Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More on Lockharts Lament

So after chewing this over some more I re-read Lockharts Lament and then went looking for other peoples opinions on his thoughts. It was a very mixed bag. Lots of people seem to have taken what he was saying to the extreme, and others are offended by his thoughts (perhaps they are currently employed as American school teachers?). Here are a few links that I found interesting :

Personally I think you have to take Lockharts Lament with a pinch of salt just like you would any parenting or homeschooling manual. He makes some very good points and if you subscribe to a natural learning, unschooling philosophy he probably really resonates with you.

Like I commented in my previous post I think you can guide and teach providing the building blocks and kids are really capable of figuring plenty out for themselves. Does that mean I am about to stop teaching maths in any formality, certainly not! But I am going to change the way we are doing things.

I will be looking towards more discovery based maths where there is something for the kids to figure out for themselves, Miquon and Montessori maths spring to mind. They encourage the kids to work with the numbers and manipulatives and find the answers and work out things like regrouping and renaming without being explicitly taught. Once they get it I am all for providing the official terminology and notation so they have a written form to go with what they know. Also like I said previously I wont be blindly following a curriculum.

I also think it is great to solve problems in a number of ways. Flossy likes to sometimes use base 5 and sometimes base 10 and it is awesome that she can switch between the two when solving a problem. She just uses whichever seems more comfortable or appropriate at the time. So for an example -


She has 3 different ways she commonly uses to solve this problem

1) 7+7=14 14+1=15

2) 7=5+2 & 8=5+3 5+5+2+3=15

3) 7-2=5 8+2=10 10+5=15

Isn't it awesome that my 5yo Flossy can figure out all the ways to make this happen! She can do that because we have 'played with' numbers since she was very small (being gifted helps too). She doesn't automatically know the answer but she is quick to figure it out. She thinks about it and as she does so I know that she is truly understanding the process. She has the why! We are on the right track, thankgoodness we have only spent 6 months trying to squish into a curriculum, it shouldn't be too hard to get back where we were, enjoying numbers.

Discovering Maths

A friend of mine recommended that I read this article. What an eye opener, this guy is right! I have for sometime struggled to fit Flossy into a maths program. Each time I have tried something new, the puzzle piece has not fit quite right. I have quite a collection of curricula all of which are good, but none of which fit. She is bright and she knows and can apply a lot of maths so why doesn't she fit? It has had me stumped for a while, but now I think I know why. I have been blindly following the instructions in the curricula when ...

she delights in her own discoveries in maths! When she was much younger I provided the building blocks for these discoveries. We counted things which in turn lead to adding and taking away things and ordering things. I didn't sit down and give her formal lessons at 3 even though she could add and subtract then, we just talked about it as we were packing away or getting ready to go out or reading a book etc. "Flossy can you put 2 blocks in the bucket." "I'm going to count to 3 then I want you to put your shoes on." "Can you count how many fish on this page?" She became more and more confident using numbers and recognising them.

Bugsy has had these same exposures but I also encouraged activities like following a pattern when building a block tower and putting things in order from smallest to tallest. He has also been trying to keep up with Flossy whilst I have tried to squish her into various math programs without success so has absorbed a lot from that.

When I look at the pair of them Flossy has a wonderful understanding of maths but doesn't enjoy it (because of all that squishing I have been doing recently) and Bugsy has a love of it because everything he knows he has discovered and made connections based on his prior level of understanding.

So what to do now?

Well I have decided to stop the squishing! Good start don't you think :)

I am looking carefully at things we have done in the past, so I can document my ideas and use them again with Chicky, but also so that I can see where some things clicked for them and how I might continue making maths a world of discovery and not just something thrust upon them.

I am also reading lots of maths books. I am looking at all of the various curricula I have and seeing what resonates, picking the eyes out of it if you will. I think it is important to present concepts in different ways to maintain interest and show there is more than one way to achieve the same outcome. Playing with numbers is one of the best ways you can learn.

So stay tuned for more on our journey of discovering maths.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You know it is starting to get chilly when ...

you have to head out to the shops for winter PJ's for the family. The girls are adorned in penguins, which must be the in thing this winter because they were everywhere! Whilst Bugsy has the more traditional spaceships. As per usual Bugsy's feet have grown and are between sizes so he lucked out on new slippers but hopefully they will have grown the rest of the size by the time it is really cold.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Little Girl is Growing Up

Today Chicky received her Waterbabies 2 Certificate at swimming which means she will be moving onwards and upwards to Kindy 1. She is such a big girl at 2 1/2 that I wont have to hop in the pool with her. She has proved her competence over the last 6 weeks transitioning into the Kindy classes. She listens to the teacher and is mostly compliant with their requests to jump from the side, paddle and kick and go under the water to see the fish. The teachers have all commented that she is a strong swimmer for her age. She loves the pool!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting started with homeschooling

Just recently I have been approached by a few people wanting to know more, wanting to know how to get started homeschooling. The first thing I have to tell you is don't rush and do some research.

Start by finding out from your state's Education Department what their requirements are for homeschooling. Here in WA you need to register with the Ed Dept once your child is of Year 1 age. They will send you a Certificate of Registration and will then arrange a Moderator meeting. The Moderator will come out and meet you to make sure you have some ideas about how you will cover the learning areas. They will come back again in a year to check on your progress and what plans you have for the following year and so the band plays on.

