Well… September has been and gone and with it the start of a new academic year. I’ll be honest and say that August didn’t really feel terribly productive (hence why there wasn’t a monthly review post!) and there have been times in September when I’ve really had to sit and question what we are doing.
I don’t know if it’s developmental leaps or growth spurts or something else but we had some real problems at the start of the month. Thankfully things improved after a particularly low point in the middle of the month and we have ended the month in a much better place and I’m excited to move into the autumn and really get our teeth stuck into some big projects and areas of work.
At the start of the month we tried out a longer class that follows the Classical Conversations curriculum. I really like the concept and there are certainly some elements of it that really appeal to me, but at the moment I think we just cannot commit to that class. One of the big things I have done this month is pull right back on a lot of our activities. I think Daniel is craving that time to sit and read about subjects we are studying and spending longer stretches of time on activities. Where once we might have spent 20-30 minutes doing something, we now spend an hour or so.
We had a ‘not back to school’ picnic to mark both Daniel and Em not going to school and then had a couple of days away in Surrey and a trip to Legoland added in, which was lots of fun for us all.
Em has really been enjoying maths work, and regularly asks to work on her maths. She seems to grasp concepts much easier than Daniel, and I am sure she will have soon caught him up the rate she is going. We have been really working on trying to do maths little and often to try to break down some of Daniel’s resistance, and I think he is enjoying it all a little more now.
Em decided she wanted to learn to read, and totally surprised me at her ability to sound out most words. We have done very little with her other than teach her the letters of the alphabet so I think she must have picked up most of this from Daniel… It’s amazing that when they want to, children will really run with something. I must admit I do feel a sense of relief that we are on that road to getting her reading now as Daniel was resistant initially. I know it will take a different path to how Daniel learnt, but for now we are happily sharing stories together.
Mid-month I decided to throw all our plans out the window and literally re-set my expectations. I plan to write more at some stage about all this, but it really helped us reconnect and for me to appreciate and enjoy being with the children again. We went to the ‘Bee in the City’ trail that was across Manchester this summer and had a fabulous day walking around the city centre spotting as many bees as we could. The children thoroughly enjoyed it.
After a few days off the normal workload we cracked on with the geography fair projects, and they both finished them and displayed them at the fair. Daniel loved his flags project, and continues to talk about flags (and display a remarkable level of knowledge!) and Em enjoyed her first project of Big Cats. I was really proud of both the children and how they followed their own interests to produce such wonderful projects.
We also made really good progress with the Sassafras book – I have noticed a huge change in Daniel’s writing and rather than copying what I write out he now writes a lot independently, only asking me to note things down when he has a lot to remember. They’ve enjoyed this a lot and I am going to finish the next chapter in the Zoology book then order the next set (which I think is about anatomy). It’s a system that really works for us and lends itself well to the way that we work.
In addition to the Sassafras programme we have dipped our toes into the Story of The World history series. Both the children seem to have an interest in History so we are doing this and seeing how we go. They’ve enjoying it so far which is good and I am learning lots of things too! History in schools is, understandably, narrow, so it’s nice to be able to do something that I’ve not studied before with the children.
The final week of September has been super productive. We had a park meet for one of the children’s friends; and watching the children play on the see saw was a real lesson in how play really does help children learn. There was lots of climbing of trees and general fun. It was a lovely way to celebrate a birthday and we got lucky with a warm dry day.
We did some Geo Journey work (Australia and Spain) and it was lovely to see and hear Daniel read the letters from Atlas and Geo on his own. His comprehension is certainly improving and I think Em enjoyed her brother telling her all about the adventures Atlas and Geo had been on.
Creative play took centre stage and they used cushions, blankets and all manner of open ended toys like wooden blocks to create a large house on the living room floor, complete with door bell, cars and space for the wheelie bins! There was lots of talk about shapes and space and getting things even – they were doing maths without even realising it. We also attended a meet arranged by a friend that included some den building using cardboard boxes. The children really enjoyed this and it was great to see Daniel and Emma join different groups to play and build with their own friends without relying on the other to join them.
We ended the month with a trip to the local Messy Church, which all three utterly adore and then Damian and Daniel had a cafe date and Emma and I did too (Harry napped!). It was a lovely end to the month and I hope it means that October will be promising.
October of course sees Daniel’s birthday, and we need to make some plans for that soon, and we have a few mini projects planned before we start on some larger scale ones.
The month may have started with me questioning the path we are taking, but it’s ended with me feeling happier and more confident that this is the right thing for us.