How to homeschool SUCCESSFULLY

This winter holidays marks one year of homeschooling for us. We have had so much fun, tried so many new things and I’ve learnt a thing or two as a homeschool mama along the way. 

1. Prioritise your child over your philosophy 
There are some inspired ideas out there in the homeschool world. I was blown away by the number of different home education models there were to choose from. You’ve got Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Steiner/Waldorf, Classical, Unschooling and Natural Learning, Eclectic, Reggio and other Enquiry-Based models, Project-Based Learning, Unit Studies…and seriously, that list is not even complete! And they all sound amazing. 
You can fall in love with a method on paper and discover it just does not work for your kid. Or for you! Maybe you like one aspect and not another. But guess what? You CAN change models.  You can pick and mix like this is the lolly counter at the cinema.

Don’t let yourself become so married to a philosophy that you struggle through when it isn’t making your child happy,  or you dread the thought of delivering another day’s lessons. Change tracks. Even if it’s mid-term and you’ve just had your yearly plan approved by the power’s that be. Take the week off, regroup and come back with something new. 
I also think it’s really important not to let ourselves be talked into a method by its champions. Some bloggers and ‘experts’ have a way of making you think their way is not just the best way, but the only way. It’s very easy to let yourself be sucked in by their…let’s say enthusiasm. 

No one knows you and your child like you do. If you love what you are doing, go with it. If a particular method just doesn’t speak to you, forget about it. If you want to swap and swap back, or take a little of this and a little of that, do it!

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of community

There will probably come a time (or two) when you think, ‘I can’t take another day of this. I want to give up’. I know some truly AH-MAZING women who are rockin’ this homeschool biz like it’s nobody’s business. They inspire me on  daily basis. And even they have admitted to their moments. 
Some days (weeks…dare I say months???) it can all feel too hard and the pull of public school can be pretty powerful. Do NOT underestimate the power of your homeschooling community to see you through.

These parents will get you. They will be there to share war stories, to inspire you, to give you suggestions, to bounce ideas off. They will be your shoulder to cry on and your biggest cheer squad. These wise women will celebrate your triumphs right there alongside you.

I couldn’t imagine how I would have made it through the last year without the friendships I have made within the homeschool community. If you get nothing else accomplished in your homeschool year, make sure you find yourself (and your children) a community to be part of. 
3. Believe in yourself

Believe in yourself but don’t take yourself too seriously. Society wants us all to be pretty much the same. It’s comfortable for everyone that way.Homeschooling is just a little different and doing something different takes guts. You need to believe in what you are doing and in your ability to do it. 
That doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone makes mistakes,  has a few terrible ideas and their fair share of grumpy days. It makes us human. 
Laugh at yourself. Like yourself. Care for yourself. Your children are watching and learning from you. Teach them that confidence and self-belief come from within. Teach them to try new things, to learn from mistakes, to fall down then get right back up and keep going. Teach them self-respect by respecting yourself. Teach them to fight for what they believe in. 
Not everyone is going to agree with your decision to homeschool, or with the unique way you decide to go about it. That’s ok. So long as you believe in yourself and in the choice you have made for your family. You’ve got this mama!


Halloween Aussie-style

Normally this time of year I’d go on my regular rant about Americanisation (it’s a word) and consumerism. You know, because Halloween is slowly becoming a thing in Australia. And it’s not even Autumn here! But this year The Mister convinced me to put all that aside and participate in a few Halloween-themed activities under the pretext of Cultural Studies. Ok ok. I promised to stop being cynical…just this year. The kids approved πŸ˜‰


My Little Mathematician and I started off chatting about what he thought Halloween was, and I chimed in with a bit of history about it. I came prepared thanks to this quick Halloween history read. He asked plenty of questions and we took a little detour to discuss the difference in seasons between here and the Northern Hemisphere. We’re pretty relaxed learners around here, so this all happened around the kitchen table one afternoon. Nothing resembling school happening here :-p

The next day everyone was still keen to continue the theme so we googled some spooky poetry to read aloud together. This inspired us to have a go at our own acrostic poems. We even wrote a couple of recipes for Witches’ Brew.

When The Mister got home the real fun began. It’s not Autumn here, and while pumpkins are available we thought something seasonal would be more appropriate. So here’s our Watermelon Jack-O-Lantern!


The boys cut the top off a large, whole watermelon then googled pumpkin jack-o-lanterns for some spooky face inspiration. Next came the messy part…scooping out the inside.


Oh my! There is sooooo much watermelon in a watermelon!! The chickens had a nice treat, the kids ate quite a bit while working, and some went into a juice for us. I think I’ll make a granita or some sorbet with the remainder. Feel free to share your fav recipes in the comments.


Once the face was cut out we realised we had no candles hahaha. Never fear. An LED off The Mister’s work helmet worked a treat, and is much safer with Little Beatie getting about.


We now had the perfect excuse to watch a fantasy movie together for Friday movie night. Any excuse to indulge in our favourite genre really πŸ˜‰

Are you celebrating Halloween this year? If you are, hop on over to Expedition Homeschool and join in Kelly’s blog hop. There are loads of fabulous ideas for celebrating Halloween and bringing it into your home learning.


