Mum To Mom

Musings of an Aussie Mother Living in the USA

Month: October 2012

What Does Our Homeschool Look Like? – Our Schedule (Year 1)

A couple of weeks ago I shared our year 1 Booklist.
I thought perhaps it may be helpful to see how I have scheduled out our homeschool week. I have used Week 9 from the Ambleside Online weekly schedule which we follow, as a sample week, with the additional work which we actually did do in week 9, to hopefully make the schedule more meaningful.

So here it is:

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This schedule is pretty fluid. We don’t always do each subject in this exact order. Depending on what else is going on in life, we may switch the days on which certain subjects are done. But that’s one of the many joys of homeschooling, right? I don’t want a schedule to get in the way of the many educational opportunities that occur naturally everyday.

Even though I don’t always keep to exactly what’s here, all the work is completed by the end of the week. Well, almost all of it. I have been terrible at doing much with handicrafts. I need to be better organised. And while the goal for bible is to read a few verses everyday from an historical book and have daughter narrate, the reality is it often gets dropped off the schedule, and, to my shame, is really only once a week at the moment. This bible reading is not our family devotion time (which dear husband leads faithfully each night at the dinner table), but is in addition to our family devotion time. Just thinking about it now, perhaps every day is not necessary anyway, since devotions are everyday. Hmmm…I’ll have to think on that one.

Anyway, this is how it is at the moment. Hope it’s useful.

Preparing My Children for the Big Goodbye

Preparing to move to the U.S. from Melbourne, Australia was a daunting task. There were many, many things that needed to get done, organised, and prepared.

My husband’s job was to organize getting our passports, visas, aeroplane tickets, and any other legal stuff that needed to be done so we could live in America. My job was to organize all the material stuff necessary to move. It was also really important to me to prepare the children as best as I could for the massive change—to help them understand that their grandparents wouldn’t be around the corner, so to speak, and that they’d be leaving their friends and making new ones.

Thankfully my children were still very young (5, 3 and 2 years at the time) so the change for them was not as difficult as it might have been had they been older. Even so, change is still hard for anybody and preparation was important if the adjustment to a new country, culture, neighbourhood, and church community was going to be smooth.

So these are some of the steps we took to prepare them.

  • We talked a lot about how exciting it will be to go on a plane. And not just one plane, but three! This was their first time on an aeroplane so this was all they talked about and couldn’t wait till it was time.
  • We talked about how it was an amazing adventure to somewhere we’ve never been before. We would be explorers! We would explore animals, flowers, and trees that were different to Australia. We would see the shops that were the same, the ones that were different, we would drive on the other side of the road! We discussed many other differences we would experience as we thought of them.
  • Disneyworld! (What more can I say?)
  • We had fun talking about the words that Americans use for things that are different to the words Aussies use. For example, trash & garbage/rubbish, bathroom/toilet, sidewalk/footpath, elevator/lift etc.
  • We explained that we would still be able to talk with our family face to face with FaceTime and Skype. We practiced this with their grandparents in the few weeks leading up to our departure to get both grandparents and the children used to it. This worked really great. It was also really helpful because it gave us time to instruct the grandparents on how to use the technology before we left.
  • We explained that we would be able to write emails, post photos on Facebook, send things in the mail, to continue to share our lives with our family and friends, and they with us.
  • We explained to them that it will be sad to leave our family and friends as they won’t be near us to come over and play, and to give us cuddles. And its ok to be sad. It’s ok to miss them. We felt it was important for them to understand that we were moving far away and that they would feel that loss. I didn’t want them moving with the expectation that everything would be exciting and happy all the time. That would not have been fair as it would not have been reality. I needed to prepare them for the emotions they would feel and let them know it was ok to feel them and express them.
  • We told them of the many families in America that were excited that we were coming and were ready to be our friends. We would not be alone or lonely, we had friends in America that we just hadn’t met yet. This helped immensely, especially for the eldest who was the most aware of the fact that she was leaving her friends, and worried that she wouldn’t have any.
  • Finally, and most importantly, we told them God was with us. The God that we love and serve in Australia is also in America!

These conversations didn’t just occur once. We said these things over and over and over again so they would understand and feel content and peaceful about what was happening. And do you know what? It worked. They knew what was going to happen. They knew what to expect. They made friends quickly and got used to the FaceTime and Skype calls with grandparents. What a blessing to be able to still see our family even though we are on the other side of the world.

Did they get sad? Yes, many times. There were many tears in the first few weeks, especially from the 5 year old. But not despair. She knew she would miss people, she knew she would get sad, and she was ok with that. She was prepared for the adventure, and all the ups and downs that went along with that.

What experiences have you had moving with children?
What strategies (if any) did you use to help your children with the transition?

What Does My Homeschool Look Like? – Our Booklist (Year 1)

I mention in my bio that I am a homeschooler so I thought I would do a series of posts about what our homeschool looks like at the moment. I currently only homeschool my 6 year old and we are following the booklist and 36 week schedule (3 terms) for Year 1 at Ambleside Online (AO1).

Here is our AO1 booklist:

Bible
We are reading the book of Genesis.

