MOE and timetables

Ministry of Education (NZ) has questioned about my timetable.

Timetables in reality are not kept from my (and contemporaries) experience but they do look pretty hanging on the wall. In the end I didn’t give one to MOE, but showed how I approached education. More “sitdown” around-the-table discussions in the morning and more outings and activities in the afternoon.

Subjects are constructs on a good day and NZ research from a decade ago showed that subjects are not the key issue in learning and education.
My opinion is that PROCESS is more important than CONTENT.
MOE wants to see variety (which happens anyway and really can’t not happen).

They have a negative ‘thing’ about us (homeschoolers) doing one topic in the day (tho you and I know that sometimes this is just what an inquisitive child needs at times). And the 3Rs invariably happens anyway.

Allow yourself an out by saying “responding to presenting opportunities” (like Grandma coming, a new co-op class, or picnic at the park).

Use vague wording like ‘generally”, ‘often’, ‘possible’.

Thinking about Homeschooling in NZ?

353px-Monarch_Butterfly_Cocoon_6708Ministry of Education recommend you avail yourself of the NZ National Curriculum. But nah.

YOU have the freedom to decide what you want your children to learn know act like, by say 18 years old.

No formal curricula (nor big bucks) is actually needed – such is the freedom of home education in NZ.

Children CAN’T NOT learn – create an interesting home – music, science, art corners spotted around your home.

Maybe by 13-15 you want to be more formalised.

But I have been stunned what my kids have learnt “driving their own bus” all the way through, guided in discussion with me and the other children.

Each term a special interest to find out about and pursue – observational drawing, learning to play guitar and write songs, learn 3D animation skills, do some baking soda experiments …..

What is your educational philosophy – think and read for 6 months is my recommendation … before launching into any boxed program – often from outside of NZ,

Boxed Curriculum not needed

A set curriculum is not needed.
Your children can’t not learn.
Also ‘school subjects’ are a construct not reflected in real life. Life is not a neat box for maths or for English… it all gets jumbled up.
My chn enjoyed unit topics which managed to incorporate all manner of skills.
eg. Fermentation.. bread.. baking.. growing potato sourdough mix.. bread from around the world.. social spiritual aspect of breaking bread.
We studied 1 or 2 topics per term. Metamorphosis included writing poems, eric carle’s hungry caterpillar which led to conversations about fruit, grouping, basic maths for 5yo.
Not always great productions but an adventure in learning, questioning, discussing.
foundations of faith child tree

What Curriculum?!

Who is going to determine what your child needs to learn?

For under 12s, talk hug read laugh dance listen run play bake games parks libraries socialise (haha) – just live and enjoy family life.

Join in with others – anyone can advertise on their local homeschool group to create a Park Day. Advertise a few days in advance – and if you’re the only ones there – you enjoy yourself anyway.

What do YOU (the adultparent) want your children to be like by the time they are 18 years old? 🙂 (They can’t not learn – provide a fun safe curious environment)

Trust your children.

No timetable needed

Making an application for exemption from a registered school?clock swirl

No timetable is needed.
But you do need to indicate (acc to law, s.21) “as regularly and as well”.

We made a comment, in our exemption application, about regular meals around the dining table; more sit down, schooly stuff in the morning; and tend to do more creative or outside activities in afternoon – yet being flexible enough to respond to Grandma’s visit or other events or occasions that arose.

:: Keep vague, flexible, and yet include stuff that keeps MOE happy.

4Cs – 21st Century Skills

These competencies — known as 21st-century skills — are summed up as the “4Cs”).

They include the following:

Students are able to work effectively with diverse groups and exercise flexibility in making compromises to achieve common goals.

Students are able to generate and improve on original ideas and also work creatively with others.

Students are able to communicate effectively across multiple media and for various purposes.

Critical thinking:
Students are able to analyze, evaluate, and understand complex systems and apply strategies to solve problems.

Home Educators – choose community

Mothers, Home educators do not have to work alone.

Draw people in to your family life/school/work – aunties (real or adopted), grandies, other homeschooled families …

3 (or is that 4?) First Thoughts on Home Education

1. Relax and enjoy family life.bigstockphoto_Our_Mum_624059

2. Don’t worry about spending big lots of money in your first years – by then you’ll find out that you don’t need to spend heaps of money.

3. Decide what your family’s priorities/mottoes are and then put the time in to your top priorities.
Ask yourself: what do we want our children to “look” like by age of 16-18 yo? what qualities do we value?

4. Relax and enjoy family life.

My Take on Home Education after 12 years

A rant from a home educator (and trained HS teacher, ESOL tutor, and counsellor)

I’m not judging anyone, just outlining how I see home education ::Featured image

Why do we need programs for this and that? curriculum / curricula for our 6 year old?

Did we not choose to leave institutional schooling to have a life of freedom? a life where children can enjoy the discovery of learning, instead of offering them preprocessed sausage meat?!

