Category Archives for How We Do It

Homeschool mamas: “How I use my Mulberry Planner”

Curious to know how other families use and customise the pages from The Mulberry Planner? We asked some homeschooling + unschooling mothers to share their tips, strategies and ideas.

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The other day we got a request from a new homeschooler: 

"I'd love to hear someone actually sit down and give a good run down about how they use their planner since there are so many options? I'm a planning newbie - I need help!"

Great question, right? So we asked a few mums who have been using the planner to share their ideas, tips and strategies with us, and here's what they said...

Setting out the planner

Leah, NSW, Australia

Leah made a walk-through video to show us exactly how she's used her planner, complete with audio narration. >>

"We have definitely not used all the pages, and even though we're now onto our fourth year of homeschooling, there's an evolving nature to it so I've used the pages that immediately spoke to me in terms of how the rhythm of our days go."

"I like to use the blank Morning Circle templates and customise them for myself."

"I've definitely used the Mama's book list - love that [the planner] has stuff for mums, not just kids."

Leah's video

This video includes Leah's narration. If there's no sound when playing, click the speaker icon.


Kiara, QLD, Australia

"Setting out my planner I put the vision, snapshot of our family, yearly calendar, and lists at the beginning. Next is monthly calendars applicable for the current term. From there I set out week by week starting with notes, then lesson plans, morning circle, records of learning, reflections and notes. I add the nature finds, notes and quotes wherever I feel I want or need them."

Image: Leah Kua


Kama, New Zealand

"I have the homeschool planner in a 3-ring binder. The sections are:

  • Preparation - I include Snapshot of our family, Our Vision, Weekly Schedule, Notes, and Mama Time.
  • Make a list - I use Mama’s Book List, Teacher’s Book List, Kid’s Book List as places to record books I might want to purchase in the future.
  • Resources - I keep notes about resources I’ve seen or copies of articles or book chapters in this section.
  • Term Planning - I use the blank templates to print out my own monthly ‘plans’, then I use Day Notes with the current one on a clipboard to scribble notes throughout the day, and I plan to use the Family Learning Summary at the end of each month."

Image: Kama C

Image: Kama C


Cherie V, Australia

"The Mulberry Planner has made my home education journey so much simpler, and so far, flow much more smoothly.

In a nutshell, here’s how I use it:

It is my diary, planner and journal all-in-one.

  • At the close of each school week, I prep my following week on the ‘plan’, and tabled ‘record of learning’ pages. I store that week’s pages on my clipboard - which sits out, readily available.
  • As we learn, I document our journey on the daily ‘record of learning’ and ‘reflection + notes’ pages. I transfer the weekly pages back into my Term folder once complete, and begin a new week. It’s so easy!
mulberry planner

Image: Cherie V

Here are some photos of our first fortnight, we are currently up to week three and just loving it!

Hope this helps, it’s hard to condense it down when there are just so many good things to say about this planner! This planner ticks the boxes for learning records for my son, myself AND the authorities. And it’s all in one neat, gorgeous space. I found documenting the planning really overwhelming at the beginning. [We're] two and a half years in now, and it’s definitely a joy, not a labour."

Image: Cherie V

Cherie's video

* Cherie was kind enough to create a walkthrough video too (this one just has music, no narration), but is an excellent peek into another homeschooler's layout).


Tara A, TAS, Australia

"So far, really enjoying it and grateful to you for preparing it for us.

  • As a new homeschooling family, we bought the planner in advance of the school year and I spent some time laying up the PDF pages in an order that I felt would suit us best. 
  • Then I had a local printer do the printing for me onto reasonably thick paper and I filed it all in a binder. It's been really good at helping me develop some structure.
  • On a Sunday I get my planning pages out for the coming week and sketch up the week in terms of activities, projects etc. I then fill out the reflection page at the end of the week and file those pages.
  • The circle planning pages have also been brilliant as this is something I am new to and the rigour offered by the exercise of completing the template has been super helpful."

From an unschooler

Kama, New Zealand

"As an unschooler I don’t plan a lot but I like to have all my homeschool materials organised and in one place and the Mulberry Planner has allowed me to do that. 

What I like about this planner is there are so many options and you only need to use what works for your family and your homeschooling situation. The addition of the blank templates means you can fully customise the pages if you want to. And it all looks cohesive and stylish!"


Image: Kama C

How to use lists in your homeschool

Kelly George, QLD, Australia

This homeschool mum with a decade of experience shares how she uses the List templates in her homeschool planning.

"I was very happy to see the new Mulberry Planner has LOTS of list templates, and I’ve been busy filling them out and feeling virtuous about my gorgeous new lists (as opposed to the creased and crumpled bits of repurposed paper I usually use).

I keep a book journal for myself, but I’m using the Mama’s Book List to keep track of the homeschooling-specific books I’d like to read or re-read.

Having a curriculum list means I can keep track of what we’d like to try, what’s good now, what may be good in the future, and what’s not good for us at all. I’ll download and use each sample as we need it, and then either cross it off the list or purchase it."

Kelly wrote a whole article on Using Lists in Homeschooling. Read it below.


How to use Morning Circle pages

Kirstee Raki, QLD, Australia

Kirstee shared how she uses the Morning Circle templates with her morning basket routine.

"Look at your rhythm and find a time suitable for a big, long out breath of activity. Plan out what you are going to do in advance. I like to write it all out on the circle time planning form included in my Mulberry Homeschool Planner. Knowing what you are doing next helps maintain flow. Things fall apart quickly if you have no idea what happens next."

Kirstee wrote a whole article on Morning Circle time. Read it below.


More info on The Mulberry Planner

  • 150+ pages of templates, planning pages, tables, prompts and record sheets to organise your entire year!
  • Created especially for the 2018 January to December Southern Hemisphere school year
  • Easily adaptable for one child or multiple children
  • Designed for easy printing with room for hole punch and ring binder on left margin
  • Ultimate flexibility with multiple layout options, blank title pages, DIY borders and personalised customisation tips.
  • Handy quick print and colour-light options for the pages you'll print most frequently (daily notes, lesson plans etc.)

Want to share your process to help other mums?

Email your tips, strategies and photos (optional) our editor Grace, hello@themulberryjournal.com

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Homeschool mamas: "How we use the Mulberry Journal"

How to begin Circle Time with your preschooler

Is your toddler itching to begin ‘real schoolwork’ like their older siblings? Maybe you want to create more daily rhythm? If so, why not try Circle Time?

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By Kirstee Raki | thiswholehome.com

Do you have little ones itching to begin ‘real schoolwork’ like their older brothers and sisters?

