I thought I would share my basic plans. This is our initial timetable (the times are flexible, just a guideline, and to be honest, the lessons end up being much shorter than the hour I’ve allowed):
The first session is “Morning Time” which includes all of the subjects on the top line, a little each day, but those listed will be our “focus” subjects to make sure none get left out. The Times seem to have got cut out of the photograph, but that should be 9:00 am.
Then Maths and English every day at 10:00 am, followed by history, geography or science at around 11:00 am. Wednesday has always been our traditional science day with experiments and a nature walk, whatever the weather, and then French or art/ design which will alternate at around 12:00, and lastly an outdoor activity in the afternoon including some spaces for different options (like beach!). In between are breaks and lunch, obviously.
The timetable is sketched out in my Bullet Journal – I can’t really do pretty and creative planning, but I’m enjoying using it for notes.
Then, for my day-to-day weekly notes are in an Erin Condren teacher planner (you may know that I am a planner addict, and Erin Condren is one of my favourites which I have used a few years in a row):
I have made a bit of a mess of this page, and I don’t use the rows per day (I might cover them up with stickers at some point), it is just a list of subjects to cover over the course of a week, and I have an insert listing the order of the day.
It may change, it may not work, but one of the advantages of home education is that you can respond very quickly and re-work your plans if needs be.
What are your plans this year? Are you a planner addict, or do you enjoy “pretty planning”? What do you use?
Welcome to September! Another month, another term, another year! Somehow I seem to be starting my 18th year of home education!
This year I’m teaching (or is it facilitating? I still haven’t worked that out!) Baba Zonee (B.Z.) who is now 13 and Pony-rider who is now 16.
Pony-rider wasn’t expecting to be at home this year – she was assured by two separate schools that she was welcome on a catch-up GCSE year leading into sixth form and A Levels, and both schools subsequently turned around and realised that the funding wouldn’t be there so neither would the places be. That has left us with a quandary – what to do?
There are other colleges, but that would mean travel in the wrong direction (or at least the opposite direction to her dad and brother – it would mean I have a 2 hour round trip every morning and afternoon, with carschooling B.Z. – certainly not my favourite option), or we could start studying GCSEs from home and sit as external students. That is probably what we will need to do, but we weren’t expecting to have to do this. It seems that we can’t do the subjects that Pony-rider wanted to do from home, and I feel completely unprepared.
We’re also just beginning to gear up for yet another house move – our 5th (or 7th if you count the three months we lived in emergency accommodation after being flooded out of our rental property – actually the emergency place was 10 times nicer than the place we were renting but that’s an aside) and hopefully our final move!
I can’t wait to be finally settled but I have a niggling feeling that it will be too late for our home education. We have had more than 5 years of almost constant disruption, chronic ill health and stress. I’d like to be able to say that I’m now an expert at home educating through crises and chronic stress but in fact I think it’s more a case of just barely surviving by the skin of my teeth.
Next time I’ll share some of the resources we’re using, and some of the things we plan to study this year (just as soon as we’ve worked it out for ourselves). 🙂
What are you doing this year? Are you new to home education or are you a seasoned veteran?
We have a birthday coming up this week, and we’re heading out to a second showing of Star Wars as one of the birthday treats. It’s always a challenge to organise presents and parties for birthdays so close to Christmas, and it’s difficult to make them memorable, as they’re normally quiet, family affairs.
When birthdays fall during the ‘school’ week, though, it is nice as home educators to have the freedom to take time off from academics to go on outings, or just to chill out for the day.
I thought I would share this birthday memory from the Svengelska Hemskolan archive:
We’ve been gearing up for a birthday this week, so we have managed only to get very little formal ‘schooly’ work done. On Tuesday we received a CD of stories and nursery rhymes from a toddler-group we used to go to (produced and recorded by the group and the Library service), which proved to be really popular. It reminded me that we used to sit down everyday and have music-time with nursery rhymes and action songs, but we haven’t done it for a long while.
On Wednesday, the birthday boy got to choose all our activities, so we ended up watching “The Blue Planet” on DVD (one of his presents) most of the morning, and in the afternoon we went for a walk in Salcey Forest with a group of friends. The children particularly enjoyed running and jumping along the tree-top ‘Elephant’ walk and jumping in muddy puddles! (Mummy was slightly less enthusiastic!)
