How our third baby changed the way we home educate

Talitha takes books out into the garden on a sunny day. She’s reading about famous artists here.

When I was pregnant with Delilah, I fielded a lot of questions about how I’d cope with home educating then five year old Talitha when she was born. It’s amusing that they considered the new baby more disruptive to our set up than my wildly busy then two year old! How I’d respond depended on how well I knew the person asking and whether I felt energetic enough to explain that we weren’t in fact doing “school at home”, as they probably imagined. People asked out of interest and, to be honest, I also wondered how I’d cope, not just with homeschooling but with three children, in general.

Delilah turned one last week, neatly coinciding with the end of the school year. While we don’t really observe term dates, I took it as a marker of the time we’ve survived and in which we’ve even thrived. Looking back on this crazy year, my approach to home education has developed and changed in ways I couldn’t have expected.

I started the year holding tightly to the idea of structure. I had lists and plans, things I put together mostly with the children and while I never forced Talitha to do anything, I was very much the driving force in getting them done. I strongly encouraged her to do the things I thought she should be doing and found it difficult to let go emotionally when this inevitably became a battle of wills. It was frustrating for both of us.

A friend had suggested that in the new baby haze, I might want to consider unschooling, following the child’s lead and allowing her to learn through living, rather than keeping any rigid plans. Since my plans were pretty relaxed, I felt we could keep to a discernible schedule regardless and so I didn’t take the advice much to heart.

But. I’d forgot what having a newborn was like. I’d forgot what having a newborn who woke a lot in the night was like. I’d forgot what juggling the needs of a newborn and a two and a half year old was like, never mind throwing in the five year old who, though independent and rather helpful, still had needs too.

And I didn’t factor in that our lives would be majorly disrupted by Laurence staying over in Cornwall for part of every week or by going back and forth to Cornwall to house hunt or by the trip to Thailand. And I certainly could not have appreciated how thrown we would be, picking up our lives and moving from one part of the country to another.

A lot more than “just” a new baby made this a chaotic year. I think that’s why I clung for control. I felt so overwhelmed.

I began to be at war with myself, feeling we needed to keep to this arbitrary schedule and beating myself up because I couldn’t make it work for us. And I really wasn’t even attempting to sit us around a table with workbooks and a white board, honest.

Finally, I began to face up to the fact that I needed to work with things as they were and learn to live well in the present rather than daydream about what I’d do when we weren’t working around naps or when I had more sleep or when my three year old was more independent or even when my baby was a three year old (talk about wishing your life away!).

I totally appreciate that for some people, coping with disruption means holding onto more routine but for me, I needed to think smaller than that and seek to change myself rather than impose my will on my family – something I hadn’t even realised I was doing.

So, I got down to basics. What was really important in a day? What was the minimum I could leave on that list of things to do. Just as when Talitha was a baby I had to learn that there were seasons where I’d only get one or two household tasks done, I needed to pare the home education to-do list back too.

I arrived at “read books to them” and “get outdoors”. That’s all I was aiming to offer in a day. Anything else was an extra and the girls could autonomously find plenty to fill their time. Sometimes time outdoors would just mean a picnic in our garden, others it would be running about on a rainy winter beach. Sometimes it didn’t happen at all. I had to learn to be at peace with that too.


Above, Talitha decided to fill a calendar with important dates and both were using prompt cards to write and draw in their journals

I channelled my limited energy into making the various spaces we’ve been in as accessible as possible so the kids can create, explore and play without needing too much input from me when I might be stuck under a baby. I still view this as my primary responsibility in home educating – creating an environment that is child friendly and not overwhelming.

As the year went on, I began to relax more and more because I could see that they really were learning. After a couple of months of refusing to read aloud, Talitha was suddenly absorbed in chapter books, understanding what she was reading. She even started reading aloud again with a fluency that no one trained her into. Ophelia’s numeracy and dexterity took huge leaps. Both love books, are full of questions and are always making or experimenting. We haven’t done much crafting together this year but I’m often finding their creations, surprised by the thought that’s gone into it and what it says about what they’ve been exploring.

I began to appreciate learning where it was happening. Talitha might write a letter to a friend or a to-do list or invitations to her teddies, inviting them to a party. They might count for fun or try to logically work something out or play games and put together puzzles. Sometimes they get workbooks out for fun. Every day they’re making connections between experiences and conversations, things we’ve read or seen in a video and answers they’ve been collecting along the way.

