The schools are all off for Easter and like many other home educators we’ve sort of gone into hibernation! Everywhere gets busy when the schools are closed so we haven’t done much out and about stuff. But this has given the children more chance to play with their schooled friends. We’ve all been struck with colds and I’m on antibiotics for an ear infection, a little rest is just what we all needed.
Just before the holidays started E went for a sleepover at Nanny’s and then she took him to the Dinosaur Museum and Dorset County Museum. He thoroughly enjoyed his day and being spoiled my Nanny. Nanny said he whizzed round at top speed but despite this he seemed to learn loads as he came home and quizzed me on lots of dinosaur facts.
Daddy was off work for five days over the bank holiday weekend and we managed a little picnic in the park. We also had a lovely day at Nanny and Granddad’s playing in the garden in the sunshine with some of the cousins. Nanny treated the children to a McDonald’s too.
Over the last 2 weeks we have done lots of playing, and of course with playing comes learning. S has been playing with her flashcards, matching letters to pictures, practicing letter sounds and blending. R has been doing reading and practicing sentence structure. We’ve played with Playdoh, making shapes, models, aliens, and R made an “old fashioned man” complete with lawyer wig and admiral hat. We’ve done lots of gardening and seed sowing. S is growing her own peas and we have a little bit of growth on our potatoes.
We have been to a home ed meetup at Butchers Coppice where the children were able to do an agility trail, play on trampolines and meet other home educated children. We have 2 or 3 more meetups planned for next week.
One excitement in our house this past week has been the emerging of our Painted Lady Butterflies, the final one hatching as I type this. We have been surprised at how quickly they emerge from their chrysalis. Releasing them was lovely as we got to hold them and take pictures. We have had many questions about the life cycle of butterflies, including “do they sleep?”. It is lovely learning alongside the children and finding the answers to their questions together. (In case you don’t know the answer is No, butterflies don’t sleep they become quiescent or restful.)
It is exactly two months since we began our home education journey. Overall we are a much calmer household and everyone gets along easier. These past two months for me have been about learning what makes the children tick, how they best learn and just getting to know them better.
Let me start with R. I have discovered she enjoys history and would like to visit more stately homes and old churches. She enjoys using the pc and her skills navigating the computer and typing are improving. She is very physically active, enjoying cycling, swimming, rollerskating, scooting and trampolining. She loves cooking and baking and has recently been asking to try new foods. Her love of books is returning and she often asks to be read to and will read to the younger children. Her imaginative play has developed massively and she gets bored a lot less often than when she was at school.
E is a lot different to R. He loves stratigic games and is quite mathematically minded. Even in his small world play. He learns at speed, quick facts and conversations; he retains what he has learnt well. He loves to be read to, mostly non-fiction. He is very interested in animals, the deadlier the better!
S is my little sunshine. She loves to help everyone, she is kind and thoughtful. She loves reading and writing, something I hope to encourage and develop with her. She is a house full on her own with her laughter and bubbly nature.
Two months ago Little S barely said a word, now her speech has developed such a lot I understand most of what she says. She adores having her older siblings around her and greatly benefits from them being at home. Although, at not quite 2, she is not officially home educated she is learning all the time. She is a feisty little girl who stands her ground and she loves giving everyone cuddles.
Although it can be tiring and there are times when I want to lock myself in the bathroom for 5 minutes peace. I know that this is the best thing I could do for my children. They are happy, relaxed, learning all the time and enjoying life just the way they should be.
Daddy had the day off yesterday so after watching the end of the eclipse (we missed the beginning due to cloud) we packed a picnic and headed off to Beaulieu. We started with a tour of cars used on Top Gear, then looked at some cars that had been used in films and on TV. After a play in the park and a little lunch we were off for a ride on the mono rail which the kids all loved.
Next we went to look in the museum, the 1st car we found was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The kids all love this film and even little S was excited to see it and kept saying “Bang Bang”. We all enjoyed seeing the old cars and motorbikes, E loved to find out how fast the cars could go. We went on a history tour of how the car has developed over the years, this was a favourite of R’s. There was a section on tyres and we learnt and talked about the difference between solid and pneumatic tyres. We were amazed to find out some of the uses for recycled tyres including shoes and flooring for play parks.
