Saturday, 10 May 2014

April 2014: Who says home-schooled kids aren’t socialised?!

Monday 28th April - Sunday 4th May

This week flew by in a flurry of social engagements. We were out every single day, catching up with friends, homeschool groups, and family. And it was wonderful, and exhausting! Both boys enjoyed themselves thoroughly and have really begun cementing friendships within the home learning circles we have been circulating in, which is really lovely and important.

One of the joys of homeschooling is seeing my two boys play together so beautifully, and play with other homeschooling kids of varying ages. It’s one of the stand out things I’ve noticed within the homeschooling community: the children’s willingness to incorpate children of all ages into their games. It’s also not to say that sibling rivalry or disagreements don’t sometimes occur in our family, or that home schooled kids are immune to bullying, or that they play perfectly all the time. They don’t. They’re normal human beings like the rest of us, despite what society might have you believe! :D 

However, I’ve noticed home schooled children don’t seem to want to segregate by age quite as much as their schooled peers, which is to be expected I suppose. In my opinion, segregation by age cohorts in school is not optimal socialisation particularly in the early childhood years. I think it’s far better to regularly socialise with adults and children of all ages and I’ve seen time and time again that mixed age groups tend to play richer and more harmoniously, than groups of children segregated by age often do.

And they are certainly given plenty of opportunity to socialise! There is a group for everything, including homeschool circus workshops, rock climbing, kindergym, co-ops and collectives, Waldorfy playgroups, playdates, horse riding groups, eurhymy, swimming, choir, bush kinder, the list goes on. In fact, we have to make a concerted effort to be at home and to balance the outward social days with the quieter, home days! We are only regularly attending one or two of these activities per week, but look forward to the boys joining in other group activities as they are older.

{ Festivals & Seasonal Celebrations }

On Thursday, we gathered together with other members of the Hobart Natural Learners Co-op for a (Southern Hemisphere) Harvest/Halloween festival. The children dressed up - my two as Mousey Brown and Little Deer, of course. We shared stone soup, made Autumn leaf lanterns, and had a little lantern walk around the park after dark. It was a lovely afternoon/evening together.

The sunlight fast is dwindling,
My little lamp needs kindling.
Its beam shines far in darkest night,
Dear Lantern guard me with your light.
[From Festivals, Family and Food]

{ Language, Literature, & Literacy }

Picture book 'Autumn' by Gerda Muller

Falling Leaves (Fingerplay)
Autumn leaves are falling down
Orange, yellow, red and brown.
(flutter fingers downward slowly)

If you listen, you’ll hear them say,
(cup hands around ears)
“Wintertime is on its way.”

We were out and about so much, we didn’t have time for Circle Time every day this week, but we did manage to squeeze in plenty of reading! Stories were read and retold, and the boys spent much of their own time looking through their picture books. Both boys have been ‘writing’ their own stories over the last few weeks, dictating the words to me and illustrating the books themselves. 

Chapter book: 'Little House On The Prairie' by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We are nearing the end of ‘Little House On The Praire’ and will be looking around for another read aloud book. Please feel free to suggest some good books in the comments section below!

Mousey Brown (5) started off the week all about practising letters. I’ve noticed that he often writes letters mirrored, but this is very common at his age and should self correct in time. Being a ‘lefty’ certainly adds a few extra challenges to learning to write. As we aren’t formally teaching reading and writing this year, I am just allowing him to explore literacy at his own pace. He’s been writing OPEN and CLOSED signs for his ‘shop’ this week, as well as writing out some of the ingredients in the recipe book he is making and practising some of his favourite words.  

Both boys have also been making up their own wordplays and rhymes. Here are some of their favourite rhymes from this week:

'Two tired tigers ticked tortoises tummies, and then said: “Terrific!”

'Jack and Jay jumped on a jellyfish in a jetplane.'

'Ted and Fred ate a loaf of bread.’

Little Deer (4) also mastered the skill of skipping. He’s been hop skipping for a while, but suddenly last week, began to skip fluidly. Mousey Brown (5) is practising skipping with a jump rope. 

