I said in my July review post that I really ought to do a review of our first year of Home Education. I’ve put off doing it as I find I often have mixed feelings, depending on how my day has been!
At the start of the academic year (September here in the UK) I didn’t really have a plan. Nothing was going to change for us, day-to-day, and we would continue to go about things in the way we always had done. I’d always had a pretty structured week with the children – attending playgroups and the such so it wasn’t a huge change to start moving into other regular groups. We had already engaged a lot with the local home ed community, so we had links in to meet ups and groups already established.
The year began with a ‘not starting school’ picnic where we met with other families whose children would have been due to start in reception. We played, had cake and generally marked the occasion. I didn’t have many plans for Daniel’s Reception year, and I think that was the right thing to do. We joined in with groups and events as they came up, and I took the approach of throwing ourselves into lots of things to see which approaches worked for us with a view to having a more set plan in place for this September when Emma would start her reception year and Daniel would be in Year 1.
My only real target for the year was to get Daniel reading and to finish the first book in our maths curriculum, both of which we have achieved. I’m not sure if we’ll continue with our chosen Maths curriculum in the longer term as Daniel is a bit resistant to it, but I do like its approach and it’s working so far with Emma. I’ll see how we get on with the second book for Daniel and make some choices in early 2019.
I think the highlights of 2019 have been the Geography and History fairs that we participated in. These gave Daniel and Emma a real sense of achievement and we are now in the middle of doing our second Geography fair projects – World Flags for Daniel (with a focus on South America) and Habitats of Big Cats for Emma. I’ve enjoyed having time to just be with the children and not having to worry about school runs and the such. It’s nice to just be and to enjoy time with friends.
We have tried a few different approaches to learning and both Daniel and Emma seem to enjoy the Classical approach and I think in September I’ll make a bigger effort to follow the Story of the World history books. We found a great home ed mum who runs groups for these and I intend to build on the work we have done with her as we explore in more detail.
I’ve enjoyed the fact that Daniel has been able to learn to read in his own way, at his own pace. As I wrote at the time, things just seemed to click over time and I don’t really feel like I taught him to read, rather I gave him space to learn to read. Emma, in turn, is showing interest in wanting to learn to read so I am planning to start a more focused approach with her in the coming weeks. I think it will be a different approach for Emma, and I already feel an anxiety that is familiar from when I was keen for Daniel to read, and an anxiety that is familiar when I talk to friends. I need to remind myself that she will learn to read, I just need to give her her the space to do this.
I love that fact that when certain developmental things have taken place, we have been able to run with it, be it making things, writing, colouring in, reading etc. We have had days on end of making things from egg boxes, making robots, learning about flags, playing with lego and all manner of things – too many for me to remember!
What I think has been the biggest blessing from our first year of Home Ed, is that the three of them; Daniel, Emma and Harry, have been able to build an ever stronger friendship. I’m glad that as Harry has become more interested in playing, he has had both his siblings here. He enjoys sitting alongside them to colour in or paint and likes just being part of their games. There are moments when my heart is filled with love and gratitude when I hear and see them playing together and see how they each bring their individual talents to the play.
I said I’ve put off writing this post as, depending on what day I sit down to write this, things come out differently! Last summer Daniel was challenging, and this summer is the same! I think a combination of significant development leaps (in reading, writing and spelling) as well as lack of sleep due to hot, light nights have culminated in a perfect storm. I’m struggling with him if I am honest and, whilst I know things will get easier, it can be draining at times.
August continues for us and I’ve been busy making plans for the autumn term. I’ve not finalised it yet, but we are beginning to look at grammar rules now with Daniel as well as ramping up our Spanish work and doing more independent projects.
On balance I’ve enjoyed this first year, despite it’s challenges and I’m excited to tackle the next year and, come Easter, I’ll have two officially home educated children.
This time, six years ago, I was preparing for my last six weeks in work ahead of my annual leave and maternity leave. Never did I expect that I’d find myself here with three children and planning the next school year of home education for two of them.
This year has been fun, exhausting, frustrating, exciting, challenging but most of all rewarding. I’ve learnt a lot about how children learn, as well as learnt a lot about myself. I’m proud that Daniel has learnt to read and has been able to explore and develop at his own pace.