My Home School application – I had no idea it was FOR EVER

A) Help us to understand your home education philosophy/approach, and how you will meet the requirement to teach at least as well as a registered school.

My mother was a new entrant teacher, I was a new entrant teacher, I have studied and taught in a Montessori classroom and most recently I have been involved in Playcentre (helped write Wilton Playcentre’s ERO self report). All these different philosophies, my interest in democratic education, and readings on education have informed my practice. I do not follow any established educational philosophy because I find dogmatic practices close the door to the exciting changing world of educational research.

I aim to be as reflective as possible allowing my ideas/philosophy to be informed by new research, as well as old ideas, ideas from differing cultures, and indigenous learning. I have a degree in Botany, Ecology and Physical Geography and some statistics.

I do intend to use the world leading NZ Curriculum and Te Whariki. I do believe (as many philosophies do) in education being as real world as possible and should respond to the child. I believe as much time as possible should be outside in the natural world. I think a large component of teaching is modeling an interest in learning, the challenges, failures and identifying successes. My focus is on process and not the product. I will be trying not to over-plan and hence not allow other teachable directions and I recognise that some of my planning/ideas will flop.

I intend to plan around my child’s interests but aim for in-depth learning rather than surface facts so that she is challenged by her choices.

I intend on utilizing the advantages of the flexibility of home-schooling and using the Montessori concept of “great lessons” where there is a multi-disciplinary input (like a seed) prompting thinking about big ideas, learning by inquiry.

Termly “seed” ideas/input include:

Spending a few weeks WOOFing: observing animal husbandry and establishing our own garden which could lead to big ideas like: where food comes from, water conservation, seasonal changes, needs vs wants, effort/energy involved, animal husbandry, heaps of lovely science, measurement.

A major Tramp: which will involve extensive planning, maps, geology, geography, big ideas of ecology – succession, self-care, measuring distance and time, identifying plants and animals, how to start a fire

Traveling by electric bike: budgeted, geography, measurement, developing an understanding of electricity –physics concepts of work, lots of post cards, stories of the land- naming of mountains

Building: currently Helena’s obsession is making and machines, our goal is to begin building our own home

Art is a regular feature of our life – we will continue our regular visits to art galleries and discussions about what the artist was saying, feeling.. currently we are exploring plaster of Paris sculpture.

Language, Science, Maths, and art are the building blocks of all of the above.

The areas I will find challenging are dance and music. I would like to find a Kapa Haka group that we could belong to.
I would also like to touch on some ideas of teaching Philosophy to children.


(B) What resources do you intend to use and are you delegating any teaching responsibility?

Using a model of having “great lessons” “seeds” leads to extensive exposure to new people, ideas, and new environments. Hopefully this will be an exposure to people of a range of ages and interests/knowledge.
An important person will be my father who we will be moving in with. He is a maths and science nerd who is very interested in girls being given opportunities and he likes a higher standard of dinner conversation!!
Library visits; books will include early readers, poetry, the classics, and will be chosen to have a good use of language. Particularly of interest will be making and doing books – instructional language, use of steps, her goal of learning to knit
Home-schooling groups (there are a few in Nelson) which have regular “play dates” and field trips and can utilise discounts that school groups can get.
We will be using occasional “Busy books,” the ones which have maths problems, colouring etc in. We will use these in when we lack the imagination to invent our own, to get ideas of what to invent and for the particular satisfaction they give to the doer.
The values programme -as discussion prompts.
Correspondence school as I will be studying Beginners Te reo Maori in an open way to model learning and good learning habits. I will be using what I learn on Helena for practice!! Join a pottery co-op so that we can fire some of Helena’s clay art, learn about the process and never buy a gift again.
My extensive art supplies and our collection of woodworking equipment
I will be using the Internet to look at current research (places like the brainwave trust, NZCER) for resources, answers to questions, ideas to develop Helena’s thinking. I will also be using digital recording of Helena’s work in a blog form so that we will not get snowed under by her prolificness especially with art. Helena will not be using a computer next year -she also doesn’t watch TV or many DVDs. We are starting to use the occasional “educational” video. Other sites I will use include: NZ maths site for ideas, prompts for me, TKI – particularly the exemplars, I’d like to be able to use such resources such as PROBE but I’m not sure how to get access…

Hi     (this was added later as the Ministry requested more information re Resources)
Re: resources
We have just finished reading James and the Giant Peach- we’ve been on a Roald Dahl binge. Helena wants me to read the Moomintrolls again… or The secret Garden. She likes biographies!
Helena is reading from the early readers (Wellington library classifies them as frog) but I generally find her more motivated to “read” picture books. Sometimes I make worksheets- eg. Cut out and rearrange the words… we own more kids books than her Playcentre! And many natural phenomena reference books.
Games- currently Kids Monopoly, Ludo, (we use the Toy Library) card games (eg. Snap) and Carcassone (but we play a cooperative version).
She’s working through various dot to dot books and a Maths Basics 2 (hinkler) workbook. We have a number card set, some Montessori beads, cuisenaire rods…. but mostly I use real world stuff- do you have enough money? Skip counting in 10s is currently important. Whatever is around! And as little plastic stuff as possible, and NO laminating. I intend to make some of my own Montessori place value equipment (with Helena’s help).
I have a massive art supply collection and access to old canvases, and Helena has several different styles of “school” books- 1B5 etc
We own a ukulele and recorder.
Balls, skipping ropes…
Helena has no computer/smart phone access other than through me doing the “look it up”.

