Curricula for 2015

With 2014 being an “Afrikaans” language only, then “no, you have to bring in English”, for a couple of weeks, back to “Afrikaans only”, with regards to formal language learning, I was really not sure how to tackle languages in 2015! By end of 2014, we saw that Afrikaans was pretty well laid, with Mr.A being able to read short words and sentences, and understood what he read. He said again that he is eager to learn to read English, because it would make some of his games, especially Minecraft, a lot easier. They are learning simultaneously, so both languages are about comparably strong when it comes to talking, but Mr.A seems to think in English, while Mr.R thinks in Afrikaans, if you take their grammar, especially sentence structure, into consideration. So after a lot of discussion between Daddy B, me (and my trusty HS-support group), and the boys, we decided on the following for this year:

Afrikaans Language

We’ll continue with Omvattend Afrikaans Gr.1 book until complete. I found that this Gr.1 book is of a very high standard, and contains a lot of Gr.2 work, as I know it from other, older curricula, so I am not too phased that Mr.A hasn’t completed it yet. We took some time beginning of last year, sorting out his language learning style, and then took more time working out a way that suited him best – having to cover letters, words, sentences, with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning styles.  He is getting there, which is most important. Slow and steady wins the race! When we finish the first book, and there are only maybe a month or two of the year left, we’ll rather continue with short little booklets I have, like Smile Phonetics, language arts booklet I was gifted, etc. and start Omvattend Afrikaans Gr.2 next year.

Omvattend Afrikaans Gr.2

Mr.R is, of course, learning alongside Mr.A. I’m still a bit unsure about this 5yr old (almost 6yr) wanting to learn, but I won’t ever stop, neither force him, if that is what he wants to do. I definitely believe “Better late, than early“, but no harm in him setting the pace.

English Language

For English we are going to continue with Easy Peasy Getting Ready 1 (E.P.). As we are South African, and here we learn British English, I make use of Starfall UK links, and try to say the letters out loud for them to get the right pronunciation. We make use of E.P. links, but most of them are from Starfall.com. We read the paragraph/story about the animal, and either of the two boys colour in the picture of the animal. Then I chose one or two video links with regards to pronunciation, and one craft for the letter, that goes up on our wall. This I did ahead of time, pulled up a spreadsheet with the relevant information, and made links by lesson, in Mozilla Firefox.

Easy Peasy Getting Ready 1

For copy work/writing, we are using the South African Basic Education Caps books for Gr.1, which I was given. I’m not fond of them, as I was told by English home language parents that they contain errors (and I found the same in the Afrikaans and math books), but I can skip or correct as I go. We use it mainly for their colourful pages, review of letters, and as I said some writing, review of colours, shapes, etc. that are added in these books.

Mathematics

As we had to lay the Afrikaans foundation strong last year, I had to switch to Afrikaans Math workbooks. Luckily I could download a lot of workbook pages, and had a programme to follow for both boys, that were similar, but with Mr.A obviously doing a bit more advanced stuff than Mr.R.

This year however, we are finally starting with Life of Fred!

Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius

Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius

We will fill in (for the visual/kinesthetic side) with Edupeg Gr.2 books, as well as some free math games on Ubuntu and the internet. I continue to use the manipulatives from Box-N-Dice, and where I see that they don’t understand a concept, I will fall back on those DVD lessons. In the end we only bought Level1 DVD, but if it is really necessary, we will consider buying Level2.

I read sample chapters from the first book, Apples, to the boys maybe 2 years ago. They both still remembered the little boy who slept in his sleeping bag under a table, and ran in the snow, looking for apples!

Interest Based Learning

I decided to incorporate Mystery of History this year. The boys had asked SO MANY QUESTIONS last year about different topics, which would have been covered by MOH Vol.1. We will do this as an interest topic, thus we are NOT going to learn dates, we are NOT concentrating on remembering names, places, etc. It is purely for enjoyment!

MOHVol1-2ndEdCoverI am again using books we have on all kinds of topics to enhance the experience, by including science experiments, nature science, geography, human science, etc. So for instance when we learn about Sampson from the Bible, we will read up on human hair and muscles. In Ice Age we will do ice experiments, look at YouTube videos where applicable, etc.

