Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week Ending 28 February 2016

With the start of the university year this week has been all about getting used to new schedules. Mr 18 is now a full time university student, working towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He's got a few 9am classes so we're getting used to seeing him up and about at a much earlier hour than normal.

And Miss 15 is also at university - for a few hours per week at least. An opportunity was offered to her to take part in a third year class on Applied Ecology and Conservation which she enthusiastically took up. Unfortunately the course is at the out-of-town university, not the one with the campus just 15 minutes walk from home. So I'm driving her there for her three classes each week. Luckily there is an outside exercise park just a short distance away, plus plenty of areas for walking. And if all else fails I'm happy to sit in the car and read while I wait for her to be done. So far the lectures have been concentrating on biological invasions and she's been finding them really interesting.

Since the university is on the way to a large lake we took a birding field trip after her lecture one day. The wind cut it short but I posted more about it in my Day in the Life post for anyone interested.

Miss 15 is part of a group of young birders. They were recently contacted by an author who wants to feature them in a book she is writing on people working in the areas of cultural and environmental protection. They were interviewed this week and the aim is to have the book published before Christmas. It may solve the problem of what to give many relatives for a Christmas gift!

We ended the week with a trip to the Chinese Lantern Festival marking the Chinese New Year.

Linking up with Kris's Weekly Wrap-Up.

A Day in the Life

Once again I have decided to participate in the Day in the Life Link up over at Simple Homeschool.

This day is representative rather than typical but it gives a good idea of what things are like just homeschooling one teen. Not as much hands on work for me but plenty of driving!

7am - I get up, have breakfast, feed the cat, make Dh's lunch and start to check emails.

8am - Miss 15 gets up and so does Mr 18. University has started this week and he obviously has a 9am lecture since we don't normally see him so soon.

9:15am - Miss 15 and I leave for the 30 minute drive to the university just outside town. Her interest in ornithology has led to the opportunity to take part in a university course  - Applied Ecology and Conservation.

9:45 am - She heads off to class. I spend part of my time reading in the car. I've just started Colm Toibin's Brooklyn which I'm enjoying. The rest of the time I go for a brief walk around campus.

11am - Miss 15 is back so we we grab some lunch and then drive to a nearby lake for a birding field trip. We were originally going to do field trips on Friday or the weekend but since the university is halfway to the lake already it now seems more sensible to do some after class.

11:30 - We're standing in a duck shelter scoping the area and counting birds. We were in the same spot for an all-bird count less than two weeks ago and it is amazing how much has changed. Hardly any Banded Dotterels are present today but the number of Pied Stilts and Spur-wing Plovers has sky rocketed. It's a really hot day and we thought the heat might limit our birding time. However after 30 minutes or so the wind changes direction which cools things down. But then the wind increases so that it is hard to hold the scope steady and practically impossible to count accurately. So we call it a day. We're pretty sure saw all the species that were at this location anyway. We did plan to try our luck at another spot but in light of the wind opt to leave that until next week. The wind also means it's too difficult to do the 15 minute observation that we didn't get to last week either. Mind you the Harrier that kept flying overhead and putting the other birds to flight meant that assignment probably would have been canned even if the wind had died down.

1:30 - We arrive home. Miss 21 is at work. Having finished her undergraduate degree she's taking a gap year and currently working all the hours she can get before heading to Europe for six months. Mr 18 is home from university. He thought his 9am lecture (Management) was pretty boring and his only other class today (Statistics) isn't until 5pm. With no assignments to work on yet (this is  just the first week of the university year) he's a little underemployed! After a short break Miss 15 hits the books. First up she revises an essay for an online class via Fortuigence. Then she gets algebra out of the way. Finally she rewrites and reviews her lecture notes from the university ecology class. They've been looking at biological invasions this week and she's found it interesting and not over her head. Since it is a third year class I was a bit worried but so far so good. The field trip means she doesn't complete everything she had planned to day but that's not really a problem - we sort of operate on a weekly schedule anyway and are pretty happy doing "schoolwork" on weekends if it lets us fit other things into our week.

