativity with all his drawings, stories and ideas, as well as swimming through creating ciphers and codes. He even made a codex that simply makes no sense to me.

 

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Safe and Protected

This is the first night in so many nights that I am unable to sleep well.

This Homeschooling journey has blessed my family so much, that rather than documenting it here, I wanted to bask in the glorious sunny glow that is our family routine. Everything that I had wanted for our family has happened, and we are in love with it.

So when today’s incident with Miss 5 (she had a birthday! Yay) occurred, I was not just stunned by my response, but so convicted by it, that I felt I could not choose any other option.

Miss 5 and Mr. 6 have swim classes. Mr. 6 loves them. He has them so he doesn’t drown. He spends most of the time submerged. Miss 5 however, has always had a intense fear of water, especially over her face. She has had this fear since baths as a little baby, and has only now been okay with showers. Miss 5’s first classes began this year, and we began our 2nd term last week. Still not wanting to completely submerge her face into the water, she is now happy to have the goggles on, and quickly put her face into the water for a second. If you had seen her at the beginning of term 1, this is actually progress. Getting in the water was difficult. To see her happy to look through googles, even briefly, made me happy. She progressed well with her kicking, her floating… all was going well. Until they changed the instructor.

And the instructor, not understanding Miss 5’s previous apprehensions, saw her unwillingness as stubbornness. She kept asking her to just simply put her face in, how hard can it be, everyone else is doing it. She started to cry, but only a little. She kept it in. She held it in.

Today, the instructor was less delicate. And Miss 5 broke down. She quickly rushed out of the pool, wet, distressed and upset, ran up to me, and without waiting, held on to me, wet and soaking, and asked me not to let her go. Begging me to hold her.

Another instructor who was attending to other students, simply said to me, “You’re better off just leaving her, going away, and getting a cup of coffee. You are making it worse by holding her.”

I looked at the instructor, and did something I would have previously not done. I said to her, “No. I’m going to hold her.”

Previously, and I have done this with Mr. 6, I have left my child crying, upset, distressed. I had left them because the world told me that if I stayed and made an issue of it, that they would then believe that something was wrong. So ignore their cries, walk away calmly, and let us deal with it. And I listened, thinking that this was what I should have done, that it was right.

Spending so much time with my children this year, getting to know them intimately, how they think, feel, act, I am getting to a place where I understand how every fleck of difference and change affects them. It is a wonderful place. It is a place I am gradually getting to. So slowly in fact, that until an incident occurs, I don’t realise how much I have changed.

Because today, every part of me did not see a stubborn child, or a child that needed to simply get use to fear and get over it, or a child who would not be affected by their mother walking away from them because the world says that this is the way children should be treated when they cry for them.

Every part of me was angry. And like a big lioness surrounding her cubs, I simply could not let my child go. I just could not walk away and get a coffee, put her back into that pool, screaming, crying, distressed and upset.

She had no one to trust but me at that point… and I was not going to walk away from her.

I am still shaken. Not so much by the incident today, as seemingly small as it was compared to so many other incidents that have/could occur. But I am shaken by how much getting to know my children, spending most of my days just talking with them and being with them, has made me so different to who I was, even just 6 months ago.

And I am still getting to know this new person, that I have become. I have always loved my children. I use to believe I knew them. But I now know, that I know them so well, that I feel that I know exactly what they want, need, crave, wish for, everything before they do. I love learning every single thing they learn, I love seeing what makes them tick, and I absolutely love just being able to hold them through their tantrums, their hard times, and their stubborn outbursts. I love running to them in the middle of the night, if they cry from a nightmare. I am their defender, and I am there for them, no matter what anyone says or will say. My world has changed, as I suddenly, am only living for this family. I am there for them and my husband, 100%.

I have read a lot of articles, blogs and a few books on resilience. Yes, I am concerned that Miss 5’s resilience isn’t quite where I would like it to be. I had hoped that this time of homeschooling could have made her stronger.  She use to be the strong one of the family. Teasing about her height and people calling her ‘baby’ has somewhat etched that away. She still talks about these incidents that occurred last year (please see previous blog). When she is on the stage, when she is singing and dancing, acting, she shines. She is brilliant and beautiful and such a graceful being. But there are things in her mind she is still dealing with.