Or is your eldest coming to the stage where they need a little more structure to their days?

Maybe it’s you who needs that little something to relieve any feelings of ‘not doing enough’ or not knowing how to ‘fill your day’ with little ones. I know I’ve been there.

There are lots of reasons why you may feel like starting circle time with your preschool age children is just what your home needs. Read on to find out just what circle time involves at this age and how to make it work in your home.

Let’s begin with the basics and answer the question…

What is 'circle time'?

At its simplest, circle time is merely coming together to have fun, usually while we begin laying the foundations for future academic work. It’s a chance for your child to learn a few of the basics, like how to count or sing a children’s song. It provides a touchstone to the day and helps us as mamas to be mindful of including music and movement in our child’s day.

In a group setting, it may look like the mat time you remember from mornings at kindergarten or resemble rhyme time at your local library. At home, unless you're blessed with a tribe of smalls, it will probably look a little different. But it retains those elements of the child following directions from a trusted adult, building their concentration and practicing a variety of skills in a way that is fun and age appropriate.

Now before I go into the 'how' of circle time with preschoolers, let me just say that there is absolutely no reason why you have to do circle time at home. In a home with a strong rhythm you will already have many anchors to your day in place (and if you don’t, take a minute right now to check out this post on how to establish a rhythm in your home. It’s for mamas too, not just for our kids!).

There are plenty of ways to practice all of the skills necessary at this age that don’t involve circle time at all. Cooking together, singing together as you help your child dress, counting out plates as you set the table… there are myriad ways to learn the skills you typically practice in circle time. Only include circle time in your home because you want to, because you and your child both enjoy it.

If you think that you and your little one will enjoy having this special 'Mummy and Me' time, here’s how you go about it.

5 steps to a magical circle time with your toddler

Step 1: Look at your rhythm and find a time suitable for a big, long out breath of activity. Pencil circle time into this space. You want a time when your child isn’t tired or hungry and when you don’t have a million other things to do.

Step 2: Plan out what you are going to do in advance. I like to write it all out on the circle time planning form included in my Mulberry Homeschool Planner. Knowing what you are doing next helps maintain flow. Things fall apart quickly if you have no idea what happens next.

How I use the Mulberry Homeschool Planner

Step 3: Gather together any materials you need for your planned activities. Perhaps you want to use some musical instruments or dance with play silks (I like these ones, but we also have a collection of fabric offcuts that are wildly popular with my three-year-old!).

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Step 4: Choose a song or rhyme to open your circle, and another to close it. Keeping these the same every time helps your child make the transition in and out of circle time easier. My daughter loves it when we light a candle for our opening verse. Find little ways to bring some magic into your day.

Step 5: Get down on the floor with your child and have some fun!

It's that simple. But if you’re like me, when I’m trying something new I need specifics.

So here they are…

Designing toddler circle time

When I am designing a circle time there are a few important things to keep in mind.

Questions to ask before you begin

Firstly, how old is my child and are my expectations reasonable for her age? 

I want to create a circle that is the right length for her age and development. Anything more will just lead to frustration on my part and hers too. I know as we move into the kindergarten years that I want my circles to tell a story and to help her develop her concentration, but for now, I want to provide 15 minutes of one-on-one time in our day where my daughter is my sole focus.

Secondly, what do I want to achieve with circle time? 

We are Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers and as part of our philosophy, we don’t include structured academics before age 6 or 7. So that isn’t my goal. Instead, at this age I am looking to begin laying the foundations for future literacy and numeracy skills, to give a little direction in developing fine and gross motor skills, but mostly to have fun and provide another touchstone to our day.

Finally, what don’t I want to do? 

I don’t want to make this a chore, for her or for myself. I don’t want to step outside of what is age appropriate, both in regards to content and length, and I don’t want this to feel like busy work. I want us to have fun!

Circle time with my 3-year-old

What elements do I include?

  • I try to have my circle times cover one or two activities each for developing fine motor, gross motor, numeracy and literacy skills. 
  • I choose nursery rhymes, finger plays, songs with actions and sometimes a short story or two.
  • By being mindful of which songs and rhymes I choose, I can get in rhyming practice (one of many literacy skills we cover) and counting practice (numeracy skills) with no effort at all. 
  • If I include one finger play and one song with full body actions I have also managed to add fine and gross motor skill development.

Which stories are best?

You can find plenty to get you started with a quick Google search. Or maybe begin with those you can remember loving as a child. There is something to be said for the classics; Twinkle Twinkle, 5 Little Speckled Frogs, Mary Had a Little Lamb, 5 Little Ducks. I’m sure if you think back to your kindy days you will realise you know heaps of appropriate songs and finger plays!

You can also add in a short story or two. I tend to keep books for quiet time in the evening and instead tell stories during circle time. Often these stories have accompanying hand actions which my daughter will copy, or I tell the story using finger puppets or other small props I have made or found about the house. String plays are another fun way to act out a story (and are great fine motor practice too!). Unless they are particularly breakable props, I like to leave them out later as a play prompt.

When you should stop

Most importantly, we have fun and build a connection. If these two things aren’t happening, STOP!

That’s right. STOP IMMEDIATELY. There is no reason why you have to do circle time at home so if it’s not working don’t torture yourself. Perhaps it was an off day and you can try again tomorrow. Maybe it doesn’t suit either of your personalities, in which case find other ways to build these skills and times of connection into your day. Or maybe your child just isn’t ready to begin circle time, and there is nothing wrong with that! Remember the suggestions up above and try those instead.

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Find a pattern and stick​​​​ to it

One other factor to remember is that children this age thrive on repetition. I know, I know. It can feel tedious for us adults, but there is something to be said for holding the same circle time repeatedly for a period of days or weeks (depending on the child). At this age, you may even like to repeat the same song or rhyme a couple of times in each circle, particularly when you are introducing a new one. When it does come time to change up your circle, don’t forget to keep the opening and closing the same to help with the transition.

But what about if you have older children as well?

Circle time for junior grades

While all of this is happening, my older child is busy with his solo table work. Working alone while his sister is occupied with me helps him get a little peace to concentrate and helps him develop independence and self-direction with his school work. He has enjoyed many years of circle time at home but is moving past it now. Independent work is an excellent substitute for him so long as I remember to build moments of movement and connection into his day elsewhere. If you have a child in the lower grades (usually up to about third or perhaps fourth grade) I recommend reading this post for hints on how to make circle time work for older children.

Another option is to employ your older child as a helper in holding circle time for a younger sibling. Many children feel significant when called on to help in this manner and it also helps to foster sibling relationships.