More recently, I have tried to re-introduce music time or circle time as part of our ‘Morning Time‘ (see Cindy Rollins’ lovely Ordo Amoris blog for details.) But right now all our music books (we love the books from A & C Black such as ‘Okki-Toki-Unga’ and ‘The Jolly Herring’ amongst others) are all in storage so I’m not sure what shape our music time will take from now on. Dragon-tamer has discovered that he loves the Beatles, so we may learn some of their songs to sing, just for fun. I remember learning ‘Yellow Submarine’ at school myself. Thank goodness for the internet! I don’t know how we ever coped without it!
Thank-you to all my readers and followers for staying with us in 2015. I know I haven’t been terribly consistent, and it probably doesn’t look very professional because I rarely manage to include photos, but in my defence, we have had a very disrupted year and, really, this blog has never been some kind of business project – there are no affiliate links or whatever (although we do have an Amazon A-Store, which I will try and update with useful books and resources).
What this blog is about really is just a bit of fun to keep a record of what we do for our own enjoyment, and hopefully to help other home educators find their own paths along the way.
Depending on how this year goes for us, I have lots of plans and ideas to include here – more book reviews, more field trip/ outing reports, and lots more. (If there’s anything you would particularly like to see here, just sing out!)
So I wish you all a happy, healthy and productive new year 2016 and look forward to reading your blogs and interacting with the home education community both the UK and further afield.
WordPress prepared a report, which I thought I would share, as it is pretty!
Have a great year!
I don’t know what happened to November! The last few months seem to have been a blur – less of frenetic activity, and more of illness and confusion. As often happens in a big family, we all take it in turns to get sick, so we can have back-to-back colds and bugs for weeks on end.
Dragon-tamer and Pony-rider dropped out of their course, as it didn’t seem to be leading anywhere and it was eating up their whole week with no obvious benefit. That seemed to be the right decision, but neither of them have any ideas or plans about what to do next.
Meanwhile, Motor-biker and Baba-zonee have started joining in with our local home ed sports group, and may join in with more if they carry on home educating, but we have been talking and wondering about the possibility – in view of their severe dyslexia – of either going in to school, or flexi-schooling. I feel as though I am out of my depth and can’t help them much further.
We haven’t been on many outings otherwise because I haven’t been well enough to drive, but we do seem to have been out to endless hospital appointments (with Daddy driving), doing a tour of hospitals around Barnstaple, Holsworthy, Exeter and Truro lately! Not really my idea of fun, and not really terribly educational!
Although we have been plodding along in our various curriculum books, we don’t seem to have made much progress, or felt like we have learned much. The most educational thing we have enjoyed during the Autumn term is Stephen Fry’s documentary series Planet Word on language.
We have three weeks left now before Christmas, and I think we will just gently plod on, but then we’ll take a break to think about what we want to do next year.
We have inherited a couple of old black and white border collie sheepdogs from my mother-in-law, so our next adventure is to get used to having dogs again. Hopefully we will be able to take them onto the beaches and out in the countryside which will be educational in itself.
October isn’t over but since I never know when I will have enough energy to get on the laptop, I thought I would write an update now.
There are lots of things we’re struggling with at the moment, lots of things we would like to do but haven’t been able. So instead of dwelling on the negative, I’ll let you know what we have done, and what we are currently enjoying.
In English, we’re currently going through Galore Park’s “So You Want to Learn Junior English” Book 2. We don’t bother with writing as it slows the boys down, we just go through it orally. Sometimes, when there’s a point of grammar that they need to see, I’ll write it up on the whiteboard. We’re also using Jolly Grammar books 1 and 2 for spelling (the grammar worksheets are variable. I like that they’re photocopiable, but we only bother copying the good ones.)
For literature, we’ve been listening to The Railway Children by E. Nesbit and read by Virginia Leishman, which we downloaded from Audible. I decided to join as a member and pay monthly as it works out quite a good deal. This particular book would have cost quite a bit more as an individual purchase.