While she's busy I tackle some laundry, prepare dinner, do a little cleaning and some homeschool planning. There is hardly any of that to do anymore but I do need to renew some library books and book tickets for an ornithology seminar.

4:30pm - Time to head to the gym for trampolining. She's not coaching today so it is just a two hour training session

5-7pm - She's doubtless training hard, fine tuning her routines since the first competition of the year is in just over a week. I'm back at home and take the time to so some more work on a MOOC I enrolled in. I also have dinner and get the chance to chat with Dh once he arrives home and before I have to leave for the trampoline pick up.

7:30pm - Miss 21 arrives home from work, then Mr 18 and Mr 23 arrive with Mr 23's new car - his first ever. We all admire that before he heads back to his place. After eating dinner (between everyone's work and training schedules the concept of family dinner is but a distant memory) the girls decide to make chocolate sauce to have with ice cream for dessert. Normally I do yoga and perhaps a longer walk in the evening but I'm still feeling a bit off after being unwell yesterday so about 9pm I opt for an early night. I can still hear the kids chatting and laughing from the other end of the house - a nice way to end the day.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Brave Blogging: Favourite Extra-Curricular Activities

In some ways I struggle with the term "extra-curricular". If curriculum can be defined as a course of study offered by a school (or in our case a homeschool) then any learning opportunity I offer to my kids is part of the curriculum. And while I'm not an unschooler I do believe that everything is a learning opportunity and is therefore part of our curriculum.

Semantics aside, over the years we've engaged in a range of activities that would commonly be considered extra-curricular (mainly done out of the house and led by someone other than me) including art, drama, music, science classes, first-aid, cricket, soccer, swimming, gym, Scouting, French classes, volunteering, public speaking courses.  I'm sure there are more. As a general rule we only did one or two of these at a time and usually only if the kids were interested. We're mostly introverts and when they were younger plenty of unstructured time at home was a priority. However there were definite benefits to adding some extra-curriculars to our curriculum.

1. Expert instruction - I've never studied a foreign language. Certainly I could (and did) learn alongside my children but having an expert guide their learning, especially when it came to modelling correct pronunciation, was very helpful. We also utilised expert instruction in art, drama  and music - all areas my children expressed interest in and which I had little to no knowledge.

2. Access to supplies - A big advantage of art classes was being able to experiment with a range of supplies and techniques - oil paints, pottery, print making etc - without me having to buy all the supplies which can be expensive and often only available in larger quantities.

3. Socialisation - We all know this is a big non-issue but the extra curriculars did provide a good opportunity for my kids to learn and socialise with other kids and adults and to experience both the positives and negatives of that. With the exception of keyboard and conversational French class which were private lesson, most of our extra-curricular activities have been group based. All four of my kids were involved in Scouting and that has been great for fostering group work and providing them with genuine leadership opportunities. 

4. Sports - By definition team sports virtually have to be done out of the home. As do most individual sports. Fitness can be handled at home but for us sports needed outside resources, especially for those kids that showed a serious interest.

5.  Independent Recognition and Validation - From nationally recognised qualifications and awards to sporting prizes to a genuine comment of praise from a teacher all my kids have benefited from having their abilities recognised by someone other than me.

6. Individuality - Extra-curriculars have provided a great opportunity to develop individual passions. My science lover took lots of classes at the local science centre. My other kids did not. All of my kids did a term or two at a homeschool gym class. For three of them that was the end of it. For Miss 15 it led to a passion for trampoline which continues to be a mainstay of her life. My extrovert has been involved in more outside activities and from a younger age than my other three. He simply needed more than they did in this area.

7. A chance to give back. All four of mine have volunteered in a variety of roles. And while they've all learnt skills, gained experience and learned about themselves in the process, volunteering has allowed them to contribute to a group greater than their family, to participate in society as a whole.

As regular readers know Miss 15 is my only remaining homeschooler and two activities dominate her life - birding and trampolining. And truthfully I couldn't tell you whether or not they were "extra-curricular". I do know they are both central to her homeschooling experience. It's interesting to look at how they have evolved and what she gets out of them.

