Australian home education

Being a parent is tough! Although the challenges change as your child grows, sometimes it feels as if every day brings a new set of problems to deal with. One issue which caused an enormous amount of frustration in our household was homework. Not only did my children frequently not want to spend time with their books when they could have been doing other things, but to be honest I found homework difficult too. Many of the things I learned at school weren’t relevant to the current Australian curriculum and I discovered it hard to deliver help in a useful way. Thankfully, Skwirk has provided my family with a fantastic solution to the trials that studying brings.

Comprehensive, easily accessible

Skwirk is an online educational resource which contains over 18,000 pieces of text, animation, games, activities and videos designed to enhance learning across the curriculum. The content is aimed at four to 14-year-olds and covers popular subject areas including numeracy, literacy, geography and science. The site is easy to navigate and can be accessed from a laptop or tablet, so the kids can use it in the car or when we’re out and about, as well as when we’re at home.

Learning and assessment

One of the key advantages of Skwirk for us parents is that it contains both learning and assessment elements. We’re all familiar with our children going off to “learn”, only to find that they’ve ended up doing something completely different! Luckily Skwirk includes the option of sending weekly, emailed progress reports to teachers, parents or tutors, so I always know exactly what study has occurred. Because my children can test their learning with online assessments, it’s easy for them to see what progress has been made and where additional assistance is needed.

Not just for homework help

Knowing that Skwirk can provide safe, relevant learning material isn’t just of benefit for homework, the site is also ideal for additional studying and tutoring. I have two children – one who shines academically and really needs content that challenges them and the other who finds learning a real chore, particularly when it comes to maths. Skwirk provides a customisable solution which suits them both. I also find it a great option to use for “top up” practice between tutoring sessions and to extend school learning.

Engaging format

Up-to-the-minute graphics, sophisticated animation and great video clips ensure Skwirk really engages my children’s attention. It’s that good, schools often use it as a reward for good behaviour! My children are always keen to use Skwirk and I’ve found that since we’ve started using it, the number of homework battles in our house has significantly decreased.

Skwirk is an innovative, exciting online resource that is designed to appeal to a wide variety of children and is already proving to be an invaluable learning aid to thousands of children across Australia and beyond. If you want to transform your child’s home learning experience, why not try Skwirk and enjoy the numerous advantages it brings? Find out more about Skwirk, click here. 

The iPad was introduced in 2010, providing a compact and highly portable, yet accessible, medium through which to reach the internet, as well as a number of other functions. User numbers have grown significantly in recent years, with iPads being employed not only for work and entertainment, but also as an educational tool. This latter application has provoked considerable controversy, with some experts suggesting that screen use is detrimental to academic success, whilst others feel there are significant benefits to e-learning. Take a look at the benefits an iPad can bring to your child’s education, as well as the advantages of ensuring high quality textbooks are readily available as a learning resource.

Fast, portable and convenient

Unfortunately, textbooks can be heavy and cumbersome to transport. Even using a textbook can be time consuming and frustrating, as finding the information you need is frequently a challenge. In comparison, an iPad is light enough for smaller children to carry easily, can be used anywhere and most learners can find the information they need in a few minutes, making it ideal for flexible learning. A single device is all that’s needed to access comprehensive information on a wide range of subjects. Sites such as Skwirk, for example, contain over 16,000 learning resources, covering curriculum material for four to 14 year-olds.

Range of learning mediums

Textbooks contain writing, diagrams and photographs, but little else. This can make learning a dry process and can often deter children from wanting to find out more about a topic. One of the major advantages of e-learning is that in addition to these methods of conveying information, children can also enjoy video clips and animation, adding interest to the learning experience. Different presentations of the same information allow children to find a method which suits them best, enhancing retention and engagement.

Interactive

Textbooks contain plenty of useful facts and figures, but do not present opportunities for interaction. Conversely an iPad can provide numerous tests, quizzes, assessments and puzzles which encourage learners to remain attentive and retain the information they need. For children who have trouble concentrating, an iPad can work wonderfully well as an aid to study.

