Our homeschooling journey has not really looked like 'school at home'. It has had ebbs and flows and some rhythm to it of course but it has also had LOTS and LOTS of spontaneous learning. What I’ve come to peace with over the years, is making it my job to be the learning detective and recorder. What I mean by that, is I observe them and record what they are doing by linking it back to learning outcomes. This has helped our many 'neurospicy' kiddos (autism, ADHD, severe dyslexia, anxiety, PDA) because it means there is less, "sit down and do this learning thing now" and more of "wow tell me about what you are making there mate!"
BECOMING A LEARNING DETECTIVE
What does it mean to become a learning detective? Well, of course I take notice of all the things they are physically doing.
That's usually fairly easy. If they show me a book they are reading, I'll take a photo of the book's cover. If they attend a special art day, I might get them to file the poster for that into their learning folders (an A4 folder with plastic sleeves to hold a record of their learning experiences and work samples).
But becoming a 'learning detective' for me has also looked like watching what my kids do with their 'free' time: the time when nothing is really required of them. I observe what they are listening to, what they are watching on netflix or tv, what games they are playing, what kind of youtube channels they are following. All of these things provide me with clues as to what my child is interested in.
What I then do with that information can help us! It helps me to know what to talk to them about. It helps me to know what to invest money in for them. It even helps me to know how to facilitate researching activities that I could suggest in order for them to extend their immersion in that interest.
BECOMING A LEARNING RECORDER
I want to keep a record of my kiddos learning because this has become a part of our family culture. It helps with our registration renewal too but that's not my driving motivation. Our 'family learning diary' is a diary that I retrospectively record into. I have tried doing it at the end of each day/week but that I find it too demanding and I'm not able to do it. I have also tried doing it once a month (and being strict about it) and also can't keep to that! So instead, what works for me is that I photograph anything that I think can be recorded as learning and then I set those photos into a private FB album. Some people use apps for this but for me the FB monthly album has worked just fine. Down the track, I'll look at the photos in these albums, remember what we covered and I will write that up under a heading like 'Science/Technology' 'English' or 'Food Tech'. This has worked so well for us over the past 14 years. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but you just have to do what you feel works for you. You can read the full post about my record keeping HERE.
LINKING ACTIVITES TO OUTCOMES
Lego Sushi Train
Let's look at an activity that happened this past week in our home. My son made a Lego sushi train. He was so excited and came to invite hubs and I to have a look at it. He explained how it worked and I asked a couple of questions like ‘does it use infrared or blue tooth?’ and he answered those questions. I asked if this week we could try it out for a family dinner. He said yes he’d love to do that and will plan out what we are going to eat and how it will all work. He tried to see if he could balance salt and pepper shakers on the train. He then said, ‘mum, I wonder if it would move a raw egg’ and I encouraged him to go and try it out. He made a little Lego stand for the egg to sit it and it did work! (Look at the joy on his face as he can see it working as he'd planned!)
How I Would Record This
I know that this activity could be linked to MANY outcomes across a number of KLA's (key learning areas) or subjects. When I become 'learning recorder', I take my learning diary out and would write the following headings for this activity: English/Science/PDHPE/Maths. I would then write the following: Zeeki was able to accurately describe to me how how train worked. He volunteered the information and was clear in his description. He answered my questions well and this demonstrated to me that he was confident in his creation and in his experiments too (Engl). Zeeki used aspects of the scientific method as he experimented with the addition of the egg and the salt and pepper shakers (Science). He will look up some recipes that might work well to make this a family tradition (PDHPE) He used his knowledge of shapes and angles to build this track, remote and the train so that it would balance well too (Maths). I would also write personal notes like this: Zeeki was so interested in this activity! It was great to hear him confidently show his creation to Dad and myself. I loved that he had looked up the design first but then tweaked a few things since he didn't have the right parts. Great improvisation skills! Love that he was also keen to incorporate this into a family dinner one night this week. He said it will be a challenge to think about how much weight the train carriage will be able to take so he'll keep that in mind when choosing an appropriate dish. Great ingenuity, design skills and creativity all shown in this.
To record this, I took a few photos of this project (and a video - you can see that on my page That Homeschool Life) and I will write the above in our family learning diary just like I have above.
Linking to Stage Outcomes
If I wanted to go EVEN further, I could link to the Stage Outcomes or Stage Statements (you really aren't required to do this but it's always good to see how it can be done).
1. I like to use THIS document. Open the document. 2. I would go to the Stage my child is at (sometimes they are meeting an outcome above or beyond the stage they are registered for and this is totally ok!)
3. You could copy the stage statement you think this links in with.
For example, in the above activity, I could link to Stage 2 English Statement: Zeeki communicated expressively and clearly with growing proficiency about his Lego Sushi train idea. Or I could copy the Stage Outcome code: EN2-1A communicates in a range of informal and formal contexts by adopting a range of roles in group, classroom, school and community contexts
For Stage 2 Science and Technology, I could link to the Stage 2 science and Technology Statement: Zeeki engaged in the processes of Working Scientifically, and Design and Production by asking questions, predicting outcomes and undertaking guided investigations with increasing independence. He made and recorded observations, using formal units where appropriate, and compared results with predictions.
Or I could also copy these Stage Outcome codes: ST2-1WS-S questions, plans and conducts scientific investigations, collects and summarises data and communicates using scientific representations ST2-2DP-T selects and uses materials, tools and equipment to develop solutions for a need or opportunity
As I said above, I don't need to do this but I do have this entire document printed out for my own benefit so I can see and understand how my kids are learning.
Why Be a Learning Detective and Learning Recorder?
Apart from having 14 amazing learning diaries now (well I'm on my way to actually finishing the 14th!) to look back on as a bit of a family keepsake, there are other benefits.
Recording and understanding the outcomes has helped me realise that there is learning potential in EVERY SINGLE THING my kids do.
It helps me to stress less.
It allows me to relax more. It helps me to embrace play.
And it has given me the satisfaction and peace to know that they are learning THEIR WAY. And it has shown me that we ARE covering what we 'need to' whilst they fall in love with learning itself.
I hope this example is helpful in demonstrating ways we can retrospectively record our children’s learning, based around their interests AND still manage to match it to learning outcomes. Of course, all of us have to do homeschooling our own way that honours and respects the needs of each family member and the season you are in. We still love our Planning Monday Morning and we often do lots of 'together' activities as well as planned times for individual interests. Keep finding and working out what is right for you and yours.
Hugs and support always, Lusi x