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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Halloween in our home-2

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.

This homeschooling life - life in many things

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.

This homeschooling life - life in many things-3

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.

This homeschooling life-2-3

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.

This homeschooling life-10

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.

This homeschooling life-9

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.

This homeschooling life-12

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



What did we do all week? – Home learning adventures 1

I came to the end of this week feeling a bit deflated. The house was (is) a mess. The kids were ill in turns so we ended up canceling quite a few of our plans and, for various reasons, Laurence and I have been a bit stressed and grumpy. So, it’s easy to look back and wonder what we did, if anything at all.

Then my friend Roz shared her weekly reflections from her family’s home learning journey and it made me think that I should start keeping track of what we get up to, if even just to remind myself that stuff is happening around here.

It won’t be comprehensive because my brain is pretty much permanently fried but here are few things we’ve been up to in our home learning adventure.

Something that’s hit me again in a big way this week is that so much of parenting and, I guess, educating, is about slowing down. So often life feels frantic. I want to rush through tasks to get to the next thing when, really, my kids need me to give them time to work on something.

For Ophelia, that means letting her try to use the dustpan and brush, cut vegetables and wash dishes. Why is this so hard sometimes? And when did she become able to follow simple instructions and interested in these tasks?

What did we do all week - home education-5

For Talitha, it means letting her write the shopping list or the note for the honesty box when we buy eggs. It means showing her how to tie a bow, over and over and over again. It means stopping to read every sign. It means pausing to observe every bug in our path. It means listening and responding to a hundred questions a day and taking the time to help her find the answers when I have no flipping clue what they are.

It’s easy to be “too busy”, to want to get on with what needs to be done but real life is where learning happens so real life has to slow down.

What did we do all week - home education-6

We’ve been using a daily learning notebook from Confessions of a Homeschooler and Talitha’s loved the structure of it. She surprised me earlier this week by getting it down from the shelf and correctly filling it all in while I was putting her sister down for a nap. It involves writing down the date, time and practising numbers, letters and shapes, amongst other things. She uses the calendar pictured in my This Homeschooling Life post to help her along.

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Every day, we read The Lord’s prayer. My parents gave us this book which illustrates it beautifully and explains it after. To my surprise, she’s begun saying the prayer along with me. We’ve also started learning “memory verses” together.

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She’s played Reading Eggs and Mathseeds a couple of times this week. We kind of forgot about computer games over the summer holidays, which is just as well because she was finding the level she’d reached difficult and now she’s loving them again.

We’ve made a number line from 0-30, which has been handy for lots of things. This is one of the ideas from Nurturestore’s Fizz Pop Bang that we’re working our way through.

What did we do all week - home education-4

We’re continuing to use and love the Alphablocks magazines we were sent ages ago. We put them down for a while but now Talitha’s making her way full speed through them. I just haven’t been organised enough to keep all the cool bits and pieces that came with the course, though, (and Ophelia chewed up loads a few months ago!) so we’ve been using milk bottle tops with letters written in permanent ink instead.

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Yesterday we finished our first chapter book. We’ve started and got well in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a few times but, while Talitha listens with interest and has sometimes asked us to read it, she didn’t seem to really get it. I mentioned this to a friend who lent us a beautiful little chapter book called My Father’s Dragon. I’ve been amazed both by how well Talitha follows it and by how it’s gripped me too. Now that we’ve come to the end of it, she wants to start again (and so do I).

Let's pick some flowers in the garden. #gardening #flower #mywild #flashesofdelight #childhood #outdoors

A photo posted by Adele Jarrett-Kerr (@adelejk) on

Other than that, we’ve been doing the usual gardening, playing in the mud kitchen, heading out to the park, reading tons of picture books (which Ophelia has just started getting into too), cooking, baking and the odd craft like this superhero from Red Ted Art‘s book. We even managed to meet up with a friend still settling into school.

Even when we were stuck at home, life continued to be busy with Ophelia mastering climbing, adding a bunch of new words and signs to her vocabulary and generally being a bundle of energy.

I guess a lot of cool stuff has happened this week now that I look back on it. When I think about why I’ve been feeling overwhelmed today, it’s clear that I need to sort the house out, especially the playroom. It was well organised earlier this year but has got utterly out of hand now. So that is the priority this weekend. I am so fed up of never knowing where the hole punch is!

Anyway, here’s to managing that this weekend, continuing to slow down and hoping that no one else gets ill next week. What did you get up to this week?


This homeschooling life – The very beginning

Last week, instead of Talitha starting school, we sort of “officially” started our home education journey as a family. We’re calling it “homeschool” for her benefit and we’ve made a fuss of her starting something new since she was asking lots of questions about friends who were going to school and wondering why she wasn’t. Fortunately, she has lots of friends who are home educated, which makes the whole thing a lot simpler.

She’s been excited, every morning asking if she can do her “homeschool” today.

Essentially, I’ve just been doing more of what I was doing with her before (reading, writing, maths, art and crafts) but with a little more routine and focus because this is something she’s craved. It’s very early days but I’m going to try fitting this special time in with whatever else we’re doing day to day.

