17 October 2014
One of the things I most often get asked as a home educator is what does a typical day look like. I find this incredibly difficult to answer as I suspect most of us would if asked the same question. I have often said that to an outsider it might look like we are not doing very much, most of our days are probably similar to how you might spend a weekend (if you have children that is). I also suspect that they are waiting to hear how we do our lessons and mentally ticking off the various subjects as I mention them. We don't do any teaching in this house something that I know is hard for people who are not home educating to comprehend, most of us have learnt in a school and that is all we know about education. It is a radical idea to throw out the lessons, the teaching and let learning happen, it feels like you are stepping into a big void that has the potential to swallow you up and then spit you out saying now that was a daft idea. In order to understand, or at least comprehend, where I am coming from all your preconceived notions of education need to put to one side, to deschool yourself, difficult I know I have done it too. I do do some preparation, as a framework for the day to ensure it has a good flow to it. I have read on blogs of other home educators what a day in their house looks like, they have kept track of everything their children have done in a day. It is something I have been meaning to do for a long time, just out of interest I did this for one day this week.....
...the day started as it sometimes does with breakfast. I get up before the children and use that time to prepare myself for the day. I lay the table with all the things they need for breakfast, they help themselves and then clear it away. Sometimes they eat their breakfast first thing, sometimes a hour or so after they have woken up. My eldest (E for the rest of this post) did this my youngest (Y for rest of this post) decided to do some colouring first. Whilst they were both engaged in this we had a conversation about the Robin Hood story, what the various characters may or may not have done and whether it was true, a myth or possibly based on some truths which moved us onto the game of Chinese Whispers a game which is difficult to play with three but we had a go anyway with interesting results, I started with my head hurts, which ended up with no egg yurts!
The house was looking a bit like a whirlwind had been through it so we all spend a bit of time tidying up and putting away, until we could actually see a few surfaces again. By this time Y had had breakfast and they had both got dressed something that doesn't always happen quite so early in the day, often they get dressed to have lunch. If we are going out in the afternoon I usually insist they get dressed early on, if we are at home all day I am less bothered. Having tidied up they then decided to play with the lego in E's bedroom building little objects and playing with the mini figures. At some point Y wandered downstairs with a Where's Wally? book and looked at it on the sofa. E followed soon after and sat at his desk playing with a spinning top and watching how it spun, he then attempted to spin it on a slopping surface playing around with the angle and the material, he also tried moving a piece of paper under the spinning top whilst it was spinning, successfully. A sword fight took place next, with lots of fair play and negotiation about what was going to happen next, how injuries were being managed and other imaginary sword fighters also engaged in the 'battle'. We had a bit of screen time next with Y watching a few programmes of Nina and the Neurons on CBeebies and E playing a couple of online games and reading a bit more on Tank Encyclopedia.
We have been practicing the concepts rhythm and beat, last week we listened to lots of different music and played a drum to the beat of each, this week we listened to some poetry and beat a drum to it doing so loudly and quietly I also read out some poems that I had chosen from a wonderful poetry book Rhythm Rhymes (published in the 1960s and now out of print I would expect). Doing this short activity for a couple of weeks has done wonders for my children's sense of rhythm and beat they can 'hear' it in the music they listen to and I hope if they do play music together they will find their sense of time too. Next week I think we will either do some conducting the beat and working with playing quietly and loudly or we will move onto some singing and finding our voice. It was great that when we had finished our rhythm activity they put some music on, danced around to it (in time - hurrah) and played drums.
Whilst I was preparing our lunch, leek and potato soup, they carried on dancing and drumming interspersed with a bit of drawing on paper and on the blackboard we have in our dining room. At some point they drifted upstairs (leaving me to listen to their music - that happens a lot) and played with lego again acting out dramas with their mini figures. Lunch was eaten and we sat and shared a chapter of The Hutman's Book about the Moors and a poem Meg Merrilies by John Keats. If we have lunch at home we always finish our meal with a chapter from our shared book and a poem which I choose related either to the story/book we are reading or the time of year. On Tuesday which is our 'nature' day we also have chapter from a book Come our of Doors by C.D. Dimsdale which details what nature is up to for each week of the year. I have tried various ways to share stories and poetry with them and this is what works for us. I started with the story and then slowly added the other elements. I know some people start the day with this but my children were not interested then, now it has become an important part of our meals at home together and it finishes our morning too. If we are going out for the afternoon we will do so after lunch is cleared away.
The day I recorded all that we did, we would usually go out to a friends for the afternoon, for play and singing. It was cancelled this week so we were at home for the afternoon too. We played two games immediately after lunch, Home Builders and Winter both co-operative games and firm favourites here. E really struggles with losing so I bought Winter for him one Christmas and it was a really good move he much prefers these games to ones which have a winner. We have four of these games now. It is great that we can now all play these together as Y is old enough to engage in the discussion and be part of the game.
Earlier in the day, when the children realised that singing was not going to happen, Y expressed an interest in walking up the village to the park in the afternoon, as it was dry we decided we would go out for a short time. I also wanted to pop into the garden centre in the village, it is just a small one but it does sell most things you need, I was after some spring bulbs and hoped they would have some. Sadly they don't stock them I shall have to go elsewhere. As we were walking up the village we played I spy with colours and talked about how you could drive a car when you couldn't walk. They played on the park equipment and we all played tig until we were exhausted and set off home playing I spy and talking about what makes a sentence.
It was tea making time when we got home so whilst I got on with that the children headed upstairs to play with playmobil creating a campsite with a cafe. Over tea E told us funny jokes and we talked about numbers, adding them together and taking them away, what the biggest number is and how we imagine numbers in our heads. I shared lots of books with Y after tea, reading them together on the sofa, Y listened in and read some of his own too. Then it was time for a bath and bed, ending the day, as always, with my settling each child in bed and asking them what was their favourite part of the day. At this point I go to bed too, settling down to read my book until my eyes will not stay open anymore.
The rest of the week we had more writing and drawing, more lego and playmobil playing, more reading books together, more interesting conversations about a huge variety of topics, a den built played in and then carefully packed away together (not all on the same day), a walk in a local wood and spotting three red squirrels, a day out at forest school, baking biscuits, planting spring bulbs (yes I did find some), more dancing to music. This is the ebb and flow of our days.
It was interesting that I posted earlier in the week about science, I was pondering whether we needed more in our week and then look what happens when I write it down.........