I have been thinking about this update for a couple of weeks as I wanted to write it before the festive December overload starts. We have been officially home educating for around 3 months now (Harry would have started school in September, although he is not legally school age until Easter 2013), although most of our activities and work started earlier in the year. I didn't want to make huge changes to our routine at home in September as Harry was starting new classes anyway and some of his friends were starting school. I did set myself some goals for the first 3 months and will continue to do so at 3 month intervals. I have found that this period is long enough to allow me to not get too stressed about the day-to-day if we want/need to have a day off work but short enough to keep the goals in focus so we can get back on track. This also allows me to think in advance about themes and get relevant supplies in, which this time have been Autumn, Halloween and Bonfire night.
I have been writing on this blog about specific activities we have been doing - crafts, cooking, culture swap, Five in a Row weeks etc but I haven't been including much of the literacy and numeracy activities we work on most days. So.... where are we now?
We have tried a few different beginner reading books and Harry has not been keen. He has recently, however, taken a liking to the Oxford Reading Tree ones featuring Biff, Chip and Kipper and is voluntarily reading extra this week so I think that is a bit of a breakthrough. I started him with level 1 and 2 to build his confidence, as that seemed to be lacking but he is reading them easily so I will start level 3 soon. This is a real focus for me, especially while Harry is enjoying it.
We are still working through Reading Eggs online too, which now includes reading sentences. He has completed 5 of 12 levels and seems to still enjoy it so we will carry on with that too. I have downloaded the sight words app onto my phone too and Harry loves it at the moment.
Harry has completed his first workbook - this one - and likes the characters so we have just started Enchanted English for age 5-6.
He still loves being read to and listening to audio books. We have listened to 10 audio books borrowed from the library recently, all of which were chapter books up to 7 hours long.
He is also narrating his own stories for me to write regularly (featuring the adventures of his dolly!) and we have been writing some themed poems. Reading Eggs has a 'story factory' where the children write a themed story and read other people's submissions and we often do that.
In terms of writing, we worked quite hard to get him to the stage of forming all the letters correctly and he is now doing that mostly without reminding. He is also mostly holding pens and pencils correctly when drawing/colouring etc. I am not pushing writing for now as we are focussed on reading and will return to more writing practice later.
We have worked through this workbook without too much difficulty and the next level has just arrived.
We have been playing Orchard games a lot recently which are great for counting practice and number recognition. Harry can count to 100 and recognise when numbers are larger/smaller.
I was inspired by a friend's blog post to try some minute maths, where Harry does as many sums as possible in one minute. He likes the challenge of this and has improved each time. He is currently on 11 and we are doing sums adding 1 and 2 and subtracting 1. We are doing this verbally as he finds writing quite hard at the moment and I wanted to challenge his numeracy rather than his writing skill.
We have been using building blocks and reinforcing the names of 3D shapes - cylinder, cube, sphere and cuboid. We have also been looking at pyramids and he has drawn triangles as part of some Egyptian work. He could reliably draw squares, rectangles and circles already.
These first few months of really getting into home education have absolutely reinforced my view that this is the right thing for us! Harry is learning all the time and yes, sometimes Peter makes it difficult to do what I want to do, but all three of us are spending quality time together and it won't be long before Peter will be joining in at the kitchen table with everything. There have been days when Harry is under the weather and the rain and wind have been stormy and I have been so pleased we can stay indoors, get the baking equipment out and work through our book baskets. Harry is really enjoying his structured classes and I have been able to make sure he is not too tired to get the most out of them. Feeling very lucky to be living this life at the moment!