By Bekah Carman
In Victoria we are required to provide “regular and efficient instruction that taken as a whole, substantially addresses the [8 key] learning areas”. I recently released a post that discussed the value of looking at the Victorian Curriculum in order to figure out how to fulfil the requirements of teaching to the Key Learning Areas (KLAs). As discussed in that post, the Curriculum can be both a help and a hindrance to us who home educate in Victoria. It can help us figure out how our activities align to the KLAs, but it can trap us into doing things we don’t need to be doing – and feeling guilty for not doing things that just don’t matter.
Whatever help we use, we still have to align our home education to the 8 KLAs. The problem some people have is, how do we do this? How can we know for sure that we are fulfilling the requirements, really addressing the KLAs as much as we should? As I mentioned in my previous post, there is no rule about how much we have to do for each KLA, there is no rule telling us what we must do to fulfil the KLAs. This means that it is really up to us in the end, what we do and how much. So long as it is “regular and efficient instruction that taken as a whole, substantially addresses the [8 key] learning areas”. And that quoted line can be interpreted any number of ways – you choose how you want to interpret it and you choose how to make the VRQA interpret it in regards to your family.
Because there is no hard and fast rule on how much we have to do, and what things we have to teach for each KLA this also means that we don’t necessarily have to plan ahead for the KLAs. You can plan ahead if you want to of course, many home educators prefer something more formal and structured, planned out ahead of time. But you don’t have to, and that is what matters. Choice.
In my opinion, the best method we can use, and works for pretty much every learning style out there, including the structured styles, is the retrospective method. This is where you do your home education, in whatever style and way you see fit and once you are done with it you look back and figure out how it fits into the KLAs. This way, if you are an unschooler, you just continue doing the unschooling – it’s not until much later that you try to think about how it fulfilled the requirements. If you are a structured family, you can continue being structured, plan ahead what your lessons will be, what your materials will be – but you don’t have to plan to the KLAs if you don’t want to. Structure comes in many forms.
The real problem though is learning how to put an activity into a KLA, without planning to do so. The truth is that most of the individual things we do in education will fall into more than one of the KLAs at a time, but sometimes which KLAs they fall into is not so obvious to everyone. This is something you will be able to learn over time, it will begin to come naturally to you at some point, even if it seems impossible at the start.
Cooking is one example people enjoy using to explain the retrospective technique. Cooking isn’t always obvious in what KLAs it might cover, especially since home economics, as we would have known it in school, isn’t part of the KLAs. So, what does cooking cover?
The main KLA cooking covers is actually an odd one – it’s technology. Cooking is part of food technology, creating and following a recipe is part of design technology – because a recipe is essentially a blueprint for a cooked meal. The method of cooking is also technology, a stove or oven or microwave, even an open fire – especially if you are using an older cooking technique. The process used to create our ingredients is also technology – where does sugar come from? Flour? Carrots weren’t always orange you know.
The second main KLA is health and PE, though not necessarily the PE part unless you hunted an animal to cook. Health is obvious, as cooking is about food and nutrition. Even if you are cooking a seemingly unhealthy piece of food, you will of course know that it is unhealthy and why – and if you don’t? Try to learn why, because it is a learning opportunity. Knife safety and stove/oven/fire safety are also part of health. Portioning food, again, health.
The remaining KLAs are English, Maths, Science and perhaps Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS). Depending on what you’re doing, you may even get some Arts and Languages in there. How? English, reading a recipe or writing one down as you go. Maths, measurements of the ingredients – or if not measuring, then estimating the measurements is also maths. HASS, how can cooking be HASS? Well, if you are using an older cooking technique then history comes into play of course. If you are cooking a food from a specific country, geography and perhaps cultural studies come into play. If you are cooking something from another country (or perhaps a native meal), you might be learning a different language, for example if the name of the meal is not English, you could be looking at what the name means. Perhaps some of the ingredients are from another language. And arts, if you make it look pretty enough. Who wouldn’t call cake decorating an art form? But don’t just limit it to cakes, any plate can be made to look pretty, presentation is key. What about science? Where does our food come from anyway? Animals and plants, simple as that. These two things are a big part of science – and so are things like electricity and fire for cooking. The chemical reaction of baking soda making a cake rise, of flour making a soup thicken. These are science.
So, cooking can cover every single one of the 8 KLAs. Not every time perhaps, but over time. You can potentially do only cooking, once a week, for your home education experience and by doing so comply with the regulations, pass a review and feel assured that your registration status is safe. Because cooking once a week is 52 times in a year – that is 52 times that you cover multiple KLAs.
On the personal level you can also see just how much you are teaching your children, even when you only do seemingly very little. Because we do not actually lock our children in the basement, this means we are definitely doing more than only cooking and every activity and experience we do or have will also cover multiple KLAs in the same way.
In conclusion, you’ve got this. So, get cooking.
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