100 ways to home educate – How we do it

I volunteered to join in with the 100 Ways to Home Educate blog hop with gusto but now that I’m sitting in front of my computer, I’m left thinking, “But how do we do it?”

I’ve been really reluctant to talk much about this in anything but vague terms, partly because it’s ever evolving. As the girls develop, as I read and learn more, as our circumstances change, home education looks different in our family. So I suppose that openness to change is a defining characteristic of our approach. Talitha is five and a half, Ophelia is three years old and Delilah seven months old. Obviously, Talitha is the only one who’s of compulsory school age.

I can’t claim that we are unschoolers. I do offer activities using resources I’ve assembled and often have a plan for our days, even if loose and flexible. At the same time, I don’t force anything (though I might encourage) and I’m not particularly bothered if the day takes an entirely different shape to the one I imagined. The majority of my children’s time is taken up in free play and independent creating. Some would probably call us eclectic or maybe semi autonomous.

Certainly there’s been no typical week here for quite some time. Between Delilah’s birth seven months ago,  Laurence splitting his weeks between our home in Bristol and his work in Cornwall two weeks after, our trip to Thailand in December, packing up the house and moving in January and the last six weeks of getting to know Cornwall but staying in temporary accommodation a fair way from where we’ll be – well, the rhythms are all over the place.

Still, a few things remain constant. We spend some time each day reading. I read to them a mix of books I’ve chosen and books they have. There’s always a chapter book in there for Talitha (we’re reading Finn Family Moomintroll), picture books for Ophelia and Delilah and a Bible story. Everything else is ever changing. They might ask me to read a few pages from a Wildlife Trust magazine or an Usborne non-fiction book (space, volcanoes and Ancient Rome are current favourites), for instance.

We’ve come to really enjoy this dedicated time reading together. Though I do most of the reading, Talitha will sometimes ask to read to us. Ophelia also “reads” to us, keen to attempt anything her sister is doing.

The other constant in our days is time outdoors. Wanting our children to have masses of  outdoor play was a big motivator in choosing to home educate so we try to get outside every day, no matter what the weather is doing. We loosely follow a Charlotte Mason inspired nature curriculum mainly to give me ideas of things to notice since, having only lived in the UK for just over a decade and having a rather indoors childhood myself, British seasons, flora and fauna are all still new discoveries to me.

Some days Talitha might do workbooks or play Mathseeds or Reading Eggs on the computer. We play card games or she builds structures with various manipulatives (we have a Spielgaben set and cuisenaire rods) or Duplo and we talk about patterns, numbers and how to work stuff out. She loves writing out sums and testing me on them. If she has a question I don’t feel I’m answering well enough, we sometimes look at Khan Academy online to see how they’ve explained it. We were using a free maths curriculum for a while but, though she enjoyed it, I found it too labour intensive. At the moment, this interest-led approach is working well for us. Numbers naturally pop up everywhere in life, whether it’s telling the time or working out how much pocket money she has left. It’s amazing how much kids learn just by having an attentive adult on hand to chat things through with and the time to work on problems at their own pace.

Similarly, writing is child led. She loves to write lists and letters. I often find pictures and sentences related to something we’ve been reading about or something happening in her life. She’s been asking to learn cursive so I’ve started to introduce it using a printable from Twinkl and I can see that it might help her grow more confident with her spelling since she’ll be able to follow the shape of the word. Neither spelling nor cursive are things I’d be inclined to even mention right now so it’s interesting that she’s taken such an interest in them.

In terms of topics, we tend to be led by what either of the girls are showing an interest in. I jot down questions in the notes on my phone and remind them about them when it makes sense. Often something will emerge from an experience or a TV show. We went to a planetarium show back at half term and we had a book about space so we’ve wound up looking at videos and reading stuff off websites about the solar system. We talked about the recently discovered solar system with planets similar to Earth when the news broke.

We’re still finding our way with groups here in Cornwall but so far we’ve done one or two home ed groups a week and met up with friends outside of that, which is pretty much what we did in Bristol too. Talitha was doing ballet and swimming in Bristol and she’s asking to get something similar started again but I’m conscious that we need to move into our new house first and just get a bit settled. Also, at three, Ophelia might like to try something low structure too.

