Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Review: Australian Organic Schools Website

For anyone looking for a fantastic curriculum addition to teach their child all about gardening and organics (and covering subjects like Science, Health, English etc) - then check out the Australian Organic Schools website. 

Firstly - it is FREE !!!!! 

As a Homeschooler, sign up as a Teacher.  Once you have logged in, in the Teacher section, scroll down to "Your school garden" and click on it. You will then see 7 units: 

When you open/click each unit, you will be able to select from:
Background Information, 
Lessons and Activity Sheets, 
and Extra Resources.

  The activity sheets even have a page with solutions (answer page) which is extra helpful for us parents!

I will warn you - if you decide to print out everything in each Unit .... it is a LOT of printing.  It's fantastic though so I printed it all for a folder. 

I was expecting something very basic but what I found was very comprehensive!  Everything from bees to compost, ph levels to pests, protection from the elements and weeds.  As a parent, this taught me a lot and will be our 'go-to' guide.  Honestly I can't express just how much I LOVE this website and these units.  Don't just have a quick look, open the links and read the pdfs.  The amount of information in them is great, they are set out so well and are easy to read and follow. In some units there are even links to videos for the kids to watch. 

Even if you are not a green thumb, there are some great resources to add to your kitchen files.  My favourite print out is the "What's in Season?" file which you can find in the Canteen section.  I also love the Traditional Remedies and Organic Pest Control files which you will find in the Teaching Units (Unit 6, in the Extra Resources section).

I just wanted to add that this review is not a paid review. It's just a personal review of a product we love and have found useful and which I think more people need to know about! 

Hope you love the website as much us we do! 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Back to Basics

When we think about what our children
need to know to grow into well adjusted, functioning adults,
we think of not only their education but their life skills.

One thing that you will notice from generation to generation, is that many of these life skills are getting lost.  For example most of us parents know how to use a washing machine but when it breaks most of us cannot fix it. We spend money calling the repairman or just buying a new one. We end up driving to Laundromats to wash rather than washing by hand.  Our Grandparents would have hand washed and not thought twice about it.  As parents we teach our children to use a washing machine but very few think to teach their child how to hand wash, or basic maintenance for a washing machine. 

When it comes to cooking, the skills we pass on as generations pass, involve learning to use more and more gadgets. Our recipes change to reflect this too. What happens when our children leave home?  I doubt many can afford all the appliances we all use these days.  It's all well and good to marvel at the convenience of a Thermomix when you have one and use it, but it's also doing a disservice to your children who grow up not learning how to cope and cook with just a set of basic pots and pans. Quite ironic when most parents claim to use a Thermomix or gadgets as time savers to spend more time with their children. Maybe the best way to spend that time with your child is to be in the kitchen together cooking with good old pots and pans. 

It's for this reason, that I want my son to learn 'Back to Basics' life skills.  
I want him to be able to function when he starts out living on his own.  I want him to save money by cooking rather than eating take out food.  Cooking using the basics like a few pots, pans, utensils, toaster and kettle.  Washing dishes without a dishwasher. Washing clothes by hand if he needs to. Scrubbing the floor without a steam mop. Mending clothes without throwing them away over a missing button. Changing the oil on the car and basic car maintenance. How to catch a fish and grow vegetables. How to use basic tools, mow the lawn, and replace a tap washer. 

We might be raising children who will live in a new amazing world with more technology than we could ever dream of, but until they can afford to buy that technology themselves, they need to survive using basic life skills. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting my child to get up each morning and milk a cow to be able to have milk on his breakfast cereal.  I'd like him to understand the process though and respect where his milk comes from.  I just think it's important to teach the next generation with knowledge from past generations.  

Too often we get caught up with how to educate our children for jobs that don't exist yet in fields that haven't been dreamt of yet. What we forget, is that all jobs that will be created are done so from a need in the present or past. So won't it stand to reason that if a child has been educated and taught life skills from present education curriculum available and life skills from generations past and present, that they will have a great foundation which they can build on?

