Thursday, 23 February 2017

A day in Education at Home

There isn't an average day but I thought that I would write about a fairly ordinary day. Like most days, there were some differences: on more days than not we see other children and not going out because of the weather is a very rare event. Anyway, here goes:

 We were about on time starting, today. Sometimes, we lag. I don't like dragging tired children out of bed and the children can be a bit reluctant to have breakfast when there are carers in the kitchen but today, things went fairly well. When we start late, I try to stop a bit later for lunch.

We start Morning Time with prayer, a reading from The Ology,
work on our memory work which is currently Psalm 98-today we focused on verse 4 and sang our hymn for the week: Before Jehovah's awesome throne. We then did the day's problem from Bedtime Math. Today, this was about Lego towers. 

Younger Daughter then went to read The Thieves of Ostia while I read Charlotte's Web to Youngest Son. 

 We went onto English/literacy/language arts or whatever you want to call the subject. This included

  • reading for both children.
  • spelling. Both children use All about Spelling.
    Younger Daughter had a day off spelling as she had put in tremendous effort to finish her book yesterday. I hope to start the next level with her on Monday.
  • Writing with Ease for Youngest Son.
  • Latin for Younger Daughter. We started Minimus Secundus today,
    having finished the first book, yesterday. Minimus is a primary Latin curriculum which is working well for us. 
  • Younger Son working on a talk for our local home education group. The children take turns to give a short  talk and Powerpoint presentation to the group. As we are studying countries, this is currently about a country. Younger Son's talk is about the USA so he was finding pictures of early explorers and putting these into the presentation.

Today, Younger Daughter wanted to do a Skittle and water activity. The results were splendid.
She and her younger brother then went on to make lava lamps with oil, water, food colouring and a vitamin C tablet.
I used the break to spend a bit of time with Grandma and sort out some household tasks.

Both children start with 10 questions which I write in their maths books, the previous day. These questions are usually around tables practice. After that, they go onto Galore Park Maths. 
My daughter was working on transformations and enjoyed this. 
Youngest Son continued work on equivalent fractions and then all three of us played Fraction Bingo which looks, again, at equivalent fractions.

Youngest Son requested another chapter of Charlotte's Web so I thought the lunch could wait!

Break for lunch/answering door to carers and district nurse and being around for them.

After lunch, both children spent about an hour on the trampoline and in the garden. It was very windy and we ended up sorting out some fence repairs from the wind.

We had a read aloud from Children of the New Forest and then about how bicycles work from Can you feel the Force?
At this point, the wind was howling and small branches were hurtling around. I had planned to go out, look at our bikes to fit in with the reading, do a nature walk and end up in the playground but I lost my nerve. Usually, we go out whatever the weather and  think that there isn't bad weather only bad clothes. Today, I wasn't sure how clothes would protect us from the wind so we stayed in and watched a video about Home Science activities. 

 Younger Daughter went on to make coloured sand (rice) from the instructions on the video and then a file to hold her books from another video on this channel. 

Not a bad day but not a perfect day. I would love to know about your day and in particular, what has worked well for you.

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Friday, 10 February 2017

First half term 2017

We divide our year into half terms, like most UK schools. This means that we never go too long without a break. Today marks the end of the first half term of the year.

This has been an odd half term. Grandma came home from hospital near the beginning and then my husband and the children had a trip to Moscow to meet up with our eldest daughter.

Having Grandma home has led to changes. Strangely, although we have more carers visiting and more visits, having the first visit earlier in the day has led to fewer interruptions in the morning. Although, we have had a spate of late morning visits from various professionals which has been rather disruptive to maths and led me to wonder whether we ought to change to a computer based programme. I'm not sure yet and would prefer to leave things as they are. 

The Moscow trip was exciting, in many ways because there was proper snow.

The children were also able to see some of the main sites in the city.

Moscow photos by kind permission of Younger Daughter

Youngest Son hadn't flown before and Younger Daughter had flown once when she was too young to remember so this has been an important trip.
We have spent time learning a little about Russian history, music, food and geography.

Our read alouds this half term haven't been around the Russian theme but were Little House in the Big Woods and The Long Winter for the children's book clubs. We have also started Children of the New Forest which fits in with our history and has led to a fair amount of discussion around the sides in the English Civil War. For morning time, we are reading

  • The Ology
  • Claude Monet: Magician of Colour
  • The Ultimate Book of Science
I'm looking forward to having some time to evaluate and read over half term and maybe have some rest!

