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If our children are obliged to learn what's in the school syllabus in order to have their homeschool registration applications approved, surely they can't unschool? How can they follow their interests and still fulfil the registration requirements?

My children are registered homeschoolers. They are also unschoolers. I manage to keep the education authorities happy (in a state where the regulations are rather strict) without compromising my unschoolers' way of life. How do I do it? I chat about this topic and share some ideas in this week's podcast.

 I also...
  • describe a method for recording unschooling in an impressive way
  • share how I translate natural learning into the necessary educational language for registration purposes
  • tell how I work out what the official documents such as the school syllabus actually mean
  • discuss what we can do if a child refuses to learn something that's required by the educational authorities
  • offer a few positives (!) of homeschool registration
  • as well as some examples of how I record unschool learning experiences
A few apologies:

I use the words 'syllabus' and 'curriculum' interchangeably and wrongly, I'm sure! (I think you'll still get the idea.)

I also made a mistake about the required hours of schooling. My number was too low.


Blog posts about homeschool registration and record keeping

More posts can be found on my Registration and Records pages

Podcast about homeschool registration and record keeping

Changing People's Minds about Unschooling or The Tricky Business of Registering an Unschooler as a Homeschooler

Videos about homeschool registration and record keeping

I'm still trying to blog and podcast without a computer of my own. I'm sorry about my podcast mistakes. I had to work in a hurry using a borrowed computer. (Thank you, Sophie for lending me yours!)

Thank you for listening!

This morning Nora didn't want to come for a run with me. She dug her heels in and refused to move. I pulled on her leash without success. Then I walked around her and pushed her from behind. I cried, "Come on Nora! You'll enjoy a run through the bush. It's a beautiful morning."

To my relief, our dog suddenly gave in. She followed me through the garden gate. Moments later, we were running down the road to the bush tracks.

I can understand Nora's reluctance to run. She probably had other ideas about how she wanted to spend her time. I suppose, after filling her tummy with breakfast, she planned to snooze in the early morning sun. I'm often reluctant to exercise too. I have to force myself to change into my shorts and lace up my running shoes. Some days I can think of a hundred other things I'd rather be doing. But usually I head out the door despite not wanting to.

I tell myself, "Sue, you only have to run down to the park, and along one bush track and then you can come straight back home." That's only about 1 km. Not far at all. So on days when I'd rather stay at home, I set off for what I've promised myself will be a quick easy run. But it never turns out to be quick and easy. Once I'm sailing along the track that winds through the gum trees, I start to enjoy myself. After a kilometre or so, I don't head for home. I say, "Now I'm here, I might as well do a proper run after all." I've tricked myself into doing some real exercise. It works every time.

 This morning, Nora and I had a good run, our first before-breakfast-run of the season. It's spring here in Australia and it's getting light enough and warm enough to exercise first thing in the morning. I enjoyed pounding up and down the bush tracks breathing in the fresh air, jumping over rocks, glancing at the wild flowers as they rushed past me.

I haven't always been a runner. I was a runner in my twenties and then children happened and running didn't. But for years, a thought was lodged at the back of my mind: Can I run again? Should I give it a go? I knew getting aerobically fit was going to be hard work so it took me a long time to turn thoughts into action. And when I did, I wished I hadn't. It hurt. A lot. But I persevered because my girls were so encouraging. They thought I was wonderful taking up running. I liked feeling wonderful. And then when they decided to join me and run too, I certainly couldn't give up. We became The Team and I began to believe I could do anything.

The Team has been running together for four years. Increasing our fitness has been good, but The Team has achieved something even better than that. Running together with my daughters has drawn us close together, strengthening the bonds between all of us. We spend lots of time with each other, working hard as we challenge ourselves, and then we enjoy those precious moments as we link arms and plod home feeling exhausted but satisfied.

Running has become part of our life. So is everything perfect? Unfortunately not. For quite some time, another thought has been living in the back of my mind. It's been jumping up and down trying to get my full attention. And this morning it succeeded.