Copywork
This is basically handwriting and spelling practice. I choose a short passage from one of the books that we are reading and she copies it out. Usually only one or two sentences a day. I try to vary the type of writing to expose her to a variety of writing styles. For example, for a couple of days she will copy a verse from a poem, the next day a line from Aesops fables, the next couple of days something from literature, the next something from a history book, etc.

Readers
Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik
Harriette Taylor Treadwell Readers (free online readers)

Math
Math-U-See

Science
Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright

Nature study
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess (free online ebook)

Literature
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winters (free online ebook)
Beautiful stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit (free downloadable ebook)
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (free downloadable ebook)
Just so stories by Rudyard Kipling (free downloadable ebook)
Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty (free online ebook)

Poetry
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson Term 1
Now We Are Six/When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne Term 2
A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa Term 3

History
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (free downloadable ebook)
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin Terms 1 & 2 (free downloadable ebook)
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall Terms 2 & 3 (free downloadable ebook)

American History Biography
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 1
George Washington by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 2
Buffalo Bill by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 3

Geography
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

French
First Step en Francais (free online beginner course)
Tres Bien app for iPad

Artist and Composer Study
Term1 – Renoir/Debussy
Term 2 – Ruisdale, de Hooch/Bach
Term 3 – Seurat/Opera Overtures
Wikipedia and other online resources
I will discuss how we do artist and composer study in another post.

P.E.
Classes run for homeschoolers at our local gym.

Free Reading
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (free downloadable ebook)
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (especially for my younger girls who are 4 and 3 and not ready for chapter books, and 6 year old enjoys it too)
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (free downloadable ebook)
The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs (Australian)
The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (Australian)

I may add more to the free reading list if we have time to read more than what is listed. There are a couple of books that I also may include for Australian History/Literature if I am able to get the books and can work out how to fit them into our schedule. These are: The Way of The Whirlwind by Mary Durack and Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel Pedley. Thanks to my Aussie friend Jeanne at A Peaceful Day who drew my attention to these Australian books and has spent many years Australianizing AO by compiling great Australian literature to compliment the Ambleside Online curriculum.

I have linked to as many of the free ebooks that I could find, but obviously you can choose to purchase the paper version of these books instead if you preferred to. I started with all the ebooks that I could for budgeting reasons but have since gone back and purchased a few of the literature books in paper. While the ebooks are helpful, they are a poor substitute for a beautifully illustrated children’s book that the children can hold in their little hands and can pull off the shelf anytime they want to immerse themselves in the adventure it holds.

Well there it is. My next post I will show you what our weekly schedule looks like.

“A Man’s Steps Are Determined by the Lord”

When my husband first spoke to me about the possibility of us moving to Florida, he was scared. He was really excited about the opportunity but was expecting me to respond swiftly and succinctly with a flat out “no!” “absolutely not!” and that that would be the beginning and the end of the discussion. But to his surprise, and relief, that is not how I reacted. Instead I sat there in absolute shock repeating the words, “you’re kidding? They want us to move there? Why? You’re kidding? Really?” etc. And as the reality of his words settled more in my mind it was as if all of the fragmented pieces of our life suddenly fell into place. All of the study, the change in direction, the change of the change in direction, the places and people we were led to, the heart ache and the tears when doors seemed to slam in our face; were slowly making sense. It was God’s providence.

“A man’s steps are determined by the Lord, so how can anyone understand his own way?”
(Proverbs 20:24)

As I began to look back at the path our life had led, I could see all those difficult moments. The moment when we had to leave a church, the moment when my husband, after four years of seminary training, came to the belief that God was not calling him into the ministry, and many other life altering decisions that we have made. I could see now that in those difficult moments God was in control, and has always been in control. He had been, even in those difficult times, especially in those difficult times, directing our path and continued to do so. This opportunity to move continents, while a daunting prospect without a doubt, especially with a young family, was also exciting because it was the direction that God was leading us.

Better Late Than Never, Right?

Hello…is this thing on? As this is the first post on my first blog, I guess the first thing I should do is introduce myself. I’m Tania. I am a Reformed Christian, devoted wife, mother of three amazing girls (6yo,4yo,3yo), and I homeschool my eldest daughter in the style of Charlotte Mason. I have started this blog because recently my husband and I, and our 3 girls, sold everything we owned, left our family and friends behind, and moved from Melbourne, Australia to Florida, U.S.A. We made the big move for my husband’s work and ministry. Hence the name of the blog “mum” to “mom,” as that is now what I am in the process of becoming; Australian mum to American mom. As we live and raise our kids here, there is going to be a bit of blending of cultures so we can live happily here in a new country. Hopefully this will be interesting, helpful, and sometimes amusing to read about.

When we first found out that we would be moving to Florida, I had decided it would be really great to blog about the move. You know, the lead up to the big day, all the drama that occurs before, during, and after such a dramatic change in our lives. And how we continue to adapt to living in America. Well we’ve done the big move and we’ve been living in Florida for over 6 months now and I’m only just starting the blog. Oh well, better late than never, right?

Yet not only will this blog be dedicated to blogging about our move and adjustment from Australia to America, I also intend to write about our homeschooling journey—the why’s and the how’s, the tears and the joys—as well as other stuff that I’m passionate about such as cooking, and anything else that might take my fancy.

I look forward to sharing our journey with you.

P.S. The last time I wrote anything of this length was before I was a mother of three. I’m a little rusty so bare with me.

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