This homeschooling life – What March looked like

It’s funny how you can feel like not much is happening when you’re in the middle of something but then look back and be blown away by just how much has happened. That’s one of the reasons I value recording these highlights of home education journey each month.

March has been a tough one for me because I’ve been tired, irritable and struggling to cope with day-to-day tasks quite a lot of the time. I’ve seen the doctor and we’re doing some tests just to rule out the usual physical suspects that come up when pregnant. In the meantime, life goes on as it has to with small children. And looking at this post, I’m so grateful for how much we’re managing without me being that up to it.

This homeschooling life - Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

This month has been all about dinosaur madness and the interest just seems to be deepening. It started with Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train which Talitha is utterly hooked on. It’s such a good show too. She’s learning masses about dinosaurs, prehistoric times, animal classification and scientific discovery to just name a little of what this imaginative show manages to weave together.

She wants to talk endlessly about the things she’s learned, often asking questions I can’t answer which we then write down and look for the research online or in books. When we go to the library she wants to borrow dinosaur books and read them repeatedly, asking questions, making observations and drawing comparisons. She has ideas about what she wants to find out more about when we visit the dinosaur section of Bristol Museum so I think a trip to a bigger museum is on the cards.

She’s often role playing with the toy dinosaurs she was given and wants to tell me all about their features, what they are and what they do. Every song from the show is memorised and she’s even adapted the song “I’m a hungry, hungry herbivore” to “I’m a hungry, hungry omnivore” at mealtimes. It’s beyond cute hearing Ophelia join in with the songs and identify the “saurus” too. Talitha is fascinated with how big dinosaurs were so we’ve been doing lots of measuring on the ground with tape and comparing our feet to various dinosaur feet. She’s also been measuring all of us and objects,making comparisons.

Whenever we’ve gone for nature walks she quotes the paleontologist’s line at the end of every episode: “Get out into nature and make your own discovery.” She’s very keen to go look at fossils with Laurence in Lyme Regis when it’s a bit warmer but I don’t think she’s quite wrapped her head around that not being a digging thing.


Whales and Dolphins

Whales and dolphins also got a look-in when she stumbled across an old book Laurence was given as a child. It’s not a children’s book but she asked me to read all of it, comparing animals and asking what words meant when she didn’t understand. I have to admit I was bit taken aback at the comments about captivity (it’s an old book) so I asked her questions about that and fielded hers. I think she’s quite shocked that an orca meant to have so much freedom and autonomy would be kept in a fish tank and made to perform and that this treatment so severely limits its lifespan.

We then looked to see what other marine life books we had and wound up using the website links at the back of Usborne’s Under the Sea which led us into a world of discovery. A happy afternoon was spent listening to whale noises and imitating them then pretending to be a whale family.

This homeschooling life - Spring crafts

Easter
Of course, a highlight of this month has been Easter. I meant to do all sorts of Easter activities and readings in the lead up but just didn’t manage it in the end. We mostly just made things Talitha suggested, read the Easter story over and over and looked for answers to confusing questions. We had a lovely Easter party with our home ed group, which involved an egg hunt and Easter crafts.

We’d made salt dough decorations beforehand but not all of them got used so we took the rest home and Ophelia has been painting them alongside Talitha’s various painting projects. We then hang them up on a branch that was our Easter tree but has become our Spring tree. She’s so proud of them.

Writing lists and letters
Talitha’s been writing lists and letters for a long time now but I was getting a bit tired of always either writing them out for her to copy or having to spell everything at her request. So I suggested that she just start writing them the way they sound and not worry about it being “right”. She was unsure at first but now I think she’s delighted by the freedom in finding she doesn’t need me to be able to write what she wants to write. The spelling is often hilarious but it makes sense and she’s learning so much from thinking about how words sound and what she wants to say.

Someone got the hang of finger knitting today. She even exclaimed, "I love this!" and made herself a bracelet.

