I'm so excited! I've just finished the documentation for our two year registration period.
Now that it's all finished and complete, I feel satisfied and quite excited about the ideas we've put together for next term.
I thought I'd share our documentation with you as I've found, in the past, that it can be quite useful to get ideas from other homeschoolers when trying to meet the official requirements - especially, when you're starting out.
My biggest challenge was to convey our commitment to learning, as we pursue an unschooling approach to education. It was a bit of a balancing act, like it is in real life when we balance the use of loose lesson plans with our unstructured learning logs.
In our last registration period, I gradually turned back to some form of planning to help the children find direction and to keep me disciplined about my own responsibilities to guide and mentor them. For us, the plans are a form of strewing.
Anyway, here it is - and it's rather long!
Learning Plan, 2012-2014
There is one of these summaries of past achievements for each child. The table is split into Key Learning Areas, with sub-categories to allow for traditional subject groupings.
These records are brief lists of books read, topics covered, projects undertaken and general daily activities which contribute to the children's academic and personal growth. It is brief and factual. I don't explain our methods or objectives when summarising past performance.
Where appropriate, we keep examples of the children's learning, in the form of written work, projects, videos and photographs. However, this is not always possible as we, also, use informal conversation as an important learning tool in our homeschool. We find that this is the most effective means of staying in tune with our children's needs and interests while, at the same time, providing an opportunity to both challenge thinking and motivate new ideas and creative inspirations. Our learning log is our method for recording this type of learning and assessing progress of this sort. While our lesson plans provide our main system of record-keeping, the learning log is used, when necessary, to take notes where the children deviate significantly from their plan or pursue a period of less structured learning.
Sample of our weekly planner.
Sample of weekly planning notes.
I use these sorts of notes to help our routine flow, throughout the week
Page of one child's school blog.
Sample of notes taken during a mentoring session.
Sample from our learning log.
Page from our homeschooling blog.
Sample from a diary post which I wrote, with YouTube and web links, to further the children's learning. I, also, post information and articles on the children's school blogs, according to their interests and abilities.
Samples of work.
Some Books and Resources for 2012 and 2013
Australia - The Poems of Banjo Patterson
Australia - Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner
America - Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
America - Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
England - The Story of the Treasure Seekers - E. Nesbit
England - The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
Macbeth, the play and the No Fear Shakespeare version
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare - E. Nesbit
Find the Word books
Understanding Maths texts
Excel Maths texts
Exploring the World of Mathematics - John Hudson Tiner
Murderous Maths books
Discover the Aliens
Puzzle and Mazes books
Activities: cooking, budgeting, gardening, pattern-making, home crafts, times tables CD, etc
The Reign of Queen Victoria - M.B. Synge
Australia - Tom Appleby - Convict Boy - Jackie French
Australia - A Waltz for Matilda - Jackie French
Australia - A Rose for the Anzac Boys - Jackie French
Surviving Hitler- Andrea Warren
World War II - True Stories
Vets Might Fly - James Herriot
England - The Railway Children - E. Nesbit
Horrible Histories, Dead Famous books, etc
Horrible Geography - Wild Islands (Anita Ganeri)
Horrible Geography - Stormy Weather (Anita Ganeri)
Uncle Robert's Geography - Parker & Helmo
More Horrible Geography and explorer books
Games: 10 Days in Asia, Europe, USA, Africa
Road Trip Around Australia
First Around the World
World Map jigsaw puzzle
Madam How and Lady Why - Charles Kingsley
The Fairy-land of Science - Arabella Buckley
The Fascinating History of Your Lunch - Jackie French
The Science of Ant Communication - Pamela Paterson
The Story of the Soil - Cyril G. Hopkins
Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Scientists - E. Hubbard
Scientists and their Mind-blowing Experiments - Dr. Mike Goldsmith
Science for High School Students text
Science magazines & Horrible Science books
iPad Apps: VideoScience (experiments)
Latin: Cambridge Latin Course Books & website
French: Allons-Y - Carolyn Sudlow
The Curé of Ars - Milton Lomask
Websites: French.about.com - French ebooks
Mozart's Violin - W.E. Monroe
Bach's Farm Animals - Troy Stinnell & Chad Creighton
The Great Composers - Wendy Thompson
Biographies of Liszt, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Verdi, Handel, Schubert, Haydn and Wagner by Thomas Tapper
Opera for Kids CD
Classical & contemporary music collection
Musical DVDs, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rodgers & Hammerstein and operatic performances
Monet - Colour in Impressionism - James Taylor Foster
The Boy-Artist - N. Taylor
Techniques of the Great Painters - Waldemar Januszczak
Stories Pictures Tell vols. 1,2,4 - Flora L. Carpenter
Unfinished Portraits - Jennette Lee
Little Visits with God
Leading the Little Ones to Mary
My Daily Bread
Catholic Family Catechism - Rev. Fr. J. Tierney
Book of Saints
Faith & Life
Catholic prayer books
Visited, late 2010-2012:
Henry Kendall Cottage
National Maritime Museum
Excursion plans 2012-2013:
Experiment Farm Cottage and Old Government House
Australian Reptile Park or Wildlife Museum, Sydney
Art Gallery of NSW & Botanical Gardens
Historic Houses of Sydney
The Rocks, Sydney
Other resources include:
Church & neighbourhood community, family & friends, museums , swimming pool, piano, large garden (1acre) with creek & 2 billabongs (nature study), garden tools and supplies for own gardening projects, library (weekly visits), bikes, tennis set, cricket set, balls, computers for each child, iPad, sewing machine, overlocker, smocking pleater, digital cameras, digital camcorders, DVD players, electric circuit set, human body model set, craft and haberdashery supplies, art supplies, large collection of books, texts & magazines, field guides, Internet access with large download allowance, etc.
