In just a few short weeks, we will be entering into what would have been Mr D’s Reception year in school. So, it sort of marks our first ‘official’ term of home education (although legally we will be home educating from Jan 2018 as that is the term after he turns five and thus must be in receipt of an education).
People are naturally curious about our journey, and that’s fine. Before I entered the world of Home Ed I too was curious as to how people could achieve an education for their children away from school. I’ve said a few times it is a real mind set shift – you have to think quite differently about how children learn and how you can achieve that as a family. It isn’t always easy – but it is good fun. Yes it can be tiring and there are of course days I am at my wits end with them or, just simply, very tired. But – there are things I have put in place to help with that.
I have joined a gym – a way of giving me a release and a focus of my own. It’s a 24 hour gym so will fit in with when I can make use of it (mostly after 9pm at night). I also have some loose plans for what our home education might look like over the autumn term.
When thinking about home ed, it’s hard not to be a magpie and get all the workbooks and sign up for all the groups and go to all the things. I know how Mr D learns; I know he likes an element of structure; he likes to know what he is aiming for and having something to work towards. He likes to know what we are doing day to day.
I am wary of planning too much; simply because plans will inevitably change. In reality very little will change for us. We will continue with the things that we do regularly including Spanish and Music as well as their gymnastics and swimming (the latter two not being home education specific activities). We are starting a new group in September that covers Geography, maths and English. I am not 100% sure how this will go, but it sounds intriguing so I thought we may as well give it a try for a few weeks and see how things go with that. Day to day however, we will probably still follow pretty much the pattern we are doing now.
That said, we want to make sure the core subjects are covered in a logical manner and so we will be following a structured programme for maths and having a keen focus on practicing Mr D’s reading skills. I know this is an area of controversy amongst home educators, but both Damian and I want the children to be able to easily slot into the school system if needed. Whilst it isn’t in the plans at the moment, no one knows what the future holds so we want them to have a good grasp on the core subjects.
Maths wise we will continue playing games and doing fun activities but we also plan to follow the Maths No Problem! scheme. This is teaching the maths mastery approach and it’s one that I think will work well for us. I am going to get the first couple of books soon so do keep an eye out on my Instagram etc for those and I’ll probably blog about them too at some stage.
Reading wise Mr D is doing well; or at least he seems to be. He is able to read some words and is better able to ‘sound out’ words now. I am sure he will get there soon and the summer reading challenge at the local library has been a great motivator for him. I’ll also be looking to twinkl for some games and activities for the winter months when we are likely to be doing more inside activities.
Science wise – I have the Letterbox Lab first box to look at – and I’ll be sharing our experience of that on the blog once we have looked at it. I have also taken out a three month subscription to Whizz Pop Bang! magazine for Mr D – I think it will be a great magazine to inspire him. He is quite taken with circuits and the such and as science overall is my weakest subject I think this will help us. The magazine was on offer via Little Bird for £6 for three issues so it was worth taking a look at. I hear great things about the magazine so I think that plus the Letterbox Lab will help to cover science over the winter. We will of course be looking at the things they’re naturally interested in too as they come up.
So, really everything is a bit loose and vague at the moment. I have lots of things ready to draw on but no set times for when we will do them or specifics for anything.
The only thing I really do want to do is to follow the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum. I’m not entirely sure how we will do this yet, but I’m thinking we might use it as the basis for our Monday mornings. We live near a beautiful place that I know would work wonderfully. It’s got a small stream, lots of open space, a large river with a bridge over and spots that you can access to paddle in it when it is a warm day (and the river isn’t flowing too fast!). There are fields and hedgerows as well as a walled garden complete with fruit trees and bee hives. It is also a short stroll to the canal bank so I think it would serve us wonderfully well as the place to focus our nature study at. I know other friends are also wanting to follow this curriculum so we might cover it a couple of times in different ways. I am planning to blog our way through this, sharing some of the books and resources we have been using each week. I’m also tempted to look at the wildlife trust and maybe ask for a family membership at Christmas time as there looks to be some great things we can tap into locally.
Finally, we have a couple of things to look forward to in the autumn term. We have a theatre trip planned just before Christmas and we are taking part in a Geography fair. I was hoping we would do the USA as our country but Mr D has since said he wants to do Slovakia – so I will be busy in October helping them research and learn about Slovakia. I’ve not yet thought about how we might approach this, so please do let me know how if you’ve taken part in a geography fair in the past and how you approached it!
So, that’s our autumn term plans – How are you approaching the autumn term? Are you much more structured than we are or do you think we are too structured? I think this balance works for us at the moment. Certainly our pattern of group activities works well for the children as well as having plenty of time of nothing planned and nowhere to be. It allows for spontaneous meet ups with friends as well as general play.