Riding a bike. It's often seen as an essential skill for an Australian child. Learning to ride is a traditional rite of passage that can involve lots of nervousness, falls, tears and scraped knees.
Today our 4 year old son taught himself to ride a bike. He is zooming around outside while I type this! No tears or angst at all. For him it has been a tremendously fun day and he is super proud of himself for it. And really, isn't that how learning should be?
In our family, our view is that we have "started" preschool at home this year. Although you could argue that we have been home educating since birth! We are using a small amount of formal curriculum this year so in that sense we have started formal homeschooling, although the majority of our day is still very much unstructured.
While the rest of our lives are much the same as last year, I am a lot more intentional about education this year - I think about it a lot, research, plan and choose new books, games and toys with the intent that they are for the benefit of our preschooler's education.
All that said, my eldest child is only 4, turning 5, so isn't due to start formal schooling (called kindergarten in NSW) for another year.
So why have I launched into all this now, rather than waiting another year or two?
A very common question amongst new homeschool families is "what curriculum should I use". Once you have decided you want to educate your children at home, it's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to start replicating a school environment. So parents quickly start to stress about what they need to be teaching.
Below is our current "curriculum". I use that term very loosely - 4 and 5 year olds really don't need a formal curriculum! There is vast amounts of research out there showing how young children learn everything they need to know at this age from play. And in our family, play still makes up the large majority of our day.
However, from a mum point of view, it can help to have a bit of guidance in setting a good rhythm for your days. I personally can get a bit overwhelmed with long days of parenting without some kind of plan! If you are like me, read on for ideas.
First post in a while and straight into the big news – we are homeschooling this year! Not officially, as in Australia you generally can’t register to be “official” homeschoolers until your child is 6 years old. But we did make the conscious choice not to enrol Mr 4 in a preschool/kindy program this year, despite pretty much every other family we know doing so.
This was not an easy decision!
In recent months I have started to learn about the history of our school system. And quite frankly, it is scary!
Spotted any important education news in the media recently? No doubt you heard a bunch of stories about NAPLAN earlier in May, but here’s some other stories you may have missed. From fidget spinners to disability funding, forest kindergartens to credit cards in primary schools, continue on for the highlights:
Let me start off with this – there are many reasons why I love Montessori schools! I even wrote a post about all the wonderful benefits (read it here). My children have been involved with Montessori playgroups and preschools since my first-born was 12 months old. I think that Montessori schools are a fabulous option that many parents in Australia aren’t aware of.
I have seen this question asked in multiple parenting groups recently. All a variation around this question:
“My 5 year old seems to be really struggling lately. She is having massive meltdowns and tantrums every day after kindy and is so exhausted that we are unable to do anything fun on weekends!
Her teacher reports that she is doing great at school.
She is keeping up academically, has a great little group of friends and no obvious issues while there. But at home she is a nightmare!
Is this normal?”
Today I was the mum who.... *gasp*… let her son climb up the slide.
Yes, that’s right. I let my three year old son climb up the slide. And what’s worse – this wasn’t the first time. We are serial offenders.
There were witnesses. Other mothers stood there horrified, whispering to each other about this awful behaviour. Looking at my son then pointedly searching around to identify the neglectful mother. Only to discover that I was right there, smiling and not doing anything about it. Oh, the horror!
The judgement from other mums shocked me. Has everyone forgotten what playgrounds are for? Playgrounds are meant to be a place for children to play. To explore. To have fun. They are not meant to be a production line obstacle course where everything is used in only one way.
Going down the slide is boring for my 3 year old. He knows how to use it “properly” – he has been climbing the ladder and sliding down again since he was 9 months old. He sees no point in doing that anymore. To him, climbing the slide is much more challenging. It strengthens his muscles, develops his coordination, allows him to practise risk-taking and enhances his imagination (today he was pretending to climb into a pirate ship). But most importantly, he is having fun doing it.
He knows to be courteous. He knows how to take turns. If there are other children wanting to slide down, he will happily move away and allow them to do it. But if the slide is free, it’s an open invitation to climb!
So yes, I will continue to be that mum. I will allow my child to move outside the box, even if you worry that it will inspire your child to do the same. Because the world needs more kids who are free to play.
I discovered the Montessori method when my first-born was just a baby. So far we have experienced two different 0-3yr old playgroups, and two different 3-6yr old preschools (often known in Australia as Children’s House). Plus we have toured multiple other Montessori schools! So while I am not a trained Montessori teacher, I feel I know a fair bit about the Montessori method and the benefits of this type of education.
My favourite aspects so far:
A mum of two trying to find her way through the Australian school system.