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Thursday, 2 February 2017

February Inspiration

February is the next month to March! And, there is plenty to read.

Growing book by book has a Family Dinner Book club. It sounds a great idea although currently, I am struggling a bit with having care givers arriving in the middle of our main meal and needing to sort out a second different meal. Perhaps, this might work better for us at a different time of day. I don't know most of the books although can recommend Boxes for Katje,which is a real tear jerker, and The Pumpkin Runner.

Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin's house is for sale, if anyone has a spare almost £1.9 million.

A lovely thought about home educating teens, from Kat at Boyschooling. 

Thoughts about helping children who have a maths phobia. The second point is really important. People often say negative things about maths in a way that they never would about reading. How often have you heard an adult say 
I never really liked/understood maths. 


Algebra/statistics isn't useful for everyday life?

Last, a most enormous list of poetry anthologies for children which cover so many subjects. I have been drooling over the grammar and spelling books but there is so much more.

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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Joy in Home Education

This is the last week of the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair(VCF). This link, to Homeschooling Hearts and Minds, tells you all about the Virtual Curriculum Fair. Susan, at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds, runs the VCF and has put an enormous amount of work into making it work smoothly.
My posts for the previous weeks are Starting the Day Well, a Poetry Feast, Maths: a Subject in Progress and History, Living Books and the Imagination.

This week the topic is about Seeking Beauty: the fine arts and everything that brings beauty to our homeschools. This,too, has been the most difficult to write because I have already written about topics which bring much joy to our days. To me, joy and beauty are closely linked.

This post is written with the risk of sounding as though all the time is easy and joyful. That isn't true. We struggle with some subjects and some days are challenging. This is balanced by the joyful times.

Joyful times include Poetry tea, Morning Time and Read alouds. I would add to this
  • discussions
  • time outside
  • trips out
  • home education groups
Discussions-spontaneous discussion is one of the joys of home education. Some days, it seems that we don't  have important  discussions and then, usually, at a busy moment we start to talk. Topics can be  about anything from the Bible, to politics, to money, to science and so on.

Time outside-last year, we used Exploring Nature with Children. I recommend this highly. This year, we have used it more loosely but still do a nature walk each week as well as going outside to cycle, walk and exercise every day. This year, one of the children has been particularly interested in taking photos of our nature walks rather than drawing. 
If we have a bad day then going out often seems to improve moods and turn things round. 
We go outside in most weathers. The children have ski jackets, waterproof trousers and wellies for when the weather is bad 

and have discovered that they have the playground to themselves if the weather is even slightly inclement. 

Trips out
Days out are one of the real beauties of home education. 

Trips out have included castles, open air museums,
central London museums, farms, art galleries, a recycling plant, a food bank and river trips.
 Some trips we do as a family, some with other home educating friends and others as part of a large group. 
London is a great place for visits but successful trips have been local: pond dipping, walks in the woods with friends or a local photography exhibition.

Home Education Groups
We currently attend one home education group regularly. We find that going to a group is something that we all enjoy. It can also give some opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to find, such as, giving a talk to a group or taking part in a book club. 
This was some French food provided by a French member of the group as part of our session about France.

This post has been a useful exercise for me, realising how many joyful moments there are in our days. I am grateful for this particularly, at a time of year which sometimes feels less than joyful!

Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool
Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres
Seeking out the beauty... by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Drawing (When You Can't Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos
Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time
Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

Please do link up your posts about Seeking Beauty: the fine arts and everything that brings beauty to our homeschools.

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Thursday, 26 January 2017

January Books

Last year, I posted about books that I planned to read for the Reading Challenge (#vtReadingChallenge). So far, that list has only a vague connection with what I have actually read.

So far, I have read

Beggar of Volubilis. This was actually a read aloud but also, rather conveniently, filled the slot of the children's book. This is one of the later books in the Roman Mystery series, by Caroline Lawrence, where the children hunt for a famous jewel known as Nero's Eye. This quest takes the children in a caravan across North Africa.

Five English Reformers, by JC Ryle. This is a book about five of the Protestant Reformers who were martyred in the reign of Mary I. The book is worth reading but really could do with some heavy editing. It is complied from six separate talks and so there is a fair amount of background information which is repeated. Much as I like the writing of JC Ryle, I did object to the statement that the Roman Catholic church never changes. This is demonstrably untrue, for example, new doctrines have been added from time to time.

The Loveliness of Christ is head and shoulders above any other book that I have read this month. It is short excerpts from the letters of Samuel Rutherford. The book isn't long but needs to be read slowly and savoured. Several of the quotes found their way into my commonplace book.