Appealing

Those of us who remember the pre-digital age will frequently favour textbooks, as they are familiar – a tried and tested method of obtaining high-calibre information when you need it. Whilst this is still the case, it’s important to recognise that premium, interactive content is frequently a more appealing way of learning for young people. The use of iPads doesn’t negate textbook use; rather it offers a route for accessing information which better suits many young people today, complementing more traditional methods.

Textbooks continue to play a major part in many educational experiences, particularly for advanced learners who need to access niche subject matter. For school aged children, an iPad which gives them access to high quality educational material can be of real benefit in enriching their learning experience in a wide range of subjects.

Skwirk is one of Australia’s biggest providers of online education resources. Following detailed study of the National Australian Curriculum, we have developed more than 18,000 useful tools, including education videos, iPad resources and interactive whiteboard resources. We cover English, mathematics, science, history, geography and commerce, from kindergarten level through to year 10.

Everything you need in one convenient location

For Australian principals looking to provide their students with outstanding resources, but without breaking the bank, Skwirk can save both money and time. For a start, Skwirk’s easy-to-navigate site means that all resources are found in one, convenient location. Even when accessing teacher resources across a range of subject areas, principals can take care of the job in one fell swoop. There’s no need to waste time trawling through hundreds of different sites, trying to work out which you can and can’t trust. Skwirk’s resources are all designed to meet the Australian curriculum – from the English curriculum to the science curriculum.

Resources for every learner

We’re well aware that students have various learning needs. While some are visual learners, others benefit from kinaesthetic learning. We also believe that students learn best when they’re inspired and interested in their lessons, rather than feeling like they’re a chore.

So we’ve worked hard to develop resources to suit every educational context – and every individual student – from animations that bring the history curriculum to life to sports-themed arithmetic games that ensure your students are learning the maths curriculum without even realising it. Not only does Skwirk make education much more affordable, it also makes it much more relevant, fun and inspiring.

Tools to assess, track progress and report

As much as we believe education should be fun, we’re also serious about it. It’s important for students to have a great time while they’re learning, but it’s equally important for them to make solid progress. So, to accompany our thousands of learning resources, we provide you with efficient, accurate tools for assessment. Once students have completed units, you can use Skwirk to find out exactly what they’ve learnt – and what they need to revise. For schools and principals, this means even further savings; there’s no need to spend extra money on assessment resources created by independent bodies. You’ll have everything you need at your fingertips, once you’ve signed up to Skwirk.

Questions?

Would you like to know more about Skwirk? Are you wondering what we can do for your school? Please feel free to contact us at a time that suits you. We look forward to bringing high-quality, affordable teacher resources to you.

Get a quote for your school, email: teachers@redapple.com.au

Or get a free school trial, click here.

Long gone are the dreary days of ‘chalk and talk’. We now know that the limited teaching strategies of old simply don’t work for all students. To instil a life-long love of learning in students, we need to introduce subject matter in a way that’s vibrant, interesting, inspiring and interactive. What’s more, each student’s particular needs and learning style must be taken into consideration – whether they’re learning the English curriculum or the science curriculum.

Teaching to inspire

That said, it’s one thing to acknowledge that modern students need exciting learning experiences; it’s quite another to make it happen. So how does a teacher make sure that students are not only learning, but also enjoying it?

Well, for a start, it’s crucial to find a point of real-life interest. Say, for example, a student is struggling with learning the maths curriculum. For many people, rows of abstract numbers don’t mean much. But put them into a context – whether that be counting money, for those interested in shopping, or counting waves, for those who love the beach, and the entire picture changes.

That’s why, here at Skwirk, we’ve put time and effort into developing online education resources that appeal to students at their points of interest. We’ve created more than 18,000 teaching tools that make sure students are engaged and that learning is a joy – rather than a gruelling task.

Meeting a range of learning needs

There’s been ample research to prove that there’s more than one way of learning. Some students remember facts, ideas and skills best when they’re presented visually. Others learn best by getting active. We know that simply giving kids textbooks and asking them to read, take notes and memorise, doesn’t work for everyone. So, in addition to making sure students are interested, teachers must give them access to a variety of learning strategies.