Our children love to learn, have a curiosity for the world around them – especially when we get them away from workbooks and in to the real world around them. This is the great benefit of homeschooling, home education, natural learning, worldschooling (call it what you will).

Parks, libraries, other families are the wonderful assets in your education journey. Don’t fret about public schoolers’ comments or expectations of whanau.

Set your sights on the character and attitudes of your children for when they are 16-18 years old. Train them, guide them, love them, have fun with them.

Don’t waste childhood on workbooks and dreary stuff. Watch a ‘Magic Schoolbus’ video, climb on the playground at your local park, or go to the confidence/ adventure course nearby, check out the egyptian mummy/ dinosaur exhibition at your local museum. Or take a week or so to go to Te Papa. Have adventures.

Do the stuff that lights their/your fire and passion. Ease up. Your children can’t help but to learn – your job is to strew interesting things around the house, provide a creative environment, and widen your children’s world.

NCEA is not really your primary goal – raising creative adventurous young people who are equipped to face a changing world would be better. Young people who will contribute to society in a positive way. People don’t tend to gain or lose jobs on the strengths of their qualifications, rather their positive attitude and emotional health. Someone who is punctual, trustworthy, polite, follows instructions, uses initiative, honest.

Let’s maximise the benefits of home education – not just replicate schools.

Coming from a family of teachers, I internally fought/worried especially for the first year over ‘are my kids doing enough’ and then realised I had to trust my children and relax a whole lot. It was a huge struggle for me to let go of my schooly preconceptions – and let the children make a few more choices. Yes, HS and the style we choose is family choice, but we can (are able to) change/evolve our approach/es along the way.
When you feel down or stressed as home educator, maybe that is the time to mix things up a bit.

People learn best when relaxed and enjoying the process.

Ways to do Homeschool Mathematics (without a Textbook)

Maths concepts can be taught mentally very well and without textbooks until about 12 years old.

  • times tables – rap rote, skip counting … also divisionmathpostcard

  • Rolling dice and getting him to visualise the number rather than counting them individually.

  • mental arithmetic is excellent :: if i have this many and you eat this many … how many left?

  • Use fingers to show patterns, skip jumping/counting, read stories with maths concepts in them, read recipes.

  • Baking

  • Make a pizza pie together, make symmetrical patterns with toppings? and teach basic ideas of fractions. 1/2 pie – 2 pieces the same size …

  • MEASUREMENT (give them a real tape measure at 5/6 yo, with the OSH talk)

  • tape measure – arms, legs, strides; door posts, table height, step treads, etc ..

  • How long is your thumb in centimetres? how long is your cubit? stride? doorway

  • estimation  … sensible answer?

  • How many wheels on those 3 trucks and 4 cars …? How many legs on those bugs …?

  • gardening, planting, design …

  • patterns and series, eg diff types of leaves, 10×10 (100 block) colour in …

  • map / atlas reading – note scale, NESW, distances/time, latitude / longitude, poles …

  • bus timetables – how long to go from A > B… every how many minutes …

  • for fun, learn to count to twelve or twenty in 5 different languages

  • draw shapes w/ruler, pencil, protractor, and compass

  • Big and Bigger numbers : what does 1000 look like? 1,000,000 …

  • consider big counting questions. How many chickens killed every day in NZ/the USA? How many trees in a particular forest? How many glasses of water before a particular water reservoir runs out?

Keep mathematics as an everyday part of life. The siloing (isolating or separating off) of maths and other disciplines is what sucks the joy, discovery, and relevance out of them.

Of course you could use YouTube and Textbooks, but keep the interest and fun factor high.

NZ Homeschool Exemption Application thoughts for those overseas

* My instinct is to apply once you’re here with some sort of NZ address, 6yo is legal age to be in school, but don’t rush/fuss. Just settle in to life here, without school.

* Exemption form is available online – 

Don’t be spooked by talk of 15 page applications –  that’s not needed.. 

* Use the outline of the application as your title heads, including subjects (I did, though, make a disclaimer about the artificial nature of subjects ‘boxes’ as life is more wide ranging and mixed up than that) – and succinctly fill in their (MOE) boxes.

* Timetables and lesson plans are not necessary as all you need to show is that you ‘teach as regularly and as well’ (s.21, Ed Act, 1989).
Talk about regular meals, and maybe more sit down work in morning. 

* Timetables are something wonderful to hang on walls to make someone else more secure but really are a work of fiction as we respond to the interesting world and families around us.

* Use of words like :: possibly, maybe, could be … are wonderful homeschool exemption form words!

* Expect to be asked for more info from MOE (min of ed) – it’s their way of trying to make us feel their power over us, methinks.

* In the meantime, think about what you want to achieve between now and 18yo.
What type of child would you like to train up? How will you bring out the best in them?
What are your family’s mottoes/ values/ priorities – this is where you spend most time in the next decade or so. I made a comment about wanting them to be contributing citizens who are honest, respectful,…