Homeschool Registration Visit Part 3: Writing a Program


While preparing for our homeschooling registration visit, I compiled a list of learning activities, and provided evidence of my girls’ achievements and progress. Then I had to write a program for the next period of registration.

So how does an unschooling mother write a program for a two year period when she doesn’t even know what her girls will be doing tomorrow?

I sat and thought about this for a long time, reading and rereading the following requirement:


Are you prepared for the visit from an Authorised Person by having records of:                 
–     the educational program covering all relevant curriculum requirements including an overview of the curriculum planned for the next period
of registration?  

I then decided to do what I have done for every other registration application, we have submitted in the past 20 years…

I decided that my list of learning activities, from the last two years, would be my evidence of the type of learning that would occur in our next registration period. Then I ‘planned’ one term’s learning, as an example of what kind of activities my girls will be involved with.

There are some things I can almost be certain the girls will do each term, week or day:

  • They will say morning prayers every day.
  • They will exercise.
  • Of course, they will make sure I read them lots of books out loud, at least three books on the go at a time. These books will probably include historical fiction books.
  • Each day of the week, the girls will practice the piano and have weekly lessons.
  • We will visit the library on a regular basis.
  • Gemma-Rose will want every opportunity to read to me.
  • I can’t see a week going by without the girls picking up their drawing pencils and other art materials.
  • Someone always has a handicraft project on the go.
  • Everyone will encounter maths in their everyday lives.
  • The girls will write blog posts, and a letter or two every now and then.
  • If it is a NaNoWriMo month, they will be novel writing.
  • etc

These are all activities my girls will probably be doing.


Then there are the possible learning activities. It is possible that they will be interested in many of the resources I strew in front of them.

And finally there are things the girls come to me and say, “Can you help me learn about…, please, Mum?”

So for each key learning area, I made a quick plan that included the probable, my possible strewing resources, and the individual requests my children have made to me. I added in a few resources which we frequently use, and a few outcomes we want to achieve.

Here’s my program for Human Society and its Environment:


Program for Sophie and Gemma-Rose 2013
Human Society and its Environment
Australian history and geography
  • Read The Girl From Snowy River by Jackie French,
  • Read and research Australia 1919, Snowy Mountains, Brumbies, Bush poets such as Banjo Paterson, using library books, internet, own books
  • Watch appropriate videos and DVDs
  • Look up maps
  • Discuss, draw, write, share
World history and geography
  • Read historical fiction associated with New Zealand: The Barn Chronicles by Rosie Boom and The Drover’s Road Collection by Joyce West
  • Research New Zealand using Internet and library books
  • Watch online videos about New Zealand
  • Look up maps
  • Discuss, draw, write, share
 

Here’s our English program:

Program for Sophie and Gemma-Rose 2013
English
Literature
  • Reading, listening, sharing, reading out loud, discussing
  • Listen to a chapter or more of a selection of books each day including fiction associated with other Key Learning Areas: The Barn Chronicles by Rosie Boom, The Drover’s Road Collection by Joyce West, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Encourage discussion of books read
  • Read own choice of books, visit the library once a fortnight, add to collection of own books
  • Add a record of books read to folder
  • Share a book or a piece of writing with others on a regular basis
  • Read out loud: Little House at the Crossroads for Gemma-Rose, Bible readings
Poetry
  • Choose poems to enjoy and discuss: romantic ballads from the book Poems Every Child Should Know:
·          Lochinvar
·         Lord Ullin’s Daughter
·         The Glove and the Lions
·         Lady Clare
·         The Lord of Burleigh
  • ·         Recite poems, maybe memorise some
  • ·         Listen to poems on Youtube if available
  • ·         Look at any poetic devices used in each poem
Drama
  • Join siblings reading a Shakespeare play out loud, one play per term eg. Romeo and Juliet
  • ·         Read children’s version of the Shakespeare play
  • ·         Quotes from the play
  • ·         Draw and describe the characters
  • ·         Join in discussion of themes of play to own ability level
  • ·         Watch a production of play
  • ·         Watch animated version on Youtube
Writing
  • Encourage keeping of a journal, use journal entries to contribute to a family scrapbook
  • Write at least one post for blog each term
  • Write frequent letters
  • Correct own writings to
    improve punctuation, grammar and spelling
  • Use a grammar and punctuation workbook to work on specific skills when needed
  • Continue to work on novels
  • Write on human society, science, and creative art topics
Media:
  • Continue to read the magazine Learn the News

As you can see, the program is very basic. It’s not a day-by-day program, or even a week-by-week one. It’s really just an overview of a possible term’s work.

So what if my girls don’t like the novels or the poems I have listed? What if they aren’t even in the mood for poetry at the moment? What if they don’t want to draw characters from Shakespeare? That’s fine. I will follow their lead (like I normally do) Obviously my ‘plan’ doesn’t suit their needs. I remember reading years ago, in a BoS document, about how a program has to suit the needs of a child. My husband is always adjusting his own school program to suit the needs of his students. It doesn’t make sense to persist with a method if a child is not learning or interested for some reason. So I think I can put aside any ‘plans’ without worrying that the girls won’t be doing what I said they’d be doing. I am sure they will achieve something just as good, even better probably, with the reins of education in their own hands.

