Just over a year ago I recorded everything that we did in a day and then posted about it, I thought it would be interesting to do it again* as things are always changing on the learning front in this house. I am sure that most home educators, whatever route they choose, have many wobbles about what they are doing. Should I have more structure to our day, should I follow a curriculum, should I just let them go in whatever direction they want to? What we all want is the best for our children whether their learning takes place mostly at school or all at home and being in sole charge of that can feel like a somewhat daunting task, if we let it. If I relax and enjoy it and plan what I need to and not worry when that plan doesn't always work, then there is always tomorrow.
Cameron has changed a huge amount in the last year. He has gone from not really wanting much input at all from me to looking to me to help me and guide him in his learning. I am not teaching him, we are not having formal lessons but there is a definite need on his part for a little more structure. That structure brings with it a happy, peaceful child who is interested in so much, less structure and he flounders and looks lost.
I was woken by Alice informing me that she had a wobbly tooth after which she got into bed with me for a cuddle. Cameron came in a few minutes later and opened the curtains declaring that we must come and look as it was quite bright outside. This is all relative you understand as it has rained pretty much everyday this month so far, it was still cloudy but the cloud was white rather than grey. We all looked out the window for some time observing the birds in the garden and the field on the other side of the road. Cameron correctly identified some small birds in the field which I could only do with binoculars. He has most definitely overtaken me in some bird identifying stakes he can do so by their behaviour and flight now.
We all got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast. We have taken to trying to eat this together something we manage some mornings. At this time of year we often light the candles we have on the table and we talk about what we are going to do during the day and what time we want to do the things we have planned to do at home. Four days of the week we are at home all morning and then go out in the afternoon, three of those days we have lunch at home too. I try and drink at least two pints of water and then wait half and hour before eating my breakfast so I don't always manage to eat with them but I do sit at the table with them even if I am not eating. Alice has taken to wanting to play a board game during breakfast something we started in September and has carried on. On that morning the game was Bus Stop, a great game for practicing addition and subtraction, so it was maths for breakfast.
Straight after breakfast they usually have some time on the computer/tablet. Cameron was using Lego Digital Designer to record a model he made with lego so that he can make it again in the future should he need to break it up, Alice was watching Numtums (more Maths) on CBeebies. They usually do this most days and it gives me a chance to do jobs round the house like the tidying, changing the beds or hoovering. On that morning it was the washing that got my attention, emptying the sheila maid of yesterdays wash and putting it away before putting a new load in the machine. I love the smell of line dried washing but it has been a while since I have been able to hang any outside, however we have a sheila maid in our bathroom which we use with the window open its a sort of half way house as even on a cold wet day the washing will dry in 24 hours. I also put some beetroot to roast in the oven for tea and sewed a few seams on a quilt I am making and a present for my nephews. I am loving having my sewing machine permanently ready to go, it has transformed my sewing experience, it is so much more productive.
When Cameron had finished up on the computer we had a game of fraction dominoes. I went on a maths course earlier in the year. Despite it being the subject I am most confident about helping my children to learn I am always on the look out for new ways to learn this valuable subject. I knew that the lady running the course was very into learning through games so I hoped to pick up some new ones, which I did. I also realised that Alice needed regular maths sessions each week if she was to progress beyond numbers 1 - 5 (which is where she was at at the start of the course in March). So I now plan at least three, sometimes four, maths sessions each week. They are not usually very long but as they are one to one I don't think they need to be. I can see a definite improvement in both of their maths skills since introducing this back in the late spring. Alice can now count beyond 100, do basic addition and subtraction, knows all her number bonds up to 10, and has just been learning the concept of multiplication. Cameron is now confident at complex addition and subtraction, he knows most of his times tables and is competent at division. He was really reluctant to learn his tables so I moved onto fractions, percentages and decimals. I introduced the concept of fractions, wrote a few on our blackboard to show how they are written down and what they represent and then starting using the first set of fraction dominoes. We have worked our way through the sets, by set three we were on to equivalent fractions (now he could see the importance of those dreaded times tables) and now we are onto to equivalent fractions, percentages and decimals.
At some point in the morning we devote some time to project work. We have just finished a project on the human body, we are taking a short break from projects before our Advent celebrations so they wanted to use that time to do some work on Beaver and Scout badges. I had spent some time the previous day going through all the badges in their scouting sections and printing off what they needed to do. Alice decided on the Cooks Activity Badge and Cameron the Model Maker Activity Badge. Cameron went off to build a complex lego model, a passport control complex of buildings whilst Alice learnt all about healthy eating and started to write it all down.
Whilst I was making dinner** Cameron emailed a couple of pictures of his model to his Scout Leader (ticking off a requirement for his Digital Citizen Badge - they are very 21st Century these scouts now you know) to ask if he could bring his model to the meeting that evening. He is going to work on a Local Knowledge badge next which requires him to produce a map of all the facilities within a 5K radius of our village, in the New Year we are going to do a project on the weather so he can complete his Meteorologist Badge. Alice got the cuisenaire rods out and starting making a picture of us all out for a walk in the sunshine, now that would be lovely can you send us some if you have any to spare?
After dinner we headed out in the car to their French class. Back in September at one of the home ed meet ups we go to one of the mums was lamenting the fact that the french class she started for a few children was no longer viable as all the other children had gone back to school and her two didn't want to do it on their own. Several mums said they were interested and now the class is back on. They have been to three sessions now and are absolutely loving it. I have always known that there were a few subjects that I would not be able to easily do at home, languages being one of them. Cameron learnt some French when he was at nursery but I found it really difficult to keep that up once nursery had finished. The class is one hour and the teacher speaks in French the whole time, she does it through songs, lots of actions and repeating sentences over and over. The drive to the class is fairly long, as is most of the driving to and from activities we go to. We have taken to borrowing audio books on CD from the library and listening to them, so our listening this time was Alice's Stories by Tim Kennemore.
Once we got back home, after a very wet drive home witnessing two accidents on the road, it was time for cooking tea. Cameron laid and lit the wood burning stove, Alice tidied up and I cooked Beetroot and Feta Salad and Falafel. Tuesday is a busy day for us as once we have eaten its time to clear up and prepare for Cameron and myself to go out, Cameron to Scouts and me to orchestra with my husband away a lot at the moment this takes some organising. When I walk out the door to go to French I know that every minute of the rest of my day is accounted for! I don't get home until nearly 10pm so the children are sound asleep I have to wait until the morning to find out how their evening has been. Cameron got his model maker badge and the Scout of the Week award (Alice came home with the Beaver equivalent the day before) I am not a fan of rewards, in fact I loathe them but I know that these were received with pride and that neither of them will have changed their behaviour to get them.
So it is probably time for me to end this really long post, I hope I haven't bored you to tears rambling on about my day. I had hoped to share more photos with you but it was such a dull dark day that my photos were not worth sharing, except the domino set which I thought you might like to see. It was interesting for me to read and compare with this time last year, I wonder what our day will look like in another year?
*Tuesday 17 November
**midday meal, my granny grew up in the North of England so it was always dinner in our house, despite growing up in the South where it is more usually called lunch.