Category Archives: Homeschooling Thoughts

Mid Term Review

Well, we are plodding along nicely here in Term 1, I think.

Mid-term is a great time to pause and assess your term’s work.

Are you achieving your goals?  At the rate you planned?

Are some subjects being left behind?  And other subjects consuming too much time?

Which things are working and which things simply aren’t?

So I decided to sit down with my diary and records and do a little homeschool diagnostic

to see how well we are progressing.

Here’s what I uncovered:

Mathematics: – We are progressing well, almost finishing up a unit of work each week (we usually do the review the following week and it can take two days).  In order to get through both Math books (our text uses two books a year), we need to be finish half the first text by the end of term 1.  We are 4 units into the 7 units in book one so we are right on schedule, perhaps a little ahead of schedule.  Starting the day with Math instead of reading aloud is currently working for us.  It means Math isn’t hanging over our heads in the afternoon.

English: – Hmmm…in some areas we are going well and in others…well, we need to pick up our game.  Brayden’s English is going really well but Ethan’s is lagging.  We’ve started a new writing program and it’s a bit light on in the early stages so it feels like he’s not doing much (and he’s not because the writing expectations are well below what I’d normally expect).  In literature, we are steaming ahead and reading a translation of Iliad and loving it.  We’re moving forward slowly though and it could take us much of the year to read it but that’s okay.  Handwriting is my big bug bear at present.  I’m raising doctors I tell you.  (If you have young students, knuckle down with the copywork pages.  Don’t wait until they are teens!)  And, to end on a high, their grammar is excellent.  We’re at a point in grammar that is well beyond what I ever learned at school (and I actually learned grammar at school).  We really enjoy grammar, which isn’t something most people can say.

Latin – We are cruising along, completing one unit of work each week.  Sometimes we space that work over a few days, and other times we complete it in one sitting.  I’m happy with one unit a week.  I used to expect Latin work on a daily basis but it just wasn’t achievable with everything else we want to do.

History: – We are off on one big tangent in History.  We ticked off one topic we wanted to explore a little (Irish history) and then got sucked into the fascinating vortex of early Australian maritime exploration.  This was not on my plan but you have to follow where your interests lead you.  My plans will still be there when we climb back out.

Geography: – We are on track for Geography and it looks like we’ll finish up our two current books before the end of term (we finished one from our list, earlier in the term).  One of the current two is an extra we added in when we wanted to know more about Albert Schweitzer.   Geography has also been a big part of History recently.  As we read about the early Dutch sailors who ‘bumped’ into Australia, we’ve been poring over our big Australian map locating the places they mention.  It’s fascinating knowing the reasons behind place names.

Civics: – We are plodding along with Plutarch and our Anne White study guide.  It’s been a lot easier than I expected, but we only nibble away at the reading a couple of times each week.  It’s more enjoyable in small doses (the writing is very dense and heavy).  We’ll probably finish the first life (and hence the study guide) by the end of the term.  I better start ordering the next soon.

Science: – We are spending a lot of time on Science.  The curriculum/guide we attempted to follow has ridiculous expectations.  They were scheduling full sized books to be read in under two weeks, which may do doable for fiction but Physics books take more thought and time.  So I’m using most of their books (I did drop a few) but I’ve abandoned the schedule completely.  We are taking our time and enjoying the journey.  Learning isn’t about filling our kids’ heads with facts, it’s about developing passions and you can’t do that in a hurry.  I do need to be more proactive about hands on activities though.  We tends towards books rather than do activities, which we tend to watch on youtube.

Economics: – Economics.  Oh yeah.  We should be doing that.  I think we’ll do a block of Economics over a couple of weeks and then set it aside again.  It doesn’t really need to happen all of the time, does it?  😦

Technology: – Well, this subject kind of just happens by itself really but we’ve also being reading an engineering book which I’ll admit has been sitting on the shelf more often than we have been reading it.  I need to set a goal to help us move through it (it’s a good book).  The problem is that each chapter requires a hands on task and if I haven’t prepared it, we tend to leave the reading.

The Arts: – We don’t do Art regularly; we dabble and we’re happy with that.  We’ve already completed an art project this term, visited the art gallery and thoroughly explored one artist – Winslow Homer.  I’m perfectly happy.

Socialisation (since everyone else seems so panicked about it): – Overabundant.  We see friends at least twice a week, sometimes three times a week.  We also see cousins and grandparents every couple of weeks.  We’ve been to the art gallery, the trampoline centre and the Hadron Collider exhibition and we’re only in week 6.  (If you are thinking about homeschooling and worried about socialisation – don’t.  Once you make some connections, your biggest struggle will be making sure you are home enough to do work.)