I suspect this list would be a lot longer if I recorded what we currently utilise in a week…

(C) What are your educational goals for the next 12months of your child’s home education and how will you know if you’ve met them?

Before the beginning of her first term I will add to Helena’s Playcentre Portfolio to have a reference of where she currently is – including photos of projects, copies of poems, answers to “about me” questions, her best writing/numerals, art (representational and abstract) so that I have something to gauge progress against.
My goals are that:
That Helena is able to achieve flow, is engaged and absorbed in learning and learning through “play”. That Helena is able to identify what she needs/wants to learn, what she needs to work on to achieve that and can set goals and see her progression and enjoys learning.
Within curriculum areas:
Literacy: inference, she can make statements about a text that are not explicit in the text but make some connection to author’s intent, the character development.
Uses more detail in retelling stories and includes dramatic emphasis.
Can identify different types of texts/genera – fiction, fairy stories, instructional texts, informational texts, persuasive texts (media awareness). Write/tell fictional stories that have a developed structure/shape – have an introduction, some kind of problem/event and a conclusion. Uses language in a poetical way – techniques such as similes, metaphors, repetition Use of a varying sentence structure.. etc
Numeracy: she identify coins and budget/develop priorities
Likes to play with numbers and still shows an interest in mathematical curiosities- square numbers etc. Be achieving at least at advanced counting.
Science: be able to formulate theories and work at attempts to test them.
Art and technology: loves to make and do just because and with an end goal. She can identify some artists work, discuss what she sees and likes, produce work in a range of media including sculpture. She can develop instructions to make the 3D art? that she produces. Will be mostly of “process” rather than in the form of “products” and in a learning story form as well as regular analysis using exemplars. Assessment will include conversations at dinner (recorded- we often record our conversations), reenacting of stories, and focus on using deep questioning – the big ideas.
I will use products as a prompt to aid Helena to quantify her learning her self and her feelings of progress.
A reflection journal will be kept by the both of us to record what we actually did with our time. I will be keeping a blog. We will use the process of reflection to aid goal setting and see if we are achieving our goals.
Some of Helena’s current goals are: Write a book (poetry and stories) and photocopy it lots so I can put it in letter-boxes, Fire clay things, Have a lamb, Learn to sew and Knit, Sailing – (I have to earn to swim first), Taking fish off hooks, Play in snow – proper sheets of it, Write postcards, Read The Magic Finger and The BFG

The problem with goals is that they are a “moving feast” so I will focus on the process of identifying and making new goals of what you need/want to learn.

(D) What is your vision, and what are your goals for your child’s long term educational achievement?

My long term goals for Helena are mainly to do with the acquisition of values; that she is community focused, flexible, kind, empathetic etc (the list could be limitless)
She is culturally aware – of hers and others
She has an affinity and respect for the environment
Has good strong friendships and is a good friend to others
That she is able to choose her own path; be it academic, trade, enterprise or a happy blend
Is very creative; to be prepared for climate change, work instability, low pay
Loves learning and is open to new ideas
That she is intellectually rigorous and applies this
She shows an interest in the world around her
That she is highly numerate, scientific and articulate
She has practical life skills; can run her own garden, budget, build a house, cook, make clothes etc

(E) Give a detailed description of a special project or topic plan you will do, or describe one you have done in the past.

