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



This homeschooling life – What May looked like

Writing these monthly summaries always feels a little odd because I could never include everything that’s happening. Home education really is a whole life pursuit. I find it helpful to look back on some of the highlights, though, and I really enjoy getting glimpses at what other home educating families get up to. Here’s what the month of May looked like for us.

This homeschooling life - May-9

Deeper interests
Dinosaurs have continued to be a strong theme here. It started with watching Dinosaur Train on Netflix and has gone far beyond that into books and museum trips, looking for answers on the Internet, weighing up conflicting information and lots and lots and lots of drawing.

I got Talitha a dinosaur activity pack from Usborne and she’s been enjoying making her way through them, absorbing all the dinosaur facts and insisting we do the crafts, including dinosaur cards as invitations for her birthday party.

I suggested we start writing her questions down in a book so we remember to look for the answers. We covered a little exercise book with paper and she’s drawn dinosaurs on both sides. Sometimes she writes in it, other times she dictates to me and I write in it.

She’s also asking lots of questions about how the human body works so we’ve been looking at books and spending time in the body section of At Bristol Science Centre at her request. I’m struck that these themes are not so much about actual details of what she’s learning but that she’s learning how to learn. That makes having more facts than I can absorb quoted at me before I’ve had my morning coffee more than worth it.

This homeschooling life - May-2

New routines and rhythms
Laurence was away working in London for a lot of May, which always drives me to keep a lot more to a routine than I normally would. This time, it’s made life so enjoyable we’ve kept it up – mostly anyway.

It’s all stuff we were doing anyway but actually giving things a time of day has just helped everything run more smoothly, whether it’s gardening, cooking or reading.

We read a children’s Bible and pray together over breakfast most mornings, followed by a chapter book. Then Talitha observes her cherry tomato plant. This started as a little activity I took along to our home ed group for a food theme but she’s really got into it. She draws it, measures it, observes it and writes her observations down. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll keep it up, though, as her interest seems to be waning so we may plot a height graph soon and maybe just keep a height chart once we’ve re-potted it in the greenhouse, which will be this week.

This homeschooling life - May-4

Our caterpillars from Insectlore also arrived this week, so they’re keeping an eye on them with their magnifying glasses and we’re all getting a thrill out of watching them grow, sometimes seeming to double overnight! They’re getting ready to build their cocoons right now so both girls are extremely excited. They’ve even named them: Susie, Tiss-Tiss, Tree and I can’t remember the other two.

The biggest change has been re-organising their play room. I’ve been decluttering and working at making everything accessible, easier to find and easier to put away. It’s made a huge difference to the way they operate in that space now and the things they find to do on their own. I’ll write more about this when I put together a post on the playroom soon. I just want to re-paint and do a last bit of sorting first.

This homeschooling life - May-8

We’ve also really enjoyed taking life outside this month as it’s been so sunny. A parasol sent to us by Homebase from their garden furniture range has allowed us not only to comfortably eat lunch and read outside – making both feel like a treat too! – but drawing and more structured activities have taken to the garden table too as a result. It’s a brilliant blue and has given us yet another reason to welcome the sunny weather.

This Homeschooling Life - May

What we’re using

She’s pretty obsessed with her Alphablocks magazines so I’ve been keeping the one she’s working on in a folder with the tomato plant observation sheets so she always knows where it is and that’s usually what we do next, as long as we’re not rushing out to something in the morning. If we are, she comes back to it in the afternoon. Ophelia gets busy with stickers and pens or the toy kitchen, a puzzle or dressing up while I’m helping her with this.

Talitha also asked for more books that she could read on her own so I got her the first set of Oxford Reading Tree books. She’s flown through them and loves reading them to Ophelia so I’m about to order the next set.

Most afternoons we get the Spielgaben out, either to just build together and play, counting things and talking about what we notice or using the printed resources that come with it. Talitha has asked for something like Alphablocks but for numbers, though, so I printed a few lessons from MEP and we’re going to see how that goes. For Ophelia, I’ve been using some Montessori ideas from blogs with the Spielgaben, which she’s loving, often changing the rules entirely and finding creative ways to use objects that I would never have considered.

What we’re reading

This month we’ve read Firwood – The Magic Garden, a real treat for Talitha because she met the author in Waterstones and had the book signed. I felt like not much happened in it before it got overly exciting towards the end but Talitha loved it the whole way through and has requested other books in the series. We also read Gerald Durrell’s The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure which tied in perfectly with her dinosaur obsession. His books are gripping, beautifully written and take you through so many ideas. We both enjoyed it as much as the prequel, The Fantastic Flying Adventure.

This homeschooling life - May-5

What we’ve been making
While sorting the playroom, Talitha discovered some light catchers she was given by her godmother a couple of years ago. She’d done some but there were a few left to paint with acrylic paints. When she ran out of sun catchers, she didn’t seem done so I offered her some little canvases I’d found. Putting acrylic to canvas proved a real thrill. It was fascinating seeing her work out what she could do with a new medium. We looked at acrylic paintings around our house and talked about how the artists use space on the canvas. Ophelia had a go too.