Above all else, look to your children for what they need in this moment and forget about what everyone else is doing. This is your home, do what works for you!

This article originally appeared on This Whole Home and has been republished with permission.

The Mulberry Planner includes printable Morning Circle templates.

More info here.

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Kirstee Raki

Kirstee Raki

Contributor

Kirstee is mum to two from QLD, collector of chickens, a terrible housekeeper, a no-nonsense country-style cook, lover of mason jars, passable vegetable gardener, holistic homeschool educator, to-do list fanatic and bush wanderer. She blogs at thiswholehome.com and shares advice and encouragement on implementing a holistic model of education in your home, as well as practical tips to stay sane as a homeschool mama. Instagram - @this.whole.home

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10 tips to make reading books aloud more enjoyable

If reading aloud isn’t something that comes naturally in your family, these 10 tips will show you how read-aloud family time can be fun AND painless!

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By Kirstee Raki | This Whole Home

Reading aloud. It’s one of those things we know as homeschool mums we are supposed to do. Not only that, but homeschool bloggers everywhere would have us believe that we are also supposed to enjoy it. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially if reading aloud isn’t something that comes naturally. 

I'm a huge fan of the read-aloud, and even I confess to not always finding it easy or *gasp* enjoyable to read to my children. But I do have a few tricks that help make it more fun and a lot easier to accomplish on a daily basis. 

Tip 1: Choose a book you actually want to read

It's hard to make yourself read aloud if you just can't stand the book. I flat out refuse to read twaddle to my kids. I don't mind so much if they choose to read it on their own time. Although I encourage them to read widely, I'm not going to torture myself with insipid characters and weak storylines when there are so many amazing books out there! 

I once heard someone say that the mark of a true classic children's book is one that you will love reading well into your adult years. 

Try choosing a book you loved as a child or one that comes highly recommended by another mama and go from there. If you start a book and you find yourself dreading read-aloud time, ditch the book and choose another one. There are too many wonderful books out there to waste your time on the so-so ones. Your kids can always read it to themselves if they love it.

Tip 2: Choose a book your kids want to hear

It is so frustrating to sit down to read to your children and they just don't want to listen to the story. It can feel like a rejection of you as the parent when they complain or misbehave during what is supposed to be a special time as homeschoolers. Listen up, mama. You're kids aren't rejecting you, they are rejecting the book.

 Get smart about your book choices. Books that are too young won't hold their interest, and books that are too far above their comprehension level go in one ear and out the other, leaving the child feeling bored and frustrated at best, stupid at worst. 

Choose books just above your child's reading level with subject matter s/he is interested in. You can move towards more difficult books later but before anything else, you want read-aloud time to become a loved activity.

Tip 3: Schedule read-aloud time for the start of the day

There are a hundred and one tasks to do every day, and that's before you've even started lessons. It can be tempting to dismiss reading aloud as something fun but non-essential and then bump it from your to-do list. 

Worse still, if you haven't come to enjoy reading aloud yet, you might be deliberately running out of time. Caught you! But seriously, please don't leave this one off the list. 

Reading aloud is a fantastic bonding experience, helps to develop a child's love of literature, increases their vocabulary and exposes them to a wider variety of books than they might otherwise choose on their own. 

Try making read aloud time first up each day so that it doesn't get missed in the busy-ness of the school day. And if you don't really enjoy it (yet!) well at least you've got it over and done with and can move on to things you like better 😉

Tip 4: Keep your book with you at all times

Just like reading first thing makes sure you get this done, keeping your books handy is a big help too. Leave your current book on the table, in a basket beside the couch, carry it in your handbag. If you see it, you will remember it, and it's more likely to get read. There is something a little magical about being able to whip out your book and read it at the beach or by a waterfall. And who doesn't want a little more magic in their lives?

Tip 5: Have realistic expectations

I have hinted at this one already. Choosing a heavy tome and expecting to sit down and read it for an hour is not going to end well. You need to be realistic about what you can get done and what you want to achieve from it. 

If you are expecting a stellar narration every time you read a novel together, your kids aren't going to want to do this. If you are reading a book just because you think you should, this isn't going to happen.

If your schedule is jam-packed and you are trying to add in an hour of reading aloud every day, you're going to fall off the bandwagon pretty soon. Be honest about what you can do, and don't expect too much from yourself and your kids. At least not in the beginning.

Tip 6: Start slow and build up

This one follows on from the last. If you have never read aloud before, or at least nothing longer than a 'That's not my...' book with your toddler, you probably aren't going to manage an entire chapter of the Hobbit in one sitting. And neither are your kids! 

Start with just ten minutes, or perhaps even just a page or two, and slowly build up the time you sit together to read. Reading aloud is a skill that needs to be learnt, so let yourself learn at your own pace.

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Tip 7: Let little bodies wriggle around

Remember how I said you need to keep your expectations realistic? Well, let me make it clear that it is not realistic to expect your kids to keep perfectly still and perfectly quiet while you read. There is definitely going to be a certain amount of fidgeting going on. Or perhaps even hanging upside down on the couch. So long as they are paying attention, don't sweat it. 

As adults, we tend to assume that a child moving around is a child who isn't listening, but children often manage to process more when they aren't concentrating on sitting still. Set some parameters that you are comfortable with and let them be. Lots of children like to keep their hands busy while they listen so laying out paper and crayons is often a good way to go.

Tip 8: Get chatty

Reading books together isn't just an academic activity, it's a bonding experience. Chat about the books together. Ask them what their favourite part was, or which character they didn't like. What would they do in the hero’s place? If your inner school mum voice is asking you what the value of this is, you can reassure her that this is a great way to gauge and develop comprehension skills 😉

Tip 9: Make it lively

Reading in monotone is boring. It's boring to do and it's boring to listen to. Have fun, get silly, launch yourself into character. Try out a few voices, read with emphasis, take dramatic pauses. It may feel forced at first, but you will soon get used to it. You don't need to go overboard, but you do want to make your reading enjoyable to listen to. If you need a little guidance, try listening to an audio book and mimicking the way the voice actor reads.

Tip 10: But most important of all…

Everything else aside, the most important part of reading aloud is to enjoy the time with your little ones. Some of my fondest memories of reading with my children are when they have climbed into bed with me and handed me a novel to read, or snuggled in beside me on the couch. Enjoy the time together, and the rest will eventually sort itself out.

But what if you still aren’t enjoying reading aloud?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Just head over to This Whole Home to find my tips on what to do when you don’t like reading aloud.

