Sooty and Fluffy

We have only had our Bunnies for around a month now, but it is incredible to see how big they have grown. Also along with their growth, has come the development of their own very different and distinctive personalities.

Sooty is more curious than Fluffy, she is the first one up to the door, when you go to play with them or feed them. She is more jumpy and full of life. Where as Fluffy is more cuddly and happier to be held. She always tries to nibble the children’s shoes and loves to follow them around.

Fluffy is obviously ‘fluffier‘ than Sooty and also bigger in size, but still they are both small bunnies and a pleasure to have as members of our family.

Keeping on target through Family Meetings

Life being life, I often find that things get in the way of ‘life’. This being said, our family have recently rekindled a tradition that we have used in the past to our great satisfaction. We have done this in the hope that through doing it, we will bring back accountability and keep on target with not only our goals for the children’s learning, but for life itself.

So with this in mind, last week we had our first Family Meeting for 2012. It involved all of us sitting around the dinning table, a notebook, pen and note taker (this just happened to be me- mama). We always make the Family Meetings official with minutes being documented. This then helps us work toward resolving any problem areas brought forward during the meeting, ensure we fulfill any needed tasks and base future decisions on the agreed goals we have as a family.

Our Family meetings also give each of us an opportunity to talk without being interrupted and teaches the children how to put their point of view forward and also to listen and respect others. It is a time for us to discuss our achievements, hopes, dreams, fears and concerns. It is also a time for the children to showcase their learning for Tata as he is not always able to see what they have been up to on a daily basis.

Our Family meetings provide us with a time to communicate with each other, value everyone’s input and also reflect on the journey we have all travelled together and on our own.

The children enjoy our family meetings as much as we do and are great at remembering what was discussed at the last meeting and what needs to be done. Each meeting helps us keep on target with what we wish to achieve and in what time frame.

Our family meetings are held fortnightly, they involve food, fun and a supportive atmosphere. At each meeting once we reflect on the last meeting, discuss issues arising, put forward ideas etc for achieving by the next meeting, the children then show case their learning for us all. They bring out any work they wish to share with us and talk about what they have done over the last fortnight in the learning journey. For me I have a fortnightly report written for each child. This is read and tabled for everyone to enjoy. It details the children’s learning journey from my perspective – giving attention to their achievements, struggles and overall performance and any memorable moments. The reports are typed up and include photographs. Once this has been read, the report is then filed into their own personal folders. I have one for each child and keep certificates, photos reports, etc in them.

These reports are a great way to ensure that Tata is completely involved and up to date with the children’s learning, strengths and weaknesses. They also serve as a wonderful tool to reflect back on as years go by.

Most of all, our family meetings bring us together as a family. Plus as the children grow, we hope that they will serve us as a great place for the children to bring to our attention their growing needs, concerns and achievements. Providing them with an already established way to communicate with us, any hard to talk about concerns, issues or worries they may have. Knowing that we will listen, work towards a resolution and support them through what ever it may be….

The Cost to Home Educate our Children

So, I have been thinking over the last few days about Homeschooling and how we do it. A friend of mine asked me about how much it costs us, how we do it and what resources we use. She was making an inquiry for herself, for at least one of her children. Whether or not she will actually act upon her curiosity and try homeschooling remains to be seen, but the questions did get me thinking….

I mean homeschooling is a lifestyle for us. It creeps into every part of our lives and days. It is not something that we segregate from our everyday living. Okay, I mean we do sometimes sit down and do formal bookwork but we never stop learning and everything we do, we learn from.

So just how much do we spend on homeschooling? well that’s a really hard question. Even when the older two children went to public school many moons ago, we still purchased loads of encyclopedias and books for them to read. So I do not consider the reading books that we have stashed away on bookshelves everywhere and being read on a constant basis as homeschooling supplies.

Likewise the many different magazine subscriptions we get, I do not consider them to be part of our homeschooling expenses, as we would be getting and enjoying them along the way regardless also. We do use the internet quite a lot and also print large amounts of things that interest us, however again this is something we used to do even when the children where in the mainstream schooling system.

When our oldest two children did go to mainstream school, we found that they were not challenged enough and craved things like puzzles, boardgames, extra ‘work’ books, so again we do not consider many of the text or work books we purchase to be homeschool supplies. Simply for the fact we used to buy these things anyway, well before they were used for home learning. For us this shows that we would probably still be buying them now even if they ever returned to the mainstream school system.

Again art is something we have always encouraged, so art supplies, pencils, paints, craft etc are also something we would have spent money on regardless of where their education took place. Documentaries, museums, visiting places of historical significance etc too are something we enjoyed as a family well before the children started homeschooling, so the fact we pay to do some of these things now is not something we associate with purely being a homeschooling cost.

So what do we purchase that we feel is solely done for the sake of home education? This is a question I so so struggle with. So many things we use during the course of educating our children, so many things we buy and use when the children are learning, but none of them do we purchase purely for the reason of using it to learn through. No book is purchased purely so that the children learn from it. In fact all books are bought due to the children’s interests and reading enjoyment. No text book is purchased solely to educate our children. All mind bending books, puzzles, boardgames, textbooks are purchased due to the children’s request, interest or fascination.

So how much does it truly cost us to home educate our children? I honestly have to say very little – We definitely spend less than $100 per child per year on things we would not normally have purchased. We spend basically nothing now that we probably wouldn’t have spent before when the children where in mainstream schooling. Yes we spend money on books, supplies, games etc, but life before home education shows us that these expenses would have been made regardless (and have been made in the past).

But how much do we save through home education? well that is another question – with a very different answer! We save a lot of money. Some of the ways in which we achieve this is through not having to drive the children to and from school every day. We save money on not having to pay for school uniforms, we save money on not buying food specifically bought for school lunch consumption. We save money on school fees, book lists and things like maintenance and Library levies…. plus I am sure there are other ways  we save money that I have not thought of!