One of the joys of homeschooling is the freedom that it allows. The kids are free to learn, free to play, free to engage in whatever route their curiosity takes them.

Yesterday felt particularly free.

Zahra woke up first and wanted me to read an Asterix and Obelix comic book to her.  Asterix and Obelix in Belguim was the chosen comic book of the day. ( Great old comics by the way. For us they always lead into discussion and research on history, politics and geography, plus explanations of satire, characters, vocabulary and language )

Ronan chose a book, The Class Trip From The Black Lagoon and read the entire book before breakfast. After breakfast the kids played. They let their imaginations take them away and create worlds and characters that they dressed in, renamed and acted out.

Freedom to read, freedom to play and freedom to learn.

After their play session Zahra decided that she wanted to do some math at the school table. We sat down and worked on that together. We talked about even and odd numbers. In her math journal Zahra listed even numbers by writing 2,4,6, 8, ..20..40.. She used the numbers on a ruler as a number line to help with her counting out by 2’s. We took out pencil crayons and she put them into even groups of 2. Using this method she decided if a number was odd, or a number was even. (Her idea after going through the definition of an even number) We looked at a hundred chart and chose random numbers to test to see if they were even or odd.

After that she pulled out her UmiZoomi Math box ( a gift from my mom that she loves as she is a huge fan of that program) and went through completing every book, activity and exercise. Then she pulled out another book from our “workbook” pile and started working on that. A book that I had first thought was beyond her current level, but that was where she completely proved me wrong. Adding large double digits, subtracting them, grouping by 10’s to count. She used her large stack of pencil crayons to help keep count and visualize her way through it.

We had a lot of fun working together.

When it comes to Math I am not a textbook, worksheet, testing -sit down and figure out exact equations type of parent/educator/homeschooler – whatever you want to label me. Sure we may have a few workbooks, but they are packed in a box combined with some math games and clipboards. We use a large amount of problem solving, natural application (a huge amount of cooking and games) and manipulatives in our homeschool math. If a project or curiosity takes us into math, wonderful, but I do not have a setup and assigned math time. Does this work for us? YES it does. How do I know? The answer for me is not complicated- my kids tell me that they “love math”.

They love math.

This day I felt that we were accomplishing what we set out to do with homeschooling. Making learning fun, making learning a regular part of life, and helping our kids know that as long as you have that curiosity and joy, learning can come to anyone, anywhere, on any subject or topic you choose. When I was a kid, I did NOT love Math.

As a homeschooling parent, I am re-learning.

Learning that “school” and “learning” can be different for everyone. It does not have to be the traditional approach.

Learning that regurgitating and memorizing the facts doesn’t necessarily mean you know it. It is about reasoning, application and flexibility. Really, isn’t that what the work world is really looking for in people?

Best of all, I am learning there are other ways to learn and approach math, and through that I am re-kindling my own love of Math.

There are some days that all Ronan wants to do is Math problems. Sometimes he will work on large math problems everyday for a week. Ronan never wants to do a Math worksheet or workbook.

That is cool with me.

This day he chose to read. That is also cool with me.

After completing that first book before breakfast he chose Flat Stanley’s- The Intrepid Canadian Expedition and read the entire book while Zahra and I worked together. It was nice to hear constant giggles coming from his reading chair.

Constant giggles from my son and big smiles from daughter. That is what learning is all about.

Having Fun With Math

Having Fun With Math


Geometry Anyone?


Math Class?




Learning on Halloween?

My oldest niece Barrett asked me to post about their Halloween. Seeing that I love the active interest my children and their cousins are taking in this blog, I gladly agreed. Not to mention that Halloween also provided so many opportunities for learning and creativity.

From a very early age each child has chosen their own costume for Halloween. It is great to see the thought that they put into each one, and how it reflects their individual style. This year between my 2 children and their 3 cousins we had William Wallace, a witch, Sailor Minnie, Queen Elizabeth 1, and a Sour Key Candy.

Ronan chose William Wallace after hearing his dad and uncle quote line after line from the movie Braveheart. With Scottish history in the family, and of course a chance to make and wield a sword it was a perfect costume for him. The sword was the part of the costume that he actually was the most interested in and researched the most.Finding out that the famous sword of William Wallace was quite large he was adamant his costume sword was to be as close to scale as possible. He had his own process for this. He found out the size of the sword and the size of William Wallace( William Wallace was said to be 6 foot 6 and his sword 5 foot 4). Knowing this he deducted how high the sword would have reached William Wallace. He then measured his body on a large piece of cardboard and sized the sword length from there. He found a site that showed how to design and build the sword he wanted and he finally finished the day of.

When he researched further he found that the costume from the movie Braveheart was not historically correct with what William Wallace would have actually worn. He still chose the movie version costume instead. This is how he looked when it was all complete. (We of course had to account for cold Northern Alberta weather).

Ronan as William Wallace

Ronan as William Wallace

Who says that the holidays are not a time for learning? That is the masterpiece of engagement and interest. It leads to extensive learning when given the chance to flourish. Learning is not assigned during a certain time of day, or only in a certain room or desk. Learning is not proven by a grade that you receive. Quite the opposite. Learning is active. Learning is hands on. Learning is empowering. Learning is creative, practical, fun and happens anytime, anywhere, even on any holiday.

My niece Barrett (who is in school) chose a costume that was of importance to her. She is fascinated with Queen Elizabeth 1. After reading a biography on her last year she has searched all she can to learn more. When I asked her why she is so interested in this historical figure she told me that she felt she was a good queen that supported her subjects. She felt she was courageous because she herself would ride out to battle to encourage her troops. She lived under a tyrant of a father that murdered the wives he didn’t like (including her mother) and who could not bear him the children he wanted. She felt she was a female historical figure that lead a life that really interested her. My niece is in grade 5. I would say she has a true interest in this subject and it has been allowed to flourish and grow thanks to a very supportive and hands on family.

What other areas do you see your children engaged and creating? How do you encourage this further in your home?

William Wallace, Queen Elizabeth 1, Sour Key, Sailor Minnie, and the Purple Witch

William Wallace, Queen Elizabeth 1, Sour Key, Sailor Minnie, and the Purple Witch