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Kirstee Raki

Kirstee Raki

Contributor

Kirstee is mum to two from QLD, collector of chickens, a terrible housekeeper, a no-nonsense country-style cook, lover of mason jars, passable vegetable gardener, holistic homeschool educator, to-do list fanatic and bush wanderer. She blogs at thiswholehome.com and shares advice and encouragement on implementing a holistic model of education in your home, as well as practical tips to stay sane as a homeschool mama. Instagram - @this.whole.home

We’ve never seen a worldschooling family travel quite like this…

This family of storytellers are giving their kids a global education, and creating something pretty amazing along the way to share with other families.

Enjoying a walk around crystal clear Hintersteiner lake in Scheffau, Austria

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Interview with Tania and Matt Landin

Can you introduce your family, where you're from and what you're currently doing?

Tania and Matt (the parents), Maya (14), Mirabel (11), Lacey (8) and Elsie (our 4-year-old labradoodle)

We’re a full-time travelling/storytelling family on an 18-month adventure around Europe. Currently, we’re exploring Cornwall England enjoying the mild autumn and cream tea.

In June 2016 — after years of late night “what if” conversations — we quit our jobs, sold all our possessions and left Portland, Oregon to start our own company — Around the World Stories. We create original audio stories to teach kids about other countries and cultures, and we write the stories as we travel around Europe.

Hiking in the Austrian Alps wearing traditional dirndl dresses

Why did you decide to travel the world and write stories along the way?

We’d spent several years overseas, both before and after the kids were born, and learning about other cultures became a natural passion for us. We’ve always loved bringing other traditions into our own home, and as parents we think it’s vital for kids to have a broader view of the world and an understanding of different cultures.

When we moved back to the US, we didn’t find anything that really approached teaching about other countries in a way that was fun and memorable. We realised that engaging, fun stories were the next best thing to an actual foreign experience,  so we came up with the concept of writing original stories about other countries and turning them into audio stories. We absolutely love  writing and sharing the stories with other families! 

Breakfast in southern France overlooking the foothills of the Pyrenees

Which countries have you been to already? Can you some up each in a few words?

Germany - outdoor cafes and beer gardens, beautiful mountains and idyllic small towns

France - croissants that melt in your mouth, amazing lavender fields, Monet, Degas and that cool metal tower 😉

Denmark - positive Danish mentality, Hygge, kind people and the smell of cinnamon rolls everywhere in the morning

Czech Republic - magical

Slovenia -  beautiful countryside - definitely want to come back

Croatia - gorgeous coast, but a bit warm in July in an RV

Switzerland - one the scariest drives of my life over the mountains at night during a snowstorm. The hikes made up for it. 

Austria - The mountains, Vienna and the Danube all spectacular. Stunning views everywhere.

England - amazing cliffs and caves in Cornwall and endless wonderful places to see in London

The Netherlands - Van Gogh, biking and seas of tulip fields in April

Spain - Barcelona is so full of life, loved Granada’s flamenco shows, delicious tapas and Alhambra.

Portugal - surprised by the rich history and culture. Promised ourselves we’d come back.

Liechtenstein - Tiny. Bought a keychain to prove we were there.

Andorra - Great skiing in the Pyrenees. And another keychain.

Gibraltar (albeit also UK) - Mugged by a monkey.

Worldschooling at the H.C. Andersen Museum in Odense, Denmark

Your husband left a secure job as a diplomat to travel the world. What do you think the act of chasing your dreams is teaching your children?

It was a huge leap of faith for us. One of the great side-effects was how it has positively affected the kids’ ideas about their own life and potential. Particularly as things have worked out, it’s such an awesome feeling being able to show our kids a lesson about taking chances and following dreams. I can say that their dreams have gotten even bigger since we left. 

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What have been your favourite stories unearthed so far?

We’re not actually collecting stories, but creating our own original stories. That being said, many of our stories are based on our experiences on the trip. Two of our stories about France were inspired by a tiny French town in Provence. We ate in a plaza, watched locals play pétanque and saw the sun set over the lavender fields. So many of our characters are also based on people we’ve met. It’s a way to keep the stories authentic and rich in their descriptions.

The best kind of 'screen time' along a path in Nesslau, Switzerland

What drew you to Europe for this kind of journey? 

My mother is German and my father is Czech, so Europe has always been a second home for me. There is just so much here in Europe that we wanted to show our girls and experience as a family. One of the big advantages to travelling in Europe for us is how easy it is to jump from one beautiful country (and culture) to another. Just a couple hours drive can bring you to a very different culture — new food, language, traditions and an entirely different way of thinking. We love experiencing that. We’ve biked and even hiked across international borders.

Biking through the vineyards along the Danube River

How are your travels working in with homeschooling your girls? Do you have more of an unschooling or structured approach?

It’s been wonderful for us and the kids. As far as the approach, just the act of travelling and being exposed to so many new ideas really lends itself towards unschooling. It’s been one amazing field trip! We’ve found that, for us, it works best with an open mind and flexible schedule.  There’s just so much to learn everywhere — history, language, food, traditions. Getting outside as much as possible and meeting new people is a must. Our kids have learned more this year, even with little book work, than we even imagined. 

Listening to Around the World Stories in Garmisch, Germany

What's next for your travelling adventures? Do you have any plans of when to go home?

Right now we’re plotting our next big story-writing trip. We’ve not yet decided where to go, but it’s a frequent dinner conversation and everyone (minus the dog) gets a say.

Where can people find out more about you? 

To find out more about us, visit us at aroundtheworldstories.com or connect with us on Facebook or Instagram.

Try the audio stories for FREE!

We offer our 52-story Europe set and our 6-story Artists Around the World set. Until the end of Jan 2018, Mulberry readers can use the coupon code MULBERRY20 to save 20% on either of our story sets. Or for a one-month free trial of our Europe Story-a-week subscription, readers can use the code MULBERRYMONTH on our website.

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How I use lists in my homeschool (and why I love it!)

Kelly George has been homeschooling for over a decade and swears by list-keeping as the ultimate way to keep organised, stay sane, and plan and record her whole family's learning.

Image by Leah Kua

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By Kelly George | Fearless Homeschool

Lists are the only way I keep track of anything.

To-do lists, meal lists, to buy lists, wishlists – if it’s not on the list it really doesn’t get done. 

So it makes sense that lists are invaluable in our homeschool, too. We use lists to keep track of what we’ve done, to remember what we’d like to do and to make sure everyone’s doing as much as they planned.

Personally, I’ve found paper lists are my best friend. 

I’ve tried digital, but it’s just not concrete enough for me, and seeing as I usually don’t know where my phone is it didn’t make sense to keep important information on it. 

