My name is Cheryl and I’ve been home educating our son Jacob for over 9 years now. We have a family of four: my husband Pete and myself, our eldest son Nathaniel (26) and our younger son Jacob (15) and of course our black lab/golden retriever, Wade. Our elder son went through the mainstream school system, which never suited him, but it didn’t seem that we had a choice back then. I have educated Jacob at home for all but 6 weeks of his schooling life.
Home education was not our first choice of education for Jacob, but after only a few days in the mainstream school system, it was acutely obvious that it was not going to work for him. So, from there our homeschooling journey began, which has evolved from being two hours in the morning each day at set times, to our current style of curriculum that is led by strengths and interests. There is no set time and learning never ceases. All areas of the curriculum are covered, but in a very eclectic way.
Here is just one week in our lives.
Jacob is an early riser and keen to get the day going early. To get a bit of extra snooze time for Pete and I, Jacob reads until hunger takes over. Today he has started to read Castle Hill Rebellion by Chrissie Michaels. I love it when he gets involved in a book – more shuteye for us.
Whilst I exercise before breakfast, Jacob edits photos for his website, which sells photos as a digital download. There are also products including greeting cards with his photos on them.
Then it’s time to take our dog Wade for a walk. Jacob rides his bike, whilst I walk. Today, we head down our beautiful nature track which is a glorious sight with all the different species of wattle in bloom. No two days are the same on our nature track, as the flora and fauna change and adapt to the different seasons and daily weather. Today, for the first time, we notice a small egg and bacon bush in flower. Later on, we will look up its botanical name.
At last, it’s breakfast time, which is still early enough in the day to be called breakfast. A large focus at this time is discussing the events from the newspapers. Each day, we have our local paper and the Melbourne Herald Sun delivered. At the moment, Jacob gives me the figures and news updates for our state regarding COVID-19 and a discussion about this usually ensues. The photos are also a major talking point, with Jacob critiquing photos and explaining various techniques to me. The comics are a highlight and a good laugh is a great way to transfer to the next stage of our day.
Whilst I’m hanging out the washing, Jacob runs around with our dog and then it’s time for his many trampoline tricks. Even though the weather is cooler, the trampoline is used regularly throughout the day for exercise and regulation. Pete has recently put up a ninja line between two trees in our backyard, which includes a hammock. We are hoping the trees hold up.
We are all exercised up, so we move on to our puzzle competition. I photocopy the puzzles from Sunday’s Herald Sun and off we go to try and see who can complete the most puzzles correctly. Not actually my idea to have this as a competition, but it works in this circumstance. I guess I should be pleased that Jacob beats me almost every time.
We play a new game I bought recently called Tetris Speed. It’s fast and furious, a great game to develop different areas of the brain. We had the best of three games and I won! I know I won’t hold my winning streak for long, so I’ll bask in the glory for now.
We watch an episode on iView of Australia Remastered: Parrot Paradise. We both love this series. Television plays very little part in our lives, but we really enjoy it when there’s a good documentary series to follow.
After some early morning reading, Jacob encourages me to get out of bed and we take off on our morning walk/ride. This morning’s walk takes us on a different nature track, which currently has a swooping magpie guarding a nearby nest. Jacob watches for the magpie as he’s riding along and then suddenly, whoosh, there it is right above his helmet! Rather than deterring Jacob from riding, Jacob loves the magpie chasing him out of its territory. My rule is no teasing or threatening. Most importantly, the magpie leaves me alone.
A parcel slip for Jacob. What could it be? The mystery parcel is a delivery from KiwiCo, to which I took out a subscription for three months. Jacob’s not too sure about it, but it’s a good thing to have on standby.
After breakfast and some trampolining, Jacob continued to work on his dream home plan. The plan is designed to be environmentally friendly, off the grid (as much as possible), incorporating a photography studio(s) and a water-wise garden. This has been a work in progress for a few weeks now and the plan is looking amazing. We’ve been doing some research on Earthships and other off-the-grid homes and a lot of these ideas have been incorporated, along with his own ideas of what would make an ideal home for the environment we live in.
A few years ago, my husband Pete presented me with a proposal to buy a coffee machine, which included costs, time that would be saved and environmental friendliness (due to no take-away cups). I was concerned that this would mean an end to social outings to have a cuppa at our local cafes, but I reluctantly agreed due to the advantages he presented in that proposal. Fast forward to our present COVID-19 restrictions and the machine has been a huge asset. Under the guidance of Pete, Jacob has learnt the fine art of coffee making and regularly uses these skills to make me a cuppa to kickstart my day. Today was one of those days and I was so thankful for this comforting luxury in my life.
I attended a webinar this afternoon, so I set Jacob up with the kit from KiwiCo. It’s a physics activity, making a centrifugal force motor. I’m not a fan of pre-made kits, but decided to give it a go. It certainly kept him busy during the time of the webinar, but I’m not convinced it is worth the money. I’ve organised a trial of three months, so we will see what the other kits bring.
Reading Castle Hill Rebellion early again and Jacob has his first round of breakfast.
I exercise, whilst Jacob plays guitar and starts preparation for Friday’s Get Into Photography, which is an on-line photography course he has been conducting for other home educated students.