So my time here, at home with her, has been to build her up. What I have somehow inadvertently done is allowed her to project all of her that energy into ensuring that I am her protector. Being at home, I had no idea this was the case, until today.  So the thing that shook me, was that if I walked away from her today, she would have been alone, without her protector.

Was it the right thing to do? I don’t know.

I just know that at the time, it was all I could do. I simply could not, and would not, go away, and get a coffee.

When the ‘why’ changes…

When I first started thinking about homeschooling, I felt it was a way for my Mr. 6 to thrive. When you have a little boy who just wants to be at home, and loves his family so much, he seems to function at 70% when he’s not being entirely engaged, you know in your motherly heart that there is just something more you can do for him.

I first started homeschooling because I honestly felt he was brilliant. All parents think their kids are brilliant. That’s why kids turn out brilliant when they’re adults. Because they are just simply brilliant, amazing, creative, wonderful, magnificent and perfect in their element. They really are. I now know that of many kids, but at the time of thinking about homeschooling about 3 years ago, I felt he was simply brilliant.

But homeschooling has completely changed for us from the initial reasons why we started. We started so that Mr. 6, Miss 4 and Mr. 2 could flourish in what ever area of learning that they wanted to undertake. They would have the time and resources, full supported, to explore whatever it is that they needed and wanted to learn about. We also needed a slower pace in life where we could learn about each other, learn about our world, and most importantly, slow down life to listen to God’s voice.

However, things have changed. Homeschooling for our little Lee Academy has changed to being a time to connect, do things together and learn from each other. It has been a school where respect, love and all those things that come with love are developed. Things like compromise, like creativity (to keep siblings happy), like enjoying each other’s company and learning about snails and mushrooms together. And whilst you may say that every family has the opportunity to do this regardless of going to school or not, simply, our family was not doing this when two of our children were at kinder in different year levels.

And yes, I absolutely agree that academics, learning how to read and being guided by an adult to learn and be exposed to new teachings is crucial and critical for a child to learn about their world. This premise has not altered.

But the wonder of the homeschool space is how much time our 3 have to just simply play, talk and be present with each other. And suddenly the mental health of my children, their healthy relationships and their self esteem, is far more important than any academic achievement goal that I initially had for them. Mr. 6 use to be shy and nervous, and remarkably is now no longer. Confident, full of life and full of esteem, he has a life about him that is sometimes unrecognisable.

I am of the belief that if confidence, happiness, and inner self esteem is present, then their natural curiosity and abilities will spur them on in the direction they need to go, academic or otherwise.

For the family, happiness, peace and love isn’t just a goal, it is the way of their daily life.

For those of you who are still just thinking about homeschooling, or just pondering on whether it is for you, just remember that once you’re there, and you are in it, your reasons to homeschool may indeed change… because, like me, you might just fall in love with the results it brings to your family, your life and your world. Results may not necessarily be A+ and High Achievement, but your world may change so that you will realise that it does not necessarily matter, as long as they are happy and know who they are, and want to be. 

Mother’s Guilt – The Homeschool Edition

As a homeschooler, this life consumes you sometimes. I find myself even when I am alone, unable to let go and constantly thinking to myself what else can I do to make this educational journey as fulfilling and bright as possible. Then there is the self-doubt of whether you are doing enough, are you doing something wrong, can you be better. I’m not sure about you, but homeschooling has somewhat elevated my mother guilt about 10 times over where it was this time last year.

Today, I was very hard on Mr. 6. And in hindsight, I did not want to be. He diligently wrote out a beautiful writing piece on Peter Rabbit.

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His writing for a 6 year old is actually pretty good. He is starting to read as we progress through the 100 Magic words.

But today, as we started to do our Maths, he sighed and said these words that meant more to my inner-judgemental spirit than it was really intended. He said, “Oh maths, not again.”

And to him, it simply meant this. “I don’t like math. Mum says I’m good at it, I just don’t like it.”

