Archive Post: When Home Ed Mum is Sick

We have spent the last couple of weeks feeling collectively poorly and miserable. We have had a string of bugs and viruses to fight off: having a larger-than-average family often means that we don’t seem to go very long between one of us being ill, especially at this time of year, and if one of us catches something that we all catch in turn, the period of illness can be quite prolonged!

I suppose that for parents of children in school, when mum is ill there is the advantage that it’s ‘just’ a question of summoning up enough strength to get the children to school and then the day is potentially free and easy to stay in the sick bed (assuming sick-leave from paid employment is an option)…. But to be honest I don’t know how ‘working mothers’ manage it.

I have seldom thought of home educating as an easy option (for many reasons!) and yet, as sorry as I have been tempted to feel for myself during my bout of ‘flu, I actually think that in this case I do have the easier time of it: apart from the postman delivering packages, there’s no real reason why I need to drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn (doubtless though, he thinks I’m a shocking layabout!) and, when things are really bad, there’s no reason for anyone to get out of their pyjamas before midday.

As to what our home education has looked like during these weeks, it’s certainly unlikely that we would be mistaken for a ‘home-school’. But has it been educational? It has been less formal even than this ‘un-schooler’ would have liked but, on balance, I think I can say ‘yes’. We haven’t missed a single day.

We can almost always manage some read-alouds: we’re currently enjoying L. Frank Baum’s original “The Wizard of Oz”

and Robert McCloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal”.

When Mummy has been at her worst and incapable of doing anything much more than lying on the sofa, croaking instructions (“shut that fridge door!”) the little ones have had fun learning to make their own breakfasts, and sandwiches at lunch (while I looked on, shaking my head about all the mess to clean up later!). Hours of imaginative play, and lego construction and so on – that I might normally veto or at least curtail in favour of more academic pursuits – were enjoyed at length. Not to mention all the running about that healthy Mummy would never normally allow!

I must admit as well that the TV (schools programmes and at least nominally educational videos mostly) got much more use than normal. During these few ‘sick’ weeks we became autonomous educators by default!

It was definitely a relief to finally get out of the house properly this week (playing in the garden just isn’t enough). I did wonder whether, given the choice, the children would prefer their home-ed experience with healthy mummy or sick mummy, but for my part, I’m so glad it’s over! (roll on summer…)

 

 

[Originally posted on my Multiply blog]

Archive Post: Firecrest


I thought I would share what we’ve learnt this morning.

We were reading about the ‘firecrest’, which is apparently one of the UK’s smallest (if not *the* smallest) bird, though I had never heard of it before now.

I checked it out on the RSPB’s website, and was pleased to find that they have a sample of its song together with lots of information:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/firecrest/

We’re just on the edge of being in the right area to find the firecrest, so I will have to make a note to look for it when we go out towards the south-east.

The book we were reading, by the way (if any of you are interested) is ‘366 and more Nature Stories‘, published by Brown Watson.

The author is Anne-Marie Dalmais with illustrations by Annie Bonhomme. It seems to have been written originally in Europe (printed in Milan) and is translated into English and edited by Colin Clark. It is a great book for nature study, with short and sweet little stories every day of the year.

It is available through used booksellers.

 

 

[Originally posted on my Multiply blog]

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?

Picture Book Reading Challenge

I’ve just heard about this lovely challenge: to read 300 picture books to your children, in a year.

Since we are starting in February, our allocation is reduced to 275.

It’s only ’11 books per fortnight’, so that seems fairly manageable.

http://childledchaos.me.uk/2013/12/31/picture-book-reading-challenge-2014/

I used to have pages on Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing (back when we had internet 3 years ago!) So I will check them out again when I have a chance.

Of course, since my children are older, I may have to include books other than picture books. I have been aiming for one book weekly, but life has just been whizzing by too fast to actually manage to fit that much reading in.

We keep trying though! (We’re currently still reading “The Avion My Uncle Flew”)

I think perhaps a trip to the library is in order! 🙂

January Nature Notes

One of my favourite resources is a very old cloth-bound book, “Enid Blighton’s Book of the Year“. My revised edition is dated 1950 and is a classic that really ought to be reprinted. Enid Blighton fell out of favour, of course, and many of her stories would be considered inappropriate nowadays; but she was very knowledgeable and her writings on nature are very Charlotte-Mason-esque, so I’m rather fond of her, on balance.

enid-blytons-book-of-the-year-1Each month has its own chapter, which includes a motto for the month, stories, puzzles, plays and songs and – the reason I love it so – nature notes on weather, birds, trees, flowers, animals and insects.

We started our week by filling out our RSPB Big Garden Survey form (which we’ll post rather than register online, as we’re old-fashioned like that).

And I thought I would share with you today’s poem, from Enid Blighton’s book:

“The Blackbird is Singing”

Here’s the new year – now what will it bring?
Apples in Autumn, bluebells in spring,
Pussy-palm soft as a grey kitten’s fur,
Poppies-a-dancing when summer winds stir,
Yellow-clad fields where the butter-cups gleam,
New little ducks on the chattering stream,
Eggs in the hedgerows, lambs skipping by,
Woods full of primroses, little and shy.
Yellow bees droning in summery heat,
Early nuts ripening, blackberries sweet;
All these and more the New Year is bringing –
Really, no wonder the blackbird is singing!

We are invited to write out the poem and then underline the first letter of each line: “Read them downwards, and you will find there is a message for you from the blackbird.” 🙂