Planning ahead

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It is coming up to that time of year again.  Questions about how this year have gone start to bubble up in my brain. What worked?  What didn’t?  What did we miss out? What needs more attention?

The end goal of all this navel gazing? A plan for 2017.

I haven’t finished with my assessment of this year so far, and that means I only have half a plan for next year.  But it will be a definite part of the plan for us to continue to follow the Build Your Library curriculum.  My kids find it engaging and they have enjoyed nearly all of the books we have read so far.  The lessons are nice and short, so if we ever fall behind like we have this year, it isn’t dreadfully difficult to catch back up again in bursts of energy.  I like that it covers many key areas and that it is possible to do it in a very laid back way, if that’s what suits you.

So to that end, I have begun to gather the book list together.  Sadly there seems to be very few of the list available through our local library system, so another buying jag is on the horizon.

The new thing I am doing this year is to use my Bullet Journal to keep some of my planning items in a more permanent place rather than on a random scrap of paper. (Did I just admit that out loud?) Indexed and marked by a post-it label, I can refer back to it any time I need to, and it will allow me to keep a track of any items still to buy as the year goes on.  It’s ridiculously simple, but sometimes that is exactly what makes an idea a winner.
Here is what it looks like, with most of the titles redacted.

booklist1

I’ve added a second page for any extra books I come across that would be handy to add in to the mix.  And since we are coming close to the end of another year of maths books, I will be adding them to this extra page as a reminder too.

I will probably do the same sort of checklist for any other curricula options – like RSO – that we may choose to use next year.  It will save a lot of headaches knowing in advance what is required, what we have and what we might need to find or buy.

How do you plan for your year ahead?

Hands Up, Who’s Volunteering?

NCHENZ_Avatar_05If you’ve been here a little while, you’ll know that I have a volunteer role on a national home education committee and have done so for nearly four years.  That would be these guys, if you want to check us out. (Click the picture to take you to the website.)

In that time I’ve had the good fortune of working with some lovely and knowledgeable ladies and it has easily been the most cohesive, easy-going and thoughtful committee that I’ve worked on.  So much give and take around ideas and ways to do things. No massive ego trips.  It’s been a real pleasure.

In addition to the enjoyment factor, volunteering with NCHENZ has made a huge difference to my understanding of and commitment to home education. I now have a much better grasp of the laws and of the extent to which we can consult with and push back on bad policy initiatives from the Ministry of Education.  Thankfully this has been a fairly rare thing for us to need to do, and we remain able to engage with the Ministry staff, both national and local, in a respectful way.

If I had not volunteered my time I would be much poorer in my own personal understanding of the system we live under, and what is right and reasonable to expect under that system.

But, as co-ordinator, I have a limited time role and I will be finishing up my third and final year in June 2017.  I’m currently undecided on whether I’ll be staying on in a minor role after that time.

In the almost three years I’ve been co-ordinator (and the months before that, as a new committee member) I’ve been very pleased to suggest or help implement many initiatives. Some have been particularly visible to the community, while others have been more behind-the-scenes administrative stuff.  My goal over the entire time has been to improve our sense of community and our connectedness as a group.  We are statistically a very small population by anyone’s measure and therefore there is a much reduced chance of finding ‘your tribe’, so it has been of concern to me that we create as many opportunities for connection and support as possible.

Our kids make up 0.7% of the total school population.  That’d be 5,558 kids in total, or 2,196 families¹.
That’s in the entire country.  So, yeah.  Meeting people ‘like you’ with whom you can share your journey is ever so slightly a challenge for many home educators.

I joined NCHENZ a few months after the 2013 AGM, at which the existing committee had decided to make membership for individuals free, and to fundraise through offering members access to discounted learning resources and programmes.  These two decisions have made the biggest difference to the ongoing viability and vibrance of our society².  Member numbers were a miniscule 181 at the 2013 AGM but by the following year they had raised significantly to 699.
In the time since then, I have been grateful to watch those numbers consistently climb.  We cracked the 1000 member milestone in 2015 and at last count we are at a touch over 1400 members.  Barring any massive changes in the number of families home educating this year, we will now be representing about 65% of the New Zealand home educating community.

No pressure ladies.  No pressure!

In my time, we have continued to expand our Member Services section to cover a range of resource options, and this has undoubtedly helped fuel our membership growth.  There is no underestimating just how much our Member Services Co-Ordinator has been a key person and a key role in the growth of the society’s membership.

I would also like to think that my suggestion and initial implementation of a professional looking email newsletter system has also helped, in a small way, to improve the overall image and visibility of the organisation.  We now do Quarterly Newsletters covering any current issues, new services, updates and whatever else is appropriate at the time.   In addition to this, I suggested and drove the first survey of home educators by NCHENZ in November 2013.  (Timely that this post should be written now.)  It is one of the best things, I think, that I have brought to the table.  It gives us a reasonable overview of what our community looks like, and while it hasn’t changed dramatically year on year, it is a useful tool in rounding out our perspectives on and combating any number of myths about home educators and home education.

