Our Reasons for Home Education:

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Although he was achieving good results, he wasn't reaching his full potential because his love for learning had been destroyed & hence his grades were steadily declining.

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Completely failed by the system, he hated school, was always tired & homework time was a major frustration for both of us. He was severely frustrated & quickly heading to become yet another ADHD statistic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Child-driven Education

These videos don't need much introduction but are quite an eye opener into the way kids learn. We tend to think they need adults to teach them, but given equipment & opportunity they prove to educate themselves…

Friday, August 24, 2012

Countdown to Horse Camp

This has been a fairly quiet week for us. After last week’s rushing around every day it has been a welcome break to just stay at home, enjoy each other and have fun around the house. Of course mommy got a little injured during the pillow fight and wrestling match.
Pillow Fight & Wrestle Mania
Misha hijacked my Galaxy Note to play some learning games and Jesse used as my Galaxy Tablet to attend his online Alpha Omega Academy lessons.
Galaxy Note & Tablet Learning
On Thursday we fetched a friend to join Misha at his technology lesson in Weltevreden Park. Unfortunately these have been discontinued for the rest of the year, much to Misha’s disappointment.
Technology co-op
This morning Gerhard and Keanan joined the boys as they re-started their guitar lessons. Having friends to join them seems to have made a major difference to their motivation to continue. This time even Misha was quite eager to continue guitar lessons again. After one and half hours their aching fingers forced them to stop to take a break and have some fun instead.
Guitar Lessons
Elizabe & Jacques stopped by later for some fun and games with the boys whilst the moms met for a coffee break.
Game Time
On Sunday morning we’re heading off to Mooikrans Equus to drop the boys for their long awaited horse camp. This should provide a highly appreciated break for me and hopefully also some time to get to some of that backlog admin for which the time continues to elude me.
Learn & Master Series

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trixi’s HomeEd 2nd Anniversary

2010_0913_102406It’s hard to believe today, two years ago we took up home educating our then very frustrated, insecure 7 year old struggling to get through second grade. Although I feared we might not survive and I may kill him within weeks from bringing him home, we’re all still alive and well.
2012_0718_101302He’s really come a long way since then. Today we have a much more confident, soon to be 10 year old. He has redone his whole Grade R foundation year with Tannie Hettie last year. Since then, he’s made huge improvements in reading & writing. Although he is still very reluctant to do schoolwork, his attitude towards learning has improved tremendously. What was meant to be an interim solution to help a struggling second grader proved to make such an impact on our family relationships that school is no longer an option for us now.
If I knew then when we started, what I know now, I would have taken a totally different approach to home education. For starters I would have skipped Le-Amen, ditched all the schoolwork and allowed the de-schooling process first in order to restore their love for learning. That would have saved us a whole year of frustrations. This year’s unschooling approach went much smoother and the progress is still astonishing. Misha’s reading has improved vastly and he is slowly starting to show interest in the odd workbook here and there. He’s loving the Honey Badger Club and enjoys the online and pc based activities we’ve added. I’m happy to have stumbled across an article on learning styles that helped me trace the reason for his struggles and also assisted me in making wiser choices for learning material to address the way he learns.
Alpha Omega AcademyJesse will be home 2 years in January. He’s just finished his second week of school after restarting with Alpha Omega Academy  accredited online high school.Accreditation
2012_0803_093252Gone are the days of nagging him to do his schoolwork. He’s free to study wherever he’s comfortable and whatever time of the day suits him best which is mostly from 4pm. Sometimes, however he’ll even work in the morning. When we had the freezing weather last week, he did it in bed. Now that’s the life…
I’m sure if I had this luxury at school, I would have aced all my subjects & not hated it as much. I probably would have remembered more of what I learned too.2012_0807_165441
The online lessons presented by the Academy teachers usually start from around 3pm our time  & these he does logging in via Webbex.2012_0806_170118 There he gets to chat to the teacher and class mates. Thus far he seems to be enjoying his lessons and we have even caught him working ahead of schedule especially when he has plans for the weekend.
At this stage I’m hopeful that this trend will continue and that we’ve finally found a curriculum that will enable him to reach his full potential without the 2012_0814_181720stress and frustration that they have had to endure at school.2012_0807_180436
My next challenge is to find a similarly successful curriculum for Misha by the time he gets to high school.
If they don’t learn the way you teach, then teach the way they learn.
~ Jacquie McTaggart

