14 Jan 2009

Beat the heat!

When I was first trying to understand AO, I read a wonderful article by Donna-Jean Breckenridge, which described a typical day in her family homeschool. It amounts to some 17 pages. I thought today I would try to tell you about our day - not 17 pages worth, but an introduction to AO our way.. Let's see how we go! Hope it's a good day !!

My day started this morning when I got out of bed, let the dog out, took some photos of a lovely green shield bug, Palomena prasina, that had taken refuge from the heat in our kitchen, made a cursory check of the night's email and had a quick dip in the pool. I did some stomach crunches, showered, dressed, made the bed, dried my hair and was out the door to "bucket water" the pot plants and refill the bird baths. The forecast is 45° Celsius - that's 113° Fahrenheit - and the birds are all flying around with their little beaks open, they are so hot and thirsty. We have Stage 4 water restrictions here because of the drought, but a local exemption allows us to water pot plants with a bucket. Lucky - not much survives in this heat otherwise.

Jemimah rose while I was outside and she came and joined me dressed in her bathers. She bucket watered the Children's Garden with water from out tank while I attended to the Kitchen Garden...can't have those tomatoes curling up their toes, can we?

Back inside we ate breakfast of fresh cantaloupe followed by sour dough toast and Vegemite with apple juice and I had my first espresso coffee of the day. A load of white washing went into the washing machine. Jemimah tidied her room and made her bed.

Our first block of school came next - devotions and prayer, memory verses and catechism, our song - today it was our folksong - Scarborough Fair, followed by Advance Australia Fair, our National Anthem. (Jemimah always has trouble with the second verse so we thought we would sing it daily for a while.) Both of these songs are contained in her School Songbook together with French folksongs and French and English Psalms, but she is learning them off by heart. We play the tunes on the computer using iTunes.

Copywork came next. We are working on the poem Walking to School by Ethel Turner from the Victorian Readers Third Book. Last year I would print out each day's copywork selection using the Victorian school font installed on our computer. This year she is writing her selection directly from the printed book and is doing a good job. She has an alphabet chart to refer to if necessary, but doesn't need it often. While she wrote, Bach, our term composer played in the background - the Goldberg Variations today. I had another coffee here somewhere. (Did I tell you I love my coffee machine?) The white washing was transferred to the clothesline. It won't take long to dry in today's heat. A load of dark socks and things go into the machine.

It was off to the local swimming pool for Jemimah's VicSwim lesson next. Generally we walk but not today. Too hot already. She is doing really well with her lessons, and is working on her breaststroke at the moment, along with 'survival backstroke' - a very funny stroke, I must say! This excellent programme runs for three weeks - we are half way through. She loves catching up with her local friends here too. Her public school friends are on summer holidays, so this is a good opportunity to have a chat.

In to work next. I had a meeting with Bob the maintenance man to decide where to mount a plaque at the entrance to the building. Bob also needed to inspect my car - it is due for renewal soon. I also needed to do some finance duties and look at the applications for a new position we are advertising at the moment.

Jemimah was straight into the pool when we arrived back home. She then picked some lovely tomatoes and basil for lunch - bruscetta again - followed by fresh strawberries still warm from the sun. Another coffee - the last of the day. Three only...not bad...must be the heat... Jemimah cleared the table; I tidied the kitchen.

Back into the study for another school block. A chapter of Jemimah's reading book is next, followed by a read aloud, the first chapter of Understood Betsy, a favourite of mine when I was young. We are using my old copy. Printed in Australia in the 70's, my copy is just called Betsy. It is old and fragile (a bit like me). I hope we both last the distance... Jemimah's narration of this book involved a discussion of the characters. The question I asked her was:

Who is in this story? Tell me about him/her.
Jemimah often has difficulty with proper names. This will help her with them right at the beginning of the story.

Next in the timetable was Old Testament. We read Exodus 2:1-10, the birth of Moses. Jemimah retold the story as her narration and then answered the Scripture catechism questions that related to the passage we read. Next in that block I read her a poem - the amusing Jim Jay from Walter de la Mare's Peacock Pie. Afterwards she worked on her Astronomy notebook, colouring the planets and naming them. We made a start on a mnemonic to remember the planets in order:

Many Virtuous Elephants Made Jam Sandwiches Until Nicely Protesting!
Astronomy was hot and thirsty work...it was time for another dip in the pool...for both of us this time! The talk of jam sandwiches had made us hungry too, and we both enjoyed a well earned ice cream for our labour!! French music played on the deck lending quite an exotic ambiance.

After a quick shower, it was on to the final school block. Our second read aloud - The Burgess Animal book for Children this time. Jemimah narrated on this question:

What can you tell me about Peter and Jumper's relations?
This allowed her to recall their names and to tell as much as she could about each. We looked at pictures of each in a book put together by a wonderful AO mum (whose name I have forgotten).

Ten minutes of recorder practice followed and then into the kitchen for maths. We're doing MEP - the four times tables and an introduction to fractions. We did some pages of our Calendar Maths too, in both French and English.

There was only time for a quick French story today - we read a chapter from Je Sais Lire by G. Gladstone Solomon 1932 and Jemimah attempted a narration on French. This is pretty hard, but she did okay. We will do more work on this next time.

Our timetable lists nature study next, but all of our swimming today put paid to that idea. We've had quite a few nature experiences though - the musk lorikeets have taken up residence in the old pear tree where we can watch them from the pool. More formal nature study can wait until next week.

We're off out for dinner tonight - some dear friends are taking us out for a belated birthday celebration. There's only time for a quick tidy of the kitchen and study before Daddy arrives home and it is time to leave.

It has been a good day...no, it has been a great day!!


  1. Exciting stuff!!! We often go down to the beach before lessons for a quick play, collecting of shells and some frisbee. We love starting the day off with exercise!

  2. That's the stuff that homeschool dreams are made of!

  3. Very interesting! One of my own daughter's weaknesses in narration [at almost age 13!!!] is proper names, so I enjoyed the suggestions for helping with that. While the blizard has passed us by, it's still way cold here! It's 27 F and we did get a little snow! Our swimming lessons this week are DEFINITELY indoors! By the way, "Understood Betsy" is on BOTH my kids favorite books of all time list. We read it when we first homeschooled back in 2005.


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...