Good news. We have survived 4 weeks of homeschooling! Woo hoo. Go Marshalls! There has been no bloodshed and no mutiny. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park and that we are all having a magical experience. I will say… It’s not so bad.
I have managed to keep them up (relatively) with what their classmates are doing back home. I’m lucky…My teacher friends and the kids’ teachers are awesome and hooked me up with intel before we left. I also read the weekly newsletters that the teachers email out to parents and it gives me an idea of what to do next. I’m doing my best to keep them up on all the standards to best prepare them for the following grade. Working in this environment allows us to efficiently get through a good amount of work. Only 3 kids in the class. They are wonderful students and I truly enjoy teaching them. It does help that I was a teacher. I know a good amount of helpful resources and websites. 4th grade is my jam. I subbed in Mae’s class this year a few times which has helped understand kinder life. 7th grade is a whole new world. Homeschooling allows for outdoor science and impromptu lessons about currency and oceans and koalas.
Concurrently, they are learning so much from our experiences. It’s hard to really write about it. So much of it is incidental learning and that’s where the magic is happening. It’s almost impossible to put into words or even process it. Yet. But it’s happening. Maybe another blog post someday or we may just keep that part to ourselves. It’s so, so, so good and it’s what we came for.
Confession. About 2 weeks ago, I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself (and Wes) about our homeschooling journey. I felt like we could be doing the same thing at our dining room table in Denver. It was too much time just the 4 of us (Wes goes to the University to work most days) sitting in our living room doing school work. So I began to evaluate our goals for being here and what we want to get out of this experience. After we talked, I began to worry that homeschooling was keeping them from truly living life in Australia. I am their mom teacher. They are each other’s classmates and their curriculum is mostly Colorado standards. Boring. Yes, we were also learning about Australia, but we were doing internet research instead of finding out for ourselves. I knew something needed to change.
I actually looked at our local public school website to see if sending them there would even be an option. I didn’t want them gone all day, but I knew they needed more interactions with locals. It didn’t take long to find out that school wouldn’t work for such a short time (we are only in our rental house until the end of May.) Not to mention, Elle would be in high school?!? No thanks. There are several reasons why it wouldn’t work to send them to school, and I knew all along that wasn’t what we wanted for this experience. However, I did need to look into it (10 minutes on Google) because I was feeling like we needed to do something different.
We finally came to the conclusion that extra curriculars/activities is the answer. Mae was already enrolled in ballet. I went to work to find classes for the kids so they could make friends and interact with Aussie kids. This was not very easy. Term 1 was already underway so we were late to the game for registration. The costs were outrageous and many activities were simply too far away. I spent many, many nights staying up late emailing places and mapping out locations. Finally, we got Term 1 all planned out. The kids ALL have activities that allow them to be social and learn about life as a kid in Australia….Horray!
On Mondays, we take the bus into the city to Circular Quay and spend the day along the harbor on a pier. The kids are enrolled in a theater school that has sessions for homeschoolers. Mae goes first and does a drama/puppetry class. Luke has filmmaking right after. Elle goes last with a theater class. Wes has joined us for the first two weeks, and it allows us time to do school work and/or sightsee with the other 2 kids while they wait. It’s so easy to pack up their work and do it at cafes. Mommy has to drink coffee to use their WiFi so it’s win-win. It’s been very nice.
On Fridays, the big kids are enrolled in a homeschool program from 10-4. It takes place at the home of some new friends we met when we first arrived. There is a teacher in charge and the kids are a mix of ages (and an overlap of kids from Drama on Monday days). The teacher runs workshops (current one is about persuasive writing and debate) for part of the day, but there is also time for play and reading and lunch. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to make friends, get away from mommy teacher for a day, and so much more. The best part is hearing Elle and Luke talk about new foods and words and games they’ve learned from new friends.
On the weekends, Mae goes to TuTu School. It’s so cute. Her teacher is so lovely and best of all, her class is right on our street. Elle has a theater class every Sunday at a drama institute not too far away.
Side note: I am soooo proud of my kids. While these classes all sound fun, it has required them to take risks and be brave. Super proud.
Homeschooling has been a learning adventure for us all. Most people tell me they could never do it. Honestly, it’s nothing like doing homework with your kids. That can be torture. This is very different. It is allowing us the flexibility we need to enjoy our short time in this beautiful country.
* DBM (mommy teacher)