To me, I heard this. “My mummy doesn’t make maths fun. I don’t like it because mummy hasn’t made it fun for me.”

See, I can actually think quite clearly now about it, but at the time, I’m not quite sure what came over me.

I did not yell at him. I just implored him to try and see it from my point of view. I then uttered these words that made me think that a lot of this effort I have put into his education was mis-focused and all of a sudden, did not align to my mission statement that I had set in December.

“I’m doing my best. Can’t you see that? I’m sorry that you don’t like maths. I’ll do better.”

I immediately stopped myself when I uttered those words, because all of a sudden, I realised I had lost focus, and that this homeschooling route somehow veered off course and became about how much we could achieve.

The guilt became so much, I was exhausted and at 7pm, I went to sleep, only to wake at 12am… which is why I’m on my blog!

I lost the reason why I initially did all this.

The summarised mission is this:
For Mr. 6, Miss 4 and Mr. 2 to be free to discover themselves. To connect as a family. To have fun, build happy memories and to not be restricted to the standardising of kids based on what year they are born. For our kids to find learning fun, and always be engaged in what they are doing. Being engaged. 

Mr. 6 loves Science and History. This week we learnt about genetics and how he got some traits from mum and some from dad. We made playdoh and we did the baking soda/vinegar thing again; that never gets old.  We also continue our studies in history, and Mr. 6 loves greek mythology like it’s Avengers. (Pictured below reading Usborne’s Illustrated Greek Myths) He loves drawing and making books. He loves sumos and since he cannot be one (being as skinny as a rake), he’s settling for the next best thing… Kendo classes. Great thing is, is that he is doing these classes with dad, so both him and his father get to spend one on one time together every week, hitting each other with sticks.

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Ultimately, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves, and also on our homeschooled kids. They are amazing beings, all children are. And as parents, we make choices to better their lives. But the internal judgement has got to stop, to ensure that the parenting is actually about the betterment of them, and not to make ourselves feel better. 

Sometimes as homeschoolers, we lose focus. Sometimes as parents and people, we lose focus. For the sake of my kids, I will freely admit that I am not perfect, and do make mistakes. But for the sake of my kids, I will always be open to change to ensure that they can be happy, resilient and connected kids. 

When I speak to mums about homeschooling, no mum has ever said, “Oh I wouldn’t want to do that.” Every mum says, “Oh that’s wonderful. I just couldn’t do that.” We are our own harshest critics, even before we have thought about it or attempted it. But sometimes what I hear is, “Oh that’s wonderful. I just couldn’t handle the guilt. I don’t think I’m good enough.”

And to all you mums about to try something new, maybe it’s homeschooling, maybe it’s going back to work, or maybe it’s doing Kendo with your 6 year old… just remember… You are good enough for you beautiful children, whom God gave you and trusted you to take care of.  So take care of yourself, and your kids, and stop being so hard on yourself.

 

Week 5 to 8

What an eventful first 8 weeks. God has been blessing this little place of ours and we have a lot to be thankful for.  Lets see what the Lee family got up to this month…

We got a cat. This little dear came to us at 5 weeks of age as she was found with her brother at a construction site after they had knocked down the house. So she was a blessing, and we were told by the vet to expect a 50/50 chance of survival due to her age and being away from mum. She is now 8 weeks old and not just thriving, but knows that kids drop food whilst they eat.

Report on MR. 6

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Best thing about homeschooling is this. Mr. 6 loves doing his math worksheets now… because he gets to hold his precious pet whilst he does. Miracles do happen. Get a pet cat.

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Mr. 6 started circuits and electronics with this Clip Circuit toy. It’s basically like lego so he follows the instructions but gets a thrill when things just work. We have already broken one bulb from the set due to constant on/off/on/off/on/off (what did they expect from 6 year olds!) so we have to go to Bunnings to buy about 1000 bulbs. He wants to join a robotics club when he turns 7.

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Along with his sister, Mr. 6 has been doing the housework by hanging up the clothes, taking them down, stacking the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher, setting the table for dinner and clearing it. Quite interesting to watch. Sometimes it takes ages and it takes all of me to not take over.

