Well, we are up for Review!
Our family has been chosen as one of the families to have a review. Although Paul and I were against the review process and any changes to the regulations, we have no choice but to be open to the reviews and use it to our advantage. We feel the reviews will be a good opportunity to show the education department what good things we can do and how home education looks very different to schooling. It is also an opportunity to show how much our kids learn, grow and mature in the real world.
We thought we would share our plans for the review in case they may help other families. We have been home educating for a long time, so feel kind of comfortable with the whole thing. Well, as much as a home educator can – there is always that ‘doubt’ and the ‘questioning’ and ‘society’s opinions’ to muddy the water.
We have three children. Our youngest is nine years old and is the only child fully home educated this year. Our sixteen year old daughter chose to go to school in Year 10 (2017). Our fourteen year old son is going to AYCE (Access Yea Community Education – school one day a week) this year. We parents both work part time, so we share the education, although Catherine is the primary organiser of the more structured tasks. We have a busy life with work spread over six days of the week and we are both heavily involved in volunteering clubs, Scouts and Guides. We find life always gets in the way with whatever it likes to throw us at the time: sometimes good, sometimes bad!
We have changed the way we home educate over the years. We always thought there would have to be the ‘best way’ that would work with the kids and were sure we would find it, but we are always changing. It feels like we are sculpting jelly sometimes, and usually it is we adults who have to get our heads around the many changes.
Another home educator commented the other day that I would find it easy to show evidence of our learning because I am an organised person. But I don’t feel organised with home education. I feel very impulsive and erratic. I feel like it changes all the time, I will get an idea from reading or seeing something and go with that idea. Then the kids come up with something and we change and do something else.
Each child has been different too. My older kids spent lots of time writing stories so learnt to read and spell quickly. When they were five and seven, I paid a teenage neighbour to come and type their stories as they loved writing stories so much. My youngest daughter was slower to read and hated to write, so she did a lot more worksheets that I had to push her to do so that she learnt to spell and write. She has just started enjoying writing stories now, after she wrote a very short story about people going on a rollercoaster which stopped, and no-one saved them, so they starved to death. My older daughter posted the story online to her friends and got lots of responses back. My youngest daughter loved this and has been writing stories regularly since then (she is up to sixteen now!). Some people have called her ‘their favourite author’ and she is loving the comments and attention her stories get. She talks about having to write a story for her fans!
Back to my plans for the review. My plans involve keeping a photo record, a list of books that we read and keeping any worksheets or art/projects to show the reviewer. I am just using Word to put photos in with description of what we did and when. I am sure there are fancy apps that would work for this, but technology isn’t my strength! This has been really rewarding to do as I didn’t realise how much we did until I recorded it somehow. I am not just including excursions to museums and the like. I am also including craft, Lego constructions, bush walks, play and so forth. In a way doing this record keeping helps me dismiss the doubts that come up. With all we do, it just helps demonstrate how our kids have had learning happening all over the place. It also helps me get rid of photos that just stay on devices for seemingly forever too.
I am keeping a list of books that my daughter reads herself and books I read to her. I did this last year for the first time and was amazed at how many books between us we read and the variety of topics we covered. I always follow my kids’ interests with book selections. No matter the topic/content of their book, we always find that we cover usually several of the official eight learning areas, and at times it leads onto many other topics and learning options!
I also plan to keep any worksheets, pictures, maps etc. that my daughter does. I usually throw everything out, but am now keeping them. We have a little bit of structure with our home educating, so often have worksheets. My youngest daughter doesn’t like doing written type ‘projects’ which the older kids did regularly. So, I find incorporating some Maths and English worksheets is needed to help her learn spelling and maths concepts.
I will list any websites and apps that we use. My daughter likes animals and likes the Questagame app which involves taking a photo of an animal or plant and posting it on the app. You select the animal category and name if you know it. You earn points for the correct information and extra points if the animal is unusual or you post a great photo. The app designers then identify the animal/plant and may even write something about it.
Another app we became a bit obsessed about was GeoGuessr. We learnt a lot about the world with that app. We would play that app when we were having lunch.
We play a lot of board games as a family, so will list these somewhere too in our review, or maybe just take a photo. We love board games and there is always a lot to learn. Our favourite at the moment is Mastermind (lots of maths and problems solving in this game!). Our other favourite is Ticket To Ride (lots of geography and maths!)
I don’t plan to worry about the review, I feel confident that we are covering all the areas within our life. It certainly doesn’t look like school, and that’s what I plan to show the reviewers when they come to our house to see how we do it.
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