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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Away to Townsville on the Great Barrier Reef.

We’re heading to Townsville for a few days and won’t be back until New Years Eve. I've got to tell you, I really like this house sitting stuff. Last time we came home our house sitter had the house sparkling. BONUS!

This time in Townsville we will be visiting the Aquarium, Magnetic Island and we pray for no Aspergers meltdowns. And no trip to Townsville is complete without hanging out at the FREE water park on the strand. The picture is of our last play there.

I’ll see you all when we get back.

Related article about our recent trip to Townsville.

Map of Qld Coast. We live in Cairns.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Computer for Home Schooling

We hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas. We had a great time.

Boy sure did too. Amongst a squillion other educational products, he got a lap top: a long coveted item.

An expensive gift for an eleven year old but we figured that he would be needing one for our new home school adventure anyway so why not kill two birds with one stone.

Boy is happy. He nearly didn’t get the computer though. His behaviour leading up to Christmas was characterized by the over stimulus meltdowns experienced by people with Aspergers. I spoilt the surprise by telling him that if he didn’t moderate his behaviour I would be taking the computer back to the shop.

Aspergers or just tantrums I’m not sure but once the computer surprise was out, Boy tried really hard to stay calm and in control. He really wanted a computer to play World of War Craft. Little does Boy know that World of War Craft is going to be built into Math, English and an emotional toolbox exercise.

Boy’s older brother bought him a game of Battleship. What a great strategy game for a child with Aspergers. Boy has had to place himself in other’s shoes (or boats) and work out what their placement strategy was. The assessing psychologist from Minds and Hearts suggested that we play strategy games with Boy so Battleship is a great gift. Thanks Big Boy.

I’m excited about starting home schooling at the end of January even though it means I will be working and earning less money. I am so looking forward to educating in a way that suits Boy’s needs.

What sort of things did you buy your home schooled children for Christmas? Did you get gifts for the sake of gifts or did you link them to home education or Aspergers needs?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Water and Fruit for a Natural Learning Educational Experience

We spent the day in Townsville. Boy has been there before but he is always up for second visits. His memories of Townsville are of the amazingly child focused water park on the Strand (first two pictures).

Wanting more, Boy decided we had to go to the Aquarium. A negative response from us created an Aspergers melt down and prevented natural learning about recycled water efficiency, town planning and the social wages we all pay to provide free access to council tended parks and gardens. Damn! I so wanted to share the knowledge I had. What I will do is store the information for another teachable moment somewhere down the track.

When he calmed down, we took him to the rock pool (third picture) where both boys swam for hours. I sat and people watched and madly took photographs for future scrapbook home schooling activities.

Best of all in terms of learning was a stop at Frosty Mango on our way back to Ingham. Frosty Mango produces ice cream made from their own orchard grown tropical fruits. Although the ice cream was divine a display of tropical fruits offered learning unsurpassed by text books, internet or back yard growing.

Wide varieties of fruits displayed their uniqueness. Boy touched them, compared them and hand weighed them in comparison to each other. Signs beside each fruit offered information and history. I was concerned that the fruit variety may produce over stimulus and send Boy into another meltdown but he coped well and enjoyed the experience and the natural learning.

When you visit Townsville, Far North Queensland, be sure to include a picnic at the water park on the strand and the Frosty Mango as an educational excursion of sheer gourmet fun.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Educational Philosophy: Help Needed From Other Home School Parents Please.

While on holidays, I have made it a task to complete our registration application for home education. The Educational philosophy may need some tweaking and I wonder if any other home school parents could comment on what I have so far prepared. Is the below Educational Philosophy acceptable and are there areas I have left out?

Educational Philosophy.

* Education is a life long process.

* Education is holistic with areas of environmental and self-care being as important as classical learning.

* Teachable moments present themselves throughout the day and when capitalized upon offer enjoyable and non focused educational learning.

* Home education is learning a variety of skills in many settings and in many ways.

* Education is multi faceted and accessible from a variety of support people with an array of different educational backgrounds, areas of expertise and different views on life.

* Natural learning occurs when a student is relaxed, happy and in an environment of safety.