A quick walk before breakfast and we notice some ducks in the paddock we walk by after some rain and Jacob identifies them for me. Birds are a huge interest to Jacob and have been a large part of our home education program for many years now. Two years ago, he put together a book about birds in our local park, called Birds Of Cussen Park.
Breakfast and another chat about the news in the papers, interesting photos and of course, the comics.
Our friend Dianne arrives to spend time with Jacob whilst I attend to some office work. Jacob introduces her to the Tetris card game … it was a tight battle. Then they involve themselves in games of Squatter, Uno and a game that Jacob made last year called Jackpot!
Later in the day, Jacob continues work on a camera design, which is top secret.
Early start again. Jacob has finished reading Castle Hill Rebellion. We’re almost out of library books and I’m hoping for a call from our librarian to say we can go and pick up some books from their Click and Collect system, which has been a real lifesaver during the COVID-19 restrictions. My biggest fear during the restrictions was not being able to access books from our library. I’m so glad they have adapted to keep us readers stocked up.
Another walk/ride and we are noticing more birds. We are looking forward to going further from home and birdwatching as soon as restrictions ease.
This morning we have the HEN Zoom account booked to record an editing lesson for tomorrow’s Get Into Photography lesson. Jacob has been looking at different options to record the screen, including audio and they have not been successful. The Zoom option worked really well though.
After lunch we have a crossword challenge. I allow dictionaries and thesauruses to be used, as I believe it’s a perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge, but no technology can be used. It seems to be working for Jacob. I was sure I’d blitz this, but Jacob has definitely developed in this area recently.
Reading early again, this time The Most Ungrateful Girl in The World, with Jacob’s first round of breakfast. Then, while I exercise, Jacob gets his notes ready on his whiteboard for Get Into Photography this afternoon.
Morning walk/bike ride time and we’re observing the changes in the wattle and the different species. Which is our favourite?
During breakfast, we read the papers and discuss the events of the day.
Jacob checks emails and the Get Into Photography Facebook page for entries for this afternoon’s session.
Lunchtime: Jacob puts a tub of rice in the microwave to cook. I take it out for him and mention that I noticed it was not in the middle. He tells me that he thought it would cook faster that way, so I explain how microwaves work. He then tells me about when the first microwave was made and some mishaps. I ask him where he had read about this and he goes to an encyclopedia and reads it out. He then tells me about the first toothbrush and the first toilet paper. Great to know!
Time to set up for Get Into Photography. While waiting for the time to let participants into the meeting room, he checks that everything is set to go. He has a whiteboard in front of him with notes, and folders on my Mac with information for the session, as well as a notebook handy to write notes down if needed. Then 2.00pm comes and it’s time to start. The hour is quite full on, with lots of things to focus on.
Afterwards, it’s time for some relaxation on the trampoline and a play with our dog.
As there are no commitments for the day, we have a longer morning walk/ride. I’m training my dog to be an assistance dog and trying to get as much exposure to sounds, smells, etc. as possible. A new route today, through our showground area and Jacob loves the asphalt hill that he can race down and then leap into the air on his bike when he reaches the bottom and becomes airborne as he swerves up a slight rise on the edge. Then as we continue around the grounds, he’s swooped by a very clever magpie, who doesn’t go for his helmeted head, but his back. Boy, did it get close! Jacob LOVED it. We are always fascinated by magpies and have studied their behaviours. We have often been entertained, when they hold court in our backyard. Jacob is riding as fast as he can to beat the magpie and the magpie is swooping as low as it can and as strange as it may sound, it’s as though they are in sync with each other. They understand each other and what needs to be done.
Newspaper discussion during breakfast and then trampoline in the backyard.
Pete was asked by a local fire station if he could take Jacob to photograph some of their trucks before they move to new premises. While they’re gone, I rush around and get our caravan cleaned after the trip we took before the restrictions came in for the second time. It’s now ready for when we can have more adventures. Phew!
Jacob comes home and shows me the official and more creative photos he took. Lots of plans on editing them. He was pleased to tell me that the very first fire station in the town was across the road and was also a morgue. I loved the photo he took of the morgue sandwiched between two fire trucks.
Although Jacob still gets me out of bed, today is the day that I sit in a chair for about half an hour before breakfast and read. Bliss! While I’m doing this, Jacob makes Pete a Father’s Day card. He produces an awesome card that when opened, reveals a pop-out hammer on one side and a pop-out nail on the other. When you close the card, the hammer is hitting the nail.
Newspaper discussions again, but he doesn’t like the fact that there are no comics on a Sunday.
With Pete in the shed, Jacob heads there too, and is soon making a table with his tools. From a young age, he has used tools alongside Pete and was never satisfied with the junior version of anything, just went straight to the big stuff. He’s used recycled wood and scraps to make the table. A coat of paint is then applied to look rustic and worn. The paint has a very strong smell, so it has to live outside for now, hopefully it will fade soon.
The table is to help with his setup for the Get Into Photography sessions.
I take advantage of the time to sort through my office area, hoping I don’t find any tasks I haven’t followed through on.
Well, there it was, a week in our lives. Even though we are living with the restrictions of COVID19, we are still as busy as ever and enjoying the life of a home educating family.
Previous articles from Cheryl about their home ed journey can be found here:
Otherways 150 (2016) Home Ed Our Way
Otherways 149 Lessons on the RoadLast updated on