A photo posted by Adele Jarrett-Kerr (@beautiful.tribe) on

Finger knitting and sewing
I think my renewed interest in crafting has sparked Talitha’s. Since I’m crocheting a blanket for the new baby, she wanted to do some needlework too. So far she’s finished a sewing card and learned to finger knit. She had said she wanted to actually sew something so we were going to give a fairy a go but she changed her mind and decided she wanted to do more finger knitting instead. Even Ophelia is trying to do it as well but it’s tricky because she really doesn’t have the coordination for it yet and doesn’t want me to help her! N

ext on Talitha’s list is arm knitting because she saw a basket she wants to try. We don’t have the materials for it, though so I might suggest we trying making things with the finger knitting first.

This homeschooling life - Spring gardening-2

Gardening and the outdoors
We are all so happy that Spring is finally here, even if most days are still grey and chilly! The girls have been asking to go outside even more than usual, spending hours in the garden playing with their mud kitchen, which has now become a mud cafe, apparently, going looking for things, playing on their slide and gardening. Ophelia is practising using her scooter out there too.

They’ve been doing lots of gardening with Laurence especially, planting seeds for our summer veg and flower beds, watering the greenhouse and continuing to harvest winter veg. They’re learning so much about growing through it all and more importantly, loving it. He’s also recently taken them foraging for garlic and all of us checked out a cave in Goatchurch to look at bats and minerals.

I am so grateful for his input into this as I can’t say I’ve been that enthusiastic about going outside, getting into nature and making my own discoveries recently! 🙂 I am motivated to do more in the garden, though, especially because Ophelia rang away from an earthworm shouting “snake!” the other day!
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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, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and 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



This Homeschooling Life – What February looked like

Looking back on the highlights of February, there’s a lot to choose from. But, actually, blogging about it is going to be a little like it was living it – I’m hugely grateful for all we’ve had access to but I’m too tired to dwell much on any of it. Our days at the moment revolve around a few planned fun things then me trying to recover from whatever we’ve done. It’s been amazing seeing both the girls developing in their own right and enjoying each other’s company so immensely.

This homeschooling Life - Fire station

This homeschooling Life - Fire station-2

Big highlights have got to include a field trip to a fire station. Another home ed parent arranged this and it made such an impression.

This homeschooling Life - Fire station-3

The firefighters explained a bit about fire safety, the kids got to try on their helmets (Talitha was sure to tell me how smelly it was!) and explore the fire engine, and we even got to see them get into their gear and dash off to emergencies a couple of times.

This homeschooling Life - Chinese New Year painting

We also really enjoyed the Chinese New Year celebrations at Bristol Museum. We’d been learning about the festival at home, reading books, watching videos, doing crafts and putting up a little display. Talitha got to try her hand at Chinese calligraphy and participated in a dance workshop. Ophelia is still very proud of the monkey picture she stuck sequins and feathers all over. The Bristol University lion dancers were truly the most memorable bit of the day.

This homeschooling Life - Chinese New Year Mask

This homeschooling Life - Chinese New Year Lion Dance

We came to the end of Little House in the Big Woods and Talitha wanted to start another chapter book straight away. I remembered that we somehow managed to forget to continue The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton so we started that again late in February and we’re still enjoying it now. For some reason reading it now is flowing a lot better for both of us. For me, it’s probably because first trimester nausea has passed and for Talitha being that bit older means she’s getting the humour a lot more now.

It’s a bit hit and miss as to whether Ophelia will listen or at least occupy herself while we read or whether she’ll grab the book out of my hands and fling it across the room! She doesn’t really nap anymore so I’m finding ways around this by reading books she chooses beforehand then setting up an activity like playdough or cutting with scissors for her to do while I’m reading to them both.

This homeschooling Life - Spielgaben

Throughout February, Talitha was still using the Alphablocks Reading Programme and loving it. She stopped being keen for a bit so we put it away and then she realised that we’d accidentally skipped a magazine. She soon got back to enjoying that.

Both girls played with the Spielgaben set most days. Ophelia was happy to do her own thing but Talitha wanted “to do something” so she started going through the games and activities in the printed resources.

Talitha also started requesting Reading Eggs again which surprised me because she’d lost interest in it a while ago (I think it may have taken a leap and got a bit difficult). We still have our subscription so she’s back to playing it. Ophelia sits with her and watches, naming everything that comes on screen. How they’ve manages not to fight over it so far, I have no idea.