It took me about three weeks’ evenings in December to work out a programme with all the added extras, but this time round, I cut it down to the bare necessities. So just a little bit extra, to bring in hands-on (although MOH has its own age-appropriate activities), and variation. It shouldn’t overwhelm us like Expedition Earth’s work (which was also an interest subject) did.

As you can see on the plan underneath, we will not be doing all subjects on all days. The main subjects are Afrikaans and Math (each having 3 “days”). Then English and Mystery of History share two days. It took a bit of juggling to fit in around their sport and me having to go to town on a specific day and time! So for most of the time we work for 2hrs a morning, but some days, some of the MOH activities (like baking a cake, etc.) will take longer.

Bi-weekly schedule 2015

Bi-weekly schedule 2015

Those of you who followed last year’s work, will see that we are either using books we have, or planned to use since a while back, or we are just continuing with a higher level book. No major changes except in what the boys can manage, and how they have developed and matured.

 That’s it folks! Please share your own choices or experience as we all learn from each other.

Blessings

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Long Awaited Aquarium Visit

The boys have been asking for a long, long time to go to the aquarium  again. With Ushaka Marine World being in Durban (an hour’s drive away), and VERY expensive, AND hubby and I wanting to do it as a family thing, it took us a while to get to the point where we could go.

Early December 2014 we got that chance though. Daddy B was “off” (working from home while his clients’ offices were officially closed for the holiday season), the boys and I have finished our school work for the year, and we had the day to ourselves. Add to this the fact that it was the start of school holiday season (meaning lots, and lots of visitors and holiday makers), so it was either go and get trampled by fewer people, or wait and get trampled by more people. I have never seen this place quiet! But a visit is worth it! It really is.

Ushaka is a HUGE place. It consists of a shopping centre, Dangerous Creatures (reptiles) house, the Marine World (aquarium), Water World, Kids’ Corner, as well as various restaurants, a beach/swim area, and just so much to do and see that you actually need a whole week  to get through the whole place.

The boys were bowled over by the jaws of the Megalodon at the entrance, and just couldn’t imagine how big it must have been in real life. Not even when standing inside the jaws. Nowadays, the Great White shark is respected for its size and ferocity, but according to the comparison on the sign, it is puny compared to the Megalodon!

02-Entrance-Megalodon

Megalodon jaws

We walked along the shopping area and spied a couple of shops where we knew we would have to stop on our way home: various places for lunch (something to suit anyone) and then of course the fudge shop (where I indulged a bit). What we kept a secret to the boys was that, since our last visit to Ushaka a couple of years ago, they had created a reptile house called “Dangerous Creatures”. Mr.A our “Reptile Guy” was in 7th heaven when he spied the entrance:

Reptile house anyone?

Reptile house anyone?

Caught by the huge snake

Caught by the huge snake

Dangerous Creatures!

Lizards, spiders, snakes, crocs... reptiles of all shapes and colours, and some spiders and amphibeans too

Girdled Lizards. Iguana. Tarantula web and spider. Caledonian Giant Gecko… reptiles of all shapes and colours, and some spiders and amphibians too

Plumbed Basilisk. Chameleon. Gaboon Adder. White's frog

Plumebed Basilisk. Chameleon. Gaboon Adder. White’s frog

Unfortunately due to us first going through Dangerous Creatures, we missed most of the  shows at the aquarium. We were however in time to see one tank being fed.

Ushaka Marine World

Fascinated! Feeding time. No Ninja Turtle in here!

Both boys fascinated! No Ninja Turtle in here. Feeding Time!

Knysna sea horses. Stone fish. Raggy - Ragged Tooth shark. Jelly fish.

Knysna sea horses. Stone fish. Raggy – Ragged tooth shark. Jelly fish.

We didn’t get half-way through the aquarium – but almost an hour later – hunger pangs distracted the boys and we left to hunt down one of those eateries we saw on the way in. Alas the boys were exhausted, so we decided to leave the rest of the aquarium for another time.

