I thought it might be useful to include some details of why and how we home educate our children and writing this page has helped me to order my thoughts too. I am sure that the answers to these questions will continue to be a work in progress as the children grow up and their needs change, so we will keep looking at our focus and making changes where needed.
Firstly, I just love sharing all our experiences together as a family. I was not ready to give Harry over to an institution I would have little involvement in for the best part of his day at the age of 4.
We do believe that there is too much focus in the primary years of school on
structured learning, assessment and targets. Home
education allows exposure to a wide curriculum in which our children can develop at their own pace and follow their own interests.
We are not limited by time - we can spend as long as we would like
investigating areas of interest and drawing out all the different learning points. We can
follow up further with other visits and events. We can travel at off-peak times and take advantage of the experiences this can offer.
We can be flexible - we can see the areas in which more work is needed and work on them straight away. We can spend the day at the beach on a warm day and spend the day reading and baking at home on a stormy one. We can rest when we are feeling under the weather or overwhelmed.
We also have an exceptionally active first child whose energy may not be well-suited to a classroom environment! We can give him the outlets he needs.
We do not do structured work at set times, although I find the best time for us is first thing in the morning between around 8-10. This is when I will fit in structured games, book work, reading and writing. All these activities take many forms and can be as part of projects on particular topics.
I usually plan what we will be doing the night before and prepare what I can. I also have a loose three month plan, where I think about the themes (including seasons and cultural dates) we should cover during those three months, together with related activity ideas and materials I might need to acquire. I also try to plan my literature based study activities three months at a time (I have included a separate page on how we use this) as I spend quite a lot of time on these so they need to be ready in advance.
We use Reading Eggs online and Oxford Reading Tree books as reading resources. We also use Letts Enchanted English workbook (Harry enjoys this series of books) and will be working through this Schofield & Sims handwriting book for 2013/14. We play literacy based games and make up poems and stories. We read and listen to story CDs, a lot! We go to the library at least every fortnight and usually have around 15 books on loan, including non-fiction books on topics we are working on. The library books often inspire some new activities at home.
We use Letts Magical Maths workbook and play numeracy based games. Harry is starting the Conquer Maths online programme for 2013/14 too and will be working through this Schofield & Sims problem solving book.
I am reading A Little History of The World to Harry and we also do project work and museum workshops on various aspects of history, including recently Romans, Vikings and Egyptians.
Harry enjoys sport and attends gymnastics, enjoy-a-ball and swimming lessons. We also visit the park several times a week and he rides his bike if we are out locally.
We attend a weekly French class with a tutor with four other home educating families. I build in one more French session at home too.
Harry attends a weekly music class at The Sage Gateshead, where he will be starting to learn cello for 2013/14. This includes an instrument lesson and ensemble lesson.
We do lots of craft activities - sticking, a variety of painting, drawing, colouring, play dough.... I don't mind the mess it creates (most of it cleans up!) and my children thrive on the process. I love finding new creative ideas online and am very grateful that so many people share their ideas.
We do lots of cooking and baking and the children help with whatever they can.
We love being outdoors. We often walk/cycle to local parks and we have National Trust and Wildfowl and Wetlands membership. We also have an allotment and the children are involved with every aspect of it.
We have memberships at Seven Stories and Centre for Life and often visit local museums. We attend education workshops at the museums a few times a year with other home educating families. We also usually see other home educating families at least once a week socially.
We go to the theatre when there are age appropriate shows.
And of course we talk and play, just like other families! We love Lego, marble runs, train tracks, balls, balloons, bubbles, dressing up, face painting, role play, water play, sand play, guessing games, board games, jigsaws and probably many other things that don't immediately spring to mind! So many valuable skills in so many different areas.