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sasol Techno X

Today I really ventured out very far out of my comfy zone take the boys to Sasolburg for the Science & Technology Expo together with Lorraine & her 2 sons, Gerhard & Keanan.
We saw a huge variety of exhibitions, from energy to science experiments. The boys especially enjoyed the SAPS crime scene… here they learnt the importance of not disturbing evidence. They learnt about gathering of DNA, fingerprints, footprints etc. and how the police go about connecting the evidence to finding the perpetrator of the crime. It’s absolutely amazing how wide the fields of science are and how important Mathematics is to just about all jobs available.
After about 2 and half hours roaming around viewing and fiddling, the boys were finally exhausted and since we were all suffering from information overload, we decided to head back to Johannesburg. They spent a few more hours visiting with Gerrit & Keanan wherafter we finally headed back home so Jesse could get started on his schoolwork for the day.
Upon our arrival home, we discovered I’d driven over a screw & my right rear tyre was rapidly deflating. Jesse figured after seeing tyres being changed on TV thousands of times before he should be able to change the tyre.  What he didn’t consider, however was the tightness of the bolts. Ultimately we also learnt that changing a tyre is not rocket science provided one has enough muscle power to loosen the bolts. After about an hour’s struggle the boys gave it up and waited for Dad to get home to help loosen them. Once loosened Jesse was able to complete the job. I’m just very happy that we got the flat tyre at home and not along the road somewhere…

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Winter Wonderland in South Africa

I’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas for many years now.
The last time I saw snow was during our visit to Germany for Christmas in 1978.
Yesterday we woke up to news about snow all over South Africa… We’ve seen awesome snow scene photos from various people but alas our garden was pale as usual. Much to our disappointment.
Since I needed to take the boys for the Homeschool Photo Shoot, I figured I’d take them around so they could finally see some snow. We did see lots of snow falling as we drove around the area, but by the time it hit the ground it melted away, leaving the impression of rain rather than snow.
Fortunately after being home for an hour or so, we did finally have some snowfall of our own.
Although it wasn’t much compared to what I was used to as a child, the slight snowfall in our garden was met with huge excitement.
Misha Catching Snowflakes…
Misha ran around the garden trying to catch the flakes only to find them melted as soon as they hit his hand. There was just enough snow on our trampoline for the boys to scoop up for a short snowball fight.
Snowball Fight…
Of course this snowy weather & cold took it’s toll on electricity consumption. I figure everyone in Johannesburg had their heaters running which resulted in power failure just after 4pm. We were thankful to have a gas heater & blankets to stay warm. For the rest of the day the power would come on occasionally for a few seconds just to fail again. We finally gave up & went to bed. Needless to say this morning we woke up to no power.
By 10h30 the boys & I set off to a friend who offered us a hot shower & some tea. According to Gloria the power came back on around 12h00. By the time we got home around 5pm the power fortunately was still on & has remained steady since.
My friend, Doreen’s family farm in Barkley East
My Dad’s home in Vanderbijlpark
My Sister’s home in Vanderbijlpark
My Mom’s view in Vanderbijlpark
Judging by these photos from my family & friends, it’s obvious that we’re staying in the wrong place for serious snow scenes… Next time they have snow, I might just take the boys to visit their Grandparents to enjoy some decent snow…
The moral of this story is that it’s not who you know but where you live… Smile