Testing Raggy jaws.

Testing Raggy jaws.

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Bilingualism – the “home language” issue – Part 2

Following on from Bilingualism – Part 1

“…we decided to teach Mr.A to read in English while continuing with his Afrikaans reading lessons. We also decided to both continue to speak Afrikaans (except in English “class”), as the contact to Afrikaans in the community was too small. I started Easy Peasy’s Getting Ready 1 lessons. But I soon ran into a snag…”

Our parental instincts were telling us to continue with Afrikaans as it is the minority language, while only correcting English when spoken. They have been learning English in an informal or unschooling way, and why should we interfere, or at the least do it differently now? Mr.A were becoming very confused. We had the languages on separate days, and we continued discussion of all topics or stories in Afrikaans, as that comes naturally to the boys and I. Where Mr.A had been implementing what I am teaching him in Afrikaans on the English to read something (and that works often), he now wanted to do the opposite: implement English on Afrikaans. It wasn’t working… his Afrikaans started slipping immediately. We realised the difference within a month!

25 Ons Eie Voetspore

But why all the whoop about a second language?

Firstly, if you as parent can’t communicate comfortably, in a relaxed fashion with your children, in a language which you can express yourself, you are sure to lose that child. Communication is most important. I can’t talk to my children in English. I can’t discuss, dissect topics, infuse them with as much enthusiasm for learning, in a language that isn’t my own. I have no problem talking or writing to others in English, but within our household… I fall back to Afrikaans. Daddy B is the same.

Benefits of Bilingualism

  • Enhances problem-solving ability and creative skills;
  • Enhances awareness of how languages operate and the development of literacy skills;
  • Increases understanding of underlying meaning and critical thinking;
  • Increases linguistic creativity, expression and thinking;
  • Often able to outperform other children cognitively and academically;
  • Strengthens academics and extends career and college choices;
  • Expands worldview and perception;
  • Increases sense of individual, family, and cultural identity;
  • If knowing one language is compared to seeing in red, and knowing a second language is compared to seeing in yellow, then the bilingual not only sees in red and yellow but also sees in orange.

[quoted from The Education Cafe] So I stopped their “formal” English learning, and suddenly the boys stressed less, started speaking Afrikaans again to express themselves to me and daddy, and Mr.A’s Afrikaans reading started improving again. I again want to stress that they didn’t stop learning English – we just stopped taking it out of their control – the way they were learning it. This all took place within 3 months. Knowing your children well (as many homeschool parents do), you will immediately start seeing effects on them. That is the one thing where homeschoolers have an advantage – you teach things, or let the children teach themselves, as in this case – to suit their way of learning. Other educational institutions, and some experts do not see that as learning, but of course it is!

You can lead the horse to water, you can’t make him drink You can teach your child all you want, you can’t necessarily make him learn Stop interfering when they are learning!

What the Experts Say

You are welcome to read the formal information pages, as well as experience from other bilingual, and multi-lingual families. Here are some links to speed you on your way:

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Bilingualism – the “home language” issue – Part 1

The Background

Most people in South Africa speak at least two languages. Our family speak Afrikaans (our home language) and English. Both boys speak English, not because we taught them two languages (we didn’t – at first), but because we live in “The Last British Outpost” (as it is jokingly referred to) a.k.a Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

The boys got English into their blood naturally, like mother’s milk. They listened, they tried, they were corrected by friends, until we realised with a start one-day that they were bilingual, as they were having conversations with friends in English! Since then we would correct them as best we could, when they conversed in English, and of course we do the same for Afrikaans.

Thus rule no.1 came to pass:
in our house – with each other – we speak Afrikaans
and we don’t mix languages.

The Dilemma

We were first told by a child psychologist at the beginning of the year, to concentrate on Afrikaans, and cut out English story books, programmes, games, curricula, etc. as much as possible. There was however no way we would, or could, cut out their friends, or the community at large.

