Thursday, August 17, 2017

English, Instruments and Floral Appreciation

Other than reflecting over today, I have sat down and wondered what we have been doing.  It's been an odd sort of week, but we have managed to get through a few interesting things.  Arden has been doing a mixture of pen and ink as well as grammar for his current new learning.  We are reading Charles Kovacs' "Norse Mythology" which I am not a huge fan of, but I like that it looks at some different versions of the myths from my preferred book by Padraic Colum, and Arden has been interested in hearing this version too.  Today was a bit interesting, as usually Irving will listen or do something nearby whilst we read these days, today however our reading was interspersed with playmobile games, of knights and pirates.

Charles Kovacs "Norse Myths".

Arden's sketch of miolnir.

My pen and ink of Frey's sword.

Sigurd's sword, Gram by Arden.

For Arden's English we've been looking at perfect tenses, continuous tenses, verbs and consistency (plural, singular, etc) and passive and active voice (including object and subject in this discussion obviously).  Arden had started asking some questions to Damien and I recently about this, so it was nice to explore it further.  We tend to do a little writing, and lots of talking out examples to let the idea really settle.  With Willow and Gabriel, when we did this, I mostly used websites that I found online, and my understanding of it, was pretty average ( we started doing this in yr 7, and then never did any more grammar in high school).  Last year we picked up a DK book on English, and generally I like DK books, so this year we used it as our guide.  To be honest I think if your child loves writing and reading, that is 3/4 of what it takes to be good at English, and of course reading quality books.  I'm happy for the kids to read almost whatever, from the library in their own time, but when we read together, I rarely read something to them post 1950,as the quality of language decays significantly the more modern the book.

DK English book

Arden's sketch and writing.  Arden has a tendency to turn *everything* into art, so sometimes the writing is interesting, as he explores an idea for how he can write.  (Sometimes I request regular writing, sometimes I ask what *on earth* he is doing....such as in one of the examples here where he was trying to write his sentence in the shape of a triangle!)

Arden's and my form drawing for the week.

Arden and I are messing about with a bit of embroidery on old clothing.

There is a plan for some sort of cactus embroidery, after we've experimented.  At the idea stage.

Some moments during the week.

Candlelight on a thundery morning.  Just because we can.


Arden has been busy cooking recipes from around the world recently for dinner (using Jamie Oliver's cook book Jamie Does...) and I've been trying out German baking, to re-experience my childhood of Australian German baking.  I picked up this book from the library and will have to buy a copy, there are so many things in here that I remember from my Nanna's house growing it made me realise where my love of poppy seed cake is from.

Hazelnut macarons (haselnuss-himbeer makronen) before the addition of jam.
Gabriel received a kit from Pitbull Guitars this week, for him to put together his own guitar. Willow made her own harp via a workshop, at a similar age, and since Gabriel is interested in guitar we thought that this seemed like an interesting project, that gives some insight into instrument construction.

And some flowers because the bunch was made just for me!  Can't help but feel good about that!  As a customer it's lovely to shop local and get treated by the shopkeeper.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

This Past Week

We all got back into our at home schooling routine this week, and turns out it has been helpful.  Irving has been loving being involved in all of Arden's activities, and has been really getting into doing maths with Arden in particular.  (He's so keen that he wanted me to get the JUMP book out for him.)  Arden is also quite please because we received a new lot of Life of Fred books (goldfish, honey, icecream and jellybeans) and he has been getting into them again.

This week Arden and I are back into doing English and we've been looking at tenses and sentence structure and reading about Norse Mythology.  To compliment this, we've also been doing some pen and ink drawing.  Seem to have missed photographing Arden's picture this week, but here is mine.

Arden has almost finished his embroidered cushion, and we just need to stuff and sew it now.
We're planning his next piece which will likely be cross-stitch, and something to do with cacti.  (He's got a small collection of cacti, and is wanting to get a venus fly trap next.)

Gabriel has moved onto looking at social sciences, and we're looking at freedom and political systems.  We had been contemplating reading "1984" and also seeing the stage play, but decided to leave it, after reading the reviews, and also because Gabriel was expressing a preference to reading "Fahrenheit 451".  He also headed to a talk this past week with Damien, on judiciary in WA.  Apparently it was a little dry, but did spark some further conversation.

Gabriel has started on the process of making himself some trousers.  He's making some out of cord, with floral pockets.  I'm almost finished making him some linen trousers.  I ran out of thread with the belt loops and hems to go.