This homeschooling life - May-7

Last reflections
This month I’ve been struck that I’m constantly learning to strike a balance with the way I get involved in the things they’re doing. On one hand, I do want to remind them about what they wanted to do and encourage them to complete and keep at stuff. On the other, I don’t want to exert too much control over what’s happening and stifle the process.

I’ve also been amazed at the huge developmental leaps Ophelia is taking. She’s obsessed with colours, counting everything, building, putting together puzzles and has started to connect sounds to letters. She’s particularly excited to point out “O”, never failing to tell you that that’s her letter.

Above all, I love seeing my girls together and am grateful for the extended uninterrupted time that home education has given us.

—————

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



This Homeschooling Life – What April looked like

With pregnancy exhaustion getting the better of me most days, it’s easy to look back on a month and think it shapeless. I’ve started writing little notes about what happens during the day and photograph more intentionally so that I remember that a lot is happening even when it feels like nothing at all. The deepest learning doesn’t always look like I might expect. Recording it informally allows me to pause long enough to notice it.

This homeschooling life - April-3

We finally finished reading The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I suggested we could find a craft to go with it since Talitha was keen to make something. Looking together on Pinterest, she was hooked on the idea of replicating this cardboard model. I inwardly groaned, wishing she hadn’t spotted it. She promised she would do most of it, picking up on me finding the idea daunting. I used a scalpel to, badly, cut out the shape of the tree and fitted it together. She and Ophelia painted it and then Talitha made everything else herself, including Dame Washalot’s washing line complete with laundry and a finger knitted basket for the children to make their way up the tree. She says she wants to make the Land of Goodies for the top.

We’ve just finished reading The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell. I wasn’t familiar with him at all as an author but I’ve been amazed at how much he packs into an exciting story with ease. The chapters are rather long but Talitha has never not asked, “Just one more!” when we’ve got to the end. His characters meet and speak to lots of animals and travel all over the world so we’ve looked at the continents they visit on our world map as we’ve gone along and looked up videos and pictures of the animals online.

Next up, Talitha’s keen to start The Magic Garden by Lynne Armstrong-Hobbs. We’re especially excited about this book because we happened to meet the author at Waterstones over the weekend! I’m sure I’ll be sharing both our impressions come this time next month.

Do check out my Love Reading and Writing board on Pinterest. I collect ideas for literacy play and to go along with stuff we’re reading.

I’m always amazed by Talitha’s ability to absorb and hold on to facts she finds fascinating. The Dinosaur Train love is still going strong here but now she’s also moved on to Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid. We watch both on Netflix. She often comes away from Sid episodes with ideas of things she wants to try and regularly applies concepts or methodology discussed in the program to real life. From ancient Egyptians using incline planes to move heavy objects to different ideas for melting ice, there’s a lot going on in this show.

This homeschooling life - April-4

This homeschooling life - April-2

We’ve lots happening in the garden at the moment. The girls’ potato plants have sprouted and we’re imagining what’s happening inside their bags. They’ve also planted wildflowers from a Kew Gardens’ educational programme and hung up a couple of bee shelters which have utterly fallen apart. We’ve resolved to build sturdier ones soon. In the meantime, it’s exciting observing the seedlings coming up.

I realise I never mention sort of “extras” that Talitha does but they are a part of our set up so it’s worth bringing in here. Talitha’s been continuing to enjoy ballet. I’ve ummed and ahhed about trying to convince her to try something else but it’s local, reasonably easygoing, relatively cheap and she loves it so we’ve agreed to carry on. She also goes horse riding with other home educated children once a month, which is a real highlight to the month for her. A couple of weekends ago she also started going to Blackbird Early Years Music classes, which creatively offers children a playful introduction to music practice and theory.

This homeschooling life - April

She’s recently got back into Mathseeds. It’s an online maths programme which teaches through games. She lost interest for a few months but a few weeks ago asked to try it again. We haven’t been “working” on the things that she was finding hard so I expected taking it up again to be short lived but, to my surprise, she had no trouble picking up where she left off and moving on. Her brain seems to have bridged the gap on its own.

A last thing to mention is that she’s become obsessed with making pom poms recently. I’ve been making headway on crocheting a baby blanket for the new baby recently and Talitha would finger knit while I had my kit out but she came across my pom pom maker and asked to use it. I was pretty uncertain she’d manage it on her own but not only has she cracked it but it’s become one of her favourite things to do! Now to encourage her to keep dreaming up things to do with them. She’s made toys for the cats (her idea) but we’re amassing quite a collection! We’ve had some really sweet moments around the dining table, post-breakfast all busy at our crafts, me crocheting, Talitha making pom poms and Ophelia stringing beads or cutting yarn.
—————

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



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!
—————

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