You will also need to think about what kind of homeschooler you will be. Will you 'school at home' and sign up with a distance education provider like SIDE or Southlands? Will you use a boxed curriculum like Sonlight or My Fathers World? Will you piece it together yourself? Will you do any formal schooling at all?

What kind of philosophy will you follow? Charlotte Mason, Classical, Latin Centered, Unschooling, Delight Directed, Unit Studies, Waldorf, Montessori etc. Or will you be eclectic? A google search of any of these terms will produce tons of results to help you get a feel for what they are about.

There are so many different choices to make! It is a fun and rewarding journey :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Year 1

Learning areas, curricula and resources for Year 1 (6yo) to be addressed in a formal manner -

MATH - drawing from
Professor B math
Rightstart math games
Activities for the AL Abacus
Kumon Word Problems

All About Spelling
Writing With Ease
Free reading daily
Mum to read aloud :
  • Snuggle Pot and Cuddlepie
  • Blinky Bill
  • Pinocchio
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • Aesop's Fables
  • A Little Princess
  • Charlotte's Web
  • The Just So Stories
  • Tales of Hans Christian Anderson
  • Lang's Fairy Books
Story of the World Vol 1 (Ancients)
Story of the World Activity Guide
Supplementary reading (Book basket) :
  • Usborne Greek Myths
  • DK World Religions
  • Hatshepsut and Ancient Egypt
  • The Greek News
  • The Last Quest of Gilgamesh
  • Gilgamesh the King
  • The Revenge of Ishtar
  • The Great Wall of China
  • The Librarian Who Measured the Earth
  • The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus
  • I Once was a Monkey
  • Tut's Mummy
  • Secrets of the Mummies
  • Pompeii... Buried Alive!
  • A Visitor's Guide to Ancient Egypt
  • Detectives in Togas
  • Magic Tree House Ancient Rome and Pompeii
  • A Visitor's Guide to Ancient Greece
  • The Wanderings of Odysseus
  • Magic Tree House Mummies and Pyramids
  • A Visitor's Guide to Ancient Rome
Sonlight Science K

Song School Latin
Minimus Latin
Logic & puzzle books
Singing (Sing Books)


Learning areas, curricula and resources for Pre-Primary (5yo) to be addressed in a semi-formal manner -

MATH - drawing from
Professor B math
Rightstart math games
Activities for the AL Abacus

All About Spelling
Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Websters Speller
Nora Gaydos Readers
Uppercase letter formation
Lowercase letter formation

Books for Mum to read aloud :

Logic & puzzle books
Singing (Sing Books)


Activities and goals for Kindy (4yo) to be addressed in an informal manner -

Books for Mum to read aloud :
  • Big Thoughts for Little People
  • Peter Pan
  • Winnie-The-Pooh
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
  • Madeline
  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
  • The Clown of God
  • Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
  • Make Way for Ducklings
  • Brer Rabbit Book
  • Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories
  • The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit
  • Shy the Platypus
  • Dot and the Kangaroo
  • The Magic Faraway Tree
  • The Wishing Chair Again
Correct pencil grip
Uppercase letter formation
Lowercase letter formation
Number formation
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Websters Speller
Nora Gaydos Readers
Nursery Rhymes (The Real Mother Goose)
Counting (1 to 1 correspondence)
Number order
Basic addition
Basic subtraction


Activities and goals for Playschool (3yo) to be addressed in an informal manner -

Books for Mum to read aloud :
  • Jesse Bear, What will you Wear?
  • The Runaway Bunny
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Possum Magic
  • Little Mouse's Book of Colours
  • Richard Scary's Best Little Word Book Ever!
  • When I'm Feeling Sad
  • When I'm Feeling Loved
  • When I'm Feeling Angry
  • When I'm Feeling Lonely
  • When I'm Feeling Scared
  • When I'm Feeling Jealous
  • This is my Family
  • The Saggy Baggy Elephant
  • The Pokey Little Puppy
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Ask Mr Bear
  • Were Going on a Bear Hunt
  • One Woolly Wombat
  • 20th Century Children's Book Treasury
  • A First Book of Fairy Tales
  • Richard Scarry's What do People do all Day?
  • Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics
  • The Usborne Flip Flap Body Book
Letter recognition
Number recognition
Nursery Rhymes (The Real Mother Goose)

Why are we moving?

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball! When Rusty went to work for his current employer we were assured a close to home job. So we moved from the country to the city so he could make the daily commute to the office. Unfortunately that didn't last long and they realised Rusty was a versatile, troubleshooting type character so they flew him out for 3 weeks at a time to help out, then see out the project. 9 months later he was back to the city office once again making the daily commute. That didn't last long, he was permanently allocated to a new project in January which will last 2 to 3 years. If we stay where we are we will only have Rusty home on the weekends, that isn't sustainable for 2 to 3 years! (OK, well sustainable, but not nice!) So we went and found a wonderful house close enough for him to commute daily :)

Welcome to Feather on a Breeze

The beginning of this blog marks our decision to once again relocate our family. It will be our 10th move in 8 years! We are like a "Feather on a Breeze" going where life takes us.

We are a homeschooling family of 5 with a dog, cat, 2 mice and 4 chickens. Please join us for our adventures :)
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