No doubt our approach will morph with time. They are so little yet. And I’m sure Ophelia’s path will look quite different from Talitha’s as we can already see that they’re quite different people. For now, this is a little look at how we’re gently dancing together.

Check out the days and ways covered so far on 100 ways to home ed and see the linky below for new ones added in the month of March.




Home education in times of chaos

I skipped out of doing a home education update for the last couple of months. It’s just been too much with three weeks in Thailand then the house move. Though we’ve now moved out of our home in Bristol, we haven’t moved into our new home near Falmouth. We’re staying in a holiday home near Newquay. It’s beautiful in this part of Cornwall but it’s also a bit remote both from Laurence’s work and from the groups we’re likely to join with, ongoing.

So the days with the kids are pretty long and we’re all doing rather a lot of driving. There is so much to enjoy about being here, though, and I’m looking forward to continuing to make the most of it with some days out planned to locations that will be a bit further away once we’ve moved.

I only say this to explain that I wasn’t sure I’d give an update this month either because we’re still feeling unsettled. Then again, transitions and times of being out of routine are also a part of home ed living so I thought I should write about that too.

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With the chaos of new baby, travels and house move it’s been difficult at times to maintain any sort of predictable rhythm to our days but one thing has remained the same. We read a lot of books and spend a lot of time outdoors. I was also making time to listen to Talitha read but we even fell out of a routine with that. She was instead left to read to herself or her little sisters, which she preferred at the time. Then, suddenly, I realised she was really reading everything, even chapter books. In fact, she started reading ahead in The Folk of Faraway Tree both because she didn’t want the session to end and also because then she felt less scared when I read the next chapter.

It’s become a habit for her to take books to bed, rushing independently through the bedtime routine so she could get into bed and curl up with whatever book she’s reading. Sometimes she manages fine on her own. Other times, she’ll enjoy reading then ask me to read the same chapter of whatever book again so she can learn any words she wasn’t sure about.

Her questions about reading or writing pretty much direct where we go in those areas at the moment. I’m just amazed by how this is all coming together, almost on its own. Ophelia too has started picking out letter sounds. Her progression is already incredibly different from her sister’s. It’ll be equally fascinating seeing how that takes shape too.

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Balancing their needs has been particularly challenging lately with one or the other making it clear when they’re feeling neglected. I often feel like there’s not enough of me to go around. At the same time, they’re learning important lessons about patience, independence and compromise.

Our times away and now in the holiday home have shown me that they really don’t need much in the way of toys. We have books, a few crafty, arty things that the girls have been freestyling with, Duplo, Lego, Hama beads, cuisennaire rods and that’s it.

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Seeing what’s happened with the cuisenaire rods has been pretty interesting because they’ve not played with them for ages but now, with less stuff out, they’ve been loving these. They primarily build with them, without any interference from me, but sometimes Talitha uses them to work out sums she’s not sure about. It’s really sparked an interest in number bonds for her. I notice her working on the same concepts across day-to-day play and conversations, using her pocket money and these rods. These concepts have also been coming up in Mathseeds, an online game she plays. She’s had a revived interest in working on written maths in a workbook she was doing, which was a surprise. Some of her questions were really challenging my ability to explain so we’ve started looking at videos on Khan Academy together, which she’s enjoying more than I could have expected.

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While venturing into these new spaces with my 5.5 year old, I have to keep remembering that my very nearly three year old needs puzzles and picture books, play and singing and dancing a-plenty. I sometimes have to be firm about carving out time to do what Ophelia wants to do now.

We’ve been in Cornwall for a couple of weeks now and have started meeting up with home ed friends we met when we came house hunting last year. We’ve also tried a couple of groups so far and have more visits planned this week. It’s such a relief not to worry about the community aspect of our choices. Though, just to contradict myself, we’ve also just spent a lot of time on our own, mostly on beaches. Right now we’re just getting our bearings but I’ve no doubt we’re going to be just fine settling in.

Home educating through chaos

Actually, what’s been hardest about this time of change has been the spotlight it’s put on how stretched I am, personally. In times of overwhelm, I find myself inwardly screaming “Me too! Me too! I have needs too!” Things are often out of balance, messy, imperfect. I don’t have all the answers about how to fix that, though I do have a few ideas (I need to get back to volunteering and some other work, for one).

