Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three. Confucius

31 May 2011

Homeschooling with a Teenager

Hi Everyone,

Lately I have been thinking about where to go next with Alexandra's homeschooling journey.

We have been travelling along pretty well with Lex writing and illustrating a creative story which has graduated into the start of a book. Science has been pretty organinc and ongoing due to her own interest in things like nutrition, properties of foodstuffs etc. Design and technology is sorted with cooking, knitting and navigating around the computer, and so on.

What we have been missing is one big project to focus on that ties in all of the aspects of the curriculum......until now. Lex has just decided to begin a project where she can use learning as a way to indulge in her passions of food preparation and starting a business, by setting up a virtual cafe.

This will encompass researching and identifying suitable locations (overhead prices, foot traffic etc), target consumers, advertising (logo/slogans etc), looking at the ethics of deciding which products/models to use, finance (working out loan rates, deposits, forecasts, outlay for furniture, wages, superannuation, tax returns and so on). She will also draw up designs for her dream cafe after thinking about and researching particular features and their practical application.

I see this as an interesting challenge for us both, which carries with it numerous practical applications for when Lex does enter the world of work.

Now to educate myself about business models before I get any of those tricky questions sure to pop up....will keep you posted on our progress :)

Cynthia x

21 May 2011

Poetry Review

Hi Everyone,

I wrote this review for Bluebell Books, but thought I'd share it here. Falling Hard is suitable for older teens, so you may like to have a read through to share what you feel is appropriate as a range of issues are represented by the poets. Other than that, enjoy :) ............

Today I am sharing Falling Hard - 100 Love Poems by Teens edited by Betsy Franco with you.

When I picked up this book of adolescent poetry I was ready to find plenty of intense emotion and declarations of undying love. Instead I found an intriguing mix of vulnerability, honesty, obsession, humour, emotional awakenings and quirky tales. The poems Franco has chosen deal with the complexity of teenage life without weighing the reader down with intensity. The stories strike a palatable balance by dealing with topics such as new love, being stood up, fitting in, crime, acknowledgement of loved ones and lost love in a variety of styles and emotional approaches.

One of my favourite poems from the book is
Pledge of Affection to a Nerd (page 23). Written by 16 year old Laura Tabor, the humour is so mature that I found myself laughing aloud at the affection and subtlety of the verse, just beautiful.

Pledge of Affection to a Nerd
...drift, lazy, on the comforting breeze
as you rhythmically speak
computer jargon.
...can't get over how blue your eyes are:
talking about
Star Wars.
...couldn't be prouder of you as you recite:
forty-seven digits of pi.
...will listen, though I may never understand:
you beat the final level of Escape from Modor!
...want to stay in your arms all evening while you talk about:
ancient war strategy, lunar eclipses, molecules...

whispering sweet algorithms in my ear.

And the short and sweet Love Poem (page 22) by Juan Nunez, age 15...

Love Poem

I am
the flour
to your tortilla,

Personally I felt privileged to get this glimpse into the lives and hearts of these talented individuals. The sensitivity, awareness and humour of so many of these young poets is apparent and blasts many stereotypes surrounding teenagers out of the water.

A rewarding read that I highly recommend.

Talk Soon, Cynthia x

19 May 2011

Getting Real About Growing Up - Book Review

Hi Everyone,

Today I am reviewing Getting Real About Growing Up by Amrita Hobbs. This is a book that I found invaluable as a parent. It gave me some solid, no nonsense resources and advice about the adolescent years and encouraged me to enter this time with the view of my child as a whole person, not defined by behaviours and reactions, but with a much deeper sense of who she is and how she wishes to be.

The language is clear and non-patronising, and deals with issues such as relationships, depression, abuse, homosexuality, social isolation and physical changes. It is written in a calm and factual way which dispels myths and empowers the reader, without imparting any particular moral prerogative.