* We are co-learners rather than teachers. We facilitate a learning process and encourage empowerment by enabling the student to accept that we do not know everything, that our way is not the only way and that there is learning available to all of us by accessing community, individuals and institutions.

* We recognize that by making the student the instructor at times, a wealth of knowledge transfers to the student and a measurable increase in the students self esteem will become visible.

* Any situation is a possible teachable moment. To seize the teachable moment and deliver it in a way that will capture the interest of the student is a role that we take on as co learners.

* Just as there are different types of intelligence, there are different types of education. Our goal as home educators is to use natural learning AND offer balance across areas of intelligence and educational frameworks.

* A progression from knowledge reception to higher learning evaluation occurs when:educational material is presented in a palatable way designed to a student’s specific learning needs; when the learning environment is charged with a air of enquiry across all learning partners; and when the traditional focus moves from fact retainment to fact appreciation and sharing.

Can anyone offer any helpful comments please? What else do I need to include?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rum Balls for Christmas

Rum Balls

Hi. I bought 10 hours of dial up so at least I can access the web while we are on holidays…and why else would I want to access but to post a blog or two.

We are on holidays – BLISS!

We all went to Forrest Beach for a picnic lunch yesterday but the beach was closed due to Crocodile sightings just beyond the stinger net (No. I hadn’t already eaten too many Rum Balls). Oh dear – where are those crocodiles when the lifeguards can’t see them? No wonder property at Forrest Beach is still so affordable! Apparently, the beach here closes at least six times a year due to crocodile sightings.

In lieu of swimming, Boy and I made Rum Balls to give as Christmas gifts. This was a really simple and educational activity. While mixing and rolling the Rum Balls, Boy and I talked about Crocodiles, why people drink rum and what happens to a person’s brain when they get drunk.

Here is the Rum Ball recipe in case you want a really simple and fun activity in these days leading up to Christmas.


2 cups of Weeties (crushed)
2 level tablespoons of cocoa
1 cup of chopped raisins
2 tablespoons of rum
1 tin of condensed milk.
Desiccated coconut for the rolling of the balls.

Mix all together and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Make small balls out of mixture.

Roll balls in coconut.

Simple, easy, fun and YUMMO!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Crocodiles, Rainforest and Natural Learning.

We are heading off for a week to house sit for my oldest son. Although Boy is officially on school holidays, I cannot resist the temptation to embed our trip to Ingham with some natural learning.

Boy loves the outdoors: to fish, swim, camp and explore. The town we will be visiting offers opportunities to feed his natural desires and we will for once spend more time playing than working. Yahoo – bring on this holiday stuff. I like it.

Situated on the east coast of Australia, between Townsville and Cairns, Ingham is bordered by ocean, sugar cane and rainforest clad mountains. In contrast to the stark beauty of the place, Crocodiles patrol the ocean and estuaries. I have a very healthy fear of crocodiles and even though my four children have all been educated in croc safety, this trip offers another opportunity to examine the lifestyle and danger of crocodiles.

While house sitting, we are going to take a trip to Townsville and slip across to Magnetic Island. Captain Cook named Magnetic Island because the magnetic rocks created havoc for his compasses.

Close to Magnetic Island is Palm Island: a boiling pot of Indigenous frustration. A resident of the island was killed by police and the Indigenous people are furious that the responsible police officer has not been charged following an inquiry that found the police actions led to the mans death in custody.

This sad story provides me an opportunity to examine the plight of our Indigenous people, the history of Black Australia, and the appalling health status of our first nation’s people.

This may be the last post before Christmas. I hope you all have a safe and joyous time with your families and friends. See you when I’m back on deck.

Photo of a salt water crocodile taken on a recent home school excursion to Rainforest Habitat, Port Douglas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Respite from Aspergers

Respite from Aspergers has finally come our way. We have been offered four hours youth worker time, per week, from The Early Intervention Service.

The youth worker will take boy on enjoyable social activities and weave social skill training and anger management into conversations.

Boy has nominated fishing and computer games as activities he would like to do with the Youth Worker. The Youth Worker is a youngish male Social Work student who has a rich life history of experience and an interest in the Autism Spectrum Disorders. He presents as a bloke's bloke and Boy and he should get along just fine.