Whereas in times past I would have felt guilty about not having it all sorted, treating feeling overwhelmed as if it were a moral failing, I’m actively trying to resist that vicious cycle. I’m also trying to savour the times when it’s all just fine and when I’m feeling thankful that we’re able to choose to live this way. There are a lot of those too.
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Every month, I give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a linky I host with blogger friends Jess and Polly. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This homeschooling life – Our October

OK, so with more than half the month gone, this post is way overdue. Suffice to say, I’m finding life a bit overwhelming right now and whenever I sit down in front of a computer I just think about all the tough bits, stress out, then go watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix instead. Healthy. But Jess, Polly and I committed to this linkup a year ago and, darn it, I will keep going.

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Actually, as I sat down to write about what we got up to in October, my first thought was, “Asbolutely nothing! It was a chaotic month and there’s nothing to show for it.” But then I looked through my phone. We actually had a lot of fun together, even if it was mostly stopping to look at little ways the world changes at this time of year.

We had a lot of fun with leaves, printing, painting, sketching. We also read some poems about leaves changing colour in Autumn. It always amazes me when poetry is a hit, the words washing over the children even if they don’t totally understand what’s happening in the poems. I suppose that’s my experience of them too.

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Also, since October is basically pumpkin month, we used pumpkins as a canvas for painting and carved them on Halloween. I regret not letting the girls have a go for themselves. Certainly Talitha could have managed it but I was impatient to get it over with and risk averse, which meant they got less out of the experience than they could have done. Ah well.

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We spent a couple of weeks in Cornwall, housesitting for friends on their farm. The plan was to get to know Cornwall a bit more before we move but we wound up having to house hunt some more because we had to pull out of the house we were going to buy. We’re still looking, as it turns out.

Going there allowed us to visit National Trust properties. We met up with home ed friends Jess and her kids at Killerton on our way to Cornwall and went to Lanhydrock once we were down there. The older kids had fun doing a scavenger hunt around the house at Killerton and I wound up having an awkward conversation with someone there when he realised my eldest was school-aged but not in school. We’re bound to have more and more of these the older she gets so I’m trying to model courtesy and positivity but it was a reminder that sometimes the conversation is better off kept short.

Talitha went to a couple of home ed workshops without me this month. One was a fossil workshop at Bristol museum. She’s still mad on dinosaurs so it was a nice fit. The other was a mathematics day at At Bristol science centre. She had a brilliant time at both and I’m sure she learned lots but do you think she’d tell me much about what she did? Typical.

We also did lots of activities around Diwali in October, which was a fun opportunity to learn bits about India and about my home country, Trinidad and Tobago, too. We made air drying clay diyas, played with henna, coloured rangoli patterns, watched videos and photographs online and had a Diwali day at two different home ed groups, one in Bristol and one in Cornwall.

Our read aloud this month was My Naughty Little Sister. My mother bought the collection for the girls from a charity shop in the summer and I could not have predicted how much both of them would enjoy it. They found it hilarious, loved the pictures and Talitha asked lots about the era the book was set in because so many things were different. I think they strongly identified with the little sister too.

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Yet all these things are just details. I don’t feel that at their ages it really matters what they learn so long as they’re exposed to a reasonable range of things. Talitha is asking hundreds of questions a day. Learning is happening, whether I’m ready or not. I’m just trying to support that. And not go crazy when I feel like I can’t possibly take listening to another question. She’s reading everything or trying to, and she’s working out sums and subtractions in the things she sees – there is no stopping that. Even if she weren’t doing those things now, she’d do it eventually and what difference would that make in the long run?

This was a hard month, though. She and I clashed lots. I questioned a lot of my choices and felt like I had too much happening and not enough space to process it. Toddlers are hard work. Babies are hard work. I flitted back and forth on my educational philosophy. I wish I could be hardcore, radical and set on what I believe about family life or just about anything, really. But I’m not. I’m open to a lot of ideas and I probably think too much.

I look back on the month and I don’t know if I did it right. I just know I tried my best and we got through it and we will get through this month. When we do, I’ll hopefully remember how good it was more than how hard it was.