I intentionally include skipping under literacy, as it is an important locomotor milestone, just as crawling, walking and jumping are. Skipping requires the right and left hemispheres of the brain to work together, the right brain controlling the left foot and the left brain controlling the right foot. Learning to skip builds connections between the two hemispheres across the corpus collosum which divides them. These connections, when established and strengthened by skipping, can then be used for reading. Reading requires the same cooperation between the two brain hemispheres. To start reading a line of text on the left, the right brain is in control. At the midline, it must hand off to the left brain to continue reading to the end of the line. Fascinating huh? Just another reason why our circle time, action rhymes, finger plays and movement are so important. 

Another skill he has recently masted is the 'Incy Wincy Spider' finger to thumb cross movement. Obviously a lot is happening up there in that clever little developing brain of his, all inching closer to being ready to read and write fluently. 

We have a new member of our family too, to help us with our Waldorf Essentials stories this week. Meet Sunbun, the cat with a thorn in his paw.

{ Numbers & Mathematics } 

The second half of the week Mousey Brown (5) devoted to numeracy. It’s fascinating to be able to watch your own children unfold and observe the sudden insatiable desire to learn. Children are always learning and seeing this beautiful enthusiasm to learn, particularly when they have been afforded the space and time to be ready, is a lovely thing to watch. 

His self directed learning through play took many forms this week. A very lovely and generous friend gifted us an old Cuisenaire Rods set and the boys both sat down for long chunks of very focused play with them, building stairs, houses and people. I initially put the set out on the dining table which meant we had to pack up before dinner, but interesting Little Deer (4) replicated his ‘man with a spotty top on’ (bottom right) exactly the next morning, and then again a few days later. They have really enjoyed constructing various 2D pictures with the rods but neither boy has ventured into 3D building with them as yet. I love watching learning and play at work together!

More learning through play happened this week, when Mousey Brown (5) decided to see how many shapes he could make from lego sticks. He made a square, rectangle, triangle, kite, hexagon and 5 pointed star. By that stage, he’d lost interest in shape making and took the star to his art table to use as a stencil.

{ Handwork & Artwork }

Painting, printing, beading, clay work, present making, and wood work with Daddy in the shed. 

May our hands complete our task with patience,
May our work be done with care,
May our fingers work as friends together,

Then may we our hand-work share.

 { In The Kitchen }

Mousey Brown has decided he’d like to write his own recipe book and to present to the family as a gift for Christmas. An ambitious plan for a 5 year old, but ambitious plans run through his veins :D

He started off his cooking experiment with a “Surprise Cake”. All of the work and ingredients were his own. I was there to scribe (and supervise the oven). It all went surprisingly well and the cake was quite delicious, though a little fudgey in the centre. Most of the ingredients are fairly approximate as I attempted to keep up with his whirlwind cooking style :) Little Deer (4) said it was the nicest cake he had ever tasted! Not to cast aspersions on Mousey Brown’s cooking, but I’m pretty certain Little Deer says that about every cake he tries :D

Once the cake was cooked and tried, Mousey Brown (5) and I wrote the recipe in his Main Lesson Book and he illustrated the ingredients himself.

{ In Nature }

BushKinder on Wednesday, this time doing a short coastal walk along the Alum Cliffs from Kingston Beach towards Taroona. The children all had a lovely time, spurring each other onwards with their infectious enthusiasm. Such a difference to when we take them for a family walk and ‘tired legs’ seems to catch up with them much quicker!

On Sunday, we spent a lovely day with another local homeschooling family, visiting the beautiful Derwent Valley clothed in her splendid Autumn display. We even saw (the world’s chubbiest) platypus!

Follow our adventures on < Facebook >, on < Pinterest >, & on < Instagram >


  1. All sounds so lovely Heidi! Roman is just over six and still mirrors quite a lot of letters and numbers, however when he reads back over his work, he knows exactly what he's written so it doesn't bother me in the slightest! And I agree with the social life - we have been so busy this term, that I've had to consciously put the brakes on a bit, specifically for the baby and 3yr old, who become too exhausted if we don't spend enough days at home. Tasmanian Autumn sure is a feast for the eyes! Xx

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your week, especially the bit about skipping. I'd not made the connection between right and left. Inspied by a speech pathologist I used to encourage my boy to use scissors to cut in circles because of the different movement required by hands for much the same reason.

    The Derwent Valley looked fabulous. We visited on Saturday to celebrate autumns colour.

    Enjoy the adventure cooking. It sounds like fun!
    Bonnie x