Planner Giveaway #homeed (UK only)

I mentioned a while ago that I have a couple of spare planners this year, and so now I would like to share the planner love!

The winner may choose between:

chalk

The lovely Chalk It Up! Lesson Plan Book from Creative Teaching Press,

holysimplicity

or the Holy Simplicity Catholic Homeschool Planner. (Please note that the Holy Simplicity planner is an ebook which we have printed and bound at home using a plastic comb binding, it does not have a coil binding as shown in the picture.)

I would really like to pass a planner to a brand new home educator, so if you are a newbie in need of a planner, or if you have somebody in mind to pass it on to, this is what you can do to be in with a chance to win (UK only):

1. Like and share this post on Facebook, and / or Twitter, or your own blog, and

2. Like our page on Facebook

3. Follow us on Twitter @HE_Curriculum

4. Follow this blog (if you have a WordPress account) or subscribe to this blog’s posts by email or in your reader.

5. Comment below to say where you’ve shared it, liked and followed etc. Obviously, the more you’ve liked and shared and followed, the more of a chance you’ll have to win.

Deadline: 31st July, 2015

Winner will be picked and notified by 15th August 2015.

Good luck!

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Plans for September

After going to and fro in my mind over what to do – follow the national curriculum more closely with a view to doing GCSEs? Concede defeat over the severe dyslexia and put them all in school (it was a serious consideration, but none of us want to go that route), or go back to our Sonlight-style, literature-based lifestyle.

I wondered seriously about starting GCSEs at home, but again, nobody really wants that. We have found two possible options for maths and English post-16, both of which are free, so I think there’s no rush for that. Heck, I’m doing GCSE maths myself next year, and I’m 44! 🙂

I decided to go back to the literature-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because when we were doing Sonlight, we weren’t cooped up at home or in the classroom the way we have been recently, trying to squeeze ourselves into the National Curriculum boxes (although now I look back, I wonder why?! It has been miserable for all of us, and really, worse than unproductive, it turned them off learning).

On the contrary, the books we found were always portable, it meant that we could be out and about everyday – at the woods, at the beach, visiting with other home educators, whatever really, and we could still get the ‘work’ done, and it didn’t really feel like work (except on my throat which was known to need a constant supply of hot tea!)

Despite eldest’s difficulties with the system (possible Asperger’s without a firm diagnosis or Statement), his knowledge base was much larger than my own when I left school, so I’m confident that Sonlight gave him a good all-round education. The skills will come, but they have come frustratingly slowly.

My kids are just bright, late starters 🙂

The next question was, do we go on with Sonlight itself or another literature-based curriculum I have used in between, Heart of Dakota.

I actually decided to do both: I will be doing two levels anyway – we’re going to finally go back and finish the Sonlight read-alouds from core C over the summer, and then go on to start core D. We never did cores D and E first time round because they’re based on American history, but we always felt we had missed out on all those fantastic books!

coreD

So, as always, we will do a hotch potch – we’ll intersperse the American history with some British history and geography. But we’ll be moving away from the textbooks and back to the literature. They recall it so much more fully that way.

heart-of-dakota-world-geography

For my daughter, I decided to do Heart of Dakota’s World Geography year. The titles look really interesting, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

I rather enjoyed HoD’s early grades, which I used (mainly for language arts) for my two youngest alongside Sonlight’s early grades, although we didn’t do all the books (HoD are much more Amero-centric than Sonlight, and more religious! But I like it because it has a much more Charlotte Mason style) but I skipped the first three higher levels in the ‘Hearts for Him Through High School’ series (although I have the guides if I want to go back to them).

300

And, because I am a book addict, I also ordered Sonlight’s core 300 (20th Century World History for high school) instructor’s guide, but not the books. I thought I would get the books gradually as we need them. And I’ll read these myself even if my daughter’s not interested. (I had been toying with doing their Church History core for myself but we hadn’t done the 20th Century in any great depth so I thought we should do this first) I rather think she will be interested anyway, and I know my eldest will love them.

So there will be a whole lot of reading going on in this house, and out of this house next year, all being well!

But as ever, the strict following of guides and manuals, ticking off every box, and doing every assignment, probably won’t happen.

