The biggest project I had on was to organise a local Homeschool Mum’s Retreat. The idea was that we would gather on Friday afternoon and be together till Sunday morning. We got a good deal with one of the local caravan parks who have self contained units. It was a great time together – balancing getting to know you with discussing homeschooling.
We met on Friday afternoon and spent the afternoon catching up with each other and chatting about our family needs for 2007. Friday night, after dinner, one of the mums who is a trained hairdresser treated us all to a deep hair treatment while she taught each of us to do a scalp massage. We worked in pairs so every one got their massage. We then turned our focus to our feet and legs with a quick foot soak leg massage. All 9 of us squeezed into a tiny cabin with wet hair and buckets for our foot soak. A great girls night.
Saturday morning we went on a mystery trip with one of the mums stopping along the way to show us how to open our eyes while driving around town with our kids. We all piled out of the car at this little bit of a nature strip – we all drive past this strip at least once a week but never stop! We saw flowers, seeds, a frog (that only comes out in the Wet Season), some lilies, ants, and grasses. There was so much to see. The mum who was taking this session stopped our chatter at various times throughout the retreat to bring our focus back to nature and how easy it is to incorporate into our every day family life. The key word here was enjoy and observe. We also discussed that we don’t need to know everything about what we are observing and that not knowing can still give the kids a sense of wonder and awe.
Our main destination though for Saturday morning was the library. Everyone came armed with something that they had read recently. I gave everyone a blank notebook and we worked through some questions that I ask myself, subconsciously, as I am reading a book. The answers, written in my notebook form my “Reading Journal”
Our session at the library was for the mums to experience Reading Journals, Copy work and Notebooking. The general opinion about these things is that they know they are good but they seem toooooo hard! First we worked through writing some thoughts (using the book/reading material they had brought along) into our reading journals (a gift given at the beginning of the session). Then I copied something I had heard Cindy Rushton do at one of her workshops. Get everyone to take their pen in their non-writing hand and copy – neatly – one of the sentences they had written. This was to help mums see that copywork is work, that the brains are working, that the body is working and in seeing this maybe set realistic goals for their children.
The next bit was the real fun – notebooking. I had samples of my kids work there – lots of variety from drawing, to writing, typing lists, artwork. There was also a variety of subjects from Bible study, literature units, lifeskills and story writing. I had brought along a big selection of papers, scissors, punches and textas and let the ladies go. They had to respond, on paper, to something they had learnt as they read their chosen book. I suggested that this would come from their reading journal. All the ladies used paper – borders, punches, collages, even a 3d fold! This made me wonder about our kids – if we gave them the materials would they have a ball too?
Saturday afternoon was spent sitting on the top of a houseboat, still moored but floating out on the river none the less. It was a lovely relaxing place to sit and talk. We talked of feminism, and of the curriculum framework, of living our life with our kids and all sorts of things. The rain came in mid afternoon so we bolted for the cabins again.
Later on we headed over to the nearby park for some more thoughts on Nature Journaling. Though this time was also cut short by rain we discussed a lot of thoughts and hashed out some of the things that stop us from doing this in our own families.
Saturday night we just continued general conversation though some people handed around new resources that they have recently acquired.
Sunday morning, after breakfast we all packed up and headed home. Actually most of us met at church that morning as there was a combined churches meeting. A nice way to wrap up the weekend.