Back to school blues even happen for homeschoolers

We are back at ‘school’ after almost 3 months of summer holidays, and it seems that ‘back to school blues’ even happen for homeschoolers. Funny…. this time last year the kids had to go back to real school and they were pretty much exactly like Calvin. This year we are only going back to homeschooling, but nothing much has changed!

I have to say, I feel a bit guilty taking summer holidays from what is already pretty much a holiday kind of lifestyle (despite what the kids say)… But I realised that holidays aren’t just about doing nothing… they are a punctuation mark.

Our first 8 months of homeschooling were fantastic but incredibly stressful at the same time, as we started out as curriculum- based homeschoolers, then developed our own curriculums, then we tried out unit studies, and experimented with unschooling as well. Meanwhile the kids went through every emotion possible about homeschooling… starting with elation at leaving school, followed by devastation when they realised were were still going to have to learn stuff, wild enthusiasm about the topics they loved, and outright rebellion about others they hated. (In fact there was more rebellion than anything else most of the time, and that meant me learning a whole new set of coping mechanisms). I think the only constant thing in our whole first 8 months was my driving belief that this was the best decision I had ever made.

In hindsight it was all a bit of a mess, but looking back at our books and materials as I was packing them all up before we left for Australia, I was seriously amazed at how much we had managed to do amidst such chaos.

This year is going to be more organised!! (I am pretty sure these are famous last words).

Now we know we are not much into curriculums.

We know we like unit studies.

We know we like having flexibility to do or not to do, depending on our day.

We know we want to make time for swimming, horseriding, karate and rock climbing.

We also know we want to focus on Islamic topics more.

I know that learning objectives are a big priority, to teach discipline and commitment within subjects they are really interested in.

So with all this in mind, the plan is an hour of Islam first, then an hour of formal topics (science, maths, english etc) and then an hour of personal learning objectives each day. Three hours… that’s it. Each child has started a learning blog and their personal objectives plus anything else they are interested in, are recorded here. Apart from that they have ONE exercise book each for the year, in which anything else they do will be recorded. Last year we tried an exercise book for each subject but it just felt like school, where they used to spend half the lesson writing the date in the OCD way the school prescribed.

I have joined a great science site called Supercharged Science and I, at least, am really excited about the huge range of experiments and applied learning (the kids claim they ‘hate science’ but the other day when we launched a rocket with vinegar and baking soda 50 metres into the sky, Shams didn’t seem to hate it too much). My mission this year is that they will say ‘we LOVE science now’ by the end of the year… here’s hoping Supercharged Science does the trick.

Maths will continue as before with Khan Academy and Adapted Mind and Shams will work on writing particularly through his blog and Grammaropolis.

So that’s our year in a nutshell… who knows…. this organisation may only last for a couple of weeks and we may descend back into homeschooling anarchy again, but we sure have learned a lot from last year … so onwards and upwards!





Pakistan homeschooling comes to Australia!

It’s been a week of travelling but we are finally here in Byron Bay – the most easterly point of Australia and the home of my mother.

It is a year since we were here in Australia, where all my family lives, but it has been a big year. Last October we dropped out of school and this trip has been everyone’s opportunity to question me about my latest unconventional decision.  This is my family, and they have known me long enough to think I am completely mad anyway – watching my transition over the last 40 years from farmer to greenie to yuppie to hippy to Muslim living in Pakistan (the worst phase of all and unfortunately the longest lasting!) What they are all worried about is that I have now drawn my kids into my craziness. More

Homeschooling – Where’s the “ME” time?

Yesterday Safiyah skyped me from her bedroom (yes, we have some of our best conversations via skype) and asked, “Mumma, would you miss us if we went back to school?”

A bit taken aback, I replied, “I LOVE having you guys at home… but don’t tell me you want to go back to school???!!!”.

“I am NEVER, EVER going back to school, but I just wondered if sometimes it gets too much having us all at home all the time?” More

Say no!!!

Fair education for all!

If kids ran our communities…

Minecraft has become a big part of our lives, and these days since it is so hot, the kids are allowed to play with their friends in Perth online for a few hours every morning. I have been taking this opportunity to do all the things I normally don’t have time to do when we have school… which mostly involves catching up with work rather than leaving everything until the last minute.

It is a while since I had a look at what the kids have been building on Minecraft, but yesterday I sat with Diyana to check out their world. It left me in tears (which seems to happen a lot these days). What they have created in just a month is more mind blowing than I can possibly express in words. They have an airport, an animal hospital, a science lab, houses and hotels, a complex road system, an amusement park, a learning centre and a complete underground subway with stations for each of the main buildings in the world. These are not basic structures either… they are sophisticated designs with no input from outside their small group whatsoever. More

What to do when your kids don’t want to learn?

I think a lot about learning… in fact I think about learning pretty much all day every day. But one thing I have realised from my own kids and the adult learners I work with is that (GASP) not everyone loves to learn.

This was a bit confronting for me, since ‘love of learning’ has long been my theme. It was even more confronting since I took my kids out of school so that they could recapture the sense of adventure that learning brings, but every time I introduce a new project, they groan. The standard pattern is that Safiyah says “Okaaay. Just tell me what to do”. Diyana says “No. no. no. I am not doing it”. Shams says “OK – but when can we finish?” More

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