We’ve tried that, and it sucks the joy out of it all, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of home educating in the first place, which is freedom to enjoy learning.

For science, we’ll carry on with Apologia but I think we may set aside some more time for hands-on experiments. That’s one think I may go back to the National Curriculum for, but as I said many years ago, I will use it (as I’ll use the HoD manuals and the Sonlight instructor’s guides) more as a curriculum bank of ideas, a tool rather than a master. We won’t allow ourselves to be straight-jacketed by curriculum.

When things start to arrive, I’ll post again with details about the individual books and resources.

So I’m excited right now! We haven’t had a ‘Box Day’ for a few years now! How about you? What are you planning? What resources will you be using? What would you like to learn this year?

Planning Time Again (Yay!)

fzybearglsspencilbooksline

Now is the season when homeschool / home education planning starts in earnest!

Planning is one of my favourite things, as you may know! I have probably tried all the planners there are!

I seem somehow to have managed to acquire 4, yes four, teacher planners for the 2015/2016 year, so I may do a giveaway at one point – watch this space 🙂

Although we don’t do it every year, we are planning to carry on through the summer this year as we have had so much disruption again this term with moving house. Our books are mostly still in storage, so I will share in another post what we’re using.

What I would like to do is shift to earlier bedtimes and earlier rising so we can start lessons early and finish early with a view to free afternoons outdoors while the weather is good. All of my children except the youngest now are teenagers, so that may take some convincing, but I’m going to try 🙂

Sorry I can’t post photos, as we still have no phone or internet so I am limited to what my mobile can cope with!

* Please note these links will take you away from me, so please bookmark this blog first! *

The four I have this year are:

• an Erin Condren Teacher Planner which is personalised, so I won’t be giving that one away I’m afraid, sorry! (When it arrives, I’ll post a pic though) 😀 This really is the Rolls Royce of teacher planners! Expensive (although they’ve reduced shipping costs) but worth it because they are so sturdy and lovely to look at all year.

http://www.erincondren.com

• The second is another American planner called the Teacher Anchor, which I forgot I ordered:

http://cjayneteach.bigcartel.com/product/teacher-anchortm-classroom-planner

This is a nice, sturdy planner, but not colourful like the EC. Really more suitable for school teachers than homeschool, with a bunch of Common Core info at the end, but certainly re-purposable (but they are all sold out this year),

• a British teacher planner from the Teacher Planner Company:

http://teacherplannercompany.co.uk/

(I ordered this before the EC but it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with this one but it does have a very nice ruler) and finally,

• The ‘Holy Simplicity’ Catholic Homeschool Planner from:

http://www.allthesaintsbooks.com/holy-simplicity-planner.html

This was a downloadable file, which we printed and bound ourselves. This one is really beautiful, but I have to say I prefer the Well Planned Day planner ( http://hedua.com/cart/index.php/wpd.html ) which is also beautiful and has Bible verses whereas the Holy Simplicity planner has Catholic quotes. It’s a little bit wasted on me to be honest!

I might use it as a Prayer / Bible and Homemaking planner, as it has a nice monthly ‘Mary and Martha’ notes section for precisely those two things. I have had the WPD planner a couple of times, but it is an expensive option, and the shipping costs make it prohibitively expensive.

The other problem with American academic planners is that they don’t cover the same period as British planners – our ‘school year’ runs from September to July, whereas most American planners run from July or August to June, often even missing out July altogether, which is not much use if you do school all year round.

How is your homeschool planning going? Are you excited about the next year? What are you using? Are you a planner addict like me?

All Good Things

We have decided to finish up our school year and take July off from academics, partly to avoid the schools holiday rush. Even when we lived in the city I used to do this – we would take our holidays when everything was nice and quiet, and we’re back to work when the schools are off and the crowds are out. Now we’re near the sea, it works out even better.

But we’re coming up for another big milestone this September, and I feel as though now is the time to re-think my methods, books and curriculum.

Were he at school, my youngest (Baba Zonee, aka Bunny amongst other names) would go up to secondary level this year. That’s quite a shocker really, and makes me feel really, horribly old!

So now I officially have no primary age children, and it looks as though (saving for the ever possible miracle of new children) that we are beginning the final, home stretch of home education.

