October pictures

Rod has Mondays off, so we’ve been taking some time out to just spend time together.  It’s been lovely!

For some reason, the kids love posing!!

We needed our car fixed, so we dropped off the car and caught the bus home.  The kids just loved this!

Birthday preparations

So far I think, the best party we have hosted!  But the one part I loved the most about this one, was the preparation.  Lucy slept over and joined in preparing in the morning.  I had baked one cake the day before, but had 2 more for the morning!

Making Jelly Shots – cocktail glasses half filled with one colour jelly.  Letting it set and then adding the next colour.  This was such a hit at the party!

Telling Daddy what cake she wanted.  For months and months, she said she wanted a doll cake.  Then just before her birthday, she changed her mind

Izaac putting milk choclate onto ice-cream cone, as chocklate runs too much.


Our curriculum

Recently I’ve been working through what our curriculum – and sometimes it good to just write it down.  🙂

Our main focus is Montessori – why?  Because it teaches children to choose their work, from a set amount of work that they can do.  If you choose what you want to do, you are more open to learning, by having a sense of control.  The book by Pollard, The science behind the genius, explains this very well.  Montessori techniques, because of their manipulatives, which encourages movement – helps children to develop concentration – one part of traditional school that concerns me – children have to move from one subject to the other, with little time to just dive in and enjoy working on what they are working  for as long as they want, without being disturbed.

But along the way on our journey, we’ve been looking at more than just Montessori.

Language: Montessori

Reading – the Murial Dwyer approached, that it seems most AMI Montessori schools use.  I bought my booklet from NAMTA, called “29:3 A Path for the Exploration of Any Language Leading to Writing and Reading“.  Such a worthwhile booklet, because it just gives you all you need for just teaching, from 2yrs until fully reading.  If purchasing outside US, please phone Namta and ask them to send the booklet to you.  It cost me $18 for postage.

This post is fantastic in explaining it in more full on the Dwyer approach, at whatwedoallday

Grammar – you can’t go past Montessori for the best grammar programme.  The farm, at around 4-5yrs, teaching basic grammar.  Have a look at the Margaret Homfray video on Phonetic Grammar.  The manipulatives are just amazing.  And I love that grammar is often games.  I’m planning to use resources from Mandela Classroom for understanding more of this world of grammar.

Handwriting – a tricky subject.  Izaac at 51/2 is not interested in writing.  And I think it’s mainly no-interest/fear/confidence.  It’s so hard letting go and trusting that he will find this need inside himself along the way.  He reads beautifully, so we’re half way there, I guess!  So, I believe the best thing for handwriting is to do art.  So see the art section for more info!  🙂

Maths :

So far, this has been our biggest cost.  Izaac hasn’t shown much interest in maths, besides rattling away addition questions.  This year has been interesting – I think he has learnt more maths in driving in the car than in the classroom – the speedometer and speed limits, explaining the difference between teens and tens, etc.  He has actually progressed so well, I’m still baffled.  Back to our curriculum!

Montessori – love the manipulatives (once again).  This video above is just so gorgeous! But the biggest obstacle in Montessori maths, is not getting daunted.  What I love about the manipulatives, is even if you do not use the full Montessori philosophy at home (being able to choose their work, work on shelves etc) – use the manipulatives for teaching maths.  They are just awesome, especially the stamp game and the early childhood manipulatives, like the number rods, sandpaper numbers, odd and even.  For great ideas, visit Montessori Tidbits – Leann herself is a maths teacher and she has great ideas for Montessori maths at home.

RightStart – on the Montessori homeschool groups – when Montessori is just too hard/expensive – I find RightStart is the main choice.  Developed by a Montessori teacher who studied why Asian children, did so much better in maths.  And so, they use visualization (seeing 5 and 5 to make 10), games and manipulatives.  This is a scripted book, with a warm up and activities section – so everyday you just follow the scripts.  You just buy the preferred kit and off you go!  Really simple.

RightStart also just have such good games to play with maths.

Natural maths – I went along to a friends for dinner and the author of this book had done a workshop at her little boys school on natural maths.

If someone asked me what is 45+28, in my head I try to add the units, then do my exchange, then see clouds in my head of how hard this is – blank, system overload – I just couldn’t do it!  But did you know, some people naturally have worked out … ‘add the 10’s, 40+20=60, add the units 5+8=13, 60+13=73’  – so MUCH easier!

Why wasn’t I taught this!!!!

I’ve researched some friends, half so far, just do the above equation strategy in their head, the other half like me – go blank.

The one part of Montessori and Rightstart, is it teaches math – but not so much problem solving and strategies to problem solve.  Interesting, Montessori and Rightstart and Natural Maths all teach common things, such as counting on from a number, getting to 10.  But with Natural Math, it teaches these as strategies – read here about Mental Computations basically how to quick recall.  So they developed all these “secret codes” you can use to help assist in building math strategies.  Then especially for boys – they have Problematized Situations – where you have these narratives that the kids have to sort out – every adventurous kids dream in math world and you problem solve what strategy was used.

I’ve bought these two books –

Mental Computation – Using Natural Maths Strategies – Lower Primary – has CD of posters used to explain each strategy.

Natural Strategies – each block is broken down into the 3-parts, as explained here.   So from what I’ve worked out, you teach a strategy (Mental computation) and then go into teaching a unit which then covers 12 Units in Book 1.  If anything, this is really the “fun” part of our maths that I’m so excited to be introducing.

Natural Maths also has an excellent Patterns unit – something that I think has been missed.  So I’ve just bought this download unit.

On the negative side, if my friend hadn’t explained what she learnt in her workshop, I would have skimmed over Natural Maths – and most probably ignored – thinking it just being another colourful workbooky curriculum.  So to understand Natural Maths, the first thing I would do, just to work out if this really what you want, is to buy the parent’s guide, so that you know where you are going in Natural Maths.  The other books just seem to expect that you know the philosophy behind Natural Maths.

So, how will I put it all together?  Mmmm, still working on this!  Montessori – continue as normal.  Then between Rightstart and Natural Maths, I think I’ll follow Natural Maths units and then compensate with Rightstart.  So for instance, in teaching getting to 10 –

Montessori – Snake game

Natural maths, teach Rainbow Facts (RF) – then look at ideas from Rightstart by using the Abacus to validate and play their games and incorporate.


Drawing with Children – This is such an amazing book.  We are just getting into it now, after having the book for months.  I’ve just been waiting for the right moment with Izaac and I think he is ready for these lessons.

This is a great synopsis of the book.

Donna Young has great downloads for exercises

This is gorgeous journal of a childs development with the book.

Because of Izaac’s reluctance to do handwriting, I still want to work on his fine motor skills and confidence.  Waldorf teach handwriting much later than Montessori, yet their handwriting is so beautiful.  So I’ve been looking around for ideas on how to do Waldorf art.  Sally at Fairydust teaching just offered a course on Visual Art.  I am finding this course so inspirational.  Watch out for Sally’s next course and just do it!  Be inspired.