The future of education part 2 – homeschooling club

I have been thinking a lot about the future of education, and some of you would have seen my first blog on this. I have been struggling with how online schooling could work for homeschoolers where we don’t want too much structure and definitely no exams or assessments. So how about this for an idea… an online homeschooling club…?

There could be a parents section and a kids section. In the parents section we could share resources, blog links, have a support network when they feel like tearing their hair out (which seems like a pretty regular occurrence with homeschooling). More

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Colouring mandalas

I don’t know about your kids, but mine have always been into colouring in. The trouble is that once you get over the age when Princesses and Superheroes are cool, colouring in is relegated to the list of “baby” activities that you don’t do any more.

About six months ago in the Islamabad homeschooling presentation group, one family brought in a pile of colouring mandalas for the other kids to work on. The effect was incredible. For the next two days my kids and I did NOTHING but colour in mandalas. Even Shams was enthralled. Even now, six months later, Safiyah and Diyana colour them nearly every day in their spare time. More

EarthSky for the love of science

I have mentioned EarthSky before in passing, but I wanted to give it a special mention because I love it so much.

It is a brilliant site for the latest in science news, and since I am a big believer in giving kids relevant knowledge, there can be nothing more relevant to today’s world. I read the site nearly every day, and pull out articles that I think the kids will find interesting. One of my very favourite sections is on biomimicry and even my kids who claim they ‘hate science’ were totally fascinated by it. (I have to point out that my kids just THINK they hate science because of years of the dullest science curriculum ever in schools. Whenever they have to choose a project, it is always about animals or how things work – and if that is not science I dont know what is!!!) More

Philosophy for Kids

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I love the idea of teaching kids philosophy.

It encourages them to think critically about the world around them and their place in it. It teaches them to ask the big questions. It’s great training for life and learning.

I read a great article in the TED blog about it and it was compelling enough that I started planning right away. Called ‘Why we should teach philosophy to kids’, it said:

“In a study of 105 children, all around 10 years old, teachers spent an hour a week for 16 months teaching lessons based on philosophical inquiry. The philosophy-based lessons encouraged a community approach to “inquiry” in the classroom, with children sharing their views on Socratic questions posed by the teacher.

The result? At the end of 16 months,compared with 72 control children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities

And two years later, when the philosophy children were tested again, their higher scores persisted — while the lower-scoring control group were, in some cases, declining further.”

Cool hey?

So I found a brilliant site called Teaching Children Philosophy which uses common kids’ books as a basis, and we started with Rainbow Fish. It is a little kids’ book which many of you would have read about how the little fish with the shiny scales doesn’t want to share his prize possessions. Through the book he learns the value of sharing and friendship. I was stunned at the quality of discussion the guidelines from the site yielded. All three kids from Shams (7) to Safiyah (12) really enjoyed discussing the moral values of the story and what they would have done in that scenario.

Motivated by the success of our first foray into philosophy, we moved on to reading ‘The Alchemist’ over the following weeks. It was a bit of a hard slog with Shams particularly, but once again there were some great discussions that came out. Alongside our daily spiritual teachings it was a great accompaniment.

I would highly recommend philosophy for any kids and would love to hear your experiences of it…

 

Flat Stanley

 

 

A few weeks ago I realised my kids desperately needed to talk to other kids, because we sometimes go for weeks without leaving the house and they drive each other nuts.

In searching around for penpal options, I came across Flat Stanley and we have been Stanley fans ever since. In just a few weeks we have shared Stanleys with kids in New Zealand, America and Canada. Our postal system here harks back to the dark ages, so we are emailing our Stanleys and it’s working out really well. We email our scanned Stanleys (see Safiyah’s above which is actually flat Aisha!) to the other families and schools which connect with us through the site. Then they send theirs, we print them out and we take them on an adventure around where we live in Pakistan, taking photos as we go. We then email back the photos.

It’s lots of fun, and what I love most about it is that the Flat Stanley site uses Google Earth so you can see exactly where your new pals live.

It is a great thing to do for homeschoolers of all ages…

 

Homeschooling freebies!

One of my favourite sites that has kept us inundated with amazing resources is Homeschooling Freebies.

Every day they add a new freebie, and although some of them are very traditional (they seem to have a thing for old fashioned education and books), there are some real treasures in there. If you join up they will send you an update by email of the week’s freebies. Most of the offers only last for the day or the week because they are usually available for purchase.

Hope you love it as much as I do!

 

History – like you never learned it at school

We have been doing unit studies based around history themes… we started with Greek history and covered all sorts of things related to Greece. Then we moved onto Rome and Shams fell completely in love with Alexander the Great. This week we started out on the Indus Valley civilisation here in Pakistan, and as usual I trawled through youtube to find a good history overview.

And I struck gold!

Crash Course World History is a brilliant series put together by a couple of really funny guys and goes through world history starting at the Agricultural Revolution and going subject by subject all the way through to Islam. My kids really dislike history and whenever I pull out the trusty text book they groan in unison. But they loved these 10 minute videos so much that they watched them for fun even after school had finished.  Here is the first one, but from here you can see their entire collection. They even have a series on biology which might well be next on our list 🙂

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