My daughter Sophie has been doing an 8 week Fitness Blender program. Five days a week she has been stretching, jumping, lunging, lifting and bending. And after every workout, I've been admiring her capacity for hard work and perseverance. At the same time, I've been thinking, "I'm never doing workouts like that. They look far too hard."

But this morning...

"Fitness Blender has a new program, Mum. Do you want to see it?"

Have you ever noticed how people love sharing their interests? If we ask a question or two, their faces light up. They are delighted when someone wants to know about a passion that's important to them. Sophie smiled widely as I said, "Oh yes! Show me!"

Sophie opened her computer and soon we were discussing the merits of the various available workout programs.

"I'm happy about my level of fitness, but I don't feel strong," I said. "Well, my legs are strong, but my core and arms are rather pathetic. I really should tone them up. What would you recommend?"

It didn't take Sophie long to find me an 8 week program called Maintenance/ Cross Training. There are only 3 workouts per week, perfect for fitting in between my usual runs. So I'm going to follow Sophie's example, be brave, take the plunge and do the program. I know my arms and middle are going to hurt for a while. I'm not going to enjoy the first week at all. But 8 weeks down the track, I'm going to feel so good.

It's now lunch time. Nora is lying in the sun fast asleep. She can enjoy her leisure. She's earned it. She didn't choose to run 5.5 kms this morning.  I made her come with me. Of course, I don't make my children run with me. They run because they want to.

I suppose Nora did want to run really. She looked happy enough once we started. And she came home grinning. Now this has led me to a new thought: Should we sometimes pull our kids along a little, encourage them to give something a go? Invite them to join us and do it together? Perhaps they'll enjoy it once they get started. Yes, a gentle tug might be all that's needed.

But if that nudge fails, I don't think we should walk around our children and push them firmly from behind. That's definitely for dogs only!

A final thought: If  our kids aren't interested perhaps we should set off on our own. Who knows what will happen? Sometimes our example is the most powerful motivator of all.

My wonderful super computer won't boot up. I turned it off the other evening and now it refuses to operate.

It's rather difficult to blog and podcast without a computer. Actually, it's impossible. That's why I didn't have a new podcast episode to post yesterday. But today I found a way around my computer problem and I do have something to publish.

This afternoon, I recorded this week's episode with my little Zoom H1 recorder. Then my daughter Sophie lent me her computer so I could do a quick bit of editing before uploading the file to Podbean. The audio quality isn't as good as usual, but at least I was able to make a podcast.

In this week's episode, I talk about the importance of family and what we can do to strengthen family bonds. (My children helped me make a list of things that encourage close-knit families and I include some of their ideas.)

Last week my husband Andy, our four youngest girls and I worked on our family bonds. We spent some special time together while we were on a 3 day holiday. I tell a few stories of our time in the Blue Mountains, sharing some Australian history along the way. (I hope I get the facts right!)  I also reveal how silly the Elvises are and why being silly is quite okay.

There aren't any podcast notes this week, but I do plan to share some resources on the theme of Australian history very soon: some books, DVD series,  websites... Please watch out for the post!

Music: 60's Quiz Show by Podington Bear, (CC BY-NC 3.0)
Image: Echo Point and the Three Sisters by Greg Schechter (CC BY 2.0)
(My photos are locked inside my computer so I had to use someone else's image of The Three Sisters!)

I’ve always wanted my blog to be useful. Telling family stories is all very well, but I’d like to do more.

Sometimes I visit other blogs and see all kinds of fantastic things that will help homeschoolers do things better. Some bloggers design great looking printables to give away. Others share ideas for unit studies or offer lap book page templates. Some people draw beautiful pictures for children to colour in. Yes, there are lots of bloggers sharing their talents to enrich the homeschooling of others.

But I can't do any of that. Worksheets, unit studies, templates and similar tools just don’t fit in with unschooling. Our way of living and educating isn’t reproducible. But that’s okay because I’ve thought of a different way of being helpful.

I can share all those wonderful resources I stumble across when looking for things to interest my children. Maybe other unschoolers (and anyone else) can use them for strewing. Maybe they'll be tempted to use them themselves.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog or a past reader of my now deleted Facebook page, you’ll know I already share resources. But just recently, I thought of a couple of ways I can share all my discoveries in a more effective way.

