What My Girls Did This Week and How I Recorded These Learning Experiences

I wonder if anyone is interested in having a closer look at what my girls did this week. Perhaps you’d like to see how I recorded their learning experiences? In my latest video, I promised to share the link to one of my Evernote homeschooling notebooks, not to show off what we are doing, but rather to encourage the sharing of ideas.

I did say I’d make the link public but after looking more closely at that option, I think it’s safer not to do this because my notes could be changed and saved by anyone. But if you send me your email address, I’ll send you an individual invitation. (Please don’t save a copy or share my notebook with anyone else.) My email address is storiesunschooling@gmail.com, or send me a message via my Facebook page

I guess my notebook, 5th May 2014, is
as typical a week as unschooling gets in our home.

There are some activities such as piano lessons, exercise,
prayers, cooking… that happen every week.

Usually we have lots of English notes because we are a
family who loves writing. This week the girls wrote and edited and published blog posts. I saw them writing in their journals and they probably did some other writing, but I didn’t record these activities.

The girls are enjoying Rainbow Loom bracelet making and
video making at the moment. Sophie has been discussing ideas for setting up her own Youtube channel and becoming a vlogger. (Now where would she have got an idea like that??) They might be involved with something different next week or the
week after… or maybe not.

I often make suggestions such as, “Would you like to watch
this video I found about China? It’s called Wild China… Have you heard about
the Pythagorean Theorem? We could find out who Pythagoras was.” The girls love
finding out new things. They also love watching videos with me so it’s rare for
them to show no interest.

I read aloud to my girls, books of their choice. I don’t quiz
them on what they’ve heard. I don’t demand a retelling. I find conversations
naturally spring up after I have finished a chapter.

If the girls have questions such as, “What’s communism?”
I’ll look for a resource to explain. “I’ve found a Brainpop video about
communism. Would you like to watch?” They are always agreeable. They even enjoy
trying out the associated Brainpop quizzes but I don’t insist they do them. They treat the quizzes as a bit of fun, and not something that has to be done. They aren’t interested in any of the other associated Brainpop activities like the lesson plans.

Gemma-Rose loves reading out loud too and will come to me
with a book she wants to share.
I sometimes offer the girls learning experiences they may
not stumble over by themselves. The other day I asked them if they’d like to
read a poem with me. We flipped through a poetry book and discovered My Last
by Robert Browning. None of us had much idea what it was about so we went searching for
more information, and ended up watching a Youtube video. We all learnt
something and all enjoyed sharing. I always offer on a no-obligation-to-accept

The girls ask me for specific help with their projects: “Would you have a look
at this video I’ve edited, please? Could you then upload it to Youtube for me?”

They make plans of their own: “Today I’m going to start
reading one of those Shakespeare books that’s on my Kindle.”

They ask me for ideas: “I want to learn more about chemistry.
Do you have any good books?” This week Sophie decided to read a book called Disappearing Spoons, a book of tales about the elements of the Periodic Table.

Sophie enjoys maths. Earlier in the week, I noticed she was having trouble doing a long division problem. I asked her if she wanted some help which she did. I also found her a video on Kahn Academy to watch.

I have to be careful what maths I offer Gemma-Rose because
she closes up and retreats at the mere mention of the word. I usually wait for
her to show an interest, which she did this week. She set herself the task of
playing an addition battle computer game. She does like to watch maths videos which
are designed for older people, the whole maths ones, where maths isn’t broken
down into individual skills but is presented as being interesting for its own

Years ago, I thought unschooling meant I had to stand back and not interfere with my children’s learning. I have since discovered I need to get involved. I have to enrich my girls’ environment by strewing resources both passively and actively. I often learn alongside them, and I have my own passions I work on. Learning is for everyone, not just school age children. We are all unschooling. It’s a family affair. I think my notebook reflects our approach to unschooling.

I entered all this week’s learning experiences into an Evernote notebook using labels and tags. I also tried adding some outcomes, just as I described in my last video.

Well, I think that explains my notebook, but if you have
any questions, please feel free to ask!

You can also find me on my Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page, where all my blogs are gathered together in one place. I often post links to resources and other interesting stuff. I’d love to see you there!