In addition to these initiatives and because I have always been about the connection, getting our Facebook page and Facebook group growing and interactive was something I’ve always encouraged.
I started out doing semi-regular posts from our website resources and this has been taken up a notch this past year by our new Social Media Co-Ordinator.  She does marvellous things with Pinterest, resource posts and most recently, theme months.  That’s where my favourite quote in the previous post came from.

And my final “think big” project has been to create the NCHENZ Forum.  As a previous bulletin board / forum user, and as a person who would like to spend far less time on the giant time suck that is Facebook, it was intended to be my antidote to the massive numbers of groups to belong to on social media.  A one-stop-shop, if you will.  A place where ALL aspects of home education could be discussed, in one place, privately, and without the need to bunnyhop between groups in a mile-long sidebar.
As this is so new only time will tell if it attracts more than the nearly 100 members who have signed up, and whether it will turn in to a useful alternative place to connect.  I hope so.

You would think that this was enough things to do, but no.  I have crazily embarked on the job of fetching up all of the University entry requirements into sort-of understandable documents.  It sounds worse than it is, but it is time consuming to do.  This serves two functions – one is to give parents starting out a quick overview of what their kids will need to do for entry, and the other is to give us as NCHENZ an idea of which institutions are recognising (or not) the value of some of our kids taking a non-traditional approach to learning.

I won’t mention the Project List that I’ve created over my time on the committee – with roughly ten more “think big” ideas that I would love to see move forward.  I will also not mention how my fellow committee members’ eyes roll up in to the back of their heads whenever I turn up online and post yet another new idea ‘that I had in the shower this morning’.  Those poor, long-suffering, women.  I appreciate you all and the forbearance you show me.

But this brings me to my sad place.  The winding up of my time as the “Think Big Queen”.
Part of me is looking forward to getting back the hours and hours and hours of mental energy I spend on thinking about the future of NCHENZ each and every week, and another part of me is saddened that my mega list of good ideas will not be achieved any time soon.  And since they are MY mega list of ideas that I think are good, I can’t, in good conscience, expect them to be followed through by others.
And then there’s the loss of the camaraderie.  We have a good laugh and I will sorely miss that.

In it’s place will fall my real life, and planning for changes we hope to make in the next 18 months to two years.  That really does need my attention.  I have been unsuccessfully trying to split my thoughts and time between my voluntary work (which I love to do) and my real life planning.  I suspect I cannot do both, and that makes me sad because there is still so much more I want to be able to contribute.

I know I will leave my decision to stay on or go until close to the last minute. In the meantime, I will be working out how to recruit more willing volunteers.  We are a small group of ten who punch well above our weight in terms of what we provide to our community, but it can’t go on indefinitely.  We need help, willing assistance, and bright-eyed energy to continue the good work going forward.  Our community cannot rely on the 0.7% of their membership who are providing the services and the connection indefinitely. It is not fair, nor feasible, on those who have stepped forward as volunteers.

I hope that the last good thing I do before I sign off in June, is to have managed to recruit a number of new, energetic volunteers to help those with heavy workloads and to keep our other projects moving forward.  For without these new volunteers, we stand in danger of losing the vast amount of knowledge and growth that we have achieved through volunteer burn-out.

If you are an NCHENZ member and have appreciated the services and support we’ve tried to provide over the past few years, we would love to hear from you as a volunteer.  We don’t expect more than you can readily give and there are plenty of options for what you can contribute towards.

Feel free to email me if you’d like to know more.


¹ Source: Education Counts Statistics

² NCHENZ is an Incorporated Society.

The horse, and getting back on it.

Well that was the world’s shortest NaBloPoMo.  I fell off the wagon on the third day!
Oh well, I figure that I’m always telling my kids not to give up when things go a bit pear shaped, so here I am.  Keeping on going.

Sadly there is little to report on the home educating front around the Patch today.  Courtesy of a late Spring cold everyone is feeling well below par and so I caved in and let them do as they pleased.

Instead, I will share my favourite quote from our* October Quotes series.  It speaks to the core of home educating for me.  And as an ex-Anthropology graduate, I can’t possibly pass over Ms Mead’s observation.

margaretmeadquote

 


August on Instagram

Today, I thought we would start the process of catching up with the last couple of months of Instagram posts.

In August we headed over the Kaimai Ranges and headed to Hamilton, where we larked about through the wonderful Hamilton Gardens.   Here you can see the munchkins in the gate to the Chinese Garden.

Hamilton Field tripLarking about.@hamiltongardens #chinesescholarsgarden #ohwailykids
And then a bit later Miss Oh Waily chose to give Miss Marilyn a huge hug when we visited the Modernist Garden.

