Home Ed 2014: what we’ll be using

Homeschool geek out time!  Those of you who have asked what ‘stuff’ we use in our homeschooling, this post’s for you!  For my readers who come here for food posts, I’ll have one soon 🙂

First off, we utilise learning opportunities and ‘teachable moments’ at all times.  That doesn’t mean turning everything in to some kind of lecture or lesson though every time Arthur or DeeW make a comment on something 🙂  Sometimes a comment on the rain is just a comment on the rain and doesn’t require a lecture on the water cycle!  But I can’t stress enough how much our children learn, at all times, from so many different sources.  The one thing Arthur remembers word for word from our visit to Sydney was a conversation he had with a naval officer, who was in his 70s, talking about when he joined the navy as a young man. Real life conversations, real life connections– that’s learning right there.

The area we place the most importance on, for our two children, is mental health.  Both children experience anxiety in various situations so we help them by providing them with the tools they need to be confident and learn skills such as recognising what they’re feeling and how they can calm themselves down, coping strategies for stressful situations and so on. All this in supportive environments.  We make sure there’s a lot of FUN!  It makes them laugh and when they laugh, they’re happy.  When they’re happy, they are more confident.  When they’re happy and confident, they are able to learn from and retain lessons, whether it be academic or real life stuff. We help them learn these life lessons in their own time, rather than throwing them in the deep end and expecting them to swim according to an adult’s schedule and expectations.

Now on to other study areas!

Life Skills

Well, that’s what I call it!  This involves looking after oneself, the immediate environment (such as the home), community and the earth.  Contributing to family life; looking after our home and an awareness of your role in it (that includes folding your washing and putting it away properly!); home economics; social skills; cookery; personal care.  Also things that involve being mindful, thoughtful and considerate of others and the earth– sustainability; gardening; volunteering; how to work cooperatively and fairly.  All those things that, we hope, will form a solid foundation from now that can be built upon so that when they fly the coop, Arthur and DeeW will be confident and ready to meet any challenge. And know how to cook for those times I visit.

Another tool we’ll be using is The Family Virtues Guide.  Every week there’s a virtue to discuss such as Assertiveness, Courtesy, Patience.  I really like this book and it has good lessons for parents too.  We use real life, being out and about to ‘practise’ the lessons. As children get older, I feel these lessons have to be re-taught, as their ability to understand the bigger picture grows all the time.

For everything listed below, we also have a bunch of games, books and puzzles.  We also have a lot of documentaries and educational programs available, as well as teacher/student websites (Khan Academy is fantastic and we’ll be looking in to purchasing sale items from The Great Courses) where the children log in and Do Stuff.  On top of that we have the option of attending classes and activities when they pop up.

Social Justice

This is a really big one for us. We have a lot of books (picture books and chapter/young adult books) which lead to great discussions, as well as talking about current affairs or an item in the newspaper.


This is a mish mash of stuff:

– Math U See

– Singapore Maths (Arthur)

– Targetting Maths workbooks (Arthur)

– Life of Fred (Arthur)

– real life where maths is applied to everything 🙂


– All About Reading (DeeW)

– All About Spelling (Arthur)

– Targetting English Grammar (Arthur)

– assorted activities and worksheets covering listening, comprehension and speaking/communication activities


– Australian Book Traveller by Downunder Literature

– misc geography workbooks I bought from homeschool second hand sales, to be used when we learn about certain regions

– family holidays and geocaching

– Montessori puzzle maps and associated activities

– Google Maps and atlas work

– learning about a country on certain days, e.g. France on Bastille Day.  Which will certainly involve celebratory food!


