This Homeschooling Life – What January looked like
January has been a strange month. I say that, but with regard to home education, all of our months have been different anyway. I spent half of it still feeling the heavy weight of pregnancy symptoms and the second half being stuck down with what I can only assume actually was the flu, because its still lingering. It’s meant that we haven’t been up to as much as we usually are and after the chaos of Christmas, I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty about that.
I especially felt it last week when we got back into a routine of practising phonics using the Alphablocks Reading Programme we’d set aside for a while. Talitha’s mind is so absorbent and she picks up and retains more complex sound combinations easily now. That should have delighted me but instead I felt guilty for not being more consistent with following the programme. Her reading is coming along so well but there’s always that irrational niggle that says, “Would she be further along by now if she were at school?” And then I remember, she is only four, for goodness sake. There is absolutely no rush. And there’s no need for me to compare her time at home with what happens in a system we’ve chosen to opt out of.
Mostly we’ve just been reading. We’ve been loving Little House in the Big Woods
, which we gave Talitha for Christmas. Nothing really “happens” yet we are both transfixed by it. For me, I’m intrigued by their self-sufficient lifestyle. For her, it’s all about a little girl who lived in a world of bears and panthers and got to make things (even if these things are bullets and butter!). I planned lots of fun activities to go with reading it, like making paper dolls and smoking meat but we haven’t got around to any of it yet! We’re not done reading it yet, though so maybe this month.
Where I haven’t been able to offer more input at times, she’s enjoyed playing, on her own, with her sister and with friends. Indoors and out. She’s gone ahead with creating. Always making something with paper and scissors, glue, tape and junk. Always drawing. Always asking questions. Always wanting to help me with whatever I’m doing.
The other day she suggested we do face painting while Ophelia was sleeping. I painted a butterfly on her face and she painted flowers on mine. Then she wanted to create a story about a butterfly and some flowers for us to act out. We each added parts of the story for “our show”, involving one of the cats as a character. She then suggested that she’d draw the story and write it down. With help, that’s exactly what she did, though we had a bit of brainstorm figuring out how to summarise it in a sentence.
On the weekends and on his days off, Laurence has been doing lots with the girls, whether it’s taking them outdoors somewhere new or just pottering around in the garden. He and Talitha took photographs of a nearby beach the other day and I came downstairs to find them each sketching from one of their shots. This Saturday, they spent a lot of time with a map, checking out the beach we were going to cook lunch on and when we got there, they referred to it again and it was exciting how much she understood from it.
This is something we’ve been talking more about, recently. How can each of us bring our skills and experience to the table with home educating? Something like looking at a map or creating one wouldn’t thrill me. I also wouldn’t find it particularly easy. If we did it, it would be purely for her benefit. On the other hand, it’s a natural thing for him to do with her.
We’ve been doing some bits around Chinese New Year more recently. We’ll be going to a big celebration at a local Chinese supermarket (complete with dragon dance) so in preparation, we’ve been reading books about Chinese New Year, crafts, watching videos and putting up our display.
Another January highlight has been finally getting our hands on a Spielgaben set. It’s essentially a huge set of beautifully made, non-toxic, environmentally sustainable wooden toys which are divided into sets and come with activity guides for play, creativity and mathematics. They’re “manipulatives” in Maths speak. The set appealed to me because I wanted a system with everything in one place to help us approach maths in a physical, practical way and this looked like a lot of fun.
So far, they girls have played with the sets freely and Talitha has done a few of the activities. We’ve started doing them “in order” but before I read the guides, we were just dipping in and out and she came across these 3D shapes she wanted to build. Naturally we got talking about the different between cubes and cuboids and how many faces a pyramid has. The great thing so far is that it’s something that Ophelia can do alongside us, even though she’s not doing anything structured with the pieces. I’m looking forward to delving more into it.
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