Saturday, 19 July 2008

School calendar 2008

In Australia, the school year follows the calendar year. The official term dates for my state are:
T1: Monday 4 Feb – Friday 11 Apr
T2: Tuesday 29 Apr – Friday 4 Jul
T3: Tuesday 22 Jul – Friday 26 Sept
T4: Tuesday 14 Oct – Thursday 18 Dec
This allows for 10 week terms with two week holidays in between and a six week holiday at Christmas time, which is our summer. At the moment, the only difference these term dates make to us is that I try and organise a play date during the holiday weeks with friends who have their kids in schools. It makes it a lot easier for the schooling families to find time to meet with us, and I don't feel like we should be doing something homeschooly at these times.

However, as Jeff is also a student and we are not yet required to report (and even then, I'm not sure the term dates are "compulsory" for homeschoolers), we follow Jeff's college dates more closely. Jeff has two semesters with a four week break in between, with roughly every fifth week off for a study break. He really needs to study during these weeks so we usually plan to take one day for a family excursion to the zoo or a nearby national park during these weeks but the rest of the week goes by as usual. Jeff's Christmas break begins a month before the official school break and ends about a fortnight later. This year, we started school gently in those two weeks while Jeff was at home at the beginning of the year. At the moment, we are not sure what will be happening with Jeff's employment and/or further studies at the end of this year, so we'll probably just finish our year when he finishes his exams to take advantage of whatever holidays we have.

Jeff is just about at the end of his mid-year break, and we basically stopped homeschooling as soon as he finished his semester 1 exams. This week, since we've been back from the farm, I've been easing the kids back into the idea of writing and reading something every day, although it hasn't been according to any particular schedule. I've just had them drawing things they've seen and writing captions; writing letters to family about our holidays; and reading titles for every short story about Thomas I've read aloud.

I also work around the BSF terms, and try to organise get togethers with other BSF ladies who have kids in the children's program during the non-BSF weeks. This is part of my plan to help the kids build a friendship group with kids from Christian families who are not from our church or family Bible study.

The other thing I am trying to do is to have Circle Time happen essentially year-round. However, we don't do it every day of the week because on BSF days and Sundays the kids have something else to concentrate on. If I get slack organising materials, or leave the memory verse card box on the shelf where we forget to review them, we might miss a few days but we just pick back up where we left off. This last term, I had planned to get through all of Acts, but we left off about half way through and we've just started a new term with Genesis, rather than worry about finishing every story I had planned. The kids are already very familiar with the stories of Acts from listening to the Bible on CD in the car a few times a week. Circle Time also doesn't happen as often (or possibly at all) if we are visiting family or family is visiting us, because some of our close relatives are not Christians and we don't want to create unnecessary friction between us over child-raising ideologies (Matt 7:6, 10:16).

That's what we've done this year. Depending on whether Jeff gets a full-time job as a minister with a new church next year or does further studies part-time while he works part-time at our present church, our year will be organised accordingly. At this stage, we just don't know what is going to happen, but it will at the very least follow the calendar year as this one has.


Mrs. Edwards said...

Thank you for explaining this to me. I noticed that even your winter is pretty mild--you don't comment about it much but Perth must be a lovely spot on the ocean. We're land-locked with the closest ocean beach a very long day's drive away. We make do with lakeside beaches.

We have another three weeks off before I aim to dive into our studies, but our hot weather will be with us for another two months. It is great to take refuge in our basement school room in the heat of August (often in the 100s Fahrenheit). I really looking forward to starting school.

Sharon said...

I'm so sad for you! The only time I have lived in a town that was not on the sea, I could see the Murray River (Australia's most important river) from my kitchen window. And that was only for six months. Every other place I have lived was by the sea. Right now, we live one suburb from the ocean, but I must admit we take it for granted and don't actually get there very often. This is a hangover from living in Darwin where there are highly poisonous Box Jellyfish in the water much of the year so it is impossible to swim in the saltwater. Not to mention sea-going saltwater crocodiles... we used to head inland to swim in the freshwater rivers and waterfall rock pools.

We did have some major storms here last weekend, and the weekend before in Albany, with power off and trees down and that sort of thing. However, it doesn't snow here - it's never that cold. Actually, the first time I saw snow fall was a few years ago when we were in London for Christmas and it snowed the day after Boxing Day. That was truly amazing.

It gets very hot here in the summer, regularly over 40 degrees Centigrade (that's about 104 F) and I, like you, stay inside with the curtains drawn and the aircon on. However, I've never seen a house with a basement. Houses just don't have them here in Australia. I'm not sure why not - but then I have to admit being mystified as to why Americans don't just build backyard sheds!