Report on Miss 4

Gorgeous Miss 4 doesn’t have anything like a set curriculum, however, has indulged herself in her brother’s worksheets. So she wants to know how to write.

She has begun to teach herself how to write her name and my name. Her “E” and “B” delight me as the repetition reminds me of the goose from ‘Charlotte’s Web‘.  She is into drawing and her drawings of her family are her favourite topic.

For an entire week, this was her uniform. Including the mask. It was fantastic to see her venture away from the princess genre for a moment and be SpiderGirl for a week. My delight and pleasure of the week.

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The Lee family decorated cup cakes once a week for the whole 4 weeks. It was their way of open creativity. Some cup cakes had one flower, and others had so many decorations, giving new meaning to eton ‘mess’ (mess all over the floor!)… But the aim here was to give them freedom of expression, as well as developing creativity and fine motor skills.

Report on Mr. 2

Mr. 2 obviously has nothing set, but watching his brother and sister learn, there is a sense of belonging when he also wants to do what they do. So this week, we finally received the most wonderful wooden sandpaper letters and numbers. These ones could be customised to have the State letter font (for us it is Victorian). Mr. 2 learnt how to read his numbers so fast just by the sensory feel and touch of the cards. He has also started to read his abcs. It is interesting to note that there is no force here, as these products are so good at helping him keep his interest that he just cannot get enough. If you have young kids and the money, I would strongly recommend these as an investment. I initially bought them for Mr. 6 and Miss 4, but I am proud as punch that Mr. 2 loves them.

We also went out bike riding with all three kids for the first time ever. I am a crazy mother and at times, I feel like it is a minor miracle that all kids are still alive today and no cars were injured in the outing that was my 3 children all on bikes, supervised by one adult. We bought Miss 4 a helmet which irresponsibly was not in this photo!


We had visitors and lots of play friends visit. Most notably was a lovely lady, Dorinda, who actually serves in Africa as a midwife. She is such a down to earth lady, and it was so great to have her come over and entertain my kids with books and conversations whilst I tuned out for a while. She also got them all in her car for a ride and drove off for a 5 minute ride. Kids had a hoot. Just as a side mention, if you ever wanted to suppose someone personally who is doing a great work for the poor people of Africa, please think of helping Dorinda financially. One day, our little family will be visiting her and hopefully helping her with her work in Africa. Thank you for visiting Dorinda!


We are now officially on holidays! 

So whilst the rest of Victoria goes back to school, we will be visiting all the beaches, zoos, museums, fun parks and yes, even a stint at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (okay, that might be for me!). We were suppose to go away interstate to some sunny destination… but then we got a pet! Haha oops.

Watch this space for our holiday fun!

An Educated Guess – Why being a mum today is hard

For mothers, sometimes parenting is just an educated guess. Parenting can be very difficult, and at times we make decisions because we believe that that decision is the best.

And why is it so difficult? Was it easier for generations before us? Was it easier before technology? Was it easier when families were more connected?

My theory (and when I say theory, I mean thought process) is that back in the hunter gatherer days, back in the farming days, families and communities stuck to each other. When children socialised, it was with the communities that were already well established; parents, grandparents and friends already knew each other. The level of trust was already established prior to children being brought up. Information was handed down from father to son, from mother to daughter. Sons followed their fathers (and the wider male communities) whilst they hunted and learnt the skills. They had their meaning, they had their belonging. Daughters followed their mothers to catch small lizards, gather nuts and berries or prepare the food. There was a sense of connection and identity here.

Parenting was easier in this setting as the men were able to socialise with the men, the women socialised with the women (don’t you always feel energised in a group of chatting mums!) and the kids could run around like mad. If you have ever been in this setting and thought to yourself, “What a fabulous day”, maybe we can finally see how life was always suppose to be.

However, when I listen to parents and children these days, I hear about things like the generation gap. I hear about how ‘back in my day, things were harder/simpler/nicer/not as easy’, basically indicating that this generation doesn’t connect with theirs.  And in these very fast moving times, sometimes it is very difficult to pass on information that might be useful, because in fact, it simply is no longer relevant… or so we think.