So that’s our term so far.

If I had to rate it out of ten, I think I’d give it a seven and a half, because there is always room for improvement.

How is your term going?



Another Reason I’m Glad We Homeschool

I popped into Officeworks today.  It was not my best thought out plan.  The little car park was packed with cars cycling around like vultures, following customers to their cars.  I was lucky.  A car pulled out right in front of me and I pulled straight in.

But the chaos didn’t end in the car park.  Inside, there were parents and kids everywhere, purchasing their back to school supplies.  Kids were pulling those large rolling baskets and mothers were piling those baskets full of items listed on their children’s school booklists.  Most of those baskets were overflowing with stuff and they were still adding to the piles.  I wondered how many of those items they already had at home, but that they felt the need to buy new anyway.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much money each family has to spend on back to school supplies.  And Officeworks doesn’t stock textbooks so they’d have to add on that expense too.  Oh and there’s uniforms too.  If the kids have grown, or are starting new schools, they’ll need uniforms as well.  All this before they even pay for school fees (if there are school fees to be paid).

I was also in Officeworks for back to school supplies.  However, my homeschool booklist is whatever I decide and I don’t need to buy the whole year’s supplies at once.

This was my homeschool ‘back to school’ list:

*one spiral grid book for Math for each child – cost $3.75 each

*one 2mm graph pad for Math for each child – cost $2.45 each

*some new lead pencils (there’s seemingly a beaver at my house and our chewed up lead pencil supply annoys me, so I’m restocking it) – cost $6.50 (for a box of 12)

I left Officeworks only $18.90 poorer, which means there’s more money in the budget for the most important back to school items – BOOKS!!! Real books!

But let’s not look at the expense of the real books being purchased.  My husband reads this blog!

Hubby dearest, textbooks are much more expensive.  And we neeeeeed all those books that are currently turning up at our door.  Not sure if it works out cheaper than school fees though.  Possibly. Possibly not.  Oh well.



Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Homeschooling Thoughts


Do I Need to Be ‘Smart’ to Homeschool?

A number of times, parents, who are thinking about homeschooling, have asked me, “Do you need to be ‘smart’ to homeschool?”.   Or they’ll express concern that they feel like they aren’t smart enough to homeschool their children, particularly during the highschool years.   How do I respond to this question or comment?  Well, I tell them the truth.  “No, you don’t need to be smart, but, you have to be willing to read and learn”.

People often reply, “Yeah, but you’re a qualified teacher” and I have to remind them that even teachers start out knowing very little about the topics they teach, particularly in the primary school years where teachers are expected to teach all different subjects and topics.  Every time a teacher is moved to a different grade level, they have to start fresh.  They have to look at the National Curriculum to determine what they have to teach.  They have to make choices about topics to teach and books to use.  Most teachers need to find information about the new topics they are teaching.  They have to refer to a book, website or mentor to find out how to teach new Math topics.  They have to research the History and Science they need to teach.  They aren’t taught all that content at university and they certainly don’t know everything.   Parents who are willing to put in the time and effort can do the same things.

For most things, we can learn right alongside our children.  To begin with, we don’t need to know anything about the topics we want to teach.  We just need to be prepared to roll up our sleeve and do a little research.  For example, if I wanted to teach about world explorers and didn’t know any world explorers, I would simply google “list of greatest world explorers”.  Then I would select some explorers to study.  You might need to do a little googling to help with your selection process.  Using my list of chosen explorers, I would then begin a search for resources.  I usually start online with my local library, typing in the explorers’ names and borrowing related books and dvds.  Then I use Google to help me hunt for ideas – book titles, dvd titles, online videos, activity ideas and good quality free resources.  The hardest part of this search is usually narrowing down the options.  Personally, I like to find one or two excellent books, at least one video and perhaps an activity.  Others might have different preferences.  Often I choose to purchase a book or dvd, when I find a title that looks amazing and that I can’t borrow.  But that’s also a personal choice.  With the explorers chosen and the resources collected, the next step is to decide how you want to teach it.  This looks different in different homes.  Some people like to pre-read or pre-view all of their resources and prepare questions and activities based on the information.  Others like to do a some preparations but nothing too detailed.  Personally, I like to select the most enticing book and dive right in with my children.  I suppose, instead of ‘teacher’, you could call me the ‘lead learner’.  There are often times when I know as little about a topic as my children when we first begin reading.  But, that’s okay.  I’m not attempting to impart knowledge from my head to theirs.  The resources I’ve chosen will provide the information, and often the activities and questions as well.  My role is to choose the paths, provide the resources, and join them on the learning journey.