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bored No More

by Sandra Dodd, 1998

Another homeschooling mom once wrote, "It's a valuable lesson to learn to deal with boredom, just like all other emotions."
Until I read that, I hadn’t ever thought of boredom as an emotion. I liked the idea. When a child comes to me seeking advice on how to deal with any emotional state, I'm flattered and glad for the opportunity.
Traditionally in this culture boredom is seen as a state of sin. "I’m bored" is met by unthinking parents with, "Then mop the kitchen," or "You have a thousand dollars’ worth of toys, you can’t be bored," or "Boredom’s good for you." I believe the VERY common habit of belittling children who use the word "bored" should be rethought (or "thought," since it seems many parents have never considered it carefully but just repeat what their parents said to them).
If a child came and said she was heartbroken would you tell her she was a brat and should clean the garage? If a child came and said he was angry enough to hit would you say, "Then sit down and read a book whether you want to or not"? Wouldn’t you try to help them? It's nonsensical to me that some parents shame their children for saying they are at a loss about what to do next.
The most to be accomplished from punishing or sending bored kids away is that the kids will learn not to go to that parent for advice and ideas.
Sometimes the real message behind "I'm bored" is "I'm little and feeling agitated and vaguely unhappy and I don't know what I can do to get over this uncomfortable feeling. What would you do if you were my age, in this house, on a day like this?"
I think that deserves a helpful, respectful response.
It is rare that my children say "I’m bored," but when they do I walk with them where they are, or to some other part of the house, thinking quickly about what I might have that they have never seen, or haven’t seen for a while. I think of art supplies or games or toys or musical instruments they haven’t thought of for a long time. I scan my mind and the house for things which would provide some visual, auditory, olfactory, or mental stimulation, preferably two or three of those. Tactile stimulation is good too—perhaps the offer of a shower or bath with new/different toys, or different soap or something. Sometimes "watering the yard" (playing with the hose) will do. When a baby cries for no clear reason, parents will often joyfully see whether the baby means "I’m uncomfortable." They’ll try a change of clothes, physical contact, a change of temperature, more air, less air, hot food, cold food, a stroll outside, a car ride, SOMETHING different. Older kids have the same needs, and the expression of that need might come through as whining, irritability, or a claim of boredom.
Maybe it’s not physical need, but intellectual need. Boredom is a desire for input which unschooling parents should welcome. It’s a child saying "How can I add excitement to my life?" This can be a big opportunity to introduce a new subject, activity, or thought-collection.
Maybe it’s an emotional need, and the parent’s undivided attention for a little while will solve the problem. A walk, some joking, a hug, inquiries about progress on the child’s projects or plans or friends might serve many purposes at once. If after a walk and a talk the child is not quite refreshed, you still had that time together, which made "I’m bored" a useful invitation to bonding.
Sometimes "bored" means tired, low on energy, needing a break from conscious thought and responsibility. Arranging a nap, or putting on a soothing video (even for older kids—a romance instead of an action flick, or light drama instead of comedy), leaving a pillow on the couch and herding the rest of the family in other directions might result in an unplanned but needed nap.
I’m grown. I still get bored occasionally. Thinking about why I’m bored and forgiving myself for being bored have helped me assist my children in learning some coping skills they can use in their own lives. I have also used my occasional boredom as a trigger to seek out the kids. If there’s a lull in my life now I should fill it with those children who will be gone too soon.
Welcome opportunities to learn about when and why your child asks for your advice and stimulation. The threshold of needing the parent will change over time, and parents can really use knowing where it is and seeing the benefit in it. One complaint of parents of school kids is that communications are lacking or are misunderstood. Homeschoolers have the fulltime luxury of the chance to do better. Unschoolers have the added advantage of "counting" every interaction as a learning experience. Self awareness, interpersonal skills, creativity and compassion all come into play when a child and a parent can build an uplifting memory from "I’m bored."

"Bored No More" was published in Home Education Magazine in September 1998
in Home Education News in British Columbia in January/February 2003
and in Acorns Volume 7, Issue 7, March 2004

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to School

Alpha Omega AcademyFor the past few months we’ve focused on de-schooling. In order to help the boys restore their love for learning, we’ve attended a wide range of field trips together with other homeschoolers.
With 9 months de-schooling time now complete, Jesse started up his Freshman Year with Alpha Omega Academy, yesterday. He asked for all his school to be done on computer & that’s exactly what he’s getting here, with the added benefit of online lessons & a teacher for every subject. Of course for me the bonus is not having to worry about marking schoolwork & whether or not I can explain the material to him.
Here he's kicking off his new school year with a guitar lesson before online school starts at 4pm. I’ve looked into getting him a few friends to join for lessons & jamming to help with the motivation to keep it up & also make it a little more fun.
Due to the time difference between us & USA their school day starting at 9 results in Jesse’s online lessons & open office hours only start from 4pm and finish around 10pm, but this is exactly the way he likes it. Being a night owl, like me, this allows him to sleep late in the morning. He still gets to attend all the field trips we have planned & completes his schoolwork in the late afternoon & evening since this is his most productive time of the day anyway.
Roodepoort-20120801-00227I got home from chess with Misha just to find my favourite chair had been hijacked for school... by the looks of it that’s going to happen many more times during the course of the next few years since Misha does the same whenever he has the opportunity.
IMG-20120801-00230Thus far we’re quite happy with our new setup. The staff at the academy are very efficient. Jesse’s been enjoying the online lessons & confident he’ll be able to cope with this style of learning for 4 more years & I'm praying this will be our solution to help him reach his full potential where academics is concerned.
Now only time will tell whether we’ve made the right choice for him. Now my next challenge is finding a similarly suitable curriculum solution for Misha.