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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess and Polly. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This homeschooling life: Our September

I’m a bit late with this update but, hey, that’s life with a five year old, two and a half year old and very soon to be three month old. September was a busy month and, as ever, I’m glad I took pictures to remind me of some of what we got up to. Here are a few of the highlights.

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Aphablocks

Talitha finished the Alphablocks Reading Programme right at the beginning of the month. We hadn’t planned a break over the summer holidays as our routine wasn’t formal enough to warrant that but we ended up having a break nonetheless. The birth of a baby sister and an extended visit from my mother saw to that. When things started to return to normal, Talitha was super keen to finish the last couple of magazines in the series. On one hand, she was really pleased to get there (she has a thing about finishing things) but, on the other, it was all a bit, what now?

So we cracked out a Gold Stars Ready for School workbook that my mum picked up while she was over and Talitha is finding that a lot of fun. She’s continuing to read the Oxford Reading Tree books but, really, she’s having a go reading everything now. I think she enjoys the freedom it gives her, that she can get on with a lot of things on her own while I’m doing things with the other two. The Alphablocks Reading Programme has been a huge hit here and I’ll probably consider getting it again for Ophelia when her time comes. I’ll do a full review some time soon.

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Art

Tie dye was a definite highlight of September. I was surprised at how well Talitha was able to cope with it on her own. I must admit it was a bit stressful helping Ophelia do it when she had no real understanding of why she needed to wear gloves and Delilah kept waking up in her sling. Still, we muddled and the results are above.

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Chapter Books

After we finished The Enchanted Wood, Talitha wanted to read Matilda for Roald Dahl Day. We managed to get it started before the big day. We’ve found it thrilling so far – still a few chapters to go. I’m trying to decide whether we’ll attempt the film. Talitha’s seen the DVD in a shop and is interested. For Roald Dahlm Day at our home ed co-op, Talitha went as Matilda and Ophelia was Mrs Fox from Fantastic Mr Fox.

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Calendar Time

We were doing a “daily learning notebook” from Confessions of a Homeschooler which Talitha loved for months but then got bored of so we forgot about it after a while. We’ve followed the same pattern in quicker succession this month by starting another one, this time by Homeschool Creations. I admit to feeling a bit annoyed about this as, although I was following a request, I printed it against my better judgement. After doing it most days, she declared that she didn’t want to do it anymore. So, I’ve just left it out. She may come back to it or not but if she mentions printing another one in the future we may have to discuss what it is about the idea that she likes.

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Spielgaben

The Spielgaben love is going strong here. The girls forgot about it for a while over the summer but are back into it in a big way now and both of them have had a huge leap in what they want and can do with it now. Usually, I just get one of the books out and choose something I’m going to make and inevitably they start joining me. Ophelia usually tries her own version of what I’m making. Talitha looks through and chooses her own. Then I suggest we try one of the activities in the learning resources and usually it’s a yes. Otherwise, I count things in ones, twos, fives or tens which both of them find interesting. They’ll often join in.

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365 Science Activities

Talitha was given the Usborne’s 365 Science Activities book for her birthday and usually asks to do something from it at a time when I had my hands full of baby or something else and couldn’t find any of the materials. So we agreed to make time for it and have actually scheduled in “science experiment time” two days a week where she and Ophelia choose an activity in advance so I can make sure we have what’s needed. So far, we’re all learning a lot!

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The Maritime Museum

We finished off September with a week in Cornwall. We’re moving out there so needed to spend some time getting to know the place. We met up with other home ed families and went along to a home ed group so that was really helpful in terms of visualising what our week might look like out there. We also spent a day and a half in the Maritime Museum in Falmouth because the girls really enjoyed it. They had a Viking exhibition on which I hoped might inspire as I’m a bit dinosaur-ed out. Of course, I pointed out something they’d made from amber only to jog Talitha’s memory of something she’d seen fossilised in amber in a dinosaur book she’d been reading!

They have actually become really interested in Vikings but that’s more thanks to Cressida Howell’s How to be a Viking, which we bought from the gift shop. It makes sense that fiction is a catalyst when I consider that my interest is piqued by The History Channel’s Vikings. They did enjoy the exhibition, though. In fact, our time at the museum warrants its own post, really, which I will also hopefully get to soon. Above, they’re checking out snow fox pelts and a walrus tusk a Norse woman is trading.