Cutting out the pattern

The colour is an olive green, and really didn't come out well in this shot

As Gabriel is focusing his art studies around Games Workshop, we decided that it would be interesting to see other exhibitions that relate to models.  Since the Brickman lego exhibit was in town, and we are all mad lego fans, we all had to go.  We got a bit engrossed, and really didn't get to see it in as much detail as we would have liked.

Great Barrier Reef


Some lego building by Arden

Today, Gabriel and I headed to the Art Gallery of WA, to see the sneakers exhibition, it was an interesting progression through the history of the shoe, and into the more artistic creative aspects of the modern sneaker.  We were intending for us all to go, but Damien was feeling a but unwell, so we will have to go back with the others.  Going just with Gabriel, did mean, that we could take our time and have a thorough look through the exhibition.

Arden has been wondering about his grandfathers (both died before he was born) and so for their birthdays this year we baked them cakes.  My family heritage on my Dad's side is German, and he often brought home streusel cakes after visiting my Nana, so we decided to make him one.

Dough is waiting topping.

Ready out of the oven!

We had a rather cold middle of the morning recently, and so Willow, Gabriel, Arden and I all headed out for a coffee.  (We were trying to take advantage of the cold, as it is never here very long.)  Arden has been enjoying doing some food photography when we are out ( as well as other things,from time to time) and got a couple of lovely shots of his hot chocolate at duotone.  He's sharing his photographs @ardenaragorn on instagram.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Vision for Life

How did we get here?  I must admit as a first time parent in my mid 20s there was no way that I ever would have envisioned that my eldest child would have been home educated for all but a couple of years of school.

Damien and I started out parenthood with the idea that our family unit was important, and that being connected and supported in our relationship was important and that supporting each other and our child(ren) was our priority.
Our main priority for ourselves when we met, was happiness and to have a happy relationship.  This was our vision for our future, and this has been the motivator for many of our decisions.

We started home education, because it seemed convenient for relocating back to Australia.  We stopped home education because Willow needed more social contact.  We returned to home education because Willow's happiness and our own family harmony were more important to us than the schooling system. 

With Willow being in school (in Scotland), home educated in Scotland, France and Adelaide, and back in school (in Adelaide) it became clearer to Damien and I that some of our own problems as young adults were purely to do with school and its systemisation.  We could see some of this appearing in some of the kids in Willow's school in Adelaide, certain behaviours that the 7yr olds were developing to cope with being in the system, that parents explained away as a stage, and that Damien and I with our new perspective could see was the kids finding ways to cope with have too few adults to spend time with, be supported by and to model grown-up behaviour from.

Within a very short time of removing Willow from school the anti-social behaviours that she was displaying at home vanished, and when on further questioning on my part, about how much happier she seemed, 7yr old Willow declared, "I don't have to act any more Mummy."

So this formed the basis for our decisions around education, these transformative experiences, started us on this wonderful and at times challenging but always inspiring journey that has lead us towards a usually contented home life based around education and learning.  This has meant that only Willow attended school, and that Gabriel and Arden have never been, and that Irving is heading towards being registered for home education next year.  For the littler ones in particular this experience has been all encompassing and nurturing, being surrounded by their family that loves them most of the time, and having an understanding that learning is inspiring and interesting and exciting. 

When they go out into the world, they transition into being independant, and they are not rudely and sharply separated from their family, and the feeling of safety that that offers them.  The separation that happens does so gently over the years: time at classes with parents present, time at classes without parents present, time with friends, time at home alone, time walking to the shop,etc.  Each skill is built up gradually and gently and each separation is partly encouraged by Damien and I, and by our child.  In the early years, this can feel very slow, but in a larger family there are so many other activities happening that the later years of school travel past quite quickly and all of a sudden, home education is coming to an end, and new experiences past school are being planned and created.

One final note, in our family, one of the main occurrences during the years to keeping life happy and content, is to always resolve emotional disturbances and disharmonies on the spot.  Some days this has meant at home learning has gone out the window, as we sit and work out and sometimes have a good cry, about life and what has been going on.  But these times of disharmony, have always worked out in our favour, as we as a family, have learnt about emotions together and have language and skills to problem solve our feelings, and the problems that they can create.  For me pre-children this was the path that I was starting that lead us to this place, the path towards being able to find and create happiness, and be content most of the time.

So my question to anyone starting home education is...What is your goal for your family?

Some of our moments...
Coffee mornings with Damien have become a thing around here, after him missing us all in the mornings!  (We tend to be later risers) 

Hanging out at the playground with nice to have teens that have fun with everyone, that like to chat with people, and to have a family of people that look out for each other.  (Little one has a way to go with this obviously!)

Things to do whilst waiting for your older siblings...."pop"...umbrella fun!

One of Arden's latest passions, photography.  Hot chocolate on a cold day!