I was very happy to see the new Mulberry Planner has LOTS of list templates, and I’ve been busy filling them out and feeling virtuous about my gorgeous new lists (as opposed to the creased and crumpled bits of repurposed paper I usually use). I’ve also discovered an unexpected bonus of having a beautiful planner - I’ve been more intentional about looking after it, which means I can feel justified when preaching to my children about presenting their work well.

Homeschooling lists are also a great form of record keeping, saving hours of work when re-registration time comes around. You can quickly glance at the books you’ve read, the movies you’ve watched, and the curriculum you’ve completed, and expand on it to make a pretty good report.

Here are the indispensable homeschooling lists we keep.

Book lists

Books are our thing. We borrow 60 books at a time from the library, think books make the best presents, and book sales and well-stocked op-shops are our favourite places to shop.

We all keep a yearly list of the books we read – each child, myself, and my husband. They help us keep track of interests, remember which authors or series we wanted to read more from when it’s library ordering time, and remember what that book was called when we’re chatting about them.

Plus, it’s a subtle competition. Gabrielle always makes sure she’s ahead in numbers. She’s up to 139 books read as of November 20th, so it’s not likely she’ll be overtaken this year.

I also keep a read-aloud list, which I’ll adapt one of these for.

I keep a book journal for myself, but I’m using the Mama’s Book List to keep track of the homeschooling-specific books I’d like to read or re-read. 

Finally, I’ll also be using the Kids Book List for a to-read list for each child. I usually make sure I order or buy quality books regularly, so there’s always some available to choose from, but they don’t always get chosen.

I’d like to make sure they each read at least ten classic or high-quality books each year – dragons and battles are all very exciting, but should be balanced out by books that get the brain cells working, in my opinion.

If I give them each a list in January they can zoom through their requirements, and then return to reading Percy Jackson for the umpteenth time. And I can then give them another list in June – surprise!

Curriculum lists

There’s SO MUCH to keep track of! I used to save samples in a folder on my computer, assuming I’d remember what was in there.

I didn’t.

Most of the time I would forget there was even a folder, so when we wanted something new in a certain area I’d start researching again from scratch.

Having a curriculum list means I can keep track of what we’d like to try, what’s good now, what may be good in the future, and what’s not good for us at all. I’ll download and use each sample as we need it, and then either cross it off the list or purchase it.

If I get very organised, I’ll use another to keep track of the curriculum each child finishes.

Quotes

I’m a word lover, and I love quotes. Anyone who has visited my website or taken one of my courses may have noticed that. Homeschooling means I get to expose my children to what I think is important, and subjecting them to quotes is something I do enthusiastically. 

Right now, I put a new quote up on our whiteboard each week, and we chat about what it means. I choose quotes that make us think, that help us define our ideas or values, or show an everyday issue from a new angle.

This quotes list is replacing my Pinterest board (again, I fail at digital – I don’t even have the Pinterest app on my phone because I couldn’t turn off the notifications), and it’s so much easier to pull out the quotes list and choose the new quote. 

As a bonus, I don’t get stuck looking at quirky designs for vintage dresses, so the process is much quicker!

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Podcast list

I started listening to podcasts this year, and really like them (again, late adopter of digital). They’re a great way to get through cooking and cleaning without noticing what I’m doing. 

Unfortunately, the children aren’t as fond of podcasts about entrepreneurship as I am. I’ve found a couple of ‘educational but entertaining’ podcasts we all enjoy, like The Ancient World and TED Talks Daily, but I’d like to find more.

This is my list of podcasts to trial before adding to our regular listening list. We’ve already trialled Douchy’s Biology, and it’s a hit – Gabrielle has been geeking out to hominid evolution while cutting out sewing projects.

Film list

We fail at films. We haven’t had a TV in over a decade, and that pretty much sums it up. We find we have so many other things to do that we never get around to watching movies. 

But there are some things I’d really like to watch with the children. Generally, they’re adaptations of books, and our chief delight is shouting criticism at how much it deviates from the book (you really don’t want to watch Eragon with us, how did they get it so wrong?)

I’ve decided documentaries count as films, because we love nature, farming, and science documentaries. And because the sheet would probably compost before we got through that many movies.

I hope that gives you some insight and inspiration into how lists can be useful in your homeschool. The lists included in the Mulberry Planner are a great place to start if you’re new to list making – they’re extremely relevant to the core needs of homeschoolers. As well as the lists I’ve detailed, there are also lists for music, YouTube, and children’s lists for their achievements and things they’re proud of, plus templates for you to DIY. If you don’t use anything else except the lists, you can still have a well-organised homeschool.

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Kelly George

Contributor

Kelly George is a married mum to five adventurous children who have never been been to school. She runs Fearless Homeschool, which is full of articles, resources, and courses aimed at helping parents break away from the school model to craft their ultimate homeschool, and also organised the first Australian Homeschooling Summit. In her spare time she's a nursing student who enjoys juggling dozens of hobbies.

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‘The Vast Unknown: Worldschooling our family of five’

When Daphne suggested to her husband that they pack up their lives, sell their house and take their kids on a daring worldschooling adventure, his response was remarkable.

Children playing in water happily

By Daphne Earley | dearleybeloved.com

One morning, early in the beginning of 2016, I woke up, turned over to my husband, Matthew, who was already half-awake and said, “Last night, I had a dream and I am certain that dream meant that we should sell our house and travel.”

He looked at me through half-lidded eyes, weighing the seriousness of my words and, after only a moment’s pause, said, “I think that makes more sense for us right now than anything else.”

This is how we have always done things in our household. There have never been grand gestures or elaborate, carefully coordinated and meticulously planned events. After several years of being together, one morning he looked at me, bright-eyed and excited, and asked, “Do you want to get married?” I didn’t say anything. I just kissed him. And just like that, we were a family.

We have always ridden the wave of inspiration when it hit us and when it felt right – so, the fact that in that instant, we decided to sell what we once thought would be our forever home and leave for exotic destinations, was just us, being ourselves.

The Philippines

We put our house on the market and left it in the hands of Fate and our realtors, packed our three children who at the time were ages 7, 5, and 8 months and headed to the Philippines. I’ll never forget the first morning we woke up at 4am Philippine time, stepped out into the balcony of our room, and heard a rooster crowing, welcoming us into our new reality. Matthew and I sat out there, in silence and awe of what we had done, and watched the sun slowly unveil the glittering sea.

Our children woke up, joining us one by one, and we saw fishermen in the early dawn, checking their nets, wondering what treasures the ocean had brought them.

We found ourselves laughing at the thought that we were not unlike them, casting our lives into the vast unknown, not quite certain what lay waiting when we pull ourselves back in.

