Time for an honesty update

It’s a long one, better grab a cuppa first…

I suppose you’re wondering once more what I think of being in a caravan now that some time has passed. Do I still like it? How is it all going? Are the kids still doing school work? Is it working, are they learning? How am I managing kids and uni and traveling? Don’t I miss everyone? Am I ready to stop and make my way back to QLD?

For the most part I am still loving this, but today was the first time since we started that I felt a real pang, a genuine doubt that this will work out. Today, as I talked to a good friend about girly things like hair, I felt a loss and I missed being around these people I love. Rather than texting pictures and little tid-bits of info, I really wanted to be there, with her and her family having a cuppa or some drinks and some nibblies. But strangely, the unease I felt at giving this up and tucking tail was also bad. I feel a stronger pull to see this through, to explore all we planned to explore, to do all we wanted to do, more importantly, to learn what we set out to learn. The simple fact that I know we really are still at the start of our learning journey is just too obvious to make such an emotional decision. So, to be honest, yes, I miss friends and family, I really miss the time we stayed at Ethan’s house, with his chooks and his wonderful cooking skills and his happiness, I miss our chooks too, we all do. I miss having another female to chat to and complain about things with because husbands, turns out, don’t like to hear it…or at least mine doesn’t.

The next part I’m sure a lot of those with kids want to know is, how are the kids going with their school work? When I first started, I thought it would be simple enough, I’d been creating lessons plans for a while and I even had some small 3 weeks of prac under my belt. And besides, these are my kids and I know them so how hard can it be right? Of course, that’s a big fat wrong! They didn’t like my lessons plans for a few reasons, but mostly because I didn’t do it like the teachers did so I was the wrong one. Of course, they would know, they’re kids and kids always know everything. The other problem was that I knew exactly what I was doing, why and where I intended it all to end up. They didn’t. I feel into the trap of mother mode and so it pretty much fell into a case of ‘do it cuz I told you cuz I know best’. But further research, and exasperation I might add, lead me to realise the importance of them knowing what and why just as much as me. So, I had to explain what I wanted them to learn, and how the activities they were doing was how I hoped they would learn it. Wrong again. Nope, nope, nope. It did not work. They hated it, they hated learning, they hated their new version of school so I had to find a way to change it.

I knew that they needed to follow the curriculum, and I knew that they needed to like doing it too so there were no arguments about learning and doing the work. After much thought I realised that the curriculum was the last thing to worry about, and the most important thing was in actual fact a desire to actually learn. To achieve this I outlined 1 thing I wanted them to achieve in each subject and let them do the rest themselves. I integrated as much technology as I could while still ensuring they were developing their writing skills too. For example English was write out a page from any book they want with a focus on neatness, read, and complete 1 page in their activity book. Math was 1 page in the activity book and an online game that is math based. Science was research any topic you find interesting and write really good notes so you can show me later, art was to research a style of painting or drawing and do one, music was to make a song or music on garageband and language was Duolingo online. I left the rest up to them. What language, what topics, what math games, but as long as each activity was half an hour I was happy. After a very short time they started to ask every day if it was time to do school work. They were loving it, but it wasn’t guided learning, and the curriculum was not included at all. I had achieved stage 1, get them to want to learn.

Stage 2 now needed to be put in place, the curriculum. I am now at the stage that they go online and pick one piece out of one subject and work towards mastering that. If they do this every day with each subject they will eventually master all of them just as the kids will be doing in school. This still allows them to pick what they are learning and how. After a week of this they realised they had no idea what any of it meant and that they needed help.

Stage 3, teachers are actually ok to listen to…in comes me! So now I show them how to learn, how to teach themselves. First, they need to know what questions to ask, then they need to know how to find the answer, then they need to record the information they find. This needs to be compiled to present a reasonable description of what was learned along with an example. This can be used in all subject areas. Once they have this pattern down pat, they will need less and less help from me, or any other teacher for that matter, and bam! My kids are now able to be their own teachers, they will be lifelong learners and actually enjoy learning. So far it is working, but until they work out how to research and note take, it will be very, very slow.

So the next part, how do I manage all of this while traveling and studying full time? With lots of stolen time doing the readings, support from hubby who cooks healthy and delicious dinners, and our share of arguments also…arguments between everyone. I know that sounds strange, but an argument means not only do we voice our opinions immediately rather than bottle it up, we get our irritants out, and it also means we care enough to say something in the first place. When I’m frustrated and feel like I don’t have the support I need, I say it outright and we make the changes that need to be made. It might be I’m tired and need a break, it might mean I am doing more than I am able at that time, I might also mean we are all getting cabin fever and need to go for an hour long walk. That does happen. We start to hate the place we’re at as we’re stuck inside for whatever reason and we start to turn on each other. It is happening right now in fact as it is windy and raining and cold and horrible outside, and has been since we got to WA. At first it was nice after the heat of SA, but it is now old and we are all over it and hubby is hating the trap he feels he’s been ensnared in. The kids are all being niggly and picking on each other and I am finding it hard to concentrate on the unit readings. We have made the decision to stay at this place until Thursday, but I think we will end up going by Tuesday. We are not far from where I will be doing my next prac, so we are going ever so slowly, but in the meantime, we are sick of the same scenery and the bad weather we feel we can’t get away from. And to top it off, all this cloud cover means we are on power restrictions. I mean we could get out the gennie, but the intermittent rain means it’s more trouble then it’s worth. So, no power, no snuggle days in bed watching tv.

Today was not a fun day. Yesterday was not a fun day. Apparently tomorrow will not be a fun day either. This, this feeling stuck is what none of us like. This is a down side to the caravan life.

A note from the kids on their learning.

Kya hates the curriculum and says it’s boring…not surprising that she agrees with pretty much every kids ever on that one I guess.

Lily loves learning for herself and teaching herself, especially learning another language…of which she picked Turkish.

Evelyn likes writing out words and using her Ipad…always gotta match her big sisters!

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