Sunday, 17 September 2017

Can My Homeschooled Child Read? Homeschooling in New Zealand

First before we go any further let me state that my daughter has no special needs or additional learning needs this is our personal reading journey. Every journey and child is different so take anything you find useful and leave the rest.

Early Years

My husband and I have always loved reading, it's an important hobby for both of us so it was only natural it would be something we shared with our daughter once she came along! My daughter's book collection began before she was born as I collected kids books from the travelling book salesman who used to come into my work.

We started reading to our daughter very early and cloth/board books were always brought out at tummy time. Also during this time she saw us reading, she heard us reading and there was always a bunch of books available to her. My husband also read his books aloud to her when he was reading in the evenings. He likes Tom Clancy so it was a lot of Russian Spy type stuff but she just loved hearing her daddy read, it didn't matter what he was reading.

Pre-school Years

Our main goal during those toddler/preschool ages was to foster a love a reading. Visits to the library, stories, pop up books, books with funny pictures we used everything we had to give our daughter the opportunity to see, hear, look and touch books. We never pushed her to start reading during these times that love of books and reading was always far more important than her being a fluent reader at 3.4.5 or even 6 years old. We knew that if our daughter loved books she would love learning to read them for herself eventually.

Early School Days

When Abby turned 5 I was determined to teach her how to read. I spent hours researching curriculum, brought workbooks and generally stressed out about it to be honest with you. For some reason my philosophy from her early years had been thrown out the window and I was all sit down and do the workbook kind of teacher.
The pressure and judgement of other people on our decision and my ability of homeschooling our daughter really got to me and I was determined and quite frankly terrified that I was going to let my daughter down. Firstly I purchased the Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons I had heard great things from other homeschooling parents so it was the first thing we got. I also purchased the All About Reading Level 1. We didn't really do either of these as they are intended, firstly the 100 easy lessons was quite boring and less than half way through Abby was so over it and it was making reading seem more like a chore that I really had to try and persuade her to do it. BUT the principles of this book are amazing and I really credit it to those first steps of Abby learning to read. I don't regret purchasing it definitely served it's purpose even though we didn't do the full 100 lessons. I really loved the look of the All About Reading curriculum. I watched reviews, read blog posts and I really thought that we would love it. However, the time it took to set up, the flash cards, the tiles, the workbooks, the readers it was just all too much! As any 5 year old Abby really struggled with the time it took to complete a lesson and there were just too many bits! The the thing we did and still do use from this series is the readers. A collection of short stories in hard backed books in three different levels with black and white illustrations. Abby loved them, right now we are onto the last book in level one and I will be purchasing level 2 for her soon. These books really helped build on Abby's reading confidence.

It Clicked

I believe it was a mixture of all of these things that made it click for her, she's still 6 and still learning but the reading thing reading clicked for her and I credit that first of all to her love of books. I stepped back, I trusted her ability to learn and trusted my ability to be able to facilitate what she needed to get there.

How I Support My Daughter's Learning. 

Now that she has the basics I see it as my job to support her learning, firstly I never say no to a book at the library. It might be too hard for her, it might be too easy, it might be too long or it might just be a story I don't personally like but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if we get it home and it doesn't get read. What matters is she is making decisions for herself, finding her interests and exploring. The other thing I do to support her reading is I just read to her, for fun, at bedtimes, when she's playing Lego, on holidays etc. If she asks me to read I will read (maybe not at that second but I will make her a promise to read it to her when I can before bed etc.) Abby also has her own CD player and a collection of audio books which she can put on herself when she chooses. Along with going to the library and borrowing books and audio books we also take part in the reading programs and events that our library hosts, there have been puppet shows, reading rewards, performances, story times etc. Along with Abby getting to choose what she reads I always make sure she is surrounded by really good stories, funny stories, silly stories, stories that rhyme and great authors are so important. If you are interested in hearing some recommendations on cool books to get kids giggling and loving books leave a comment or send me a message and I will make sure I make it happen. Above all I quietly encourage her and give her space and time when it comes to her reading aloud to me, building reading confidence and giving her time to work it out is far more important than finishing the book quickly.

What We Used 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Because Of You: A Letter to my Midwife

The other day was Midwife Day and I know I'm late with this post but I felt like I wanted to write it anyway!