Birding. As a Cub Scout (aged about 9 I think) Miss 15 worked on her Naturalists badge. As part of the requirements she had to observe three living things for a month. At the time we had tadpoles and plenty of Monarch butterflies and caterpillars in our backyard. For some reason she picked birds as her third category. After observing them for a month the interest struck. It was pretty casual for a while but when she was 12 she started getting more serious. So we joined the Ornithology Society which gave her a chance to learn from experts via formal talks and on field trips. She was offered the opportunity to edit the branch newsletter and then to contribute to a national magazine, which lets her give back to the group, use her writing and editing skills in a meaningful way and develop some new skills (desktop publishing) in the process. She's also become involved in a Young Birders group that aims to promote birding to children and teens. This provides opportunities for teamwork and socialising, plus a chance to develop other new skills. This year's homeschooling includes a formal ornithology course plus she's attending a university course on ecology, which is a direct outgrowth of her interest in birding. Currently she plans to study zoology, ecology or other related areas at university and hopes to work in the area of ornithology.

Trampolining.  A one hour gym class when she was six or seven has somehow morphed into eight (soon to be ten I fear) hours of trampoline training each week, plus a small part time job coaching. She's just completed an entry level judging course so will be volunteering as a judge at competitions this year. Clearly we'd have no trouble making the hours for a PE credit if necessary (it's not required here)! There's a world of difference between having fun bouncing on a trampoline in your backyard and training and competing in it as a sport. The latter needs specialised equipment and skilled coaching. Trampolining is the key to her physical fitness which means it's also important to her mental well being. Lots of great experiences for socialising - both small scale e.g. chatting with friends during training and larger scale e.g. rooming with friends during out of town competitions. It certainly provides a great physical and mental challenge - there is absolutely nowhere to hide when you are competing. All eyes - including five judges who are looking for every little mistake - are focused intently on you. And there is always a new skill to learn and older ones to refine and perform. Trampolining has given her lots of valuable life lessons as well, how to win and lose graciously, not to mention  developing the courage to come back from a serious injury sustained during training. There are some definite downsides to pursuing one extra-curricular activity so intently. Time and money spring instantly to mind! But she loves the sport and is working towards some long term goals so I'm pretty sure it'll remain another key component of her homeschooling journey.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Week Ending 21 February 2016

Most of our homeschool week is spent on the routine things. And good steady progress was made this week - another four algebra lessons completed, the third week of the Learning How to Learn course finished, the outline for her essay approved so she can final start to draft, plus more land marking of bills and work on a biography for ornithology.

However, what really makes the weeks sing is the extras.

We finally attended to the outdoor performance of Hamlet that we postponed last week. The weather was lovely. All too often it is cold for evening performances and in years past we've ended up shivering in jackets and hats and wrapped in several blankets. Sadly Miss 21 couldn't make it thus year. What with her work schedule and Miss 15's work and training schedules there simply wasn't a session that worked for everyone. It really felt like the end of an era since Miss 21 and I have been going together for nearly ten years. The guys came once or twice, sometimes a friend as well, and more recently Miss 15 has been a regular but it did feel odd not to be there with Miss 21. But this is what happens when your children grow up. Miss 15 and I enjoyed the performance even though it was a shortened version that ran for just over two hours. Since we'd studied Hamlet fairly extensively just over a year ago we didn't read the play before we went - another departure from tradition!

We fitted two birding field trips into the week. The first one was a  ramble with members of our birding group. On our way back to the car Miss 15 spotted a very recently deceased juvenile Yellowhammer. So of course we collected its body and bought it home. She was able to show me a lot of what she learnt about measuring birds and counting feathers at the two field courses she attended last year. Now we are attempting to process the bird and obtain it's skeleton. By all accounts it is a fairly hit and miss process so we're not necessarily expecting to succeed. But the learning is in the doing.

On our second trip to a local wetland Miss 15 completed a count of all the birds. We saw some of our favourites including a kingfisher and several Royal spoonbills plus about thirty Bar-tailed godwits, many of whom were starting to moult into their breeding plumage prior to their long journey back to Alaska. She had hoped to select one individual bird and conduct a timed observation on it. But the birds were relatively distant making that too difficult. So we saved that assignment for another day and took a quick walk around another wetland, keeping an eye out for  the Glossy ibis, an annual visitor who should be due to return there soon. We thought we were at least a week too early but since we were close by it seemed worthwhile to check, just in case!