For History, we have been enjoying the Librivox reading of Our Island Story. I have already read this book twice to the children over the years, and it is a family favourite. Having somebody else read it aloud is obviously really helpful in our situation. We finished the Middle Ages with another film, just for fun: “Les Visiteurs” which is a French comedy about a noble and his servant who are mistakenly thrown forwards in time by a wizard. Very silly but lots of fun. At the moment we’re going through the reign of Elizabeth I.
For Geography, all we are managing at the moment is a daily page from “You Too Can Change the World” by Spragget and Johnstone which is a children’s version of Operation World (there is also another version for older children, Window on the World). Each page gives a basic introduction to a country or ethnic group and lists points for prayer. One country that has captured the children’s imagination is North Korea, so we may look more deeply at some point. I do also have an old KS3 Geography series by Collins educational consisting of 3 books (United Kingdom, Europe and The World) but haven’t started that yet. When we do, I’ll let you know if it’s any good.
We went out once with the new HE Teens group to the cinema to see the Martian. I’m not sure to what extent that can be counted as educational! (Again, when I’m more well we might follow it up with some real science!) But everyone enjoyed it and I’m hoping that eventually the group will become a bit more active. Being so isolated makes it difficult to connect with other teens.
We have dabbled a bit with Shakespeare over the last year – usually I read the story in one of the story books for younger children, then again in something more complex like Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and then rather than struggling through the text, we find a good film version before going any more deeply, and then only if it’s enjoyable – the last thing I want to do is put them off. So this term we are looking at Henry V and we watched Kenneth Brannagh’s version with a star-studded cast including a very young Christian Bale!
For Science, we’re still going through Apologia’s Botany, minus most of the experiments. We may go through the experiments another time when I’m more well, as a fun way of revision.
That’s pretty much it. Field trips at the moment are reduced to one trip to the library every week plus their evening activities which, at the moment, consist of Drama, Scouts, Bellringing and Local Radio.
Over to You:
What are you doing this month? How do you manage illness and disability with home education?
Just a quick update and a moan!
Our summer has flown by and been filled with a week at Creation Fest (which involved lots of music, skating, and eating doughnuts!) A week with my mum and brother, showing them round north Cornwall, and finally a week in Watford with a few trips and get togethers with friends and looking after my sister-in-law’s pets while she was away.
This is the last week of our summer holiday, and we’re planning to start back with lessons next week, but I am very frustrated right now! I had planned to start Sonlight levels D and 100 but most of our books are still in storage after moving at this point, and realistically I may not have access to them until later on in the year, so it’s back to the drawing board for now.
I do have Heart of Dakota’s World Geography level for Pony-rider, so we can start that (I had originally intended to intersperse that reading with her other studies rather than as a stand-alone programme), and for the boys? Not sure yet. I don’t think we can do any kind of organised study but we can read the books we do have, and maybe do some projects relating to their interests until the Sonlight books are available.
Pony-rider and Dragon-tamer, additionally, are both planning to do vocational courses this year with the local college, but I don’t know the details of those yet.
My goals for September are these:
• More regular exercise, and get out more – every day, if only for 5 minutes or in the garden if possible.
• Make an effort to get some appropriate social interaction, whether that be with the local group, the new Cornwall Teens group or other activities. (I don’t like driving far, I’m a bit of a homebody, but unfortunately that is just a reality of home ed in a rural area.)
• Earlier to bed, earlier to rise, and
• More regular meal times together, if possible, together with healthier eating choices. I think this will help with monitoring Motor-Biker’s blood sugar levels as well.
• Make more use of our annual season tickets to Eden Project!
Specifically academic goals:
• Concentrate on improving the boys’ handwriting which has degenerated recently
• Explore options for handicrafts and activities which don’t require reading and writing. (A photography club has been mentioned as a possible option.)
• Aim to read 4+ literature books together this month.
• Carry on with current course books for History / Geography and Science. (Science has definitely got neglected this last term, so I need to make sure that doesn’t happen.)
• Start new resources for Maths, with more emphasis on discussion and understanding than written work.
• They’re all wanting to do different languages now, so I’m not sure how that will work as they’re not very independent learners and like a lot of hand-holding. We have plenty of resources, they’d just need to do the work.
• And finally, for me – I need to get more organised with stationery and record-keeping – most of the last couple of years’ work has just got lost in amongst the house-moving chaos.
What are your plans for the new school year?
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:
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.
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!
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.
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).
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?