In a short 120 years, we have had many wars. Two World Wars. The generation that raised children during the war, did it for survival. For these children, it must have been difficult to live without your parents, with little money and security. As these children grew up, they raised a generation wanting that security. These children are now our baby boomers. This generation is amazing. They lived in poverty as children, in a very insecure world, and as adults, they work hard, they invest and save, to ensure their future and their children’s future.

However, now comes something very tricky. The baby boomers gave extraordinary opportunities to their children, sometimes because these opportunities were not presented to them. This X and Y generation had lessons, fantastic schooling, toys, holidays, the latest this and that, friendships and above all… the freedom to focus on themselves. The frequent rhetoric of ‘Who do you want to be when you grow up?’ made children think that they could actually be anything they wanted to be.

But suddenly, we no longer knew our identity. And frequently as I was growing up, I felt people say to me that I would discover my identity when I was 15, then 18, then 21, then when I got married… But I continued to think, as with many young people today, “Who am I?”

What has happened to family connectivity? Why is it common place that we hear teenagers separating themselves from their parents, not wanting to be with them anymore and wanting to socialise more with their friends. Why do we hear teenagers speaking badly about the two people on earth who love them more than they love themselves? How did it ever get to this?

Is it because of all the advances in technology, in materialism, in the opportunities in life, or possibly, does the separation of children from their parents at a very early age, AS WELL AS the extraordinary pressure to succeed, fit in and ‘survive’ life mean that parents no longer matter.

Only in the last 30-40 years have we seen a surge in Aged Care. Yes, this is because of a very well cared for population who are living longer. But more than that, we are seeing people not being able to care for their parents any longer. We have become a society that is so busy and too caught up in doing well and giving our ‘future’ and children the best, that we must separate the care for our parents.

How did this ever happen?

So back to the title of this blog. An educated guess. It is difficult to get a sense of how our mums did life. If you are fortunate to have had a stay at home mum as your mum, you may have had more time to see her cook, see her take care of you and your siblings, you may have also had the pleasure of her guiding you through the hard times. And even if this was your best case… it still may not have been able to set you up for being a mother today.

Because today, there is the internet, society early sexualisation and certain social acceptabilities that come with this, there is dis-connectivity through TV, screens, there is heightened pressures on kids to ‘not miss out’ and be their best, drug related issues. What happens when you have a child who simply isn’t just naughty, but might have a behavioural problem or a learning disability, who just doesn’t fit in? When kids can’t hear well, or can’t speak well, when they aren’t hitting milestones, growing too slowly, growing too fast, what’s that lump, do you vaccinate, is panadol enough, should I go to hospital now, did they eat any veggies this week, what do you mean it’s PE day today, your stuffs in the wash…. Mums have to follow rules from play group, kinder, school, soccer clubs, ballet lessons, the right shoes, uniform, the right time, the right food, nude food, reading lists, dress up days, volunteer on behalf of your children, PTAs, some of us work, keep a clean house, be a good wife, a good daughter in law, be a good contributor to society…

There is so much pressure on us mums, too.

So sometimes when people ask me if what I am doing for my child is right. How do I know if homeschooling is right for my family.

The truth is, I don’t. I will never know 100% if homeschooling is right for my children. It is an educated guess. And I am prepared to wear the guilt, and to power through because I love them more than all the sacrifices that could ever be made. Because sending Mr. 6 to school when he simply does not want to be there is something I just could not do.

So lets start to be a bit less judging of our fellow mums, because mums these days have to make VERY BIG decisions for their children. Do you work really hard and long hours to send your children to private school? Well done. Good on you. It means you love your children and you want the very best for them no matter what. Do you send your children to the local primary school so they can be with their friends and you can pick them up and spend time with them, or take them to karate class? Excellent.  You are a brilliant loving mum who wants to connect and show your children you care. Do you homeschool your children because you want them to learn freely? You are amazing. You care so much for your kids that you are willing to give up your time (and additional income) to give that to them.

See we all love our children. And we are guided by what we have learnt through our upbringing. And in a world that is changing so fast, where generations do not quite understand each other as well as they did in the past, lets us mums stay connected and help each other bring the village back and raise our children together.