It was in the Philippines where my 7-year-old, Aleksander, experienced heartbreak. We visited a beautiful church, filled with filigreed statues of saints with the priest himself wearing an ornately gilded attire. Upon seeing this, Aleksander began to cry profusely, sobbing, and was completely inconsolable. Matthew and I were at a loss as to exactly what was going on.

We sat in silence on one of the pews, waiting for the crying to subside. When the tears finally stopped, Aleksander took a deep breath and said, “Why is the church so rich, but there are so many poor people out there?” And with that, he was lost in tears again. We said nothing – we just held him.

I felt an immense sense of guilt. Had we, on a selfish whim, ripped our children from the comforts of normalcy and predictability only to show them the ugly side of the world? Children Aleksander's own age back in the United States were currently in school, innocently going about their day, unburdened by the problems of the world.

And here we were, blindly leading our children, right into the heart of it. But, as it turns out, children have this incredible sense of understanding that an experience, even negative ones, aren’t meant to darken our view of the world.

Experiences serve as our inner mirror, bringing to surface the most sacred parts of us that need reflecting on.

“Who do you think is happier? The guy with lots of money but is alone or the guy who has no money but has a fun family?” Aleksander asked not long after.

Singapore

In Singapore, our 8-month-old daughter, Kennedy, decided to claim her right in the world and walked. Actually, she stood up, screamed both in delight and fear, and ran.

Singapore, with its impeccably dressed men and women and equally pristine architecture, showed us the incredibly kinetic force that is money, when it's dispersed in the world rather than being hoarded and sitting idly in a bank account. There is an affirmation that I love, and it goes along the lines of, “Every dollar I spend enriches the Universe and returns to me manifold.”

Bali

Bali, Indonesia is where destiny caught up to us. Unbeknownst to us at the time of booking, we chose a hotel that was situated right next to a Balinese temple. It also just so happened that during our stay, the monks at the temple were preparing for a full moon festival.

At night, we would hear the rhythmic hum of crickets mingled with the hushed voices of the monks chanting their prayers, pleading yet grateful, ushering any soul who would listen, into the welcoming dawn. We knew, with certainty, we were meant to be there. And, we also knew it was time to head back.

Humans have a tragically comical way of doing things. We sit in a classroom for years, learning about all the different places in the world and the myriad of people who live in it, while only a few of us will actually ever go and see those places and even fewer of us still who will actually say hello and meet the people who live in them.

Let me teach you, my sweet girl, so that one day, you may live what I teach, and love this world as much as I love you.

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Many of us will get up every morning, go through our day-to-day routines - sit in our cubicles, sit in traffic, sit in front of the TV - and call that living. Until one day, an opportunity knocks, your spouse turns to you and says, let’s do something different and try something new. You muster the courage to say yes and, suddenly, your whole life changes and nothing is ever the same.

Canada

When we returned to the US, we did what any student of the unknown would do – we bought a pop-up camper and drove 11,000 miles across the country and into parts of Canada. Our house in New Jersey did sell. But that isn’t where our story ends.

We are not a religious family, but when we were hiking in Sedona, Arizona, my 5-year-old, Gavin, in a moment of divine imagination said, “When we are born, we each take a piece of God’s soul and keep It always with us.” Perhaps he is not so far from the truth.

For when we travel, we each carry the experience of every place we’ve gone to with us, so that when we return, the place we call home suddenly resembles the world.

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This family's motivation for worldschooling is just as remarkable as what they learned.
Jenny Diaz

Daphne Earley

Contributor

Daphne is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who has a passion for taking photos and telling stories about her adventures with her family. She loves to find magic and wonder in the everyday and is grateful for the chance to share it with others. She blogs at dearleybeloved.com and is on Instagram @dearleybeloved

‘We encourage our son to pull apart all his toys’

When we see a child breaking or disassembling a toy, our first instinct can be to rush in and take it off them. But what they're doing could be far more valuable in developing logic, problem-solving and fine motor skills.

Children playing in water happily

By Chelsee Richardson | @ozriches

My son loves to tinker.

For as long as I can remember he has preferred to play with real items, appliances and tools or toys which he could take apart. As a toddler, he would pull the food processor out, put it together and take it apart many times.

I remember the first remote control boat I bought for him when he was 3. After a few days of playing with it, he pulled it apart. I was frustrated that he had wrecked his toy, but in the process he had discovered something wonderful:

Toys were even more interesting on the inside.

A Self-Directed pathway

During his toddler years, my husband and I quickly concluded that our children would take a self-directed pathway instead of school. I started to view his wrecked toys differently. This was something he was driven to do. An interest. No longer did I see a wrecked toy but an idea, question or investigation he had.

I started to supply him with toys and appliances from the op shop or given to us by friends, specifically so he could pull them apart. We provided him with tools and encouraged him to use them.

Children playing in water happily

I realised that the more I responded to him with attention and support, the more he would tinker. He started to take motors, gears, propellers, speakers and battery packs from broken toys and appliances and craft up a whole new toy such as a plane, helicopter or dump truck.

I had an epiphany

One day while at the markets my son went to purchase a toy sail boat, when the stall owner told him it was broken my son replied, “well that’s ok I can fix it.”

He knew this wasn’t an issue he couldn’t overcome.

You see my son displays some remarkable abilities for a 6-year-old. He can focus and hold his attention for extended periods of time. He's curious and intrinsically motivated to take problems and either solve them or develop his own ideas. He works through frustrations, setbacks and mistakes. He is creative and innovative by using old things in new ways.

These skills are highly valued in the work place and society at large but are we fostering these critical skills in our children? Do we encourage meaningful work? Every day our actions toward our children show otherwise.

As a society, we are not at all interested in helping our children learn what they are interested in.

We have our own agenda, and we push it throughout our children’s entire childhood.

Had my family taken a more authoritarian parenting and schooling route, my son would no longer be working on what he loves. We may have punished him for pulling his toys apart. Perhaps we wouldn’t have paid attention, nor provided him with the materials, space and time to tinker. We may have put the tools away exclaiming them to be dangerous.

And so by now he would have spent several years at school with his attention diverted elsewhere, doing work someone else deemed more important. Then after school between homework and chores, his love for mechanics and engineering may have been forgotten, not valued and in the end, left behind.

He simply may not be the same little boy.

What about a balanced education?

I can hear the questions. We want a balanced education for our children too. We don’t want to see them struggle in other areas. But when we mentally check off the things our kids are ‘good’ at to focus on the things they are ‘bad’ at are we diverting our children away from their true talents and strengths? Are we leading them to believe their skills and strengths are not of value? If children’s interests get pushed to the side, we may never know what they are capable of.