'Back to Basics' skills will never 'go out of style' or not be useful. 
It's an advantage to give our kids this foundation.  

So when my son leaves home and is apartment/house hunting, he won't be hung up on needing an expensive one because it comes with the much needed dishwasher. He won't spend a fortune on expensive cooking gadgets and cleaning appliances.  He can save money for his future by putting in some hard work, doing things himself, the 'old' way', not needing to call a repairman, mechanic or mowing service.  
Instead he can call and invite me over and cook me a nice dinner LOL. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Medieval Inspired Photo Timeline

Every year we attend the
Abbey Medieval Festival
at Abbeystowe
(Caboolture, Queensland, Australia)

Each visit the festival is better than the last. Each visit my son learns more, asks more, takes more time planning his outfit and deciding on which weapons to take. Each year I look at the photos and see how much my little warrior has grown and changed.  Each year I see those changes (the good and not so good) with his Aspergers and other issues and see how they effect his day and his mood.  I forget sometimes till I look at photos, that the journey hasn't always been smooth sailing.

I was going to write a review. 
I was going to talk about the festival and tell you how amazing 
it is and that you should all go along if you can. 

But you can visit their website and learn all about it, 
check out their Facebook page etc. Sometimes it's best to visit with no expectations from a review and just be blown away by the atmosphere and see it all with fresh eyes.  So I will leave that for now.

I think after taking a trip down memory lane and looking through my photos, this post morphed into my own Medieval Timeline .... of my son's journey over the years.

From a fearless 3 year old conquering a hill ... 
A hyperactive, loud, wide eyed boy who was certainly a handful.

To a 4 year old with an axe and an attitude ... 
A challenge for us with the discovery of Autism Spectrum Disorders and all that that entails.

To a 5 year old starting to explore and ask millions of questions.
The start of his first official year of schooling (Prep). The start of bullying and a lack of adequate help at school.

A 6 year old winning battles and gaining confidence ...
A new school, lots of therapy, new strategies. Hope for improvement with lovely teachers but a struggle still, and more bullies.

Then a very lost 7 year old. 
A boy who at the start of the year (still 6) had wanted to end his life and spent the school day in tears, hiding under chairs, running away and miserable. A boy who vomited daily before school. A boy who I removed from school to homeschool and to help re build.  These photos break my heart. I can see the anxiety, the missing smile, the need to hide under a hood or behind a cardboard helmet. The broken spirit.  We had a lot of work to do that year to get our boy back.

As an 8 year old we saw not only a new colour but a new outlook. Homeschooling was the key and the best thing we ever did. The smile came back, a guarded smile but it was there. No hiding. Willing to take part in life again. He was growing. The depression was gone. He was able to deal with changes including a change to a new colour (hello Red and goodbye Brown!!!). 

Age 9. Everything was looking up on the Aspergers side of life. However my little warrior then hit more hurdles.  The physical problems he'd had since he was a toddler and which had grown worse each year, had become so hard that the year was spent in a lot of pain, with extreme fatigue and reliant on a wheelchair for outings. This was the first year my boy asked to stay at home despite it being one of his top 5 days of the year (up there with his Birthday, Christmas, Easter, etc). It was a very difficult year.

Later that year we went on a trip interstate and attended a Kryal Castle, a Medieval themed attraction, to make up for missing his favourite festival.  It was a good day that day. Little pain, no wheelchair needed and the warrior was back in action!

This year he was an Archer.  My big 10 year old.  The confidence is back. The enthusiasm is back.  Maturity has kicked in. He is tall and wearing a men's tunic.  We still needed the wheelchair this year, but not for the whole day.  He is learning to cope with his physical issues and manage his pain. This is my happy, social, talkative, inquisitive, funny young man.  Dealing with and overcoming his hurdles.  Loving his homeschooling. 