This homeschooling Life - Leigh Woods

We also did some seasonal bits around Pancake Day, Lent and Trinidad Carnival. But I’ll just say that in passing because it’s late and I don’t have any vaguely thrilling photos to share. Laurence had the day off on Pancake Day so brought the camping stove to our home ed group and cooked pancakes for everyone. We were supposed to go to a National Trust Pancake Day event but we couldn’t find it so ended up just having a play in Leigh Woods instead.

We were also glad to be able to celebrate Laurence and Ophelia’s birthdays all together as a family and to go to the 20-week scan without, as it happened, having to try to book anyone off work or school. Laurence was around quite a lot with the ebb and flow of freelance so we were able to share time with the girls more than usual. That’s seen the girls get outdoors more than they would have done otherwise and do some bits in the garden like planting seeds and shoveling manure(!).

All in all, it was another month to be grateful that we’ve been able to choose this for our girls so far. I must admit that day to day, I question how well I’m doing just about anything (home educating, partnering, parenting, working – y’know, living) but Laurence and I feel very settled that this is what we’ll be doing next year as well. He’s brilliant at encouraging me on days when I just can’t see enough of the positives myself when the kids have gone to bed and I have little energy left over.

—————

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. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and 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



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.

Spielgaben

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.

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



What I loved about our first “term” of home educating

As the second term of the school year starts, the fact that my four-and-a-half-year-old is not in Reception is still both fresh and something we’re already quite used to. Taking a quick look back as I think ahead to what this new term might hold, there are a few things I’m grateful for.

Siblings spending more time together
Talitha and Ophelia have really started playing together in earnest, complete with dressing up, pretending, challenging each other and lots of running around. I know this would have happened anyway, even if Talitha were away most days, but I am thankful for the extended time they have together right now. This new development has made home life much easier as their individual need for my input is far less intense, met instead in each other.

Not having to do a school run
I know this will seem silly to some but we really aren’t morning people. Apart from a few months as a baby, when Talitha deemed 5.30am morning, both girls have always been relatively late risers. Even when they wake up, we spend a bit of time lounging around, playing and chatting in bed, slowing easing into getting breakfast, let alone getting dressed.

I’ve especially appreciated this because I’m pregnant with a third child, something I’ve not mentioned here yet but will blog about soon. I’m twelve weeks pregnant, so we’re looking forward to welcoming our new baby in July. Occupying the girls here at home and getting out as much as usual has been a challenge when I’m feeling nauseous and tired. Yet, I honestly choose that over having to get out of bed early or go do pick up when anytime past 2pm has been exhaustion point for me. And I definitely have been grateful to have them both around to play with each other when I’ve needed to take a moment. See point above.

Seeing her unlock new ideas
Talitha has sped along in her reading this past term, mostly on her own. In fact, she’s surprised us both when we’ve borrowed early readers from the library and found she’s able to read at least most of them. It’s been interesting too seeing how well she follows chapter books now, hungry for the next chapter, the next book. I really cherish the hours spent reading to her.

I’ve been fascinated too by how she’s begun to understand numbers and mathematical concepts mostly by just playing with an abacus and everyday objects. I want to support her more in this and have bought a Spielgaben set from someone on eBay which is now with friends over in Brighton. I’ll let you know what it’s like when we get our hands on it later this month.

With open access to craft supplies (sometimes to the detriment of the house thanks to our toddler), she’s often creating her own models, drawing things I couldn’t and generally coming up with ideas that surprise me. I know this would happen whether or not she were in school but I really treasure the time we have to explore new things, to go at her pace and follow her interests.

Getting an education myself
With all this exploration, the questions she asks often throw me. I try to write them down, talk through them and help her find answers. Everything from substance to animals to God to human bodies to space gets a look in. I learn so much with our conversations as a starting point. Often, I have to slow down and question things I thought I knew too.

I’ve also been learning about balance. The balance between offering her my plans and being led by her spontaneity, going out and staying in, how much time outdoors, how many classes we sign up to, how to meet everyone’s needs, when to accept that’s not always going to be possible and so on.