Spot the Mallards and Canada geese. You need good eyes to bird from a distance!

Over the weekend Miss 15, Dh and I attended  Philippines Day. Since the earthquakes there has been a big increase in the local Filipino population, with many moving here to  work on the rebuild. This day was a chance to highlight and showcase their culture. It was a really hot day and the venue didn't offer much shade so we didn't stay very long. Long enough to try some new food and the delicious mango shakes though!

Miss 15 spent an hour or two honing her new-found trampoline judging skills by watching videos from last year's National Champs, marking the routines and then comparing her marks to those given by the actual judges. Turns out she was in the same range as them, just on the low side. I guess she's going to be the tough judge! She also spent several hours at an online meeting for a young birder's group .

I've spent my spare time reading - finally finished The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson which feels like  a real achievement -  and practising yoga.My balance and flexibility seem to be improving which is encouraging. My main difficulty at the moment is fitting both walking and yoga into my schedule. Since the days have been hot I've been leaving them both until the evening but now that evening trampoline training has resumed and I have to collect Miss 15 my evenings get interrupted. Time to shift one of them to the morning I think.

One final thing we've been having fun with this week is this quiz where you try and type in the names of all the countries of the world in 15 minutes. It was interesting to see what we remembered from last year's geography study and fun to try and beat each others high score.

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brave Blogging: Enchantment

The Bravescopes community on Facebook has a series of prompts to give scopers ideas to follow - or not - as they choose. Not everyone scopes so some people have decided to follow the prompts on their blogs instead. I'm not sure how long I'll keep it up but for now I've decided to play along too.

The prompt for the first week of February (I'm a little late to this party!) was "Share an enchanted experience in your homeschool. I was curious to see which of their homeschool experiences my children considered to be enchanting. So I asked all four of them and, after getting a few unexpected responses (Mr 18 looked stunned at the idea that homeschooling could have been enchanting at all, practically fell off his chair laughing at the thought, asked "What have we done since I was 5?" and then settled on lunch and recess!) I did eventually get a few sensible, usable responses.

Those responses gave me food for thought. No two kids came up with the same responses and on more than one occasion what one child loved and found enchanting, another child hated. Classes at the local science centre were enchanting for my oldest child but my second oldest hated them. Luckily I realised this pretty quickly so didn't enrol her in too many of them - but we did all have to drive there and then sit around while he was in class. Unenchanting for my younger kids but necessary to provide enchantment for my oldest. As an aside he is about to submit his PhD thesis in chemistry so the enchantment with science was long lasting!

Many of the things that I thought were enchanting did not seem to register as such for my kids. Things like read-alouds and poetry teatimes. Only one child mentioned reading aloud and no one thought of poetry teatimes until I asked them outright. I still maintain they found them enchanting at the time though - although one kid did confess to preferring the food to the poetry!

When my two oldest were 9 and 7 we took a year to explore Medieval history. They made a whole series of mini books, games, short essays, drawings and other things which we bound together in one large book. It was one of the first things Mr 23 remembered when I asked him what he found enchanting about his homeschooling. 

I was also surprised to learn for the first time that they had found certain experiences enchanting. As a teen Miss 21 took part in a one-off technology class. It was the first thing that she mentioned when I asked her what she had found enchanting. I barely even recalled the class and certainly had no idea that she had found it so enchanting. Such a shame since I would have made an effort to chase down similar opportunities for her.

While they gave a range of responses one thing all my children touched on in one way or another ("being able to curl up in bed and read all day, especially if it was raining" or "having time for our favourite projects") was the relaxed environment, where they had time to follow their interests and/or just do nothing.  Since this was part of our reason for homeschooling I'm pleased to hear that they all got that and found it enchanting.