Again, this is where Skwirk comes in. Name an education tool – such as iPad resources, interactive whiteboard resources and education videos – and you’ll find it on the Skwirk site. What’s more, all teacher resources are produced with the Australian curriculum in mind. Skwirk covers every aspect of the national curriculum, from the history curriculum to the science curriculum.

A homeschool mum discusses how she uses Skwirk’s history content.

During the lead up to ANZAC Day we spent the week exploring the topic further.

I also had the kids jump on to Skwirk and work their way through the appropriate levels for each of them that covered Australian History, looking in particular at the ANZAC topic.

I have children in three different levels of the Skwirk program so I thought I would give you a glimpse inside each of them and how they cover Australian History via screen shots from within the Skwirk program.

**As you all know our family have been given a subscription to Skwirk to be able to give you a peek inside. All opinions expressed from here on in are those of my kids and myself.**

My eldest is currently in the Grade 7/8 Level. 

At this level in the Australian Curriculum, history is mostly world history, but it does contain a full unit on ANZAC day, exactly what we were looking for.

Within each chapter there are reading passages, various images, animations and short video clips.

Each chapter begins with a reading passage.

This is just one of the many images that can be found within the ANZAC Unit.

Several short video clips, are included. Animations are also included within the unit, again a brief view of the conditions in the trenches.

If you like to give your children tests they are also included here.

My middle child is using the Grades 3/4 Level

Skwirk is completely curriculum aligned and in this level Australian History has a focus on Exploration and Communities.

Here you can see the topics covered within the units of work.

This is the next level up from the K – 2nd, which primarily uses animated content for young children. At the 3/4 level it is similar to the upper levels with reading passages such as the one seen here.

Whilst they are shorter and more simple in nature when compared to the 7/8 level I would personally still like to see this level supplemented with animations and many more videos for the children of this age group to watch.

I feel this is the trickiest level when it comes to readers, most kids by this age are reading at some level or another, but whether they want to be reading often remains to be seen.

If there was a way they could still access all of the information but in a video format I think this would make a big difference to this particular level of the program. At least I know it would in our house.

Once again, there are several images all related to the content for the children to view.

Find A Words seem to be the go to game for this particular unit of work. My daughter really enjoys these at the moment so they are a nice bonus.

In some of the units there are also animated activities.

Whilst there are no exams at this level, most of the topics within this unit have worksheets that can be printed. Each worksheet shows the appropriate codes required for outcomes.

My youngest is currently in the K to 2nd Level

Here, as it does with the Australian Curriculum, history has a focus on the family, the child and exploring what history actually is.

The topics for the younger years are primarily animated video concepts, which are relatively engaging for the child to watch.

They generally always have a short game at the end of each video and the information presented is also included in the unit in written form as a read aloud option.

Whilst Skwirk is not our primary resource, I do really like knowing that I always have a curriculum linked product, that is quick and simple to use when we want to supplement what we are currently working on.

WOULD YOU LIKE A HALF PRICE SKWIRK SUBSCRIPTION?

Skwirk have very kindly offered all of you 50% Off a 12 month subscription, simply by using the code – worldwide – on sign up.

This code is only valid until May 31st though so you need to be quick!

Jump over to Skwirk and register now.

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

We have used Skwirk before with Zachery, Nicholas, Cameron and Kyle….a few years back.

Now we are more “Natural Learners” or “Unschoolers” I like to let Cameron and Kyle learn by what they are interested in – what they are passionate about….. that way they are actually learning instead of being forced feed information that they can’t remember.

This time we are having lots of fun because Cameron is now at the age where he can read the information all by himself, and his very into “Science and Technology”  and “History and Geography” – totally his passion!

Kyle is into learning all about Numbers and Skwirk has a wonderful game where he can learn about single digits, double digits and triple digits! The games are keeping Kyle’s attention for periods of time and for an outdoor type of kid that’s a good thing!