Going on holiday in term time

We had the pleasure of going to Madeira with Laurence’s parents in November and the freedom of that was thrilling. I imagine it might still be possible to do that if she were in Reception as she’s only four and not legally required to be attend until the term after she’s five but it’s nice knowing that even next year, we’ll be able to do the same thing. We’re taking our decision to home educate a year at a time but with the application process beginning again this month, we already know we won’t need any forms.

Delving deeper into friendships
We made some wonderful new friends in the home ed community and had the chance to go deeper with friends we already knew who are also taking this route. That’s been so valuable for both Talitha and me. I’m looking forward to much more of that in the coming year.

—————

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. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and 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 Circus Queen
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



This Homeschooling Life – November

That time’s rolled around again to look back at what we’ve been up to as a home educating family.

This has been a month of contrasts. At the start of the month, we got up to quite a lot of in terms of organised activities but things got looser as the days passed as I’ve not been feeling well and Ophelia’s going through a rough patch sleepwise. Actually, that mix suited us just fine. That’s one of the brilliant things about home educating, slowing down is not a problem when life calls for it.

Time for the highlights:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Activities for kids
Falling in love with chapter books
We’ve dipped in and out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the past but my four-year-old enjoyed it but didn’t seem to quite follow it so having read quite a lot of the book, we shelved it. Then a friend suggested My Father’s Dragon and that was a blast.

On the hunt for the next winner, I picked up a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was clear from the start that it would be a hit so I themed some activities for us to do alongside it. Check out my list of Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for young children.

We’re fully into The Magic Faraway Tree now – such a trippy book and already well-loved.

The tricky thing about reading longer books is finding ways to engage Ophelia while we’re reading so I often wait until she’s having a nap but she doesn’t nap that reliably at the moment (could be linked to the crazy nights above). So I’m often pulling out something for her to do or requesting cups of tea from the toy kitchen while we read.

Diwali in our home-8
Diwali
I totally forgot when I first published this post that we did loads around Diwali this month! And Bonfire Night of course! We made our own diyas and read and looked at lots about India and the Hindu festival of light. Diwali is a big deal in Trinidad and Tobago, where I’m from, so it was a chance to connect my kids with their heritage too. Here’s what we got up to on the day itself in my post, Diwali with my kids.

this homeschooling life november-3
Christmas decorations and other crafts
We made so many Christmas decorations this month. Personal favourites are these pipe cleaner beauties as both girls were able to do them.

We also rearranged the diningroom furniture, making the scrap box (an enormous chest full of recycling) accessible to the girls so they’ve been busy pulling things out and involving the most random objects in their games. Talitha has also been getting the glue and scissors out and making all sorts of amazing things from robots to play food, totally on her own.

On one hand, leaving them access to junk and art supplies makes for a lot of mess (the toddler scribbles on our walls speak the truth of this – thanks, Ophelia). On the other, the creativity, confidence and independence that emerges from it is well worth it. Now that most things have a place, they find it easier to help tidy up too.

Holiday in Madeira this homeschooling life november-2
We spent the last week of November in Madeira with Laurence’s parents and what a brilliant holiday that was. It’s not something that would have been doable if Talitha were in school (certainly not once she’s five) since the term’s still going, so I’m counting it as a home ed highlight.

Of course, being in Madeira raised so many fascinating questions about airports, airplanes, maps, climate, countries – you name it! Kids’ curiosity is primed for learning.

I hope to blog about it later this week, which may interest any families considering Madeira as a holiday destination.

—————

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. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and 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 Circus Queen
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



This Homeschooling Life #3 – There’s life in lots of things

Life outdoors
We’ve chosen to home educate partly because we want our kids to spend their short childhoods outdoors. I have to say, though, that it’s easy to feel convinced about this in the middle of summer and quite another when the world starts getting colder, darker and wetter.

Yet, the children are usually happy to be outside, regardless of the weather, especially Ophelia who hasn’t yet picked up on my aversion to the colder months.

Mostly, I’ve been happy to stick them in their rain suits and chuck them out into the garden while I keep an eye from the kitchen. We found a slide by the side of the road the other day and it’s been a brilliant addition. So they’re often out there sliding, mixing up horrors in their mud kitchen, blowing bubbles and drawing on the patio with chalks.