Take note of the bolts. It's Frankenstein's Monster

Happy Halloween from this cycnical homeschool mama Down Under πŸ˜‰

How we roll

“Mum, how high can you count?”

“Mum, how high do you think I can count?”

“Mum, what’s the highest number anyone has ever counted to?”

While I’m over here feeling as though time is getting away from me, and the to-do list will never be done,  my Little Mathematician has the serious issues on his mind. Time to scrounge around for some materials and help him start a Number Roll.

If you’ve never heard of a Number Roll before, it’s a Montessori work designed primarily to assist in mastering linear counting. Basically you have the child start at 1 and write each successive number, on and on….FOREVER! Well, not actually forever, but for as long as the work holds interest for them. And for a 6 year old that can be an incredibly loooooong time. Nikolai has decided he would like to see how far he can go between now and Christmas πŸ˜‰


I made this Number Roll by cutting strips of grid paper and putting them in a box. Really, it’s that simple. The very first strip has the columns marked (units, tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands…We’re nothing if not optimistic) which helps with the secondary aim of this work; reinforcing place value.


So far this activity has generated a huge amount of excitement and interest. I’m going to have to cut more strips tonight in case Nikolai chooses this work again tomorrow.


To store the roll we have blue tacked the start to a toilet roll and wound the paper round. The roll and the blank strips are stored in a small cardboard box (thank you Ikea :-p Got to make use of all that cardboard refuse from the flat pack kitchen somehow!), and placed the box on our Maths Shelf.

You can find more information on Number Rolls here and also over here. This has got to be one of the simplest, yet most enjoyable linear counting activities out there, and can be made quickly and cheaply with materials already on hand.

Do you DIY in your homeschool?

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Renolife update

I’ve been a little quiet on the internet front lately, but only because things have suddenly picked up speed on the renos. Six months ago we started work on the kitchen, just a little here and there, eventually gutting the kitchen and living room. Since The Mister has been home the last few weeks, things have suddenly kicked into gear!

First I lost one wall…


Then another…


Along with the pantry,Β  linen press, benches and cupboards!

Thankfully I then gained some new walls. Hello gyprock and hello dust!

For the next week and a bit my house turned WHITE. There was so much dust we had fans going contantly and my handy hubby used the leaf blower to clean up every evening. Tomorrow will be the last dust day as the final coat of plaster is dry and ready for sanding.

Meanwhile, the electrician has been and cut new powerpoint holes. The plumber is on his way to modify the pipes ready for my fancy new sink. I’ve been busy priming the kitchen walls and painting a GIANT blackboard in the hallway (keep an eye out for that one in upcoming posts!). I’ve also temporarily misplaced my Ikea obsession. I am officially Ikea’d out!


This cool dude has provided some cheap labour. He works for food and tv time πŸ˜‰ He helped knock out the pantry and is now on to painting in the kitchen.


My Little Mathematician turned Little Labourer

There is still A LOT to do. A LOT! But it is so exciting seeing the house transform,  not into a perfect showroom style house, but into a home that reflects who we are as a family.

We are moving towards being more energy-efficient. The new layout will reduce our dependence on electric lighting and lessen the need to cool and heat our home.

Our home will be more child friendly. We’ve kept the kids in mind each step of the way, from the choice of flooring, to the bench layout,  to the blackboard. This is a home for them to enjoy as much as us.

Tomorrow will be a big day for all of us. Working together as a family. Learning new skills together, with the help of our family and friends. But for the moment we are taking a break. The boys are playing Connect 4 while the baby crawls over them, and I’m sitting here enjoying them.

Renolife has proven to be precious x

Rainbow writing prompts

Earlier this week I showed these funky rainbow writing prompts over on Facebook. As promised, here’s how to make and use them πŸ™‚


For these you will need some paddle pop sticks. Coloured is ALWAYS more fun. I got these ones for a few dollars from RIOT but I’ve seen them in discount stores as well. You could even collect used paddle pops sticks and dye or paint them yourself for another fun activity. You’ll also need writing implements: paper, pencils, clipboard (all work is better received on a clipboard in my house. Go figure?!).
Oh, and a Sharpie pen for Mum πŸ˜‰


Then you simply write some prompts on the sticks. I’ve colour co-ordinated mine to broad topics. All about me (yellow), magical what-ifs (red), cool places to live (blue)…


…the completely fantastical (green)…


The orange are for persuasional writingΒ  (‘up is better than down because’ and other crazy arguments) and the purple sticks are recall work from our other subjects (People in the Stone Age…). The key is for them to be interesting, open-ended and without a specific right or wrong answer; we are looking to make writing FUN! Feel free to use the ideas you can see on our sticks, or come up with your own based on your child’s current interests.

Pop them all into a jar. A box or bag would work just as well, so use whatever you have. Have your mini-Wordsmith select one at random and write/draw/narrate a story to you.


My usually reluctant writer LOVED these! He filled a page from the first prompt, then engaged in a lively game of storytelling with his Dad and Uncle using a few more. We will keep these on the bench beside paper and pencils to encourage further writing πŸ™‚

What would you write on your sticks to get your little one scribbling away?