I look after kids during the school holidays, the following is an example of a “topic” based on the 3 children’s (5, 5 and 7) interest in art which I aim to do during the summer holidays.
The “seed” will be a field trip to Wellington City by foot and bus where we will follow the map in a brochure called ‘Secret Art Walk’ (put out by the Museum Art Hotel). We will need to use the map to plan our route. I will include a building on the Terrace which contains an art work that is somewhat like some the current pieces we are working on (plaster of Paris sculpture made by making indentations in clay as a mould). I will sell our trip to the kids as an art treasure hunt. I have been unable to convince the children to “have an exhibition”.
We will be taking with us a camera, pens, paper and chalk. We will be having discussions about the art we find.Using some of the following prompts “what would you call it?” “What are they saying/what do you see?” “Do you like it better than the last one? Why?” “See if you can make the shape of it?” “Draw it…” “How did the artist….. ?” and depending on the work – discuss texture, line etc..
I do not forward plan what I want the children to “learn” as such but I do have a few thinking points (big ideas) I will bring up – like the public exhibition of art that artists such as Deigo Rivera did. Should only rich people see art? Does the actual location of the art matter? After the trip I will provide the kids with the doings of art (art books, the paper, paint, space etc) and leave them to it.
My goals are: The children will look in “other places” for art
We have a lovely time talking about art
They will do even more art (one aspect of enjoying art)
Their art will take on board some of the concepts (such as texture, line) we see and which we will practice when they come up
Specifically in relation to our plaster of Paris work we will combine forces and make a series of textured panels
I aim for us to, after a period of time, “hide” recently done art (with titles) in their houses for their families to find at a later date.
Assessment for my part in the process will be if they ask to do it again! and if any confidence has been gained by the non pressure of exhibiting in a treasure hunt style, and to a lesser extent if there is any development in their styles, and use of titles.

How will you meet the requirement to teach at least as regularly as a registered school?

We will be having Monday morning meetings – for planning our week, initially these will be scaffolded by me so that they have a balance of learning areas (making sure no area is forgotten or underutilised) and to make sure we have achievable goals. The meetings will generate to do lists and give us an idea on the why are we doing this – how to incorporate a beach trip, to identify rich, deeper learning rather than just having a fun time. Our ‘meetings’ will have – agenda, rules, minutes etc and as time goes on will include the rubrics from the NZ Curriculum.
A ‘learning topic’ Helena just told me – “we could go looking for rocks and I would find really good ones and write where I found them, why they were special, and where they came from, how they were made eg. Pumice -from a volcano, very light. I want to get pounamu from mountains for Nana to put on her cool things shelves, like the puffer fish. I will need to decorate a box (she means a wakahuia) to bring it back for me. Pounamu is special.” This would necessitate a trip to the library (geology books), museum (examples of rocks and wakahuia), the cultural aspects of pounamu and it’s history, some technology- developing storage display, woodworking and even a possible tramping trip on the West coast. Using the meeting format we can break this up and talk about what learning area it could fit into and how much we could do in a week.
One of the problems I foresee is the sheer volume of what Helena will want to achieve and the long term nature of some of it! And how to decide if tasks are finished…
I will attempt to structure in an uninterrupted work period of 3 hours most days a week (regardless of our location) and establish habits such as completion of tasks, risk taking,focus/flow, and develop strategies with her for finding ways to do the un-fun parts of things which can be a precursor to achieving a learning goal – eg the fun part of sewing is the idea, some of the doing, and the thing itself. However some of the doing is repetitive but has to be done. Sewing is perhaps a good metaphor for other learning.
We will be maintaining regular reading every day and choosing books that challenge with vocab, use of language, include poetry. I, and my phone, will continue to be her scribe.
Every evening/afternoon we will both fill in a reflection diary, what we actually did – the good, bad etc… The filling in will be in the form of learning stories, a visual record, me recording her impressions of the day, maybe answering a specific question…
Our lives will still be governed by school holidays as we work in after school care.

Is there any other information you would like to add to support your application?

I have no concerns as to Helena’s intellectual competence. She is articulate, interested in words, can dictate to me quite advanced poetry, she makes books of how to make things, records her own stories. She is highly numerate – already doing word problems such as “When Issy (an older child) was 5 (Helena’s age now) how old was I?” in her head (she calls them steps). She thinks about numbers as entertainment – eg. Working out that making five is limited with addition but unlimited with subtraction, inventing her own word for when there are a countabe number of things but its to hard to count (eg hairs on your head). She shows an interest in the qualities of a number not just as a numeral (triangular etc). She is interested in skip counting and is working on place value. She can add 1/2s. Her shape knowledge is great and she is working on drawing hexagons.
Her letter and numeral formation is beautiful, she uses finger spaces, is starting to sound words out but still thinks so much faster than she can generate. I do not push her to read or write unless she initiates it and she is currently reluctant to read but however does pay attention to beginning sounds and is learning on her own “does that say….?”
Her drawing is fabulous, accurate and observant, her abstracts often have good composition and represent some mathematical ideas (division mainly).
She is starting to think about what she is learning, identify what she needs to know to help her achieve her goals and reflect on what she has learnt -especially when it comes to her obsessive interest in making things (3 dimensional mainly). She looks at things others have made and enjoys creative problem solving.

Socially she is fine with people she has known for a long time, plays cooperatively, adds to games, is able to compromise and negotiate, and she is empathetic and thoughtful, especially to younger children. She has good friends. Her challenges are perfectionism, intense frustration (with her own projects) followed by an entirely negative outlook. Her emotional outbursts can be sustained and very large in volume and space and hard for others. Her current way of interacting in new situations is to watch obsessively and when forced to interact to be a baby.