I occasionally hear remarks about how talented he is. But to be honest, I think he is a little boy supported to do what he loves.

I believe all children can do remarkable things if we support their strengths and interests.

When I think about this route we may have taken, the one society told us we should, I can’t help but wonder how many children have to leave their loves and ultimately themselves behind. Their talents and strengths lost when they could have brought meaning to their lives. And perhaps revolutionary ideas to our world.

After 12 years of forced learning, we expect children to know what they want to do with their lives. Perhaps they left it behind in kindergarten.

Jenny Diaz

Chelsee Richardson

Contributor

Chelsee is a mother to a pigeon pair. About to embark on a nomadic travelling journey around Australia, she is dedicated to building her family culture around self-directed learning. Her interests are as diverse as her children’s and any day can look like an array of gumnuts, LED’s, Hiragana and roller skating. She's on Instagram as @ozriches

A day (or two) in the life of a FIFO wife and homeschooling mama

Join FIFO wife and new homeschooling mum of three, Megan, as she shares a typical day in the life of a deschooling family.

Day in the life of a FIFO homeschool mum

By Megan Ngatai 

We are the Ngatais’. Our family consists of my husband Dylan, a FIFO (fly in fly out) worker; one STAH-ish mum (me!); our 7-year-old Leon, 22-month-old, Mya and 7-month-old, Kendrick. We have ventured into our first year of homeschooling after three years in mainstream, with little preparation but a lot of trust. We’re still in the deschooling process with minimal expectations on ourselves. We love the outdoors and seeking the fresh air.

Day One

Today we ventured out to the beach to take full advantage of our glorious autumn weather. Once we arrive, the kids play. Leon’s running up and down the sand dunes, Mya’s exploring the textures of the sand and seaweed and Kendrick’s feeding in my arms. Dylan is home from work and we’re catching up with friends. Leon spotted some sea snails and abalone on the rocks. We even found a jumping spot but took note of the ‘slippery when wet’ sign, observed the power of the waves crashing onto the concrete and decided to stay on the sand.

We then joined our friends for a juice. Leon sat and played Pokémon with one of them. Honestly, I don’t get Pokémon, but I have to give it some credit - he will happily add up the numbers which are in the tens and hundreds, yet when I sit down with him and ask him the same, I’m met with frustration and ‘I don’t know’. So I guess it’s good for something.

Playing Pokémon can be a great maths exercise

Afterwards, we head home to let the babies sleep. We’d been doing a little bit of research on what’s best to grow in Autumn so a few days ago we had bought seedlings and were preparing to plant. We took the opportunity to plant while the babies slept.

I still battle with Leon to eat healthily, so I’m trying to encourage him to take care of these plants. I’ve not yet succeeded, but I don’t give up easily. I love that just through growing these veggies we can observe plant cycles, measure their growth and experiment the conditions that suit their growth best. What an awesome tool, huh?

In the afternoon, our friend pops around to give Leon a guitar lesson. Leon's still quite a beginner, and we switch up between my father in law and our friend teaching him. Our afternoon is slow because Mya decided to sleep for hours, so we just take the day in our stride. After Leon's lesson, we get onto dinner prep, which tonight is pizza. Food prep is becoming one of my favourite resources for maths, especially pizza. Oh, the possibilities! After dinner, some quiet reading, then off to bed.

Day Two

The next day we spent the day at our local aquarium thanks to a generous friend, there was lots of learning opportunities there and lots that we took into our next day at home.

This day I would say is slightly more common, a slow start... just how I like it! Leon is usually the first one up so he tends to read quietly in bed until the rest of us join him. We sit around the table together, discuss the weather and date, eat, laugh, talk, worship and read together. While one of us reads, the rest eat and draw.

Mya mimics a lot of what Leon does, which I adore! She will sit there quietly for quite some time, as long as she’s beside him. And I find Leon will sit longer when his hands are distracted. You may notice a book of sharks on the table, since our trip yesterday it’s all he has talked about. He’s been dispersing shark facts like an expert, so I can tell a lot of our day/week will revolve around underwater creatures.

We look at Artventure and Leon decides to paint an octopus, so happily goes about his business while Dylan plays his guitar and I sit with the baby.

I noticed earlier that Leon often writes some letters backwards, so I ask him to count in 5’s as high as the blackboard will allow him. He chooses to sit next to his little brother. Perhaps it’s more interesting this way. In-between this he’s also completed a few more stages on reading Eggspress, had some fun on Prodigy and written out some cool shark facts for other kids to read, complete with his own diagram.

Day in the life of a FIFO homeschool mum

As you can see, our days kind of just flow and roll into the other. We haven’t established much of a rhythm and are truly taking it day by day. We love that when Dylan’s home, he can join in. And our kids love being around each other. And I love not having to get up for the school run! Thanks for joining us for our day (or two!) in the life.


Megan Ngatai

Megan Ngatai

Contributor

Megan is a FIFO wife, mama to three and makeup artist to some. When she's not taking photos of her sleeping children, she's sneaking chocolate. If feeling overwhelmed, she turns to her God, the ocean or lifting heavy things.

Homeschooling during a big move

A mother of three from Texas shares how her family made the big decision to move their family interstate and kept homeschooling on the way.

Homeschooling during a move

By Marlo Renee 

If life hands you an opportunity

When Phil and I decided to move our family of five to Texas I was more than a little nervous about it. After all, we’d be leaving the comfort and familiarity of our hometown and heading into something wildly unfamiliar. Making the decision to move had been rolling around in our minds for the last year, so when a friend’s house suddenly became available, we decided to make the leap. At the same time, we also had family in town that we wanted to hopefully drive back with. Which meant we would need to pack, rent our house, and be ready to leave in a few weeks. Crazy, right?!

All this change can wreak more than a little havoc on a homeschool! Luckily my husband was there to bring me back down to earth and remind me that I can be a chronic over reactor at times and should look at the bright side. We get to go on a road trip! I was thrilled about this because I’ve always envied the families schooling from their awesome RVs. Who doesn’t want to be THAT family?

How we packed up and left within weeks

Armed with box tape and a deadline off I went to make our dream a reality. The first thing I did, and this is so important no matter what stage of schooling you’re in, was to ask for help. I put out an SOS on every platform I could and asked for help packing and planning. It’s so difficult to admit we can’t do something on our own and I think often we leave ourselves in a hole because of it.

boy playing with fire truck book

If you’re struggling, reach out. Our circle of loved ones rallied around and took shifts helping us pack and watching our toddler on certain days. Don’t be afraid to ask for help whether it’s for a move or to just get coffee.