I’m aware that I need to get out there too, for their sake as well as mine. I’ve lapsed in gardening and shied away from initiating woodland walks. It’s just so easy to become sedentary, holed up indoors at this time of year.

This homeschooling life - life in many things-5 Talitha at her monthly horseriding lesson

I’ve been reading a bit around Charlotte Mason recently (she was a respected thinker on education, in case you’ve not come across her) and the reminder that children should be spending many hours a day outdoors really challenged me. My kids would happily do that.

Would I? I’d probably find it difficult to be fully present, to slow down and really absorb the experience. In short, I think I’d get bored, which makes me think that I should commit to doing this more. I’d also be focused on feeling cold. So, two things need to happen. I need to kit myself out at the charity shop and I need to actually dedicate the time.

Hopefully by the time I write our next home education update, I’ll have more to tell about our outdoor adventures.

This homeschooling life - life in many things-4

I’ve been enjoying reading Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family. It brings together ideas for “Ed-ventures”, getting out of the house (and the classroom) and learning in the real world, whether that be a lake, a castle or an airport.

Some of the ideas work for Talitha’s age, like painting rocks for the garden or drawing minibeasts you find but many of them are geared toward older children, so I think we’ll get lots out of this in years to come.

Life in stories

Talitha has always gravitated towards books in any room. At times, I’ve felt frustrated that she’d choose to sit with books when we’d made the effort to go out to a group so she could play with other children. I’ve since realised that she does both, that it’s about her pace not what I think she should be doing and that I was the same as a child.

We’ve been borrowing Usborne first readers from the library and she’s been delighted that she can read them. Often she reads a line then looks for what she’s read about in the picture or she’ll ask me questions about what she’s read. It’s a real delight to both of us that she’s understanding what she’s reading.

Even better, we’re just enjoying a life in stories, with me reading more chapter books and short stories and listening to audiobooks while playing. She’s been particularly loving listening to a CD of The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr Seuss Stories. The girls have their own CD player and both of them have learned how to operate it, though Ophelia needs a hand and she’s not quite co-ordinated enough to get the CD in.

We’re also taking the stories further by drawing pictures of something in a book, crafts and foods inspired by a story or acting it out with the Sylvanian family or puppets.

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Following life’s questions
Questions that naturally come up in our day to day have lead us down interesting paths. We’ve been learning lots (reading and playing) around animal categorisation, starting with the question: “Is a whale a fish?”

Questions around numbers lead us into playing simple maths games. We play lots of board games anyway but I recently printed off some monsters from The Measured Mom and we’ve been finding different things to do with them, identifying, ordering, matching to words and connecting them with real life. Here we made play dough monsters and added eyes to work out some simple sums.

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Life’s rhythms

Looking to the season and calendar has inspired a lot of what we’ve done this month, collecting leaves and other objects, cooking and baking Autumn favourites, and drilling pumpkins for Halloween.

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For me, it’s helped to plug in to my four-year-old’s natural excitement over all of life’s little celebrations. I don’t have to make her childhood magical. It already is.

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Life through creating

A highlight of this month was a paper clothes making workshop we attended at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol run by the team at Let’s Make Art. I didn’t know quite what to expect but we walked away with so many ideas! I was surprised by how into it Talitha got. She wouldn’t let me help with most of it and attended it with such focus.

I’m looking forward to getting some scrap out (we keep a massive chest full of scrap) and playing a bit more with making clothes and costumes at home. It would be good to get her some beautiful materials too, though, so we’ll need a trip to the Children’s Scrapstore soon, I think.

I also want to do more yarn crafts together because Talitha is so intrigued by anyone doing needlework. When a friend brought her knitting to our house yesterday, Talitha ran for her own needlework. She dips in and out of working on her simple frame but it’s surprising how absorbed she is when she’s working on it.

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She’s always making, though, whether it’s drawing (our art supplies are out at child height – for better or worse when Ophelia gets at them!) or Lego, facepainting or Hama beads. It makes me wonder why I’ve only recently rediscovered my own crafting impulse when it seems to be something children naturally want to do.