I am Malala was a book that I read for a current issue book. This is the autobiography of the girl who was shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls. I didn't know much about the politics of Pakistan and this was a fascinating introduction.

Charles Hodge was a Bite Sized Biography from Evangelical Press. This particular volume was written by S. Donald Fortson III. I knew very little about Charles Hodge before, beyond that fact that he wrote a Systematic Theology. His life was at a time when the issues of abolition and Higher Criticism were coming to the fore. It was also interesting to see how the denominational issues played out.

Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark is a Newbery Award winner set in Peru and was read as part of my search for books about South America to read with my home education book group. Cusi is a boy living high in the Andes with llamas and an elderly mentor. There are mysteries about why he is there and why he has so little contact with the outside world. Eventually, Cusi does go on a long trek and discovers why he is set apart. It is quite mystical and describes a fair amount about Inca religion. To my mind, there were still some unanswered questions by the end. What is the main idea behind the book? Probably, to find the path set for you(? by whom) and follow it. I suspect that I won't use this book for the group but there seem to be so few books around about South America. Suggestions are welcome-the children are mainly upper KS2 age (9-11).

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Tuesday, 24 January 2017


Just a note about why I haven't been around much recently. We care for my husband's elderly mother. She spent most of December in hospital, very unwell. Rather to everyone's surprise, she pulled through this and has come home. Being home doesn't really mean she is better rather that she is poorly somewhere else and waits on the shores of Jordan.

We are grateful for the help we have from a large package of care and from various other agencies as well as friends who have volunteered to have the children, have visited and have prayed.

Please remember us and, particularly, Alun's Mum in prayer. I may not be around quite so much at present but do hope to have a little time towards the end of this week when I may be able to write.

Thank you all.

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Saturday, 21 January 2017

History, Living Books and the Imagination

Welcome to Week Four of the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017. More information about the Virtual Curriculum Fair can be found here. This week's theme is Exploring our World: Social Studies and the Exploratory Sciences. My post is about history.
The previous week's posts are Starting the Day Well, a Poetry Feast and Maths: a Subject in Progress.

This year has been an unusual year for history. We have officially been studying Early Modern times (from the time of James I until the mid-nineteenth century) but this isn't where the real learning has happened. The real learning has been about a much earlier time and has been precipitated by children's literature. Younger Daughter loves early history and has spent much of the autumn learning about Roman times with the help of Caroline Lawrence's books: The Roman Mysteries and the two new Roman Quests. 

This has led to

  • a trip to a Roman site where we met Caroline Lawrence 
  • a day of Roman activities
  • Roman cooking 
  • dressing up as a character from the Roman Mysteries for an archaeology club Christmas party. This involved research into Roman clothing and hair styles
  • learning about Roman numerals
  • writing a book review
  • having more background to reading the book of Acts.
  • an interest in Latin and the roots of words.
  • many discussions on topics from geography to Roman morality to the Emperor cult to Christians in Roman times. We have used these books as read alouds which I think is important in terms of learning and being able to talk about the contents.
This isn't the first year that the history learning has really been sparked by living books. 

What is a living book? It is a book which inspires interest in a subject. It is usually written by one person rather than a committee. That person has an enthusiasm for their subject so pulls the reader in. The term was coined by the famous Victorian educator, Charlotte Mason.

For the previous two years, we used the Veritas Self Paced history and the literature suggested with this programme. These books, and the programme, which my daughter loved, led to the first phase of interest in early history. We read 
  • Detectives in Togas
  • Hostage Lands
  • Black Ships before Troy
  • Lysis goes to the Play
  • Theras and his town
  • A Trojan horse
and more.

Last year, we used the Veritas list again and studied the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. Books again, captured the imagination and led to a successful year in history learning. 

This year, we changed curriculum. The new curriculum does have literature suggestions but so many that I was rather overwhelmed. I had a few books lined up but  these just haven't managed to capture the imagination in the way that the Roman Mysteries have. At the end of the year, I suspect that my children will have gained more knowledge and perhaps more importantly, enthusiasm for learning about the Romans that for the period 1610 to 1850. 

The moral for next year, is that I need to find a few living books that capture the imagination. Once the children are spending their free time thinking about the Victorians, World War One and World War Two, they will learn almost whatever I do. In the meantime, we will probably visit a villa or two and read more Roman stories.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:

Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Social Science, Science and Exploring our World - Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Learning History Through Fiction by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Beyond the Books - Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time
Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully
What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

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