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  1. Reply

    Hi Sue! We had our home-schooling moderator visit on Monday. It was all really nerve racking. What I have done is I have printed of content descriptions for each "year level", I have then put in notes on how I am going to achieve it, eg year 1
    Understand that people use different systems of
    communication to cater to different needs and purposes and
    that many people may use sign systems to communicate with
    others. (obviously just a small section)
    to achieve this, I propose to read Helen Keller and discuss, and discuss signs when out in public.
    I have then put this into a proposed term planner, which I have attached to the scope. I did a year report for each child, and she was not really worried that I had not put in the outcomes, she just wanted to see that there was progress. I have downloaded evernote, but I started playing with one note, which seems almost the same. So what I am working on is putting a summarised scope for each child in a separate folder and suggestions on how to achieve along with a tag box, that way they can look at how they can achieve it with a little guidance from me. (that would be more for the older two, while I work with the younger 5),

    We only get yearly registrations in WA, but she seemed happy. That was a long winded essay, and I hope not to confusing.

    God Bless

    1. Reply


      You can now relax after your visit! It's always wonderful when a visit is over, isn't it?

      Thank you so much for sharing your system for preparing for a visit. It sounds like you covered everything thoroughly. I used to do a report for each child too.

      Do you find it takes a long time to plan ahead how you will satisfy the content descriptions? We never know what we are doing from day to day so writing plans ahead of time doesn't work for us. We usually work backwards instead of forwards (recording what we've done instead of what we are going to do). But the end result is the same for both of us. Our children get a great education and they satisfy the registration requirements. So good to share. God bless!

    2. Reply

      I forgot to say, you have lots more work than me with 7 children. I bet you need to be much more organised than I do. I remember how hectic our days used to be when we had little children.

    3. Reply

      It does take a long time, and I do feel it is time and energy wasted when we could be doing something else, but I do find that if I don't have some form of a plan, certain kids would fly under the radar. It is most definitely not a rigid plan, but rather a guide. Ruth (8) and Sarah (6) and Abigail (4) are my natural learners, Hannah(2 1/2) tags along and wants to do what they are doing, there are days when I feel we have achieved nothing, and it is those days now that I pull out the paints or arts and crafts and let them do their own thing. I do feel that if we do everything the curriculum wants us to do then we just seem to not have enough time in the day. But you have inspired me in how to look at learning in a different light, and you have suggested so many useful sites, and I thank you for that. I really love your blog, and I honestly believe that God lead me to this blog 6 weeks ago, when I was ready to send everyone back to school.
      God bless!

    4. Reply

      I forgot to add my older three have been in school for four years, so they still want to be told what to study. My oldest daughter (15) is starting to enjoy learning on her own, but she is really arty, and if I leave her, she will forget that anything else in the curriculum exists. Nicholas (13) would be happy in a world of maths. And Coral (12) if not guided would do nothing.

    5. Reply


      It was great meeting your family! It must be more difficult for your older children to adjust to a new way of doing things after having gone to school, than it is for the younger ones. I guess it takes time.

      "I do feel that if we do everything the curriculum wants us to do then we just seem to not have enough time in the day." Perhaps if you focus on what you really want to do, you can make it fit to the curriculum. This is what we've been doing. There's lots of ways of meeting an outcome.

      Oh yes, a guide of what your children might do will be helpful. There are times when we all tempted to drift along aimlessly. And some children seem to need direction more than others. Maybe it's a personality thing.

      Perhaps now you have 12 months registration ahead of you, you can afford to relax and experiment a bit. Getting through the registration process is the hard bit. Now you can enjoy the learning!

      I am grateful for your kind words. Thank you so much for reading my blog and for stopping by to chat.

  2. Reply

    Wow, love how thorough you are, Sue!!
    What a comfortable,warm learning environment you've created…

    Hope all is well,friend!

    1. Reply


      Thank you for your kind comment. 'Thorough' is a word I would have applied to you! I tend to go with the flow but we seem to do a lot together without any planning. This is just as well, because I am hopeless when it comes to plans! I remember writing a few in our early days of homeschooling. Each plan would last about two days before I'd get behind and throw it in the bin!

      "comfortable,warm learning environment"… I think that's what we are all hoping to provide for our children. That's what homeschooling is all about!

      So lovely to chat to you again! xx

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