So, although I hardly ever managed to enchant all of them at them at the same time (this enchantment is clearly a very individualized thing - at least for my kids), and although I didn't always get it right in terms of what they found enchanting, at least I know the overarching environment was what we were aiming for. And I was enchanted to hear that!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016

I felt that my Classics Club reading challenge was in a bit of a rut and I was having difficulty deciding which books to read next. Then I discovered the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016 over at Karen's  delightfully named Books and Chocolate blog. Problem solved. Simply slot some of the books already on my Classics Club challenge list into Karen's categories.  She has a couple of categories that I can't easily fit any of my titles into but that isn't a problem. My Classics Club list isn't hard and fast. In fact I can't locate all of the titles on that list and I don't necessarily want to buy them. So I'll find titles to fit the Back to the Classics Challenge and use them to replace some of my original picks.

For anyone interested here are the 12 categories - and the titles I've so far selected. All are subject to change.

1.  A 19th Century Classic  - My list provides plenty of choice her but I'll probably go with  A Tale of Two Cities.
2.  A 20th Century Classic - Mrs Dalloway by Victoria Woolf. I've actually just finished this one but have still to write a review.

3.  A classic by a woman author  - I'm slowly reading The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. More than 1770 of them!
4.  A classic in translation - Once again my list provides a few options but I'm leaning towards Lysistrata by Aristophanes. In high school I took a class in Classics and read (and enjoyed) several of his plays. I'm looking forward to this one. 
5.  A classic by a non-white author - I read a couple last year but I'll need to find a new title for this category. ETA. I ended up reading and enjoying The Makioka Sisters for this category.
6.  An adventure classic - I'm bravely going with Moby Dick or Mopy Dick as Miss 21 not-so-affectionately refers to it. She read it for a literature class when she was homeschooling and wasn't a fan! But I'll be brave. It's length means I'll be saving it for a winter read.
7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic - The obvious candidate is Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Mr 23 recommends it but I'm not sure it will be a favourite with me. Still the point of reading challenges is to step outside my normal genres so I'll give it a go.
8.  A classic detective novel - I didn't think I had any contenders but apparently The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins fits the bill.
9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title - I'm  tossing up between The Count of Monte Christo or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It may come down to which one I can find with legible type font. I'm currently struggling with a 600 page novel becasue of the small font.

10. A classic which has been banned or censored  John Steinbeck's East of Eden was the first candidate I found on my list.
11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college) -  I've only got new reads left on my list. But because of yet another reading challenge I'm doing this year (this one from Popsugar) I may go with Jane Eyre. Then I could read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and be able to tick off Popsugar's "a book and it's prequel" category.
12. A volume of classic short stories  - The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury foots the bill but I may yet find another title. It depends whether I feel in a sci-fi mood when the time rolls around!

Week Ending 14 February 2016

What a week! I know we were busy but I'm struggling to remember all that we did since adrenaline rushes muddle my memory and I'm still recovering from a big rush a few hours ago when we were shaken by a large 5.7 earthquake. Not as much damage to the city as the big quakes in 2010-2011 but still the all too familiar story of liquefaction in places, some power outages, burst water mains, lots of public buildings evacuated and closed until they get an engineer's report, plus some cliff faces near the sea crumbled and collapsed. And the ongoing small aftershocks. No major injuries thank goodness. Our place was fine - just a few things knocked off the shelves - but it took my heart ages to return to normal. I don't handle earthquakes well. Miss 15 doesn't seem to mind them too much but then again she can't remember daily life without them. She was just nine when this big series began! Poor Miss 21 was at work at a supermarket. The owners told them to just clean up and stay open - this despite a lengthy crack opening up in the floor - presumably (hopefully) cosmetic and not structural damage. She said they were crazy busy for the rest of the day with lots of panic buying - people stocking up on anything and everything in case a big quake strikes.

I do recall that the academics went well. Basically Miss 15 just  continued what she was working on last week with lots of additions for her ornithology course. First up was some detailed observation from the albatross cam.

It was all very quiet when we were observing - a good lesson in life as a field scientist. Hours watching and no guarantee anything interesting will happen! We'll probably try some different sampling and observation techniques this coming week if time permits. Earlier in the week we went on a short field trip to the local university where they are attempting to deal with their pigeon problem ("whitewashing" of the buildings among other things) by flying a falcon to scare and disperse the birds rather than actually hunt them. It was interesting to see the falcon up close, and to watch him and his handler at work.