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Do you home educate? Please do consider linking up any post about something you’ve been up to below. All approaches welcome! x

Other posts in this series:

What I learned from our first year of home education
What I loved about our first “term” of home educating
Why we want to home educate

Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess and Polly. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



What I learned from our first year of home education

Talitha would be starting Year 1 today if she were in school. This is significant to her because she has friends in school and because it gets mentioned in her church group. We don’t follow the national curriculum so it doesn’t mean much to me other than we’ve talked about it because it matters to her. I am, however, keenly aware of her age. She turned five in June which means that we are now legally home educating. This doesn’t particularly change anything that we’re doing but it’s another big step, you know? Yes, we’re really doing this.

As we come to the end of what would have been her Reception year, our first year of officially home educating, I’ve taken a moment to reflect, not on what she’s learned but on what I have.

Stop comparing
Home educating, like all things parenting, is vulnerable to the beast that is comparison. It’s too easy to compare myself to other parents. I wish I were as organised, creative or relaxed as they are. Or worse, I could compare what my kid is doing to what others are, whether they’re schooled or not. Should she know that by now? Would she be if she were in school? Has she done that too soon? Have I pushed her without meaning to? Is this the right approach? Maybe they’ve got it right and I haven’t. It can go on and on.

At some point in the last year, I decided not to pay too much mind to what anyone else was doing. We just have to do what works for us and no one else is going to be able to work out what that is. As for what the kids are doing, they really are all different so that’s another reason to keep my eyes on what’s in front of me.

Respond positively to criticism
I’ve been surprised by how sensitive I can be to perceived criticism. I’m putting this down partly to this having been a stressful year with being pregnant and hideously tired and Laurence’s job situation changing all the time, often taking him away. I think it’s also to do with there being no concrete measure of success to what I’m doing and I don’t cope so well with that. No one is coming along with a red ink pen to tick my life decisions. The fact that I even want that hugely exposes the lasting impact of my own schooling.

I am trying to remember that what looks like criticism is often curiosity or a well-intended suggestion. I’m also trying to invest less in what others think of me and to avoid getting in too deep with people who leave me feeling negative.

Don’t buy everything
One of the amazing things about home educating today is the sheer number of resources available. Thanks to the internet, it’s easy enough to find something for everything – and possibly get ridiculously overwhelmed. I confess I have a habit of shopping around – Ooh, that looks good – but realistically, my five-year-old doesn’t need that much. A lot of the time we can make do with what we have or there’s something free online or at the library. So, I’m trying to be more disciplined about using what we’ve got and only looking for something else if the need arises. Mostly, I’m the one who needs to do more reading and thinking – for my own benefit!

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It’s all learning

I knew this before but I’m even more aware of it now. Whether she’s in the garden, playing dress up with her little sister or drawing alongside friends – it’s all learning. Education isn’t something that starts when I say – in fact, most learning happens when she says. She’s often doing her thing and working things out quietly while she plays, stops to ask a big question all of a sudden or debates something with a friend.

Learning happens regardless
This has been such a lightbulb. This year has ended up being a lot less structured than I planned, mostly because I was exhausted with the pregnancy and then, more recently, busy with a newborn. I felt awful about the fact that I was often having to say “not now” to things Talitha wanted to do together and I am looking forward to being able to make more plans with her now that I’m feeling loads better.

But learning has happened regardless. Periods when we hadn’t done anything to do with maths or reading for weeks, we’d come back to it and she’d got there on her own, either by looking at books quietly or just things clicking as she played. She can read enough to do a lot of things independently now and though she may have got there faster if she were in school or if I’d spent more time on it with her (she showed all the signs of reading early) I’m happy that she’s got to where she’s got in a way that hasn’t been stressful for either of us and that she can really take ownership of the process.

This is about all of us
More than ever, I’m convinced that home education for us is a family-led pursuit. It’s not just about my agenda or theirs, it’s about figuring out what works for all of us as a family. We are all happier when we have some plans in place but we must not be inflexibly ruled by them. Sometimes one child’s needs must be attended more urgently. And in the excitement of trying the latest thing with the eldest child, the younger ones must not be neglected. My own needs, too, matter. Having a childcare day once a week massively helps with that.