To My Midwife.

You were the first person to hug me after my miscarriage, you just held me like a mum would and I can't tell you what that meant to me. You told me that it wasn't my fault and there is nothing I could have done. You sent me flowers and called to check on me, I felt the genuine care that you felt for me and for that I will be eternally thankful.

Over a year later when I was pregnant again you once again treated me with care and respect. You told me to relax and let things play out. You set up ultrasounds to reassure me that things were as they should be. When I was 41 weeks pregnant you scheduled my induction, when my labor was getting tough to handle to told me that this was something I could do, that I was already doing it. You convinced me that I was already doing something I thought I was not capable of. When Abby was born you were so fast to push that red button and get those doctors and nurses in there. You took my baby and with the rest of those amazing people you put air into my babies lungs and saved her life. You took her down to NICU and the amazing student midwife that you were mentoring showered me, dressed me and wheel chaired me down to see my baby.

Because of you, my daughter is alive.

There is so much more to this story but to be honest there is a lot that I can't/don't want to remember. Reliving my pregnancy and birth of my daughter is something I find incredibly difficult even 6 years later. There is one thing I am certain of and that is without you as my midwife I really don't want to know how things could have been. You were there, you were on your game and ready for any situation.

Thank you.
Robin xx

Thursday, 4 May 2017

40 Star Wars Books For Boys And Girls!

May the 4th Be With You!

I have collected together a huge list of Star Wars books for this very occasion! All links are for the website Book Depository because that's where I buy most of my books! There is free shipping and I have had many good experiences ordering from there.

Early Readers

Level 1

Level 2
Level 3
Level 4

Activity and Craft Books

Early Chapter Books
Do you like these kinds of lists? Do your kids like Star Wars? I have always thought that if a child finds something they like reading they will fall in love with books and develop a lifelong love of reading.

Robin xx

Sunday, 30 April 2017

A HUGE Change In Our Homeschool

We have just completed our very first term as Official Homeschoolers! I have learnt a lot this term and even though we have been homeschooling 'officially' since Abby was 5 this year with the our Exemption approved it felt more real and more serious!

One of the things I learnt this term was about the importance of planning. Last year we were very casual and took each day as it came. Finding learning experiences in daily life and doing book work when Abby asked for it (which was pretty much every day). This year I am finding that Abby wants more structure and she wants me to tell her what the plans are for the day/week. I was really open to the Unschooling philosophy but I just don't think that is going to work for our daughter. Instead we are opting more for a Child Led Learning approach were we use Abby's interests to lead her study and how that learning happens.

The other thing I learnt this term is that 10 weeks is a really long time!! We found the last 2-3 weeks of the term to be really tough, on both of us. Not because we didn't want to do school but because we had just run out of juice! We were both tired, I was running out of ideas and other aspects of our life were getting busy.

So here is the HUGE change!

We are gong to do 5 week terms! A regular school does 10 weeks of school time then 2 weeks of holiday. What we are going to do is 5 weeks of school time and 1 week of holiday! 5 on and 1 off instead of 10 on and 2 off. So we will still be getting in the same amount of school days throughout the year but we will take a shorter break between them.

The idea behind this is we will be able to plan 5 week long unit studies, which will give us enough time to explore a subject but not too much time that we get sick of it. 5 weeks is also enough time for us to get through one of our chapter books that we read together.

The plan is that 5 weeks gives us flexibility in our planning, and a chance to regroup and check our progress more frequently. Planning for 5 weeks is also a lot easier than planning for 10 for me and it's easier to see what we have coming up in the way of activities and trips. Lesson planning and schedules are all new to me, I'm not a teacher. I didn't go to teacher's collage but I'm very lucky to have a Mum who is a teacher and who has worked in ECE (Early Childhood Education) since I was at Playcentre. So I have been able to bounce ideas off her, she was also a great help with my exemption, not so much in writing it but just to give me feedback and someone to tell me I was on the right track.

What do you think about our shorter terms? This is purely a trial for us so we can re-evaluate in the next 5-10 weeks and see how things are going.