I have been thinking for a long time that I want to get back to my original ‘roots’ in Charlotte Mason education.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Charlotte Mason and her method of education, she was a British teacher and teacher of teachers who wrote with a revolutionary and forward-thinking concern for children as people to be nurtured and respected in a time when education, and the cultural view of humanity and children especially was strict and punitive.

Mason was influenced in part by classical ideas, but also such educational thinkers as Pellegrini. She emphasised a liberal arts education, offering children the best our culture has to offer, including art, music, literature and nature study.

She spoke about engaging children with ideas direct from the author’s mind, as opposed to dry, regurgitated text, and she railed against what she called ‘twaddle’ – often seen in textbooks.

In her day, she was influential, far out of proportion to the size of the small school for teachers that she ran from Ambleside in the Lake District, and she can be thanked for improving early years and primary education in the UK, but alas she is nearly forgotten over here. (‘A prophet in his home town’…)

Thankfully, she was rediscovered by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and later Karen Andreola and others, who helped to propel her theories into one of the major homeschooling methods.

Most people assume though that the Charlotte Mason method only covers the primary years, but I have learned that Charlotte’s own book series also cover secondary age, and her sixth and final book, ‘Towards a Philosophy of Education’, addresses secondary education in particular.

But before I launch into reading Charlotte Mason’s own writings, which are admittedly dense and couched in difficult Victorian language, I thought I would start by re-reading one of my all-time favourites, Karen Andreola’s ‘A Charlotte Mason Companion’.

I have created a new UK-based yahoo discussion group for the purpose:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/cm-uk/info

We are planning to go through approximately one chapter per week, and perhaps if that works well, we can look at other Charlotte Mason classics.

Join us!

Dealing with Negativity

I’ve been home educating since 1999, so I ought to be used to this, but we are in a new area, meeting new people, and somehow it feels like starting over from scratch.

It always seems odd to me that all the opposition I’ve had about home education has always come from within the church. I get a lot of support and encouragement from everybody else – old, young, teachers, parents etc.

But somehow, even tho I don’t preach it or try to force my views on anybody, some people in the church – despite all the evidence that home educated children are polite and well behaved – can’t seem to stop criticising at every chance they can get, and to be honest, it is getting me down.

Fortunately it’s not at my own church, it’s a leader at a youth group, but it’s kind of relentless. My children enjoy the group so I don’t want to stop going.

Any advice?

New Term #homeed #dyslexia

dyslexia2

I’m spending today planning, thinking, wondering how to proceed when we start back with homeschooling tomorrow. I’m glad of an extra day, as I have been putting off thinking about it, and the weekend has been busy with visitors. But my eldest is still home as it’s a teacher’s ‘inset’ day, so I decided I could do with an ‘inset’ day myself.

The weather is very grey and depressing after the lovely sunny weather and I am really hoping it will start cheering up again as I am feeling that I need to get out more and get away from things this term.

I am wondering again how to deal with the severe dyslexia problem. I am out of my depth, and I just don’t know how to connect with any resources or helps that might be available. I have suggested calling it a day and trying school, but that’s not an option Motor-biker will consider so I need to do what I can here.

Starting back after a break is always hard – trying to get into a stable routine, getting up early and getting stuck in is a challenge after holidays. But I’m just wondering if I need to re-think our whole way of doing things (again).

When Dragon-tamer was at home, he pretty much taught himself because he was a book lover and found reading easy and fun. Pony-rider is the same, and she is happy to explore her own topics and she’s not one to get bored because she can’t think of anything to do.

The two youngest though, Motor-biker and Baba Zonee, are both struggling readers, get bored very easily and aren’t really interested in anything and certainly wouldn’t pursue their own interests unless they include watching TV or playing computer games. It’s a whole new paradigm for me.

So for the last 2-3 years we have done much more formal lessons than I ever did with the older two, and I thought I was doing the right thing, and that I needed to do it, but I have the overwhelming feeling that none of it is going in at all. They’re still not interested in anything, still not willing to study topics on their own, and they still can’t read.

So I’m still not sure how I will approach tomorrow. I am wondering about abandoning the formal lessons and going back to Sonlight (for anybody not familiar with it, it’s an American, literature-based curriculum which we loved and which I used for years with my older two).