Over the weekend we assisted on a large all-bird count at a local lake. We were really pleased with the section we got (not too much walking!)  and Miss 15 ended up as the team leader - deciding how to further sub-divide our section and ensuring everybody got to participate and no birds got missed etc. Counting every single bird - more than 700 of one duck species alone- is tedious but important to gain and maintain good accurate data so we always make the effort to volunteer. The following day we spent an hour counting birds in our backyard as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count. That count only officially requires 15 minutes but we our country does a Garden Bird Survey in June and the organiser of that requested participants follow his protocol so that the data sets would be comparable. An hour is a long time to survey a suburban garden that doesn't have much in the way of bird life! I'm so glad we don't have to worry about counting hours for a transcript since I have no idea what I would 'count' and what I wouldn't. Would it be ethical to count things we would do even if she wasn't officially doing an ornithology course?

Mr 18 went on a short road trip with a friend of his this week. They covered a lot of ground in just a few days and he got to parts of the country I've never yet visited. A good way to spend some time before they both start tertiary studies next week.

The other highlight of the week was a family visit to a Noodle Night Market - basically a large Asian food fair. It's the first time this event has been held and there were a few problems - long queues being the main one. I love Asian food so hopefully the market  will return next year. Just with more stalls spaced further apart so the queues are a little more manageable. I'd like to have tried more food but the length of the queues prevented it.

Tonight Miss 15 and I were supposed to attend a performance of Hamlet. It's outdoors so probably still going ahead. However I've postponed it. I'm hoping that tomorrow is more settled and we'll go then.

Linking up with Kris's Weekly Wrap-Up.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Week Ending 7 February 2016

The academic part of our first week back at this homeschooling gig has gone reasonably smoothly. The first four lessons of Algebra 2 have been completed with no difficulties or no complaints. I wish I could say the same about the Expository Essay class from Fortuigence. It requires her to brainstorm and plan before writing and apparently Miss 15 does not like to do those things. Normally she just skips straight to the drafting. Since this course requires the planning to be submitted before she can acccess the next assignment she can't do that this time! At least the ornithology course is also going smoothly. She's currently got two things on the go. Firstly she is reading a biography about one of our leading ornithologists and will write either a report on him or a review of the book. Secondly she is engaging in some citizen science online, landmarking 3D scans of bird bills, which can then be used to understand how and why bird species diversified.

The landmarking is fiddly work. Luckily Miss 15 has the patience for it. I wouldn't!

We also discovered a bird cam of a Northern Royal Albatross chick and its parents. We've visited this colony so it has extra interest for us. We've been checking in just for fun but next week might do some more systematic observations. Since Miss 15's ecology and conservation class doesn't begin for another few weeks she's agreed to work through Coursera's Learning How to Learn. Mr 18 did it last year but it didn't fit into her schedule then. This year the timing is practically perfect. It lasts for four weeks and there are three weeks until the university class starts, so just one week of overlap.

Of course there is a lot more to our week than just academics. This week Miss 15 spent a lot of time chasing up copy, compiling, editing, formatting and otherwise trying to publish the latest edition of our regional birding newsletter. She also attended a day-long trampoline judging course - and spent many hours plowing through a technical manual in preparation for the course! Then there were her regular hours training and coaching, plus she got called in to coach three extra classes one day when the gym had an unexpected coaching crisis. Thank heavens for homeschool flexibility! One day mid-week was especially hot so in the middle of the day we took a quick trip to a local berry farm for some of their delicious freshly-made berry ice-creams. Another advantage of homeschooling flexibility!

One of the ways I take care of myself  (and set a good example to my kids as an added bonus) is by reading. This year I've decided to get more intentional with my reading and expand my literary horizons. As well as my Classics Club challenge which has been going on for just over a year I've taken on two other reading challenges this year- one from Modern Mrs Darcy and the other from Popsugar. One of the the books I'm reading this month is The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. I had selected it for my Classics Club Challenge and the Popsugar challenge includes a book of poetry so I'll count this for two lists. Normally I won't double count but this poetry collection is long!

  378 poems down - just another 1397 to go!

An exciting development for Miss 21 this week was that she booked the tickets for her trip to Europe. She leaves in three months!