She needs a hug! More fun @hamiltongardens #modernistgarden#missohwaily

Miss Oh then dazzled with her two-pan pancake making skills for a Sunday morning.  Yay for Practical Life skills !
Two pan Pancake Queen!#missohwaily #homeec #homeeducation #mumsfreebreakfasttime

 

Master Oh joined the fun when the second of multiple teeth decided to drop out.  He’s fair spitting them out of his mouth at the moment.  A third followed this, and just this week a fourth!  Thankfully the teeth coming in behind are all racing to get out as well.

Toofless boy. #2 tooth out in short succession, with a third hanging on by the thinnest of margins.#masterohwaily

 

With the weather beginning to improve, and our efforts to finally get some of the un-housed-from-our-move household items back into use, we put the kids’ old sandpit together and found a source of new sand for it. So what do they do? They create a mermaid.  I just love their creativity.

Ms Mermaid.Sandpit fun with MissOh and MasterOh. #creativity #sandfun #thepukekopatch

 

A little later in the month we needed to run an errand in Hamilton again.  This time we skipped the Gardens and headed to the Lake.  Lake Rotoroa or Hamilton Lake Domain has had a pretty massive makeover since the last time I visited, quite a few years ago now.  The kids love, love, loved the play ground and they had a blast while I sat quietly enjoying the next image from our trip.
A tough day for a day trip! And an even tougher view to look at over lunch! #thepukekopatch #daytrip #lakerotoroa #hamilton
I’ll just leave this here, shall I?  It needs no real comment, other than – “Yum !”

 

Devonshire tea demolition #funlunch #daytrip #msohwaily #nomnoms

 

Then at the end of the month on a park visit, Miss Oh wanted me to video her efforts to get in to front support. Unfortunately about the only place she had a free bar to do this was rather high up.  Be patient… she was.

Determination! ???? Strength is beautiful! ??#thepukekopatch #missohwaily

A video posted by Lynn Peake (@the_pukeko_patch) on

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And on the same trip, we discovered that Master Oh’s growth spurt seems to be almost continuous. He is now able to actually touch top and bottom.

Tippy-toe balancing. #finallytallenough #masterohwaily #thepukekopatch

A video posted by Lynn Peake (@the_pukeko_patch) on

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And there ends our month on Instagram.

Sick and tired already?

 

Welcome to the first day of The Pukeko Patch’s NaBloPoMo posts.

It is a highly inauspicious start, following the contraction of some random cold and cough by Master Oh Waily on Sunday, and the subsequent contraction of it by Miss Oh Waily yesterday.  As the senior Oh Waily at home right now, I am dutifully awaiting my turn for the miserable sniffles and scratchy throat to arrive.  My best guess is either tomorrow evening or Thursday morning.

In the meantime I am very grateful that we can be flexible around our home educating when such things happen; and happen this past six months they most certainly have.  I cannot remember a year where we have continuously cycled from well, to ill, to well again, only to have a few weeks respite before repeating the process all over again.

We are all heartily sick and tired of it – both literally and figuratively.

In the meantime, what are we to do when we have the weak, feeble, tired bodies, scratchy throats and sniffy noses?
We read.

Well.  I read.  They listen.

Today we managed to breeze through our week’s worth of history readings and have arrived in Rome.  I did our week’s art readings too and the kids drew their version of Romulus, Remus and the Wolf.  I’ll post photographs later in the week, if I’m not laid low as I suspect may be the case.

We watched the first part of a German documentary about Alexander the Great, which we picked up from Curiosity Stream, and will probably watch the second part tomorrow.  It fitted in quite well with the end of our time in Greece.

 

tlotrgwOur literature reading for this week is more of The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, which we have been doing as a bit of bedtime reading over the past week to create some spare time during the day to spend on other things.  The kids seem to be enjoying it, but it hasn’t been as gripping as some of the earlier books.  To be fair, though, we have only just finished the first part and the real adventure is yet to begin.

I will see if I can get a review out of the kids once we have finished it in a couple of weeks.

In addition to this, we also read a number of poems involving wind which led to discussions about the different sorts of imagery the poets chose.  It was really good to see them thinking about and recognising the connections.

And that ends a pretty run-of-the-mill day around The Patch.  The only thing missing today was our regular swimming lessons, which fell victim to the colds as well.

Tomorrow will probably follow a similar pattern, depending on what sort of grip the cold gets on the Oh Waily kids (and if it starts in on me).
See you then.

 

The Optimist Strikes Again

NaBloPoMo November 2016For those who are familiar with blogs at this time of year, you’ll be well aware that the eternal optimists come out of the woodwork and sign up to the month long challenge that is NaBloPoMo.

In a happy coincidence I was thinking it was time to remove the big, flappy dust cloths from the blog and actually start writing regularly again. So here we are. The obligatory pre-NaBloPoMo post warning you of the semi-annual unleashing of my internal Pollyanna.

Feel free to go all Penguins of Madagascar on me…. you can back away any time you like, just remember to “smile and wave boys, smile and wave!”

As for me, I’ll see any of you intrepid folk bright and early on Tuesday morning. Or Tuesday evening. Or maybe at 2 minutes to midnight; that still counts, right?