Hobbs has written a realistic, deeply spiritual book about subjects that are all too often delegated either to the 'too hard' basket or treated as purely physical manifestations of growing up. This is no doubt due in large measure to the fact that she has facilitated many parent child groups over the years. Hobbs gently encourages the reader to question his/her own beliefs and assumptions and shares numerous poems, stories and input from teenagers who have been there before.

I found that sharing Getting Real About Growing Up allowed Alexandra and I to discuss social issues in a relaxed and informed way we may not have done otherwise. The topics covered in this book also met a lot of the criteria for Health and Physical Education, making it a useful resource for theory and discussion.

This is definately a book I will be sharing with all of my children as they reach adolescence and recommend it to anyone wanting a relevant, well-informed resource dealing with this often sensitive time.

Talk Soon, Cynthia x

11 May 2011


Hi Everyone,

I initially wrote todays post for a book review site aimed at adults, but as Haiku is a style of poetry which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, perhaps it may be something to consider for an english component....

The Haiku Anthology
Edited by Cor Van Den Heuvel

I'll be reviewing The Haiku Anthology (3rd edition) edited by poet and past President of the Haiku Society of America, Cor Van Den Heuvel.

Haiku is a form of poetry practised in Japan since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and has become popular in the western world since the 50's when it was discovered and published in the English language.

Van Den Heuvel has selected 800 haikus and senryu poems written by 89 poets to include in this anthology. He has chosen poems which mirror the haiku ideals of being present in the human experience and connected to nature. I enjoyed the variety of subject matter within the poems and think he has achieved the perfect balance of topics to interest all readers.

Haiku is defined as

(1) An unrhymed Japanese poem recording the essence of a moment keenly percieved, in which Nature is linked to human nature. It usually consists of seventeen onji (Japanese sound-symbols).
(2) A foreign adaptation of (1). It is usually written in three lines of fewer than seventeen syllables.

The Haiku Anthology (page 330).

I would recommend this book to those initiated to the beauty of Haiku as well as those who have not yet been introduced. Cor Van Den Heuvel writes in an accessible style free of jargon which is based on a sound knowledge of his subject matter. He covers the history of haiku and senryu, the growth of the modern haiku movement, and the philosophy behind this art form. I really enjoyed being able to experience such a range of haiku and learnt a lot from the abundance of information accompanying the poems.

I will leave you with a charming poem by John Wills from The Haiku Anthology (page 288) Enjoy :)

supper done...
the old folks sit
on the porch

And a traditional Japanese poem and its English translation by famous haiku poet

ume ga ka ni
notto hinoderu.
yamaji kana

scent of plum blossoms
on the misty mountain path
a big rising sun

Talk Soon, Cynthia x

08 May 2011

Free Range Learning
by Laura Grace Weldon

Hi Everyone,

As promised, here's my review of Free Range Learning, written by Laura Grace Weldon. Free Range Learning is a refreshing, up to date collection of homeschooling ideas, stories and suggestions based on the philosophy of natural learning.

In this book, Grace Weldon essentially encourages parents to trust that their children are wanting to learn and to facilitate this wherever possible. Sections of the book deal with topics such as social learning, slowing down, homeschooling within the wider community, mentors, homeschooling and technology and the life change that homeschooling inevitably brings to your family.

I found this book to be accessible and full of information about individual subject areas and how to make them engaging to children. It was easy to pick up and read during the day because of its informality, easy language and attractive style (A4 with plenty of gorgeous pictures). It inspires me to view homeschooling as a larger philosophy of everyday mindfulness and to interact with my children in a natural way, picking up on their individual areas of interest and investing some energy into facilitating their passions as well as introducing them to new topics where appropriate.

Personally, I loved the input by homeschooling parents throughout the book, and Grace Weldon has generously shared their stories. I was pleasantly reminded that as homeschoolers we are connected by shared experiences all over the world. The joys and struggles that accompany homeschooling are universal and we can learn from the experience and wisdom of those on the same journey .

Talk Soon, Cynthia x

Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon (2010) is published by Hohm Press.