At the same time I changed the Afrikaans programme to suit their learning styles better (mostly for Mr.A) and yes, within a short space of time he started making sense of words, and *gasp* started reading! BUT was it the fact that there were a little less English around him, was it the use of the correct learning styles, or was he just developmentally ready?

Eager participation

Eager participation: visual, kinesthetic, auditory learning

At a family get-together in July I was urged by teacher-family to please start the boys reading and writing in English as their English was obviously stronger than their Afrikaans, and was fast becoming their “home language” of choice. We were also advised that I should mainly speak to them in English, as they have the most contact time with me, and daddy B must continue to speak in Afrikaans. This family member specialised in Early Childhood Development.

So although Mr.A’s (in particular) Afrikaans has improved dramatically since starting to read, his English was growing in leaps and bounds – and we weren’t teaching him, just correcting.

What to do? What to do?

After reading on the topic, and discussing it with daddy B, we decided to teach Mr.A to read in English while continuing with his Afrikaans reading lessons. We also decided to both continue to speak Afrikaans (except in English “class”), as the contact to Afrikaans in the community was too small. I started Easy Peasy’s Getting Ready 1 lessons. But I soon ran into a snag…

Mr.A the Dragon

Mr.A the Dragon

Part 2 to follow

Blessings,

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Meeting with Education Department – Oct.2014

At the beginning of October a group of home schooling representatives in South Africa attended a meeting organised by the Basic Department of Education in South Africa. The main aim was to review and discuss policies and regulations with regards to homeschooling in South Africa.

As I am the liaison for the KwaZulu-Natal Homeschool Association with the Education Department, I opted to attend, and in the preparation for the meeting, learned so much about politics, laws, policies, our rights (or parental obligations towards children), our children’s rights (yes, they have rights, not obligations ;) ), and just what a privilege it truly is to be able to homeschool our children.

I would in short, just like to thank all my friends (home educators and public school) for their support during this (for me) very stressful, although enriching and learning, time, as well as the other representatives, many with whom I have had contact with on other issues, and were now privileged to meet in person.

KZN Homeschool Association Summary of Meeting

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Laws, Policies, Regulations, W.r.t. Home Education In South Africa

  • Keep it simple, lawful, and unambiguous.
  • Do not over regulate or try to micro-manage.

The best interests of the child are thoroughly protected in our Children’s Act, as well as UNCRC and ACRWC – extra provision do not have to be made in that regard. The focus should be on the positive side of Home Education, and excessive regulations are therefore unnecessary.

This way parents and the Education Department can fulfil their respective responsibilities without fear of prosecution due to the quality and extensive laws in the Children’s Act, (and other South African laws pertaining to children and education), as well as international policies and charters, such as UNCRC and the ACRWC.

Education systems are currently changing very fast world-wide, and provision must be made for education in the future, which will in all probability be very different to the current school system model. Finland’s public school system ranks no.1 in the world, and they are contemplating changing their system, due to the world-wide changes in technology, perspective on education, and the need for a differently educated person. Their home education sector are also growing very fast.

Home education has basically stayed the same throughout the ages as it has always been child-centred, and thus differs from child-to-child, even within the same household. It was, still is, and will most probably be the educational method of choice for children with regards to what is in their best interests.

KZNHSA Suggestion:

We recommend the following amendments:

  • …superannuated, unconstitutional, and unenforceable regulations and policies with regards to the care of the child by parents, must be removed from SASA and other educational documents.
  • The parent(s) shall ensure that every child that they are responsible for, shall receive an education aimed towards the full development of the child’s potential – personality, talents, mental and physical abilities – either through home education, regular attendance at an educational institution or otherwise.

This accommodates the widest variety of children, circumstances, needs, and possibilities. It also brings education in line with the same way other children’s rights are regulated.” [Mrs. J. Leavesley]

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Summaries by other Representatives

For summaries (feedback) from some of the other representatives, as well as a broader perspective, please see the following sites on this issue as well:

The Future

The next meeting is scheduled for 28, 29, 30 January 2015. All home educators in South Africa are urged to join their province’s home school association, or the Association for Homeschooling, which is nationally. Please join, discuss, support. We need to stand together on this issue.

Blessings,

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