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A bit more structure (albeit loose and flexible) wasn’t something totally planned since I’m naturally chaotic. However, it became clear over the past year that we both needed a plan for the day and a regular time set aside to work on things she’s interested in. I’ve been overwhelmed with the constant “Where are we going? Who are we seeing? What are we doing?” and she was frustrated that I wouldn’t always know where the glue was when she wanted to make something or that I just didn’t have the time and energy to sit with some writing when Ophelia or I was having a mid-afternoon slump.

I looked into a curriculum because Talitha is already making strides with “formal” early learning, especially reading (honestly led by her) and because it would be good to be able to grab something that was ready since I also work from home and don’t have a huge amount of free time for planning. Yet I couldn’t find anything complete that felt like a natural fit for both of us so, instead we’re using a mixture of online resources for now, making it as playful and sensory as possible and reading and listening to lots of books.

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There isn’t masses to say about the process just one week in, to be honest. I’m mostly still reading lots around education, thinking about it and praying. I had a little wobble on Wednesday, seeing all the “first day” photos on social media and hoping that I’m making the right choice. I’d feel the same if I were sending her to school. This is probably a first child thing.

It’s been helpful getting out to groups to meet with more seasoned home edders who are all taking lots of different approaches and have kids across a broad age range. We even went to our first “Not back to school” party. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.

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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

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




Why we want to home educate

Talitha turned four in June. She would have been starting Reception at school this week. She isn’t going to. We didn’t apply for a school place.

We started talking about home educating early in my pregnancy with her. It was something that had appealed to me for a long time. I knew homeschooling families and was not exactly thrilled with my own school experience.

Laurence, on the other hand, had gone to boarding school and looked back on it mostly fondly. So he took a little time to come around to the idea. Once he had, though, that was it. He’s not just supportive of me taking it on. It’s a choice we’ve made for our family together.

I’ve been asked a lot recently about why we want to home educate. Some who ask are just being friendly or polite, others are curious and some are even considering it as something they might like to do.

I know on days where I feel overstretched from not having had enough time on my own (or not organising life enough), I end up wondering whether this is something I really want too. So I thought it made sense to collect some thoughts here. It’s not at all meant to be an argument against anyone else choosing school. This is just where we are these days.

Family togetherness

I don’t want short snatches of time with my kids, the leftovers of the day when we’re either rushing out the door or they’re tired and grumpy. Talitha already returns from a day with her grandparents telling me that she can’t remember anything she’s done. We also don’t want our children to grow up with that drastic degree of separation from each other.

We want to be the ones who enjoy seeing them delight in learning new things and helping them get to wherever they’re going. I think the fact that this is something we want is a good reason in itself. I could write a hundred reasons to home educate but if the prospect of it didn’t excite us, there’d be no point in pursuing it.

We don’t want them to spend more of these short years with strangers in institutions than with their family. I know that home educating parents often call all this time together the best and worst bit of the gig. I’ll take the best with the worst. A year at a time, at least.

Socialisation

Since “socialisation” is one of the first concerns most people raise when home education comes up in conversation, it may come as a surprise that this is actually a major part of why we’re choosing to do this.

Having plugged into the active home ed community here in Bristol this past year, we’ve seen kids of different ages playing and working on things together. A classroom of however many peers all the same age just can’t match this. Older and younger kids have so much to offer and learn from each other.

We also love that we can help facilitate that socialisation. It may be that someone needs more time at home, feeling burned out from too much interaction. A conflict might call for a grown up to help kids to talk through feelings. We can decide as a family whether groups or activities are working for everyone.

And although Talitha’s need to be with other children has shot up madly over the past year (I mostly wake up to the tune of “Where are we going today? Who are we seeing?”), I can see that she still has a strong need to spend a lot of time with us. Of course, this will change as she gets older but, for now, it doesn’t take much to tick the “time with my friends” box.

Quality of learning

We want our children to be able to progress at their own pace, in their own style and to dedicate more time to their passions. A lot of time is wasted in schools.

With lessons pitched at the average ability, a lot of material to cover and big classes, it’s easy to see that a child at home might get a lot more done in a shorter time. They may also get more time to spend on something they’re deeply interested in.

If there’s a struggle then we can quicker pick up on it and work out a way through it together, whether it’s approaching something differently or dropping it for a time, or altogether.

We can also expose them to more of what we hope they’ll learn. For instance, as Christians we want to give our children an education rooted in the Bible and prayer. It’s important to us that they learn lots about the Caribbean since I’m from Trinidad and Tobago and Laurence’s mother is from Jamaica.

Life spent outdoors as much as possible factors in here too as we want our kids to grow up strongly connected to nature, having spent more time running around in woods and fields than sitting at desks.

I’m sure our thoughts and feelings will change over time. Hopefully, I’ll have more reasons to add in the coming years. Or maybe we’ll change our minds about what direction we’re taking. That would be OK too. For now, we’re enjoying the freedom to choose.

Reasons we've decided to home educate