Today, we reviewed the terms in history to show the time in ages and the fundamental needs of humans. As an extension, we learned about how people lived during the stone age with printables from Montessorikiwi: Montessori & NZ teaching resources that we got from TeachersPayTeachers.
I gave the children the option of recording or making what people had then. Sofi opted to draw while Sarah made a tent with ice-cream sticks and fasteners and used one of her sewing projects as a model for a stone- age dress (pardon the floral cloth, I need to standby leather pieces at home). Later, Sarah also drew her tent and model and wrote a brief description of them in her notebook.
I talked briefly about how iron was mentioned in the Quran and used to keep out Gog and Magog when we came to the Iron Age and the glorious period in Islamic history when the West was in the Dark Ages- totally unplanned.
It's surprising how Islam gives you a different layer or perspective to information you have known, sometimes for decades, when you least expect it.
I started to think about how Prophet Adam learned to live on earth. How did he figure things out without someone else to show him like we have Google now? Did he make any tools? What machines did Zulkarnain use? Then, there is the perpetual question; what happened to us? How did we go from enlightenment to where we are now?
Like any other day however, I got distracted by having to finish with school, clean and cook lunch, but don't despair thoughts, for we'll meet when the children are in bed.
I have been very busy the past two weeks cleaning up the house for a visit by an inspector from the Education Ministry to get approval for us to home educate our fourth for the primary school years.
While I have been "Konmari"-ing since the beginning of the year, there are still a lot of junk left- and loads of tiny junk belonging to many different places! I have never moved back and forth in my own house so many times over many days.
Nevertheless, Alhamdulillah, I took it as an opportunity to create the environment that I have always envisioned before we start the new school year for my three remaining homeschoolers. Things are easier when they are just thoughts; recreating them is another story. I still have a few boxes to go through.
As the purpose of the visit is to check whether there is a conducive learning environment at home and how I plan to homeschool it was vital that I can easily show this to the officer during her visit.
I re-arranged the current environment to suit the improvements I have been thinking about that would allow her to visualise how our learning can take place, placed the books I plan to use on our school shelf for her to browse and have my laptop ready with the websites I will use to structure and source for my curriculum.
I however forgot to print/search where I saved my lesson schedule to show her how I will track my daughter's progress. Luckily, I had a sample schedule I downloaded online to show her.
To allow her to see how much my girl has grown so far in our homeschool journey, I prepared a picture profile of what we have been up to this year and prepared a file filled with some of her work. The former was easy to make with any handphone app that allows you to have a multi-frame layout. For the latter, I also included a few sample craft she did.
National Education is an important criteria, and we talked about this for at least ten minutes. I told her about my visits to "Heritage Sites" (i.e. museums, places of interest with history) and follow up activities I do with my daughter and her friends who come along on our Tuesday classes.
Another area of concern is how much inter-racial mingling my child experiences. Simple ways this happens is good enough, such as through play at the playground or exchanges about the festivities of other races or religions.
Coincidentally, the officer loved to go for nature walks; so our nature walks was a hit with her and she shared different places she liked to go with her friends.
I shared how my older children have moved on after homeschooling. This would allow her to see how my children have eased back into "regular" society and I also shared my plans for my daughter who is exempted from PSLE due to special needs. The officer encouraged my third by saying that she became a Math teacher despite failing at her Math before in school. Bless her!
Towards the end I was given a form to sign off to say that you agree to their terms for allowing you to homeschool; such as that your child needs to meet the benchmark for PSLE and that your child will go through a different balloting system for a secondary school.
A child who does not meet at least the NT cut off is required to attend school the following year and take his PSLE again. There is thus a clearer position of when you can continue homeschooling or if your child has to go to school when you don't meet the benchmark.
I was also told that parents are now given a handbook before their child take their primary four exams when I commented on how useful MOE's updates on their curriculum to us are (keeping yourself updated on curriculum changes is one of the things you have to sign off). This was after the feedback they received from parents on how vague the requirements for the exams were before. So parents, keep up the constructive feedback!
Overall, the officer was very pleasant and helpful with possible ways we can work together. When my daughter refused to talk to her, (she was in the middle of an online drawing lesson), the officer was understanding enough to comment that it showed how focused and intense she was with her learning.
She was also happy that my girl had many different interests; such as skateboarding and martial arts and was surprised to learn that she also sewed by hand and the sewing machine. So, this is the time to show your child's different interests, with the right intention and much humility insyaAllah.
I guess all we can do now is to make dua...and go back to homeschooling with a renewed perspective. As for the new, tidier homeschool areas, I pray Allah gives me the istiqomah to maintain and improve things always.