 

So I had a ‘plan’ for one term but what about the rest of the registration period? When our Authorised Person (AP) came to visit, I explained that ‘successive terms will be planned in the same way’ as the example I showed her.  It is impossible to predict a child’s needs too far into the future, certainly not two years ahead of time. The AP accepted this.

How did I know my program covered all relevant curriculum requirements? I have to admit I didn’t. I just hoped the curriculum hadn’t changed too much since my last registration visit, and I guess it hadn’t. If you are writing a program and have any doubts, you could look up the appropriate BoS documents. You could probably make your program more impressive by quoting sections of the curriculum. I took a chance and didn’t bother.

I guess it would be prudent to look up ALL the BoS documents before submitting a homeschooling registration application.

I wouldn’t rely on the information I have given you, even though our registration went very smoothly. All families and all APs are different. And our records with the BoS which are a mile long, having already graduated 4 children, might have aided our application.

For any new registrations, the best suggestion I can give is to be very well prepared. It is worth taking the time compiling records into impressive documents and then slipping the pages into a display folder. Add the outcomes and curriculum requirements as reference material, to show you have consulted them. Gather any evidence of learning activities and progress.  Make a display of all the arts and crafts, experiments and projects you can find. We gathered so much it was impossible for our AP to look at everything during our visit.

 

We achieved our aim: we showed that our children have learnt A LOT during the last two years. Unschooling is a very effective way of learning (though we didn’t mention the word ‘unschooling’!) Our AP declared the girls very ‘accomplished’ and said our application complied in all ways with what is required. It will be two years before she (or another AP) is back…

Our homeschooling registration visit is now out of the way. Two more wonderful years of unschooling stretch ahead of us. Enough of the dry and boring, but essential, aspects of homeschooling. Onto some proper unschooling stories!

Homeschool Registration Visit Part 1

Homeschool Registration Part 2


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Comments

  1. Reply

    This is great, Sue – so encouraging! It was good to see that our program isn't as different as I thought it might be. The content is more similar than I thought (though, our children don't blog and some don't write as much as others). I think the biggest thing for me is that I need to write our routine into a list or we don't get moving in the day. The days and weeks often change direction which is why I'm planning only a week ahead, now.

    Thank you for sharing.

    God bless:-)

    PS. Seeing as we're not allowed to copy, could you please write us all an individual program. No hurry – our registration isn't due till next year:-D

    1. Reply

      Vicky,

      I'm glad you found the post helpful.

      You said, "I think the biggest thing for me is that I need to write our routine into a list or we don't get moving in the day." Do your children prefer to know what they are doing each day or week?

      It is interesting that our children cover similar things when you do a weekly plan and we don't plan anything at all. We just get up and take each day as it comes. I guess different methods suit different families, but our children are all learning regardless.

      I know you were only joking but even so, I am quite sure your plans are much more impressive than mine! From what I remember your AP was very happy with your program. I'm really quite hopeless at planning which is why unschooling suits us so well. This 'plan' was only written to give the BoS a taste of what the girls will achieve. I won't be writing any more for a long time!

    2. Reply

      I think my problem is that I'm hopeless at strewing. I get lazy and disinterested and, if it's not written down, I either don't remember or I get distracted. The children have no consistent lead if I don't make a list of our readings and possible activities. They can't get motivated with a lazy mother!

      This flows to household tasks, too. I've been meaning to fill out some forms and post them, for three weeks, and I've put it off so, last night, I made a list of what I wanted to do, today, and it got done! I've also been lazy with the Divine Office so I included it on the list and it worked! I think that I'm so disorganised that I have to build organisational aids for myself. It's not so much that I want to do school at home as that I want to have a consistent routine that I can see and follow.

      Do you ever waste time or lose motivation? I'm interested because I have bursts of enthusiasm but I also drift.

      Thanks for the chat:-)

    3. Reply

      Vicky,

      Of course I waste time and lose motivation sometimes. I'm sure everyone has times like that. With my own interests I could do a whole lot better. Lists are a good idea. I could try writing down all I need to do each day too.

      With homeschooling, the girls are very good at prodding me along though. They are always asking me to do things with them, or nagging me to help them with something, look for a resource for them… Actually they are very bossy and rule my life. Sometimes I wonder who's in charge around here. Left to myself I might stay in my own writing world and not come out, or sit at the computer and waste time… so it's probably just as well the girls like to organise me.

      When I do feel flat about homeschooling, I find that a new book or other resource about something very interesting can help set the motivation ball rolling again. Or a change of scene, like an outing to the lake or the library to get a new basket of books.

      I guess it's just as well the girls are so motivated to learn things. We wouldn't achieve nearly as much if everything depended on me.

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