Kyle Maths Train

He actually finds this too easy because its only numbers one to 10, when the game goes to the bigger numbers that is when Kyle’s mind is being challenged, which I enjoy watching! At first he could not work  out where to place the trains to have them in order {especially when the number was written in words} but with practice he is getting the idea.

Kyle adding and taking away

The game is teaching Kyle how to add numbers {or take away numbers depending on the game} to reach a target! He has to learn that adding too many numbers at once will go over the Target, and he has 20 moves to complete the game. A huge challenge on many levels.

Using Skwirk at the Library

Kyle find a word

The find a word is perfect for Kyle – he can’t read big words as yet but by adding words here he is starting to recognize and pick out letters that form words.  Such a great way for “Natural Learning” to occur, and such a great boost to Kyle’s reading confidence.

Cameron Maths Game

Cameron is not big on Math’s….its not his strong subject, but this game is starting to get him interested! Yes this game is giving him a Challenge and one he is determined to bet.

Australia Wide is being used

School, Teachers Parents and Students {homeschoolers} Australia Wide are now using Skwirk. Its a learning game, at the same time its an educational game. One that I can see benefit many Children.

Find our more about Skwirk, http://www.skwirk.com.au.

Info of New Life on the Road. We are David and Lisa Wood and have been married for over 15 years. We have five amazing (loud) boys aged 16, 14, 11, 8, 5. For the last three years we have been on a journey looking for more out of  life. A better way of living. A better way of experiencing life – See more at: http://www.newlifeontheroad.com/about/#sthash.zX4jHIK7.dpuf

Our Worldwide Classroom reviews Skwirk for Homeschoolers

Since the school year has already begun I didn’t want to wait any longer to share with you some details about Skwirk.

Not heard of Skwirk?

This is an online, National Curriculum aligned, educational resource centre suitable for learners from Prep all the way through to Year 10.

It offers thousands of activities and lessons covering the subject areas of Mathematics, English, Science, Geography and History.

Skwirk caters to various learning styles through activities such as animations, video clips, colour images, reading passages, worksheets and games. Offering a flexible, easy to navigate learning resource.

Throughout the year I will be sharing with you the various ways in which we are utilising Skwirk in our homeschool. The flexible nature of the site and how my children, aged 6, 10 and 13 use the activities as part of their learning adventures.

We will give you behind the scenes glimpses into the site, an overview of the lessons, the reporting area and even a look at lesson planning.

Already my 6 year old begs to do ‘Skwirk’ at least a few times a day. I love that I can get him logged him, give him access to a learning area and from there he is basically independent.

For example I am currently writing this on a Sunday afternoon. My 6 year old was asking questions about water. I suggested to him that this week we have a look over Skwirk for some activities to do with water. Of course he wanted to jump on and have a go straight away.

Here we have logged into his K – 2 lessons and chosen the Science area. You can see he has already begun working through the first unit and has completed 100% of the first three topics. Next up is seasons and then, look at that, water! Exactly what we wanted.

The screen shot above is showing the lesson on seasons. Each part of the K – 2 area is laid out pretty much the same so the kids quickly get to know how to navigate their way around. The lesson on Seasons has 3 chapters, they simply click on a chapter, watch the animation, then do the game and complete the read along area.

Once finished the lesson, they can go back to see their 100% completion bar is full. My kids love to see that filling up!

In this final screen shot above the kids can easily see what they have yet to complete in their online lessons. So next time my 6 year old logs in and chooses science he will notice straight away that he has a lesson not quite completed. It really is that simple and on a Sunday afternoon, I’m truly loving that flexibility!

Would you like to sign your children up for a year of learning and fun with Skwirk?

The lovely people at  Skwirk have very kindly offered all of you 50% Off a 12 month subscription, simply by using the code – worldwide – on sign up. This won’t last forever though so jump over to Skwirk and register now.

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

Disclosure: Our family has been given a subscription to the Skwirk Website in return for my reviews. All opinions regarding Skwirk are mine (and my children’s).