– History Odyssey: Ancients then moving to Middle Ages

– Indigenous Studies as part of Australian Studies

– texts we use will include the Usborne history titles

– genealogy studies

– archaeology (hopefully visiting dig sites)


– REAL Science: Life Science, Plants, Animals, Weather, Space, Geology (this will be used as a guide but we will extend heavily in the areas covered)

– REAL Science 4 Kids: Chemistry

– assorted workbooks, experiments and activities for physics, environmental science, biology

– robotics using some textbooks we have

– Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop: The Elements; Carbon Chemistry; The Brain (Arthur)

– tonnes of experiments and science classes like the CSIRO holiday club classes

– Elenco Snap Circuits (this is Arthur’s Christmas present, ssshhh)

– What If xkcd site

– nature studies and nature journaling

The Arts

Artistic Pursuits

– music instruments at home (violin, keyboard) and lessons

– getting art lessons from my artist brother in law 🙂

– ballet and Greek dancing

– drama class/circus school

– philosophy, using “Little Big Minds” by Marietta McCarty as a guide

Health and Physical Education

A lot of this is also covered in the Life Skills areas.

– sports classes (martial arts, archery, fencing, gymnastics, acrobatics,circus school)

– family fitness (where Mum is the trainer!)

– ABC Schools TV programmes and worksheets

Languages Other Than English (LOTE)

– Greek using introductory texts and speaking with grandparents

– Auslan


– computer programming using programs for Linux systems

c-jump Computer Programming Board Game

– Info tech in general (Husband and I have IT backgrounds)

– industrial design, with making a finished product wherever possible.  Arthur wants to make a burglar alarm for his bedroom that zaps little sisters and parents… We also have books about building bridges, stomp rockets and other groovy stuff

– designing and building structures and shelters that tie in with studies of physics and cultural studies.  Making a mess of the back yard.  And front yard.

For civics and citizenship, again we cover this a lot by getting out there in the community and having Arthur and DeeW accompany us when we need to do things like pay bills or vote. Running errands are often great springboards for learning.

We will also be using a Sonlight program I purchased a couple of years ago called Introduction to World History.  There’s a fair bit of focus on American history and geography.  Being secular homeschoolers,there’s a large chunk of content we omit but it still works well as a base.

Of course, we will also have a lot of interest led topics based on what Arthur and DeeW want to learn. UNICORNS!!!!

I think that covers a fair bit!  I’ve probably left stuff out but it’s late here.  I’m looking forward to planning next year’s short family holidays to tie in with what we’ve been learning.

7 thoughts on “Home Ed 2014: what we’ll be using

  1. Wow that sounds like a lot of work but also lots of fun. Arthur’s project of doing a burglar alarm reminds me of one of the nerdy guys (and I say that in a nice way) at college who made a light switch that was touch sensitive – I remember him throwing things like a ball of socks at the lightswitch to turn it off from his bed – seemed quite cool at the time probably not so odd now that we have all our alarms and touch sensitive electronics

    • Buying curriculum packages can be really helpful because there are lesson outlines, or you can pick and choose. Some people prefer packages like this, others prefer not to use them. I’m a combination 😛 That’s a funny story about the light switch, when my sister was in primary school they had to write a report on something they wanted to invest. She said a pocket sized tv and the kids were all “pffft YEAH RIGHT as if that will ever happen!”

      • yes I remember everyone had tvs on wristwatches in futuristic shows when I was little – why don’t smart phones come on the wrist so we don’t lose it (though I am sure someone is working on it)

  2. That sounds like fun! I definitely believe in the value of real life learning. That’s why I don’t sweat it if my kids miss school to visit with grandparents or take a little trip. I have thought about homeschooling my eldest but I’m not sure it would work for us, because I have my freelance writing to do.

    • When my eldest was two I was working from home but had to give it up when he turned three and was more high maintenance. Here we’re entitled to partial enrolment at a school though it all depends on what the school in question decides. Working from home with children is a bit of a balancing act, my husband works from home mostly and is often interrupted!

  3. It’s amazing how much learning occurs while we are living life! And you’re right – mental health needs to come first, otherwise, what’s the point of it all (we learned that the hard way!). Great list of resources – I’ll be checking a few of those out too!

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