ABC’s in the outback

Host: Koordarrie Station
Written by Kristie de Pledge – Owner, Koordarrie Station.

During 2016 it became apparent to Rory and I that the kids needed a teacher. Someone who took it seriously. The other someones had not quite worked out as we had hoped and it fell to me to take on the cap of Teacher as well.

So in June 2016 I dived right in, mostly from necessity and the three older kids, Tom and I began this educational adventure.

Adventure is one word for it. Educational is another, though whether that is more for the kids or more for me is something that is quite equal I think! They are pretty good, they do appear in the school room when I call them . . . that’s a great start, right?

School room in full swing.

We start the day with 20 minutes of sport normally, though as the year progressed and our new bub Tom got busier, that fell by the wayside.

What, you might say? Kids in the bush are so active anyway? Yes that’s true, they are very active, but the sports program is important because it targets specific skills and it’s well supported at our school. The kids love it and these days I let them do almost all the organising and running of those twenty minutes themselves.

Spot of yoga to warm up.

Bit of footy instruction from Dad.

Then it’s straight into the school room, which is a room in our house at the moment – we are planning on building a separate school room in 2017 and that will free up a room for the boys. Darcie had air lessons first thing via SABA, an online interactive whiteboard, it is much more flash than when I was on School of the Air! Back then it was the good old two way radio hooked up to a battery, taking turns to speak . . . “yes  Mrs Mullane, over”.

It still throws up challenges though, with signal occasionally being weak and therefore we experience very delayed communications. Sometimes no video is possible at all, sometimes air lessons are cancelled altogether because of the struggle to connect student and teacher. The kids learn very early on to have a lot of patience as we log off, log on, and do sound check after sound check to keep things going.

Hard at work.

I get the younger two started on their writing first normally, then spelling, then it is perhaps another child/student’s turn for their air lesson with their teacher in town. By this time oldest child has finished their air lesson and is probably doing writing, daily writing, or spelling words as well.

Not necessarily writing on paper.

I normally try to get these brain strain activities out of the way first, followed by a quick break or hand/finger exercises. I have been known to make an especially jiggly kid run a few laps of the house.

Then it’s onto something like maths or set work depending on which kid/student we are talking about. Set work is normally a themed two week set of work, writing, science, and art all being integrated into it. We try our best to follow a strict time schedule, otherwise it gets away very easily and you find yourself still on the same activity two hours after you started – I use a timer to help with this. If we get busy and just can’t finish, we drop the cooking, art, and sport activities and concentrate our energies on maths, writing, and spelling.

Some are working, some aren’t!

Besides the air lessons online, there are also online learning programs like Reading Eggs, Mathseeds, Mathletics plus LOTE (Language other than English) and music air lessons to do every week. Yep that takes up a lot of time online. It’s quite a juggling act to attend these lessons, which they love most of the time, then get back to hands-on work.

I found myself still in the school room with Darc around 4:30 pm a few too many times before I learnt that you just have to call it quits at some point.

It’s certainly not for everyone, teaching your own children. Sometimes I hate it. That may be more because of how magnified my shortcomings are in such an intense situation. More often though, I enjoy the close bond it brings us. I have been so hard on my ‘students’ in the early years of school, if I could take back those times I would, but I guess it was a time of learning for myself. Patience, breathe, move on . . .

I think my main quality that makes it easier in our personal situation is that I am not too concerned with being the ‘mean’ person, taking on the Drill Sergeant persona that is sometimes required is not too hard for me! Just ask my siblings! I do worry a little that I push them too hard, and try to make sure I am loving and a soft place to land more often than General Mum.

So we continue on this Educational Adventure in 2017 . . . yes that’s right I didn’t go mad last year (could be debatable) and we are soldiering on.

I am super proud of my little people, I think in a nutshell we are all simply following our school room motto . . .