Hopefully somewhere in this educated guess, we can have teenagers that know how much we love them, we can raise young adults who not only respect and serve themselves, but also serve and respect their families and community, but most of all, we can raise self-assured and confident people… who could never doubt that their mothers love them.

Freedom and Time – Our first two weeks of homeschooling

So we are close to the end of our first two weeks of official homeschooling. And it’s been such a beautiful journey, with some ups, and some downs (which I simply call discoveries about my children) and many alterations.

We have thoroughly enjoyed reading together, spending endless amounts of time just sitting together, reading together, laughing and learning. We did the normal curriculum such as learning about nomads and early farmers, frogs and fish (which became a day long information search about piranhas). We also did fun things like mummy taking direction from Mr. 6 who wanted to teach me about all the different Marvel superheroes (from the Marvel superhero encyclopedia we borrowed from the library). Miss 4 loves her princesses and fairies, as usual, but each child has been able to embrace each others interests, I think because there doesn’t seem to be a time limit to our time together.

We have enjoyed crafts and free creation time, obviously. This is the time where we have directed craft activities such as making Ancient Roman Coins from back in Jesus’ day, and our Prayer Hands activity, to non-directed open creative time where the children can draw, cut, paste, colour in what ever way they want.

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Miss 4 putting sequence on.

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What surprised me though, was that Miss 4, who usually cannot sit still, stayed with her colouring activity for 3-4 hours, and has now consistently looked forward to this time to finish her creations. We need to get her something more comfortable to draw on.

We also played in the mud for about 7 hours one day last week. 7 hours. Yes, we. Me too.

We had many opportunities for socialisation as well being the ‘school holidays’, which were absolutely well received.

We also had our downs, of which I now call ‘discoveries’. Mr. 6… in all of his brilliance with Maths, actually doesn’t like it. He’s currently completing a Grade 2 homeschool maths curriculum, and has told me very strongly that in fact, he doesn’t like math. The reason? Because there is always just one answer to the question. I asked him what he meant by that, and he explained that when we did Science, History or even conversational English, it was free flowing. You could ask a question and we could discover things together. With math, there is only one answer, and it just never felt ‘fun’.

So I am changing the way I teach math (he’s well ahead anyway), to introduce a range of manipulatives, and doing math as a ‘conversation’. This has proven successful so far. We shall see…

It’s been a hot week here in Victoria, so we have mainly stayed indoors.

Mr. 6 has created loads of books, creations, a robot T-Rex out of recycling materials, and a few angels created from baking paper from his latest obsession, SuperBook.

However, what I love about these two weeks is the bond that has been built with my children. Something I could never imagined would occur was how the 3 children are not just noticing each other, but they are helping each other. They’re empathy for each other use to be non-existent or performed because ‘it’s what mummy told me to do’. Now, they are really feeling for each of the children. Mr. 6 and Mr. 2 have such a strong bond, it’s quite surreal to watch. Mr. 6 finds museli bars in the pantry and always makes sure he sneaks one for Mr. 2. Mr. 2 helps Mr. 6 pack up his toys. Surreal. Miss 4 is starting to not just tolerate Mr. 2 (who still steals her toys and throws them in the bin) but there are times when I see them dancing together to music, laughing.

And then there’s this.

When the rains broke out this afternoon, and released all that humidity and heat… they all collectively decided to take their clothes off and run around in the heavy rain… the happiest kids I’ve ever seen. For about an hour. No asking if this was okay, no fear of the rain or repercussions. They just did it… together.

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No restrictions, no timeframes… just the freedom to fully enjoy every opportunity, and be a child.

Prayer Hands – Craft Activity

This is an adaptation of the ‘Telling God’s Story’ Prayer Hands craft activity, specifically talking about persistent prayer from Luke 8:1-8.