We also decided to get rid of as much stuff as humanly possible. Now I know most people do purge when moving but we really had to take this to the next level. Rental trucks are very expensive when going to another state so we really wanted to stick with a certain size to stay within our budget. In the end, we ended up letting go of half our belongings. This mindset translated into cutting down on any unnecessary curriculum we found didn’t fit with our homeschool vision.

books in a basket

Cutting back on everything... even curriculum!

Along the way, I somehow picked up subjects I read about “because that’s what everyone else is doing!”. I was constantly on a hunt for the new shiny 900-page curriculum that was going to save me. This physical and mental clutter will overwhelm you whether you’re moving or not, so why not use a move as a good excuse to start fresh? In the end, we stuck with what we love and works best for us; living books, good art journals, and a couple of math books. This all went into a basket that was readily available on any given day. This 'less is more' routine became the centre of our homeschool after our big move as well.

Learning to let go

At some point during our move learning took on a different feel. It was impossible to have any kind of schedule let alone lay our subjects out on a table. Not having a table drove me a little wonky at first. Luckily, kids don’t need a table to read a delightful book! When things got too hectic and reading wasn’t in the cards, nature journals and a blanket outside did the trick.

To know learning was taking place, though I wasn’t next to my children or at a table, gave me a new-found sense of peace. The shift in what learning looks like proved invaluable during our move and afterwards. Letting go of homeschool comparisons can sometimes make all the difference in our sanity.

When we were finally ready to go, we picked up some maps at the market, and headed towards our new home. The days were long and the nights even longer but we learned that schooling can take place anywhere, if you let it. We learned there is value in nature, the changing landscape is soul quenching, and sometimes the only things you need are God, family, and a good book. Even if you’re crammed in a sedan, living in hotels for almost a week.

Have you ever homeschooled while moving house, state or country? How did it go?​

Marlo Renee

Marlo Renee

Contributor

Marlo is a homeschool mom of three who loves documenting her days. If she's not busy reading a book, you can often find her behind a camera. Her family recently relocated to Texas and they enjoy meeting new friends and fishing. Marlo is on Facebook and Instagram. 

What deschooling looked like for us

The first months and years of homeschooling typically involve a lot of deschooling for your kids and yourself. Here's what it looked like for Caroline.

Young girl looking into a lake

By Caroline Silver

My epiphany in the woods | Sept 2011

Our four-year-old was pouring her usual wonder on the world as she inspected some dead leaves. Her questions led to a conversation about compost, the seasons and the sun. I paused for a moment... if everything was so intrinsically connected, why was school separating the universe into boxes and shutting kids indoors?

I did a tonne of research to find the answers and I wasn’t impressed.

A year later… we decided to send her to school anyway.

Why? We thought she might thrive despite our doubts.

After nearly three years in school, she told me how unhappy and bored she was that school was wasting her time.

So when everyone else went back to join the new academic year, she didn’t. Instead, we rocked up to a Home Education “Not-back-to-school-picnic” in a beautiful Park with about 50 other families. I didn’t know anyone. It was a perfect introduction.

The first few days and weeks

We started our days with me answering Isabel’s questions. It was such a delight. A spark of a particular curiosity would catapult her out of bed and off to make, write, draw or research something. I also kept a world learning picture book by the bed to introduce new topics if need be.

As she was so fired by her own curiosity, I treated Maths and Literacy as the only things in need of focused time.

I would do 20 minutes of Maths and then we took turns to read to each other, followed by some spelling games. The rest of the day she explored through books, DVDs or the Internet on the topics that most interested her – Space, Tsunamis, Hurricanes and inventions!

I based our weekly “schedule” around socialising at a couple of local midweek groups. Other days were a mix of spontaneous Museum or Gallery trips and Home Ed organised events. She refused to go to anything that had a formal learning environment.

The next few months

These were the same except for a few adjustments. I realised that even 20 mins Maths a day was not necessary. She loved numbers anyway so I waited for her to ask me questions or I used supermarket trips and cooking as my main vehicle. Maths is the art of measuring things, right?

She wrote tonnes of stories because she was inspired by books and movies and I learnt not to correct spelling as it was soul destroying for her to have her creations criticised. I just made a note of what kept cropping up and made spelling games for another time.

I also dropped asking her to read to me as she would read out messages or signs perfectly because she was learning this through everything else she was doing.

I always sat with her when watching the TV or DVDs because of all the questions she would have about the content. I used the Pause button a lot. Great learning time!

We travelled to a variety of countries. Holidays were just an extension of our everyday life of learning by now.

The end of our first year | Sept 2015

We had a very successful first visit from the Local Authority Education officer. We had covered masses of life knowledge in a year.

I started to become more focused on good parenting skills as a means to a successful Home education and by using Pam Laricchia's weekly podcast and the online conference run by HappilyFamily.com I was and continue to be reassured when I have wobbles about, “Are we doing OK?”

A typical day | Nearly two years in

My role now is still to be available to answer questions but has evolved more into being engaged with and interested in her work and to carry on providing new vistas of learning at appropriate intervals.

On a typical day, Isabel still wakes up naturally and busies herself or comes to me for a chat and a cuddle. She is now nearly 10.

She’s almost completely self-reliant, using YouTube to research tutorials. Her favourite activity is coding, making stop-go animation movies and inventing cartoons. She is reading and spelling all the time to enable her own progression. At bedtime I still read to her to keep her love of new books alive and then she writes in her diary App and Spell-check helps her spelling. She drafts new game ideas on paper ready for the next day or reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Prompted by whatever questions she has, we also chat about anything and everything. Last night it was Alzheimer’s and Donald Trump.

These typical days are mixed with play-dates with a handful of good friends and peppered with outings like a recent one to see “The Lion King”. After the show, we caught the Thames River boat home so we’d see all the London landmarks. As usual, she had loads of questions…”Why was Simba going to be the next King? Who decided who would be the first King of England?” And on passing the Houses of Parliament… “What does the government do if the Queen is in charge?” And so on….

Which reminds me, a day’s outing to find a Geocache at the British Library started a discussion about “Mad King George III” because we discovered that his entire collection of 82,000 books was there.

Learning is truly everywhere!

Caroline Silver

Caroline Silver

Contributor

Caroline was born in the lush green countryside near Oxford. She became a mum in her forties and lives in London now and homeschools her daughter. She's had many jobs - Tax Specialist (Ugh!), Fitness Trainer (Yay!), Architectural Designer (Finding myself at last) and now Artist (Yes!).