Firstly, I now have a resources segment in each episode of my weekly podcast. I chat about different websites, software, books, videos and anything else that comes to mind. I also list all those resources with links in the notes which I publish in the accompanying blog posts.

The other day I had a second idea. After a bit of prompting from a friend, I remembered my Pinterest boards. I’d been deliberately ignoring them. One more place to visit. One more thing to do. Lots more time online. I didn’t want to know. But I’ve had a change of heart.

Over the weekend, I updated my existing boards and created some new ones. And I’m hoping they’ll be helpful to my fellow resource lovers.

Recently, a friend asked me to share my favourite Shakespeare resources. With that in mind, I started a new Shakespeare Pinterest board and had a lot of fun adding everything Shakespeare-related I could think of: our favourite DVD versions of the plays, books, ballets, art, music, a few Youtube links and some documentary series. As I travelled around the Internet pinning images, I discovered a few new Shakespeare resources.

Although we are huge Shakespeare fans, passionate about his plays, we’ve never dived into his sonnets. We’ve read a couple here and there, but they haven’t really captured our imaginations. But that might be about to change. I discovered an app called Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

All 154 poems are performed by an all-star cast including Sir Patrick Stewart, Kim Cattrall, Stephen Fry and David Tennant. The text highlights line by line as each sonnet is performed.
Learn about the sonnets with the complete scholarly notes from the Arden Shakespeare or read Don Paterson's fresh and irreverent analysis that brings the poems up to date.
Discover Shakespeare’s Sonnets as originally published with a complete facsimile of the 1609 Quarto edition, and then find out the backstory by watching previously unseen interviews with leading experts.

It’s an iPad app and I haven’t actually got an iPad. But we can still listen to some of the sonnets because I did find many of the videos from the app online. I pinned a few of these to my Shakespeare board. I put them there, not just for us, but for anyone who’s also interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s sonnets.

I’m hoping my podcasts and notes and Pinterest boards will be a good way of sharing resources. If you’re interested, please take a look (or listen!). And if you also enjoy posting or pinning resources, I hope you’ll let me know. It’s good to share ideas, isn’t it?

Before I finish this post, can I tempt you with a sonnet? What would you like to hear? Patrick Stewart reading sonnet 116? Or David Tennant reading sonnet 18? Perhaps you'd like both!


At the moment, my son Callum and his wife are away from home, enjoying their honeymoon. I suppose they're on holiday, a very special one.

My husband Andy is also on holiday. It's the end of the official school term and because he's a school teacher, he's now home for the next two weeks.

What will we do during the school holidays? We could pack our bags and head off on an away-from-home holiday. But where would we go? How about Chernobyl?

Did you know anyone can take a tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone? It's quite safe to visit this nuclear disaster area for a few days as long as we observe the rules. We could stay at the Hotel Pripyat.

It is located in the town of Chernobyl, in the Polupanova Street. All the rooms are simple, in the Soviet style. All the visitors are provided with the ironed starched linen stamped by Chernobyl special industrial complex, some soap and a towel. In quite a Soviet-style there are faults with toilet paper. Occasionally the hot running water might be off. The rooms are furnished with Soviet simple furniture...

But then again, I'm not sure I want to risk 'faults with toilet paper'. It might be safer for us to have an at-home holiday. We could be tourists in our own town. We could visit all those interesting places that are on our doorstep, the ones we never seem to get round to seeing.

Or perhaps we could travel overseas without actually going anywhere. We could visit galleries, museums, exhibitions and even natural areas of beauty.

In this week's podcast, I talk about at-home and away-from home holidays, and how I record all these rich and enjoyable experiences in my homeschool records book. I also share lots of interesting history, geography and science resources. Perhaps you could use them to travel the world without leaving home.

But before all the holiday talk, my daughter Sophie joins me to chat about The Wedding! And Imogen sings a little sample of the wedding music. (It was hard to capture a recording which does justice to her voice. The high notes threatened to knock the microphone over, her volume went off the scale, and she was lacking her accompanist. I'm sure you'll take into account all these technical difficulties when listening!)