Robin xx

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Chocolate Caramel Snack Balls

I have wanted to make some of these snack balls for the longest time. So I did!

print recipe

Chocolate Caramel Snack Balls
Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, 100% Yum!
  • 1C Cashews (unsalted)
  • 1 1/2C Dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
  • 1-2 Tablespoon Cacao Nibs
  • 1/4C Seeds (I used a mixture of sunflower and pumpkin)
  • 1/4C Water
  • 1C Coconut for rolling
In a food processor, pulse the cashews for a few seconds. Add dates, water and vanilla and turn food processor on high until combined. Add cacao nibs, seeds, cinnamon and combine again using the pulse function. Roll into balls, wet your hands first to avoid sticking. Roll into coconut.Leave to set in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week, if they last that long!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20 Balls

This Post was dedicated to Aunty Jan, We love you.

Robin xx

Monday, 24 April 2017

4 New Zealand Books We Love Right Now

In our home we love books! Our whole family loves to read and reading is a huge part of our homeschooling. Fostering a love of reading, storytelling and imagination for our daughter have always been far more important than making sure she could read perfectly by age 5. If a child loves books they will learn to read.

I thought I would share with you some our favourite New Zealand stories and books that we enjoy as a family.

In The Beginning- Peter Gossage  

This is the beginning of the world story according to Maori legend. We have explained before that we are a Secular Homeschooling Family so we do not teach this to our child as fact, nor do we believe it is factual. But the story carries with it vital parts of my family's history and culture. We also believe in respecting the world around us and this book does help to illustrate that. The book goes through all the different Maori 'Gods' and how the Earth as we know it came to be. This will be the start of our Te Reo Maori studies this year. I plan on doing some art projects with this book and use it to help my daughter improve on her Maori vocabulary. I thought where better to start than at the beginning! Peter Gossage was a fantastic author and illustrator I'm sure most Kiwis remember reading his books at school. I could have featured any number of his books in this list but you can check out more of them here Books By Peter Gossage

Elwyn's Dream: Saving the Takahe- Ali Foster and Illustrated by Viv Walker.

This book is brand new to us, our family love native birds so without knowing too much about it I picked it up. This is a true story about how Elwyn Welch used some kiwi ingenuity at his farm to save and successfully bread the Takahe in the 1950's. His farm later became Pukaha Mount Bruce the National Wildlife Center that's not far from our home. I plan on setting up a day trip to Mount Bruce after we have read this book together. This is a very important New Zealand story about our people and our wildlife, it contains so many topics you could pull from to create unit studies, geography, history, science, natural world etc.

The Great White Man-Eating Shark (Early Reader)- Margaret Mahy and Illustrated by Jonathan Allen.

A fantastic twist on a boy who cried wolf tale, I remember reading it at school and found it just as hilarious re-reading it with my daughter 20 years later! I did a full review of this book here. So check that out if you're not familiar with it or need to refresh your memory on how great this story is!
Buy it here on Mighty Ape
Buy it here on Book Depository with Free Shipping

Tangaroa's Gift- Mere Whaanga

I have always loved origin stories and this one is about the Paua, it is the story of how the Paua got it's beautiful shell and why you can only see it's colours on the inside. This one like the first is a Maori legend so it talks about Tangaroa- The spirit or God of the sea. As a family we spend a lot of time at the beach and my daughter is always fascinated by the beautiful Paua shells we find on the beach. You could also create a great art project from this book because it talks a lot about colour. We also really enjoy that the book is in English and Te Reo so we can work on our Te Reo reading skills!
Buy it here from Mighty Ape

So there are 4 New Zealand stories we are loving right now! What are you reading with your kids right now?

See more posts from our book shelf here  or check out some of these other posts about books!

Wolf By Wolf By Ryan Graudin
The Other Side Of The World By Stephanie Bishop
Presence By Amy Cuddy

Friday, 21 April 2017

3 Ways With Bagels

We love bagels at our place! Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch or a lazy dinner we can find a use for bagels! We always make sure we have a pack in the freezer for any occasion! I thought I would share with you a few ways we like to enjoy them!

Cream Cheese, Avocado and Capers! Always toast your bagel, it's just better that way!

Avocado, Tomato and Sriracha. I love hot sauce especially Sriracha! 

Cream Cheese and Blueberry. We went blueberry picking this summer and the blueberries were the sweetest I've ever had! You could also use strawberries or any other berries you have at home. In the winter use warmed frozen berries! 

Check out some of these other quick easy recipes too! 

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