What I learned from our first year of home education

We don’t have to go out all the time
The final thing I’ve learned is that we don’t have to have a routine packed with groups, workshops, outings and even play dates. We can mix it up. Sometimes we thrive on being out loads. Sometimes none of us want to leave the house for a while. Most weeks are a happy mix of both. This is a relief for me, especially with a new baby who needs quiet time at home. I’m sure it would be different if my children didn’t have each other but even though they do fight, they get so much from playing together. It’s alleviated Talitha’s manic need to have somewhere we were going and someone we were seeing every day back when she was three.

We all need order
I’ve never been very good at the whole tidying thing but this has been the year we’ve started to crack it. We still have a way to go but high usage items now vaguely have their place and the kids (and I) are getting better at putting things away before moving on to the next thing. Investing time and energy into this means that I am much happier and they are able to play more creatively because they know where to find things and remember what’s available.

Watch the child

I’ve been reminded again and again that one of the reasons we’re home educating is to give our children the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Sometimes we’ve hit pause on something (like an online maths game) because it just wasn’t clicking and then Talitha’s suddenly wanted to give it a go at a later date and suddenly found she’s able to do it.

I’ve also realised that she and her little sister are very different people. Talitha was writing her name before the age of two and knew all her alphabet sounds. Ophelia isn’t doing any of that but she could count accurately earlier than her big sister could, understanding the correlation between objects and numbers. One drew earlier and the other built earlier. And none of this is any predictor of their future abilities, education or career paths – just as the earlier walker isn’t necessarily the one pegged for athletic prowess. Being home educated simply means that they can progress to wherever they’re going just as they’re meant to.

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Do you home educate? Please do consider linking up any post about something you’ve been up to below. All approaches welcome! x

Other posts in this series:

July
June
What I loved about our first “term” of home educating
This Homeschooling Life – the very beginning

Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This Homeschooling Life – What July looked like

OK, so this update is a little overdue but since the big educational centrepiece of the month was the appearance of the girls’ new baby sister, I reckon I’m allowed to be late. I’m hoping to soon write about all my big reflections from our first year of “officially” home educating.

Talitha has a pretty even split of friends who go to school and who are home educated so she’s well accustomed to telling people that she’s “homeschooled” (“home educated” is too long to say, she tells me). She’s also excited about being in “Year 1” though it doesn’t really mean that much here as we move according to her abilities and interests, as well as the rhythms of family life. To her, it means she’s growing up. I’m so aware that she is. I am challenged by what it’s going to mean, keeping up with her this year.

That I mostly look forward to that reminds me that this is once again the right choice for our family. We have a lot happening this year that home educating fits well with. I’ll hopefully be able to share that soon too. For now, on to a little of what we got up to in the month of July (what I remember at the moment anyway!).

this homeschooling life - july-4

Spotting nature
Like most young children, the girls are always fascinated with stopping to notice the small things. They’re always asking me what things are called and more often than I’d like, I don’t know the answer, so we take a picture and they look them up in our books at home or we have a look online.

this homeschooling life - july-3

A week before Delilah was born we took a walk in Leigh Woods which I actually had to coax Talitha into by offering to print out a nature scavenger hunt. She loves having a list to tick! I gave Ophelia one too and they both had great fun finding different things in the forest, especially birds. We had some time just being quiet and listening carefully then talking about what we’d heard. The girls even got to build their first den.

this homeschooling life - july-2

They’ve also done quite a lot of nature walking with Laurence, which saw Talitha start a nature journal and he took them to a nature spotting session with the RSPB at democratic community The Garden, in Bristol.

this homeschooling life - july-6

Words and numbers
We actually haven’t done much in the way of formal work for a while as Laurence has been around more than usual and we’ve fallen out of routine. I was pretty tired and distracted towards the end of pregnancy and have been a wee bit, um, busy, since. But late July Talitha started bringing books to me and surprising me by reading them. They were books we’d laid aside weeks before because she was finding them too difficult.