‘We home educate our children and use a variety or resources to facilitate learning for our children. Our two oldest children were at school for several years before we commenced our home educating journey. We home educate our three girls (aged 11,9 and 7). Since starting home education we have seen many educational resources come and go, mostly due to the kids not enjoying their work. Skwirk is one of the resources that is here for the long haul and gets the thumbs up from all three girls.

We use Skwirk as part of our daily learning activities. The layout of Skwirk and the entertaining way in which it is designed greatly increases the enjoyment the kids get from using it. Kacey uses Skwirk at grade level 3, Lauren at grade level 5 and Courtney at grade level 7. Each Skwirk level is appropriately designed and aligned with the age of the kids and the curriculum. The kids use all aspects of Skwirk, giving them a more rounded Kid on Skwirkapproach to learning. They read, complete the activity sheets, watch the animations, participate in the animated activities and watch the videos. These different learning approaches capture the attention of all of my kids. Courtney enjoys the reading, Lauren loves the animations and Kacey likes to watch the videos and do the exams.

The structured, progressive approach of Skwirk makes it really easy for me to set activities for our kids, as it does not require lesson planning and design from me. The lessons are already planned, designed and listed in a logical, easy to follow format. This means the kids are doing most of the learning, rather than me doing it all. Because Skwirk is laid out and clearly defined under core curriculum areas it is really easy for me to keep records and comply with the requirements of the NSW Board of Studies. I think Skwirk is also helping the kids to become independent thinkers and learners as they are now familiar with learning without me having to lead them all of the time.’

Homechoolers can get 30% off of Skwirk’s resources during July with the discount code ‘home’.

Join Skwirk as a home educator today, click here to get started.

Singlemum.com.au has a look at Skwirk online, with SingleMum’s own Miss Six taking it for a test drive…

When I first sat down at the computer with my Kindergarten-student daughter to have an introductory look at Skwirk, I had allowed myself some time to help guide her until she felt she was able to navigate it herself – so much for that plan. I was immediately rendered redundant by her squealing “I want to do it myself Mummy, it’s easy!” whilst mugging the computer mouse – another “Skwirker” was born. Wandering off to make myself a consoling mummy-isn’t-entirely-useless-really coffee, I then strayed back to quietly observe just what it was that had her so hooked from the get-go…

Skwirk

Skwirk (pronounced “Schoolwork” said really, really fast, for those of us in the know) is basically, a parents educational-support dream…

An online program that actually follows your child’s Australian school curriculum to a “T”, right through primary and on to secondary school. It’s kind of like your child’s own private online tutor!

The Skwirk system is split into “Stages”, with Stage 1 being Foundation (Kinder) to year 2, Stage 2 covering Year 3 and 4, and so on. Your child’s login-in profile is based upon their educational Year, and the main menu of subjects that they are presented with upon log-in covers all of the main subjects on offer for their Year at school, according to the current Australian curriculum.

In our case with Kinder, the main menu offered the expected Reading and Maths, but also Human Society and It’s Environment and Science too – just as they do at school. Once your child clicks the subject that they like, they are offered a more detailed selection of different topics, which in turn offer options such as “Read Along” (a colourful article-type page with lots of bright cartoon illustrations), an “Animation” (a short cartoon clip) or a game.

Big, easy to read and click buttons make the usability of this program a real winner for the computer-beginner…

with logical, easy-to-follow step by step progression through the subjects, and an encouraging “everybody wins in the end” philosophy for the games and puzzles.

Certainly for the Kindy kids one of the major draw-cards would have to be Skwirk’s cute “Animations” – short tutorials cunningly disguised as cartoons, complete with wacky sounds that engage and entertain. The clever “carrot and stick” format has each Animation ending with the reward of a fun game to play – again with it’s own lesson built in – a double bonus!

Skwirk

For the later-Stage primary kids, there’s still the same winning format of Animations and other features, with additional Quizzes, Projects, Videos and even Exams. A points system provides further incentive to learn, and for the parents a separate log-on reveals a reporting facility that lets you see how your child is progressing along the way.