I was so relieved to get the four hours that I could have just cried. Boy is currently refusing to leave the house and I am getting nothing achieved. The hours will start mid January and we intend to build it into the home school curricula. The day he spends with the Youth Worker will be his home school activities for that day.

In addition to the hours of Youth Work respite offered to us, Boy has also been invited to attend a Summer Camp, offered over 3 days spread across three weeks. The first day will be Taipan players coaching the kids in sport activities and teamwork, second day is circus performers teaching the kids circus tricks and the final day is a day of games and activities on our beautiful esplanade, culminating with a BBQ.

The interviewing worker also provided us information on another respite service that we had not heard of. St John’s Community Care offers Respite through Recreation. The Respite is four hours duration, every second Saturday and attendees are involved in choosing the recreation activities. I’ll be following this one up too!

I am so excited. Boy finally gets to do some fun stuff with other people and I get a break.

How do other parents of children with Aspergers organise breaks for themselves?

(Photo is Boy feeding a Swamp Wallaby.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pinochet, Britney and Muhammad Ali: Pom Poms on Tender Hooks

Pom Poms are so therapeutic and educational. Boy wanted to make some little Pom Pom’s as Christmas decorations but he couldn’t remember how to make them. It ended up being a cool learning exercise in art and craft and general knowledge for the two of us to do.

Boy chose his size of circle to make the cardboard Pom Pom frame. Although we were not doing a home schooling exercise, watching him measure plates, cups and bottles (anything with a circle he could draw around) against each other as he found his perfect size was just amazing.

The second step was to find a somewhat smaller circle to make the inside circle for the cardboard frame. The circle hunt repeated itself and my kitchen benches again supported an assortment of anything with a circle base on it. This second circle-finding mission reinforced his first rules of highly scientific circle measurement of holding one kitchen piece up against another. Scientific or not, it worked well.

After carefully tracing his circles onto an empty cereal box, he then cut them out and sought out the wool. He knew exactly what colours he wanted (how Aspergers is that!) and he told me a long story about why a recent home school worksheet we did on the colour blue was dumb, stupid, and damaging to kids. There would be no blue in his Pom Pom, his Pom Poms would be like Muhammad Ali, a yellow and black bee (can you guess who the latest obsession is?). Oh dear: no yellow wool so he went for his favorite colour, green, and told me how to blend blue and yellow to get green.

So, we sat, threaded, talked, laughed and had a wonderful time exchanging tidbits of general information. Boy now knows a little of the history of Chile under the Pinochet regime, about Britney Spears break up and where the saying on "Tender Hooks" (tenter hooks) comes from.

I LOVE the ease of using Natural Learning elements for home schooling. Oh yes, the Pom Poms are pretty cool too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Shelf Life of a Home Schooler.

The school year has ended and so have our constant arguments about boy child attending! Hooray.

Highly anxious in his last two weeks, we managed to encourage only one-day’s attendance at school. Hence, many unschooled home school activities focused our days and slotted their way around my heavy pre holiday work life.

One highlight for both Boy and myself was the building (well…putting together) of a set of shelves.

Purchased some four months previously, the shelves have lain boxed, stoic and lonely upon my office floor. Partner is not good at any manual tasks, I have been too busy, and boy oblivious to the pending task of construction.

In desperation to find a non-Christmas, non work sheet, unschooling activity capable of holding boys attention for more than five minutes, the shelves finally saw life from outside of their box.

Boy was terrific in his task of construction. Measuring, matching, balancing and erecting, boy put together the shelves WITHOUT the help of the instructions. Written in poor English, the instructions were destructional to our instructional plan of having boy complete a natural learning activity.

Once again, the greatest learning happened to me. I was amazed at how practical and handy Boy was. He measured with Aspergers dogmatic precision. He worked out how the plastic joins fitted together and calmly corrected my construction mistakes.

When I asked Boy if he had learned anything from the activity, he retorted, “Yeah, I’m better at building than you are.” Never a truer word spoken and how healthy for Boy’s increasing self-esteem. I smiled to myself and roused internally that I had expected an articulate answer that involved tenets of math, comprehension and construction.

Who needs to be unschooled here? ME!

This blog is no longer kept. I am instead blogging only to Imaginif Child Protection became Serious Business