I never needed to do much in the way of formal work with the older two – they just picked it up along the way, and because they were such wide readers, they had no problem with spelling or grammar or writing – it all just came naturally.

Was I wrong to assume that the younger two were different? Should I have given it more time? Would they eventually pick up what they need just by listening to me read to them? I know it’s possible because it happened with my two oldest, but they were readers. Can reading itself be transferred by osmosis? I’m just not sure anymore.

By the way, I’ve added hashtags to the title of this blog post as an experiment, in the hope that they’ll appear when the post automatically feeds through to twitter.

 

 

Half Term

I hardly feel I deserve it, we’ve accomplished so little in terms of verifiable, quantifiable pieces of work this term. We never used to follow the schools term timetable. But somehow, now, I feel I need a break more than ever.

This week and next, Dragon-tamer is home from sixth form college, so it’s nice to have him back again for a little while and I wouldn’t like to waste this special time, since it’s so rare now, in trying to get everybody else to ‘work’.

But I still feel guilty. It seems to me that there’s an enormous amount of guilt attached to motherhood anyway, and doubly so with home education. I can never do quite enough, work quite hard enough, achieve quite the results that will show that homeschooling was the best choice for our family.

But actually when I look at Dragon-tamer, although he’s not as academically advanced as I expected or hoped him to be, I am so pleased and proud of him in other ways: I’m constantly told how polite he is, so well-spoken, so considerate, thoughtful, clever, funny, talented. And I know that academics, or worldly achievements can come later.

When I first started home educating, my priorities were exactly those things. If I had ever had to articulate an ‘ed phil’ document, it would have included things like happiness, and a solid emotional and social foundation above academic achievement and prizes. I have to remind myself these things from time to time.

Introducing the Little Bears – history part 1

“Little Bears” was originally going to be “Little Bears Family Dayhome” (1) – a childminding service, way back in 1998 when we were first home from living in Sweden. We had decided to move back to the UK because we were a little homesick, and thought that we should get Dragon-tamer’s name down for a primary school back home.

As it happened, we didn’t even get as far as researching primary schools. Instead, we tried out a couple of pre-schools, as Dragon-tamer was aged 3 at the time. The first pre-school we tried was a shock-to-the-system in comparison with our Dagis (1) in Sweden. The Swedish philosophy of preschool education is a gentle home-from-home which encourages learning through play, and recognises the essential reality of attachment in child development. When Dragon-tamer started at Dagis, we went through a two week long process of inskolning (2), slow and gentle acclimatisation to the new setting while the parent gradually removes his or her presence, only when the child is ready to be left.

Back in the UK, this acclimatisation process was unheard of, and when we requested it anyway as we felt it necessary (especially given all the changes Dragon-tamer was having to get used to in one go – new country, new home and now new preschool), we were told that sitting in on more than one session was impossible. Instead, we made a compromise – I was allowed to sit outside the room where I could watch and listen to the proceedings in order that I could feel reassured. But no such reassurance was permitted to the child. I hope that understanding of child development has improved in the last 15 years.

What I heard and saw in that pre-school (unattended children crying for example) convinced me that it was not professional enough or appropriate for our child, and so we tried a second pre-school. The second setting presented almost the other extreme: this was instead a very rigid academic preschool which insisted on numeracy and literacy sessions for 3-year-olds. When I voiced my concerns and asked if we could arrange our attendance to avoid the academic sessions, we were told again that this was impossible. This time there was no room for compromise. The pre-school leader told me confidentially that she agreed with my concerns, but the setting was run by a parent-governor board which believed in the better-sooner-rather-than-later principle. Again, I hope that understanding of child development has improved in the last 15 years.

Well that’s enough for now! I haven’t blogged in a while, but I will try to post more regularly, and history part 2 will tell what we did after preschool, and how we discovered home education quite by accident.

Some notes on Swedish words:

(1) Dagis – short for daghem, dayhome, also known as forskola, preschool, and barntradgarden, kindergarten. A childminder’s would be a Familjedaghem, or Family Dayhome.

(2) Inskolning – acclimatisation process

(if somebody could let me know how to get Swedish characters, please let me know!!) 🙂