Then I realised that she is almost constantly working on reading in moments alone. She’s also reading lots to Ophelia. She’s still in the process of figuring out that she can read quite a lot, which is interesting to see. Ophelia is now insisting on “reading self” by making up little stories to go with the pictures.

this homeschooling life - july-9

Adding, subtracting and counting in twos and tens are games of Talitha’s own making. Ophelia continues to count everything and the two can now decently play certain board games together with a bit of support.

Other than that, we’ve just done bits and pieces off the cuff as we get a pocket of time when the mood strikes, as with this Olympics print out from Twinkl.

this homeschooling life - july-10

Chapter book of the month
We had to abandon The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in the end as Talitha was just finding it too scary. She kept worrying about what would happen when they eventually found Mr Tumnus and the white witch. So I figured that what happens to Aslan at the stone table might be a bit too much just now. Instead, she asked to read The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. She was so taken with The Magic Faraway Tree that her godfather and his family bought her its prequel for her birthday. She’s enjoying spotting familiar, well-loved characters as they’re introduced in the book.

this homeschooling life - july-7

Gardening
With Laurence around and me needing a fair bit of space, the girls have spent a lot of time gardening. They harvested their potatoes from the Grow Your Own Potatoes scheme and have observed butterflies and bees taking in their wildflowers from a Kew Gardens’ educational project we started back in April. They’ve also done much else with him, planting, weeding, harvesting. This is an exciting time of year when the garden gives us almost all the vegetables we eat.

this homeschooling life - july-8

Ballet and music
With the term ending, Talitha finished another year of ballet, complete with a big show. At her age, it really is just a bit of fun but she takes it quite seriously and never wants to miss a class. Having to get dressed up in different costumes and performed learned routines for a big audience was extremely exciting for her. She’s also finished her first term with Blackbird Early Years Music and is keen to keep going with that.

this homeschooling life - july-11

I think things will continue to be easygoing over the next month as my hands are full of newborn, my mother is staying with us for the summer holidays and Laurence is away at least one day a week with work. By necessity, we will have to do some structured work as Talitha is actively requesting it, though. We will probably get back into routine at some point in the new “term” but with a new baby, I can’t say for sure what that will look like. There’s a lot of learning in rolling with that too, for all of us.

—————————-

Do you home educate? Please do consider linking up any post about something you’ve been up to below. All approaches welcome! x

Other posts in this series:

June
May
April
March
February
January
What I loved about our first “term” of home educating
November
October
September
This Homeschooling Life – the very beginning

—————

Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This Homeschooling Life – What June looked like

It’s time to reflect on another month of home education. As we come to the end of the school year, a lot of friends have asked how we’ve found it. I have learned so much this year about balance.

I started the year flitting between going to loads of home ed groups and outings, and just staying in. I’ve learned so much about the value of self-direction but have also become more confident about when and how to offer structure and support.

I worry less about what other people are doing and simply enjoy seeing both my children grow and develop. We’ve had so much fun together.

This Homsechooling life - June

That’s despite me not feeling great a lot of the time these past nine months from first trimester sickness to pregnancy exhaustion and mild depression to now being less mobile. In that time, they’ve each become a lot more independent and helpful. And they’re so into playing together!

There have been “recognisably” productive periods and weeks where we’ve completely gone with the flow. I imagine there’ll be even more of that dance once baby number three is here. My guess date is in a couple of weeks but who knows, eh?

Friends have asked whether we plan to “take a break” over the summer holidays. What we do is actually really low key and informal so I don’t think we really need a rest. The things we do are things that the girls want to do.

Certainly, I don’t intend to do anything that involves planning – mostly because I’m about to have a baby! – but we’ve reorganised the playroom to allow the girls to reach for what they want to do. I either lend a hand or encourage putting away after. Clearly I didn’t do enough of that over the weekend, though, because I’d like to show you what we’ve done to the room but it’s a bit too messy for me to take pictures right now!

Talitha’s drive to learn to read has seriously intensified over the last month. I think it’s been a huge revelation to her that she can read quite a lot. It’s something I’ve noticed for a while but for some reason it’s only just occurred to her that this is a thing – a thing she’s really excited about.