Out of curiosity, I had a look at the national curriculum for Year One. Many things we’ve covered by accident or Talitha’s discovered through things she’s doing anyway. Other things I figure she’ll get to when and if she needs them. We’ve delved into yet others that aren’t on the curriculum, mostly guided by their interests though I do also throw things in the way.


Baking is so often a great basis for both learning and reconnecting

I’m not totally sure what this means for the year ahead. I suspect we will, bit by bit, bring in a little more gentle routine to make sure we’re making the time for the things everybody wants to do. But I’m more aware of the need to keep taking the temperature of our family and working out where we’re at.

I am so grateful to have home educated this year. I’m relieved not to have had to do the school run with a baby and with a preschooler who has her own ideas about transitions. I also love that the girls have all had masses of time together. The older two gain a lot from being around a baby and learning that we slow down and adapt in times of great change.

Check out what we get up to day-to-day over on Instagram, especially in my stories.


Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for younger children

This post was originally published in November 2015. It reappears here in collaboration with million eyez.

We’ve just finished a happy romp through the wonderfully bizarre world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Having realised from page one that this chapter book was going to be a hit, I gathered a few ideas for activities we could try alongside it. For my four-year-old, it was delightful to dig deeper into the experience of the story. For my 21-month-old, it meant she didn’t keep trying to pull the book out of my hand or take me some place else.

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Make a family tree
The book opens by orderly naming the people in Charlie Bucket’s family. I’d been wanting to do a family tree for a while so we took the opportunity to print out photos, cut and stick them and draw lines to show relationships. I helped Talitha with ours but she went on later on to draw Charlie Bucket’s family tree on her own.

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Sweetie Swoop game
We’ve been having fun with the whole sweetie theme by playing a board game called Sweetie Swoop which Talitha got for her birthday this year. It nicely accompanies chapter 11 where he goes into the sweet shop. It’s such fun. In general board games and card games are a brilliantly easy way to develop maths skills while doing something together that we both enjoy.

Drink hot chocolate
When you finally make it inside the chocolate factory, meeting the chocolate river calls for a drink. Preferably one offered in a cup by Mr Willy Wonka and not risking falling in!

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Make playdough sweets
Most of the time we read, we got out the playdough. Talitha made playdough sweets and both girls generally had fun squishing and making while listening to the story.

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The Inventing Room
This was an idea I came across on The Imagination Tree when looking for birthday party ideas. I put together an “inventing room” the night before which was the source of much excitement and creativity. I wish I’d taken more pictures because she got the stapler out and put together some 3D sweets later in the day.

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Make real sweets
Of course, who can read about all these amazing sweets and not want to munch something sweet. Better yet, make some! We tied this in with learning about Diwali by making coconut barfi. They were too sweet for the girls, though, so I wonder if we should have gone for biscuits in sweetie shapes instead.

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Play with fizz
All the experimentation you observe in the Mr Willy Wonka’s factory certainly tickles the imagination. The science fiction elements of this book are the bits that shine brightest. Talitha was quite taken with the fizzy lifting drinks that make you float upwards unless you burp to come down again. Inspired by this fizzy fun experiment, we got the muffin tin out and had a messy go (should have put a tray underneath as suggested in that post, mind!).

Here are few more ideas I came across but we didn’t get around to:

Make lickable wallpaper
Pipe cleaner lollipop craft
Chocolate play dough recipe

Do follow my Learning to Love Words board on Pinterest:

Follow Adele’s board Learning to Love Words on Pinterest.

I’d love if we could share our ideas on how to help kids get into books and this million eyez Photobox offers the perfect medium. With million eyez you can start a photo box in a topic to receive authentic photos you can’t find, just as I’m hoping to do here, curating, communicating and organising to cleverly crowd source what you need. Just upload your photo of your literary kids activity, whether it’s a dress up, craft, baking, creative writing prompt or invitation to play. Let’s inspire each other!

via million eyez

If you’re a blogger, you can also enter million eyez’s amazing giveaway to win your own Olypus PEN camera here!


This homeschooling life – Our October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hosts:

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

The Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This homeschooling life: Our September

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

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Aphablocks

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

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

tie-dye

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Art

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

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Chapter Books

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

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Calendar Time

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

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Spielgaben

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

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365 Science Activities

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

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The Maritime Museum

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

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

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

Other posts in this series:

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

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

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

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

The Hosts:

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

The Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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. 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