Materials Needed:
1. Baking Paper
2. Wax Crayons
3. Laminator and Laminator sheets
4. Sequence
5. Clear Sticky Tape (Shiny, not matte)
6. String (twine, wool etc)
7. Curtain rod or long branch (long branch would look better but we couldn’t find one this week)
8. Hanging nails if you wish to hang it on a wall

Instructions:
Please note we did this over 3 days
Day 1
1. Get some baking paper and get your child (if they are old enough) to trace their hand on the paper.
2. Shave some crayon colours on the hand. Make sure they are on the traced hand’s inside.
3. Cover this with another sheet of baking paper.
4. Carefully relocate to an ironing board, place cloth over, and iron over for about 10 seconds. No water in the iron.
5. Cut the hands out.

Day 2
6. Laminate the hands.
7. Cut them out.
8. Have your child decorate the hands with sequence and shiny things.
9. Carefully sticky-tape these down.
10. Again, cut out the hands if the tape has overlapped.

Day 3
11. Hole punch the hands.
12. Tie up the hands.
13. Locate them on the rod.
14. Hang the rod up however you would like.

It is designed to be near a window so it had a stain glass effect, however, we didn’t have an appropriate place, so placed ours on a wall.

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My Draft Submission to the Premier of Victoria

Dear Premier,

In relation to the Regulations just released…

It is absolutely difficult for any one homeschool parent to write a submission to address these regulations. The reason for this is because every homeschool is extremely different. One homeschool’s motivations and vision can be completely different to another. The outcomes are different. However, I believe from what I have read from the Regulations, the outcomes you want for the children of Victoria are all the same.

You have stated that the reasons for the existence of these regulations are:

The Department considers the current regulatory approach for home schooling to be unable to adequately assure quality in the instruction or educational progress of home-schooled children. The Department has no workable mechanism to manage the risk of low-quality education for home schooling. For children missing out on a quality education during compulsory schooling years, efforts later in life to remedy this situation are likely to be costly, not as effective, and difficult.
Regulatory Impact Statement
Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017
Page 7

You have then stated that this ‘workable mechanism’ would be:

  • at the application stage, provide a learning plan that outlines how they will deliver instruction and what resources and materials they will use to cater for their child’s circumstances and learning needs
  • if selected, participate in a review that would involve providing evidence of their child’s learning progress, and possibly also undertake an interview with the regulator.

 

I have a few concerns.

PROBLEM 1: HAVING ONLY ONE PLAN AND STICKING TO IT. 

Please find attached the Plan I had a plan, you can see it here –> lee-academy-2017-curriculum-plan. I have worked on this plan for 2 years. I have done all the research possible to put this plan in place. All the curriculum and the way it will be delivered is in a previous blog of mine.

We began this curriculum about a week ago. It has been an off and on journey for us to see if homeschooling works.  And it most certainly does. And as much as you may think that the History element is too advanced, and the English element too much… it’s actually something else that my Mr. 6 doesn’t like…

Maths Worksheets.

See, what I have found with Mr. 6 is that he is not a fan of close ended question/answer type learning. He simply loses interest when a question is asked and there is only one answer. The shame put upon his face when he gets it wrong, the shutting down of any eagerness to try again and keep going… this kind of education for my son simply doesn’t work.

Now you may say that he has no choice, that in life, questions simply only have one answer, and he must learn to deal with this.

I want to expose you to another way to teach someone like my son.

He loves English, he loves History and he loves Science. Why? Because these subjects are taught through reading books together, then having a long conversation of what we have read, then allowing him to draw a picture of what he has just learnt.

See the reason why he loves this, is because I’ve been doing this with him, and my other two children, ever since they were very young. There is no wrong or right to your point of view. There is not wrong or right in having a conversation about a Historical fact, and asking probing questions.

Please see his work here. One of of the Greeks climbing the wall of Troy and failing badly (before that Horse), and another is of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth (with a tornado… don’t you love creativity).

So we have changed the plan yet again. I am now coming up with a brand new Maths plan that is done around conversations. Conversations where I sit with him and have a talk about times tables, numbers.

See the problem with submitting a plan, and then having to stick to it, is because homeschooling for me, is changing the way you teach so that your child doesn’t lose interest because of the delivery. If you then require new homeschool families to stick to the plan before they have even tried it out, it makes not sense because homeschooling is all about adapting to the child. 