The Secondary School Stages offer, again, a syllabus-specific variety of subjects. All this within a media-rich learning environment that serves as an excellent resource and support for students as they move towards those most vital of educational years. Here, as in the other Stages, Sqwirk comes into it’s own as a great learning advantage.

All-in-all, Skwirk is a valuable learning tool, and a highly relevant supplement to Australian school curriculum.

Back at Kindy level, it’s easy to see that little kids regard this introduction to online learning as a lot of fun, and that can only be a good thing. It’s hard not to feel smug with your sheer parenting genius (said with tongue firmly in cheek!) as you watch your kids laughing and giggling their way through puzzles and games that can’t help but support them in their school work. Indeed, Skwirk is so valued in our household now, that Miss Six bargains for extra Skwirk time as a treat, and all I can say about that is – nice one, Mummy!

Get a 25% discount to Skwirk in September. Use the discount code ‘education’ when subscribing. Click here to get Skwirking!

The Skwirk program is used by teachers, students and parents Australia-wide. For further information on how you can access Skwirk for your child, you can visit www.Skwirk.com, or telephone Skwirk on (02) 9438 3637.

Being the Content Manager is a huge responsibility when working on a website like Skwirk. Teachers, schools, parents and students need to be able to rely on and trust our resources. We need to constantly think about new ways to supply content. A lot of this comes from feedback and the direction of the Australian Curriculum. Here’s an example of what an average day is like working as he Content Manager on Skwirk…

8:30am – Check overnight emails from the site’s feedback system. The back end of the site functions exactly like the Lesson Editor for teachers, which means I can make modifications to chapters and assessments within minutes of getting some feedback. Our favourite example of this is from the early days of the new site. A teacher emailed us asking if we could update a page of content about local government to show an Australian mayor. We were able to call her back 15 minutes later and show her the new page with a picture of Sydney’s Lord Mayor.

We also have a quick staff meeting every morning. Sometimes this is about what kinds of deals we’d like to offer parents and teachers; sometimes a member of the team has seen a news article that means I can update a chapter with interesting new information.

10:15am – Around recess we hit the phones to catch up with teachers across Australia who are current trialling the website. This is a really valuable process as we can get feedback from educators who are in their first weeks of learning about the site and how it can help them plan their lessons. We often use this time to give teachers a quick walkthrough of the site’s features in terms of building lessons and searching for content using Australian Curriculum codes. Our consultants have gotten lightning-fast at this – we’ve clocked one walkthrough at 12 minutes!

11:30am – Time to review content and media for whichever sections of the site we’re working on. Recently this has included updating Secondary Maths content, making additions to Primary English content, and adding Shakespeare to the English Texts section. I’m very proud of the way we can both commission new content for the site from great professional teachers from around Australia whilst making use of Public Domain and Creative Commons media from across the internet. I also take the time to review what other sites we love and respect are working on. There’s no right or wrong way to use Skwirk, which includes matching it with resources from places like the ABC Splash website.

1:00pm – Lunchtime! Being an information junkie I usually spend my lunchtimes walking the local neighbourhood listening to podcasts. I usually get back to the office with at least one new idea for a chapter or resource.

2:00pm – Back in the saddle to keep working on the site and take calls from teachers and parents. As Skwirk is used by parents and homeschoolers as well as teachers we always take the time to speak with parents who are interested in using the site to help their children get the best possible education. This is also the time of day when I’ll chat with team leaders about what kinds of questions and comments they’ve been getting from teachers as they trial and subscribe to the site. We have an excellent relationship with the schools who subscribe to us and many of the resources we develop are based on the discussions we have with our partner schools.

5:00pm – Done for the day!

It’s been a busy period for Skwirk. Highlights over the past few years have included helping the site take on a bold new form with amazing features, aligning our thousands of resources with the Australian Curriculum, and making great connections with educators from all over the country. Remember we are always looking for new ideas for content. Please contact us with any information you have on Skwirk. Contact the team, (02) 94383637 or email us, teachers@skwirk.com.au

Happy Skwirking!

  • Bill Cohen