Podcast Notes

Blog posts

How the Girls and I Take a Weekly Trip Overseas
An Education at the Museum
A Perfect Method for Keeping Homeschool Records

History, Geography, Science Resources

Museums, Galleries, Science Centres

A History of the World in 100 Objects
The book by Neil Macgregor

Google Collections

Travel Videos

Discovery Channel's Ultimate Journeys
Ultimate Journey Videos on Youtube

On Location Cooking Show

(episodes of their shows can be found on Youtube)


Amazing unseen photos from the Chernobyl disaster
Photographs of Chernobyl and the ghost town of Pripyat

Uranium: Twisting the Dragon's Tail: 3 part series
There are full episodes and also clips on the PBS website (if you are fortunate enough to be in the 'right' country for access!)

Veritasium Youtube channel

Google Map of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Also, check out local tourist information websites, and tourist information videos on Youtube.


60's Quiz Show by Podington Bear(CC BY-NC 3.0)

Thank you for listening!

Some time ago my girls wanted to earn some pocket money.

"You could make some paper dolls of my Angels of Abbey Creek characters," I suggested. "You could sell PDF files of the dolls."

The Angels of Abbey Creek is my children's novel:

In Australia, where Christmas is in summer and dads like to play cricket, is a small town. Not far from this town, along a narrow, winding road, is the village of Abbey Creek. And on the edge of this village, nestled among the shady gum trees, is a sprawling brick house. This is the home of the Angel family: Mum, Dad, Edward, Kate, Joe, Celeste, Lizzie and Annie. And this is the story of their very adventurous year! It's a year full of happy days and magic moments, of camping in the bush and perfect beach holidays, of feast days and birthdays and even a First Holy Communion. The year has exciting days and disastrous moments, with racing bushfires, naughty birds and scurrying mice. And it's full of surprises. The biggest surprise of all happens on Christmas Day! The Angels of Abbey Creek contains 22 individual adventurous stories which fit together to tell the tale of one exciting year!

Charlotte liked the idea of creating some paper dolls to go with my book. She got out her laptop and her graphics pad and started drawing. She drew Mum and Dad and their six children: Edward, Kate, Joe, Celeste, Lizzie and Annie. Of course, the dolls needed clothes.

"If you draw beach wear, Bush Boys clothes, Sunday best outfits, pyjamas...  children could act out the stories in my book," I said. "Celeste will need a First Holy Communion dress."

So Charlotte drew and coloured (using GIMP) until each Angel doll had a set of outfits.

Then it was time to try out the paper dolls. We took the PDF files down to the print shop and they printed out the dolls on some good quality card. We could have printed them at home, but we wanted them to look extra-special because we were going to give them to an extra-special person: my Goddaughter.

On my Goddaughter's birthday, I gave her a home-bound copy of my second Angels book, The Angels of Gum Tree Road, (soon to be published, I hope!) and the set of Angels paper dolls. Did she like them? Oh yes!

"They're so cool!" she cried. "Now I can act out all your stories."

We're hoping other children will like the paper dolls too.

Today I learned something new: I worked out how to sell a file stored in Google Drive using a PayPal Buy Now button. If anyone clicks on the button, they should be able to buy the paper dolls using a PayPal account. The files (or a link) will be emailed to the buyer. At least that's what I hope will happen. Not having tried it out, I can't be sure our little paper doll shop is in working order. I guess if there are any problems someone will let me know and I'll fix them!

Even though Charlotte will be selling her paper dolls, we want to give a free set to anyone who has helped (or will help) me promote my book by writing a review or blog post This isn't a payment or a bribe for good reviews. It's a small gift to say "Thank you for taking the time to write an honest (positive or negative!) opinion."

If you have helped me and would like a set of paper dolls, I'll send you the paper doll download link once I have your email address. (There's a contact button at the bottom of my blog page.)

There are more details about the paper dolls on my new Angels Paper Doll page. I hope you'll take a look!

I worked out how to sell paper dolls online! Now what shall I learn to do next?

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