This Homsechooling life - June-10

We’re almost done with the Alphablocks Reading Programme. I did an introduction post back when they sent it to me a couple of years ago but I’ll do a proper review of that at some stage soon.

I don’t at all think this is the approach for every child or even that every child reads at a certain age but Talitha has loved those magazines and I often have to tear her away from them so we can go out. She still prefers to do them with me (a time together thing, I think) but now that she can read most of the instructions herself, I can sort of dip in and out with her while playing something else with Ophelia.

I also ordered the next batch of Oxford Reading Tree books (marmite for both kids and adults, I know!) and she’s loving powering through those while realising she can read other books too. Reading to her little sister is now a favourite activity.

What’s just as brilliant is hearing Ophelia “read” in return, which mostly involves looking at the pictures and making up her own stories! She can recognise her name and Talitha’s and loves repeating what we say when we read books, which is like the toddler reading equivalent to stopping to look at every flower and insect on a walk around the corner – cute, fun but slow!

Talitha did a home ed class with The Animation Workshop. Together, in three hours, the group made this cool stop motion animation telling the story of St George and the Dragon. She especially loves spotting her name in the credits.

The girls’ drawings have been really interesting to observe over the past month. Ophelia has suddenly gone from scribbling to drawing faces and actual things with a clear idea of what she’s drawing. Laurence is often pointing out to me that Talitha is using perspective and including new details. I must admit, I’d often just look at her pictures thinking they’re cool but not really knowing why. She got an Usborne drawing book for her birthday, which she’s a bit obsessed with. It seems she’s building on ideas she’s already been developing, which is fascinating to see.

It’s interesting seeing her handwriting develop too. I’m conscious that I haven’t helped her much with this at all and while her letter formation looks solid, her technique often isn’t the most efficient. At this stage, I don’t feel that matters much but she’s been asking to learn to write in cursive and, knowing how I’ve benefited from it (writing more quickly and thinking more creatively in cursive) I’m considering finding something she can follow if she wants to give it a go. This month she’s written a lot of thank you cards for her birthday. We still have a few more to do.

We gave the Mathematics Enhancement Programme a go as I mentioned we would last time and got through the first term of reception in a couple of weeks partly because I didn’t ask all the practice questions because it was all stuff she’d already conceptually grasped simply through real life. I’m inclined just to keep encouraging her to play with our Spielgaben set and offering the resources that come with that when she wants more input. Ophelia is now solid on her colours, having been mad on learning them a month ago, and is obsessed with counting everything.

fantastic mr fox - instagram

In June, we read Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. It’s such a page turner! We have started C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. While she really wants to know what happens next and is highly engaged with the story, I’m actually not sure whether we’ll manage it because she’s finding it scary. It’s hard sometimes to know when to encourage her to keep going or just shelf something for later on. She’s also been a bit unwell lately which always prompts her to requests audiobooks so we’ve been listening to Paddington Bear.

This month has involved making the most of Laurence being around more by going on outings I would have struggled with on my own. We camped on a goat farm just after half term and met up with my friend Jess and her kids at Barrington Court, a beautiful Tudor National Trust property.

This Homsechooling life - June-9

This Homsechooling life - June-4

This Homsechooling life - June-6

We also enjoyed a look around Bristol’s Victorian attraction, Brunel’s ss Great Britain. The girls loved running in and out of cabins and looking at the lifelike wax models.

This Homsechooling life - June-8

This Homsechooling life - June-7

A ticket allows you a year’s access so we’ll be back to take it in at our own pace too. It seems an easy place to take them on a quiet day midweek when the baby’s here, regardless of the weather. It’ll also be a useful outing depending on whether we dig more into history over the coming year.

Kids yoga_

Other highlights include lots of gardening, an intro to yoga via Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube and enjoying birthday presents like the sewing kit below.

This Homsechooling life - June-3

Ooh, and this is why it’s good that I take photos, I almost forgot that a huge deal this month has been watching our caterpillars become butterflies! Hopefully, this will become a yearly tradition for us.

This Homsechooling life - June-2

Do you home educate? Please do consider linking up any post about something you’ve been up to below. All approaches welcome! x

Other posts in this series:

May
April
March
February
January
What I loved about our first “term” of home educating
November
October
September
This Homeschooling Life – the very beginning

—————

Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up