Cameron and Adam have their own desks in their bedrooms, for quiet study.
Bethany and Melanie have a separate study and craft area, with a computer, printer, desk and homeschool library, in addition to the other areas of the house and garden which are freely available to all of the children.
Selection of past lesson plans.
The following lesson plans form the basis of the children’s study, for the coming term. I have been writing individual plans, such as these, for eight years, now, and we keep the used plans as a record of past achievements.
The plan has daily schedules, in the front of the booklet, and a variety of resources, in the back pages. These resources include tables to record piano progress and books read, along with space for writing assessment notes. A weekly timetable is offered, but, in practice, this acts as a loose suggestion, as we find that a flexible routine, rather than a rigid schedule, allows the children the freedom they need to pursue their individual interests and complete an area of study to the satisfaction of their curiosity.
Other resources, in the back pages, include Latin chants, grammar facts, times tables, poetry, spelling rules, short articles of interest, music chronology, music scales and more. The content changes each term and differs, to some degree, according to the level and needs of each child.
Some of the activities scheduled are unique to the child in question, while others are common to several children, at a time. These common activities more often include read aloud books and group projects. In these instances, the children respond according to their abilities and each derives a different gain from the experience. For example, in some cases, a younger child may be content to simply listen to a reading and enjoy the story, whereas the older children are more likely to extend their learning to further research or associated activities.
Our homeschool philosophy is to be guided by our children’s developing interests and passions. We know, through experience, that our children learn best when they have a real interest in a subject and our desire is that our children will discover their passions and find true fulfilment in life. We see our role as being guides and mentors in their search for knowledge, both of themselves and the world in which we live.
To meet this end, the plans must necessarily meet the needs of their self-initiated, delight-directed learning. They are, therefore, intended to be a foundation for the children’s studies and a motivator for their studies. They work as a guide, serving the children’s natural curiosity and developing around their interests, as they are stimulated.
Because of our goal to satisfy our children’s growing needs, the plan is open to any necessary adjustments, throughout the term. These alterations will simply be pencilled in the plan, as the learning unfolds. The children actively contribute to the preparation of their plans and we choose their resources together so, in practice, the most significant changes often concern time restraints, rather than a complete change of direction. In this case, whatever isn’t finished, at the end of term, is rescheduled, if appropriate, in the plan for the next term.
I continually assess the children’s progress by observation and discussion or mentoring with them. I write an assessment and ideas for the next term’s work, in their lesson plans, and I refer to this as we are developing the next plan. Their written work, blogs, craft activities and Maths exercises, also, provide a means of determining their progress and future needs.
We believe that good time management is an important skill for the children to acquire, as is the ability to work hard to achieve their goals and discover their passions, so we encourage discipline in meeting their personal goals. As their learning normally extends well beyond the normal school hours, we have no difficulty in meeting the minimum 5 hours a day of study. For practical reasons, I do not schedule formal work for Fridays. This is a day that we keep free for part-time work, social activities, crafts, home skills, DVDs, sport and, also, for completing any unfinished work for the week. It is not a day of no learning.
As well as these plans, we also keep blogs. I write my own developing reflections on homeschool methods, our achievements and lists of resources on my homeschooling blog. The children write posts of their own interests on their blogs and participate, to some degree, in an online homeschool social network. I, also, post links, pictures and articles on the children’s blogs that I think will interest them, inspire them or be useful to their studies. In addition to our online homeschool network, we mix with other homeschoolers, in our local area, and the children have friends who go to school. They mix happily with people of very different ages, beliefs and interests as we believe it is important for them to integrate with our society, rather than to associate only with people who share the same values or interests as we do.
Finally, it is important to say that this plan contains the easily recordable academic goals that we envisage our children might achieve over a period of time, insofar as it is possible to perceive it, at this stage. In our family, we greatly value spiritual growth, character development, hobbies and other non-academic achievements. I usually journal these observations on my blog or in my personal diary. I don’t include them in the lesson plans as they are of no benefit to the children in their daily activities and they usually do not form the basis for formal studies. However, personal development occurs naturally as an integrated part of life, in such ways as domestic tasks, shopping, banking, gardening, cooking, general play and many more activities.
Overall, I believe that we are pursuing a balanced and diverse plan for our children’s education, which is personally enriching and appropriate for each child’s needs and desires. I have consciously aimed to fulfil the requirements of the Board of Studies with regards to quantity, quality and variety of study in each key learning area, and I’m confident that our day to day activities reflect this.
After this, I included a copy of the lesson plans that each child will use, next term.