We went to the market to buy a special treat for Basil and ended up coming home with a lemon custard croissant and a raspberry and white chocolate brownie as well! 

Our week ended on a sad note with the departure of Basil. After nearly two years his family's home is finally rebuilt and they are able to have him home with them. We are really happy for them but we'll miss him.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialised Homeschoolers.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week Ending 31 January 2016 (This Year's Plan)

Miss 15 had another week of trampoline camp. While she was training all day I put the finishing touches on her homeschool plan for the year. What's interesting to me is what a loose plan it is. I seem to have returned to my homeschooling roots. I used to only plan loosely if at all,  but as I had more kids to factor into the equation I relied more on planning and purchased curricula - the only way I could keep on track of four very different sets of needs! Now that I'm down to only homeschooling one it seems that I feel confident going with the flow once again.

This year Miss 15 will be doing 3 full year courses and two half year courses, which doesn't sound like a lot. However, I felt last year we did too many courses and this year I want to go deep rather than wide. Plus I looked at what she had done for the past couple of years and for fun tried to put it into a typical US transcript. Turns out she'd have 13 credits already - and that's not even including PE. With all her trampolining hours she could earn several credits every year except  that would be excessive and I keep trampoline under the extra-curricular banner.

Anyway this year she'll be studying -

1. Algebra 2. We'll stick with Saxon, not because she loves it but because we haven't found anything else that she likes. This is the last level of maths that we require so she is looking forward to being done.
2. Ornithology - This is a buffet style course. I've amassed a wide variety of resources from a range of  places. She'll get to pick and choose from what's on offer. Most of what she can pick from (as well as some fun, crafty stuff) is on my Pinterest board .
3. Written Communication. - This is basically an essay writing course. She's starting with an online course from Fortuigence. Then we'll probably move to Bravewriter's Help for High School. After that it is up in the air but another online course is a possibility.
4. Applied Ecology and Conservation - This is a third year (gulp) university course that she has been invited to participate in. I'm a bit concerned it will be too much (a first year paper would be fine but third year?) but she is keen.
5. Child Labour in Victorian Britain - She'll do this in the second half of the year after the university course is finished. It'll probably be independent research and interdisciplinary in nature. It may well end up with a comparative focus as well perhaps looking at child labour today or in the United States in the 1920s. We'll probably incorporate this Problem-Based Learning unit from Royal Fireworks Press.

It was interesting to run this plan (plus all the non-academic plans that will be a crucial part of the year) through Julie Bogart's  "enchanted education for teens" lens.  Is there a B-HAG? (Sure is - it's trampoline related) Is there room for experimentation? Is there room for risky thinking? Plenty of leaving the house? A range of mentors/teachers? A range of delivery methods?  Are we preparing for university if she wants to go? Are we moving at her pace not some pre-determined pace which says since she is 15 she should be doing x, y and z? Is there risk and adventure? (Lots of that mainly outside of academics with possibly  four week long trips away from home  for birding and trampolining - including one overseas jaunt.) Are we supporting her as she takes on challenges of her choice? Have we got a routine which leaves room to follow inspiration as it strikes? Overall I thought our plans covered all the bases. I've just made a note to encourage her risky thinking . A couple of the courses are ripe for "Big Juicy Conversations". I just have to make sure they happen!

Only a couple of other things of note during the week.

* We had another earthquake. The first for a while and even though it was only of a moderate magnitude it's location meant we felt it reasonably strongly and it came as such a surprise. Scientists had warned that there would be aftershocks for years to come but it is easy to forget. My adrenaline was rushing for several hours afterwards! Mind you I'm not good with earthquakes.

* Mr 18 and Miss 21 have both been educating themselves on retirement savings plans - making sure they are happy with with where their money is going  in terms of risk, rate of return, ethics etc

* We ended up with a bonus week with this guy.

His family have finally moved into their rebuilt home and he was meant to go too. But a couple of issues came up so he is with us for one more week. We'll be sure to make the most of him. After nearly two years we are going to miss him.

ETA. Linking up to the 8th Annual Back to Homeschool Blog Hop: Curriculum Week