It's not till I take the time to reflect and compare photos 
that I see the huge differences, the ups and downs.  One day soon I 
might get around to doing a review of the actual festival, but I hope you don't
 mind that today I was a little distracted by memories and 
thought I'd share (even if just for me to come back and look at)
 a little photo timeline. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Embracing Surrealism with Pancakes!

They say Homeschooling Parents can find an educational angle in anything their child does.

How true!

My son has been participating in an Art Class this past term and the topic all term has been Surrealism.  Each week they'd learn about different styles and techniques and really got the kids to look outside the conventional norm when it came to art.

So I just loved, that when making pancakes the other day, my son took great delight and challenge in finding the 'pictures' within the pancakes as they cooked.  He turned them this way and that and really took on board what he had learnt.  

So can you see what he saw? 

Can you guess what he came up with? 

He found: 
A girl (side profile as you can see the nose, mouth, chin) with long brown hair, wearing headphones and listening to music. The squiggles are cartoon like representing the music coming from her headphones. 

He found: 
A meteor burning up as it approaches the earth.

He found: 
A headshot of a horse or sea horse (he likes horses best so wants it to be a horse but says the nose is too narrow so must be a sea horse LOL)

He found: 
A love heart. 

Lucky I was quick with the camera as these did not last long!  

Friday, 3 July 2015

Why I Don't Want to Convert Everyone I Meet to Become a Homeschooler.

I really do not want everyone to homeschool. 

Not because I don't believe in it - I do, it's the best thing we ever decided to do!

Not because I don't think you are capable - you are, even if you don't realise it.

My reasons are varied and possibly even a little selfish.

You see, if every parent homeschooled, then it would be like going out in public on the school holidays LOL  Children everywhere, loud and noisy, busy and overwhelming. The things that my son can't handle and the reason homeschooling works so well for us.  The homeschool groups would be so jam packed full that we wouldn't be able to attend.  

On school holidays we hibernate and avoid shops and parks and all things kid friendly.  We almost rejoice when it's back to school time because we are then free to enter the world and explore in peace again LOL.

Don't take it the wrong way, I love all my friends and their children who go to mainstream school and I love seeing them, but there is a very real reason why school doesn't work for my child and too many people making noise is one of them.  

I will always answer all the questions asked of me about homeschooling and I will always share all our experiences and how positive it's been. I will even suggest a struggling parent look into it when things aren't working out well in school. But I'm not going to push someone. I'm not going to tell them that homeschooling is the best and only choice to make. For us it was, but for many it is not. Simply because homeschooling is not for everyone. It is not for everyone's child, for their family unit, for their financial situation, for their own sanity even!  And that's OK! 

I get disheartened at the "us verses them" mentality that gets around where everyone is out to discredit other methods and promote their own choice. When it happens and I am judged I will surely stand up for our choice and dispute false claims. But I don't make it my mission to create the hate.  You see I think that it's great that you love what you chose, but someone else can love the opposite choice too without anyone getting into an argument. Many children thrive in mainstream schooling. I'm glad they do! I'm glad they go to school and I'm glad mine doesn't! 

I'm glad that in my country and many others, that we have options and can choose the method of education that suits our families needs.

I've been asked why I would bother 'spreading the word' about homeschooling to others, if not to convert them to it.  

For me, it's simply about awareness.  

Awareness of what's not considered the 'norm' breaks down misconceptions and removes judgement and negativity. For years I spread awareness for the health issues my son and I have been through and in the last 5 years have seen huge changes to public perception of Autism Spectrum Disorders.  I truly believe that creating positive awareness results in understanding and acceptance - no matter what the issue. I want homeschooling to be understood, accepted, welcomed, valued and not feared, judged or discredited. That's why I talk about it and share our experiences. 

So while I am a homeschooler and will post all over my social media pages about homeschooling, to share how great it is for us, to promote awareness and NOT to convert the masses, in the back of my mind I'm thinking hhhmmmm .......
I'm glad not everyone home schools.