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We’ve been making our way through this Chihuly Art Kit Activity Book my brother-in-law gave me. It’s full of opportunities to look at the work of artist David Chihuly then attempt activities around his ideas.

So, that’s a bit of what we’ve been up to recently. What about you?

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. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing either a week, a day or 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 Circus Queen
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




PS: We were sent Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family and given a free place in the Let’s Make Art workshop to review. This post also contains affiliate links which just means I get a few pence if you buy any of the books I’ve linked to, at no added cost to you.


This Homeschooling Life #2 – Finding rhythm

I had a lot of intentions this past month. Lots of plans were going to materialise into pretty pictures for this blog post. In fact, I was going to write a weekly update to keep an eye on what we’ve been up to. I’ve managed one week so far. Looking back, the month doesn’t look like I planned. And that’s absolutely fine.

Between sickness passing from one family member to another and me struggling a bit with low mood (not something I talk much about here), we’ve had to slow right down and reassess. I’ve spent a lot of this month de-cluttering, reorganising, cleaning and re-buying supplies I hadn’t a hope of finding.

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Meanwhile, the girls have spent loads of time playing freely alone and together. It’s exciting seeing what a difference every week makes with Ophelia. They’re doing so much together now: imaginary play, rough housing, mixing stuff in the mud kitchen, turning everything into a game. In fact, Talitha spent the night with my brother and his wife this weekend and Ophelia seemed a little lost without her big sister to play with.

They can play for hours too. One day this week, we hung out at a local park for about four hours. I think Ophelia would have stayed even longer if Talitha and I weren’t ready to go home! That girl just loves being outdoors, running around.

We’re still finding our rhythm. I suspect we have too many days out. I would like for us to have two days when we’re just on our own, primarily because I can’t cope with being out with others all the time but, also, I think being at home or just pottering around on our own locally is good for them too.

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At the moment, we go to a local home ed group, Talitha does ballet, we sometimes go to another group further afield with a wider age group and she has a regular play date. This past week we tried an all-day forest school we’d been wanting to go to for a while. It took us both a while to warm into it but she loved it so much, I think we’ll try it again. Both girls start a private swim lesson together this week and Talitha resumes her once a month horseriding lesson later this month. Ophelia and I are going to a toddler group every other week.

In a sense it doesn’t seem like loads, and there’s easily more I’d be tempted to add if time and money allowed but we need time at home. All three of us do. So I don’t think there’ll ever be a week when we do all that I’ve mentioned above.

We’ve continued to do a few structured activities three times a week (I’ve blogged about what we’re using here) mostly out in the garden. Sometimes we’ve literally just done calendar time and spent the rest of time reading. Some form of art has happened every day, unplanned.

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Talitha’s monthly magazine from Avon Wildlife Trust arrived (she gets so excited spotting her name on the envelope!) so we’ve been reading that and trying to find the answers to the millions of questions each page prompts. I’m seriously getting such an education myself here.

I sometimes find Talitha getting her “daily learning notebook” out on her own and filling it in with her movable calendar, coming to ask questions of anything she’s not sure of. I found one day that she’d also fished a maths book out and done a few pages of addition, drawing objects and writing the answers.

It reminded me of two things. One, it isn’t all down to me. So I needn’t beat myself up when I’m not feeling 100 per cent. It’ll happen. Two, these are things she wants to do. I sometimes feel a little shy of admitting that we’re doing anything structured or formal, feeling (rightly or wrongly) that people don’t expect us to be. That’s funny in a way because one of the reasons we’re home educating is to move at my children’s pace and not worry about external expectations.

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Another cool thing that happened this month… I found all the Autumn things I’d saved from last year, including these great printables from Twinkl. So we put up our display, which both girls love and have been doing the activities again since I laminated them. There were a few Woodland Trust bits we didn’t attempt last year but will this year, like trying to spot nocturnal animals.

We also had a little break in a safari tent in Dartmoor (I’ll be blogging about it this week) and Laurence took Talitha to a Rugby World Cup game. Neither would have been as easily done if she were in school and both were learning adventures so I’m grateful we’ve been able to enjoy them.

Actually, you know what? Looking back on it, that was a pretty good month.

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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, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing either a week, a day or 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 Circus Queen
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