Archive for May, 2009

Which Homeschooling Systems Are You Using?

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

FYI: This was originally posted on Cryptogon.

Homeschooling isn’t an issue for us yet (Owen is just 18 months old), but Becky and I are already on the lookout for worthwhile materials and anecdotes.

Are there any unschooling homeschoolers out there? We have been reading The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith and this makes a lot of sense. One of Owen’s favorite activities is Playcentre. Becky is going through Playcentre’s adult education courses and she’s noticing a lot of unschooling philosophy, which she likes.

Sidenote: I’m blown away by how outstanding Playcentre is. We’re extremely lucky to have that resource here in New Zealand. Owen squeals with joy and points at it, even if we’re just driving by. Sometimes, I take him to the school playground that’s located on the same property and he runs to the closed Playcentre and wants to go there instead of the boring playground. In short, Playcentre is great.

Are there any Waldorf homeschoolers out there?

How about Montessori homeschoolers?

Do you use any of the phonics materials?

One area I’m especially interested in hearing about is music. Becky and I are not musically inclined (this is an understatement), but Owen—how can I state this accurately? The music is just in him.

Owen likes to dance

He wants music all the time. When a CD finishes, he gives us the sign for more, says, “More,” and then the sign for please. He isn’t able to snap his fingers to the beat yet, so he clicks his tongue to it instead. Sometimes, he touches his thumb and pointer finger together in time to the music. He does little dances that are weirdly in sync with the music. The music area at Playcentre is one of his main interests, especially the little electronic keyboard/piano thing.

Anyway, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that we’re going to have to provide some sort of music lessons. How are homeschooling parents teaching music to their kids?

Compost and Liquid Fertiliser Barrels

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Back in spring, Kevin decided it was time to make a few changes in the ways we prepared “goodies” to feed the garden soil. Families of rats and long ropes of kikuyu grass kept invading our precious compost piles, and after a couple of years on the Farmlet, we still hadn’t got around to setting up a good barrel system for making liquid fertiliser. Something had to be done!

We had the good luck to find some large lidded barrels (200 litres each) at our local bargain centre. Here’s what Kevin did with them:

A tap was fitted to one barrel, and it was set up on blocks. We put some of our prized fish scraps into it, fill it up with water, and leave it to ripen. The resulting liquid fertiliser is rather smelly, but seems to have done wonders for our garden.

Rat proof/rhizome proof compost barrel

Kevin drilled lots of small holes in a second barrel, and we began to make our compost in it, layering kitchen scraps with dried kikuyu. Because the bottom of this compost container is closed, the lid fits tightly, and the ventilation holes are small, rats and ropes of kikuyu are kept out. The barrel heated up beautifully over the hot summer months. This compost bin design suits our needs so well that Kevin has plans to make another. The task of drilling all the small holes is rather tedious, but at least it’s a job that only has to be done once.

Recently, we tipped the compost out of this barrel, to build up the soil for our autumn/winter vegetable garden. We hope the plants will thrive on the results!