As another example, I also teach my boys Latin, yet, I don’t know Latin.  However, I do know how to do a google search.  So, back when we were first starting, I researched all the different Latin options that homeschoolers seemed to use.  I selected one that appealed and ordered it.  When it arrived, I spent some time looking over the product and deciding how to proceed.  Since it was designed for beginning students, particularly children, I knew that I could understand the requirements enough to explain one lesson at a time.  I also discovered that there were some lessons that required a little thought and I simply couldn’t come to the lesson without first reading through the lesson.  So, I decided to stay at least one lesson ahead of my students.  As the years have progressed, the requirements are still the same.  I still only need to know one lesson more than my boys.  Admittedly, once or twice I’ve had to look up terms that the text assumed I’d understand, but, with a little time and effort, those obstacles were quickly overcome.  If you are prepared to do the same, you can teach many things.  Just as importantly, you’ll learning many new things.  I’ve learned so much on this homeschooling journey.  Things school never taught me.

Of course, you don’t have to teach everything yourself.  You could employ someone to teach a subject that is outside your skill area.  Most people do this for Music.  Some parents make arrangements with other parents to share their talents.  If one mother is skilled in Language and another in Math, they might arrange to teach each others’ children.  There are also online classes and video based curriculums that do the teaching for you.  Perhaps hubby or another family member could help teach a subject.  Plus, homeschool curriculums are designed with the knowledge that most parents aren’t qualified teachers.  Oh and a worked-solution book for your Math text can often save the day.  So there is a lot of support available and even more if you are prepared to be flexible and creative.  Teaching doesn’t have to fall solely on your shoulders.

Being ‘smart’ or ‘qualified’ might make some things easier and give you more confidence to quickly jump into the process, but, even for these people, teaching requires time and effort, and most importantly, a willingness to learn new things.  We all have these things to offer, if we are willing to spend them in pursuit of the homeschool journey.

And, as many homeschoolers will tell you, while you don’t need to be smart to start, you will definitely be smarter when you end.



Mere Motherhood

Have anyone else purchased and already devoured

Cindy Rollins’ first book, “Mere Motherhood”?

I was counting down the sleeps for this book to be released,

and then counting down the sleeps for it to arrive at my house.

Thankfully items purchased from the CIRCE Institute always arrive promptly.

My only complaint was that I finished reading “Mere Motherhood” in under 24 hours.

I didn’t want it to end.

If you haven’t heard of Cindy Rollins,

drop everything and go and check out her CIRCE podcast, “The Mason Jar

or scroll through CIRCE’s audios looking for Cindy’s talks

(and Andrew Kern’s talks and Angelina Stanford’s talks

…and the list goes on and on because you can’t go wrong with CIRCE audios

but I digress).

004 (Small)

“Mere Motherhood” is two parts Cindy’s memoirs and one part philosophy.

Cindy describes her family as it grows one child at a time

(to nine children – 8 boys and a girl)

while moving all over the US

following her husband’s work.

She talks about moments of great joy,

her moments of great fear

and the hilarious, sometimes hair-raising antics of her children.

She also talks about their homeschooling,

dropping the names of much loved books that shaped her family.

(Warning – your Amazon carts will fill quickly as you read this book!)

Cindy describes their ‘Morning Time’ (for which she is most well-known),

emphasises narrations (a chapter which really impacted me),

and shares about their brief experience with workbooks.

Cindy doesn’t write as though she has all the answers,

in fact, she says that there are only a few things that she knows for certain.

She says:

“Here is what I do know, what I am willing to share with you. 

There are three things that cover a multitude of sins: 

reading, reading aloud, and written narrations.”

005 (Small)

The later chapters of her books were my favourites.

She writes about family, culture, philosophy, and marriage.

She also shares about life as her children left the nest.

My favourite quote from “Mere Motherhood” was:

“Part of the sanctification of motherhood is learning to trust. 

One day we will come to the end of what we can do for our children. 

In those early day our children cannot live without us,

but slowly they grow up and move away. 

This is almost always heart-wrenching,

but the process also gives us a chance

to lean on our Heavenly Father and to trust Him more. 

God has entrusted us with a great treasure. 

It is our life lesson to hand it back. 

To let it go. 

Our children must not become ‘Our Precious’.

In the end, we are merely mothers.”


“Mere Motherhood” was a wonderful read.

Reading the book is like sitting talking to an older, wiser homeschool mother,

listening to her stories and gleaning wisdom.

I loved Cindy Rollins’ “Mere Motherhood”.

It’s the best homeschool book I’ve read this year!




Posted by on August 14, 2016 in Homeschooling Thoughts, My Library