PROBLEM 2: OUR CURRENT SCHOOLING SYSTEM and A RANKING SYSTEM

A lot of us are homeschooling because we believe the standardised schooling in public schools only allows children to have a question they must answer correctly. This is evident with Naplan, as well as the current VCE ATAR rating scale.

The problem is that not all children are the same. In my view, the only children that do extremely well in this system are the top 5% who achieve the mark they need to enter the course they want. So what do the other 95% do?

I for one, do not want my children to feel that their only reason for living is to get a high mark in Year 12 doing 6 subjects, to then be able to get into a good course, to then possibly have a good career. If what you mean by a ‘formal education’ you need each child to sit down and listen to a teacher for 13 years, learn the answers before they come up with the questions themselves, then this isn’t the type of education I personally want for my child. I will not be rushing my children from activity to activity, wake them up and rush them out the door to allow them to get a ‘quality education’.

I have nothing against teachers. Teachers have the hardest job and they have to each 25 children all with different ways of learning.

But I know that there is no one else in this world except for me and husband, who will sacrifice their world for these three children. If a curriculum doesn’t work, if a delivery method doesn’t work or if something seems uninteresting, it will be me who researches how to deliver it differently, it will be me who spends the money on extra curriculum and it will be me who takes it to heart if this does not work. I understand teachers do this too, that is why their job is so difficult. But will all teachers do this for MY child if my child simply learns differently.

I recently did enrol my Mr. 6 into Prep for next year, and I expressed to the school on how he learns, and whether something can be changed for him. He does not react well to testing, yet this school starts Term 1 off with a test. Their response was understanding however, they could not change anything.

So please don’t think there is no quality education here in our homeschool. We have put everything on the line for our children, we will sacrifice our careers, our lives and ourselves for our children. We have done the research and we have spent the money and the time. But most of all, you need to trust us with our children. Because no one on earth knows our children better than us. 

If the child was ranked for dance, and Victoria rated each child on how well they could dance, because this was the most popular university degree available, some children, would not fit in. I don’t understand how our current system cannot simply see that every person has different interests, goals and a rating system based on subjects cannot promote personal satisfaction in a career. Could this be the reason why so many people are unhappy in their careers? Just a thought.

WHAT THE REGULATIONS DO NOT ADDRESS

The Regulations do not address these current issues we in the homeschool community would like answers to.

  1. Why is it that a third world country is doing better in the ‘ranked’ educational stakes than Australia?
  2. Have you seen the average homeschool student’s rating compared to public school ratings (again, focusing on rankings, as per your Regulations, Naplan, ATAR). There are several articles on this, here is one.
  3. Your Regulations do not address issues such as mental health, depression amongst teens, family dis-connectivity etc.
    Even though we do not necessarily believe that public schooling has caused these issues, we believe that an environment where a family stays together, where a child feels safe and supported constantly, and yes, where we ‘shelter’ our children from some of the issues of society’s expectations, is an environment that promotes family belonging and better mental health. Why would we not want to teach our children at home, where they are able to ask any questions they like, and not feel any pressure that they simply can’t just be themselves.
  4. The Regulations do not address whether a formal education can promote family togetherness. Of course, the education system of Victoria is not responsible for this, the family is. And there you have the reason why we homeschool. We want our family to be together, to be connected.

 

We will do all we can to educate our children well. Please never think that we won’t, or can’t, just because we don’t have a formal teacher’s degree. Each family knows how their child learns, how they develop and what is best for them. Please trust us and leave this to us.

And if you are still concerned, here are a few pictures of my homeschool….

We have the books my kids freely access and read, as well as the books I read to them. We have the books I read, so they can actually witness what reading looks like, we have the weekly worksheets for Mr. 6 and Miss. 4 all ready and laid out for the year. Formal? Quality?

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How about this photo?

This is Mr. 6 as he is being homeschooled… in the car… on the way to Bunnings… And sure, you say that every family can get this… yes, but he gets this kind of happiness…. EVERY. DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

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No regulation could ever document the happiness this boy contains in his heart because he feels safe to express himself, especially when something doesn’t sit well with him, like Maths worksheets.

 

Thank you for reading,

Yours sincerely,

Belinda

 

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