Although Daddy could have spent hours in the museum the children had had their fill and were ready for a ride on the old bus. The clouds had cleared, the sky was blue and the sun warm so we headed up to the open top deck of the bus. The ride was a bit bumpy but thoroughly enjoyable and we had the whole bus to ourselves.
R wanted to go and look around the palace house and gardens next, so off we trotted. Inside the house we were greeted by the maid in costume dress who was lovely and answered all our questions. We went through to the dining room where there was an open fire which smelled gorgeous. The children looked at the old toys and talked about which one was their favourite. We went upstairs and saw paintings, pianos, old chairs, and lots of interesting things. There were stuffed ducks in glass cases, to which R responded that she “thought it was not very nice to kill them if you’re not going to eat them”. R asked lots of questions about the history and the previous owners. She really enjoyed the house and thinks her Granma and Granpa might like to take her to other stately homes where she can learn more about the olden days.
We then walked round to the abbey for a brief look. R found it very interesting but the smaller children were getting tired having been walking round for almost 4 hours, so Daddy took them on the monorail back to the other side and we met them there for icecream. It was then time for home and dinner, we all had achey feet but had an amazing day.
This week has seen some very lovely days and also a very sad one. Thursday the girls went to Nanny and Granddad’s for the day as E had an appointment at the dentist. A whole day with my little boy, after the dentist we popped to a cafe and had a walk around the shops, then we headed home for some lunch. After lunch I decided to neglect the housework, make a cuppa and snuggle up on the sofa with a blanket, and watch a dinosaur documentary with E. We also spent time baking and played cars together, it really was lovely.
Friday I took R and E on a Tesco Farm to Fork visit with some other home educating families. We talked about where our fruit and veg come from, looked at bread being made in the bakery, and talked about the fresh fish on the counters. After the tour we went upstairs to try some different foods, R tried (and enjoyed) quite a bit.
Saturday we had a family fun day at my parents with my brother and his wife too. My parents don’t celebrate Christmas or birthdays so once a year we get together on date of our choosing to eat a meal together and exchange presents. The children were spoilt rotten, and us grown ups got some lovely gifts too. The day had an “at the movies” theme so we all went in fancy dress and the house was decorated with balloons and banners.
Monday ended on a very sad note. Willow, my parents dog, the dog we got as a puppy when I was in my teens, had to be put down. She had become ill a couple of weeks ago and was discovered that she had an enlarged heart. Treatments didn’t work and it was kinder to let her go. She will be very much missed by all.
Today has been a quiet day learning wise. The children are tired after getting over coughs and colds so we visited my parents to distract from mourning, then we when the my in laws and played, did puzzles and colouring. Daddy joined us after work and I took R and S to their swimming lessons then back to Nannies for dinner and home to bed.
I have printed off some worksheets for tomorrow, we have addition, times tables, acrostic poems to write, and crosswords to do. I have also set R her 3rd reading challenge, this time she has to write a little sentence about the book too. We also hope to do some cookery together.
With spring well on the way we have lots of new activities to try, there are potatoes chitting, seeds have been sown, we’ve begun digging in “the woodland” to make a wildlife pond and we even have some new house guests that we will raise, watch, study and set free. 5 little catepillars that will eventually become 5 painted lady butterflies.
R has already completed her 2nd reading challenge. This brings her total books read since being home educated to 44! When she was at school it was such a struggle to get her to read, to see her wantng to read is wonderful. We have now started looking at poetry and rhymes. We also all made rainbow suncatchers to hang in the windows.
Last week the children made their own bread rolls and beef burgers. We’ve been trying new foods with the children suggesting what they would like to try, sushi seems to be a popular choice for our next cooking session.
Friday we are looking forward to a farm to fork trip to learn about food and we have lots of posters about farming and some wheat to learn about how it is processed.
Our home ed journey is wonderful. Today we have done a science experiment, E wanted to do explosions so we made a Bi-carb and vinegar “bomb”. It took 3 attempts to get the bag to explode as the 1st time the bag sprung a leak and the 2nd time we decided didn’t have enough bi-carb in. Then the girls and I did some painting, after that the older 2 did some problem solving games on the pc. Little S went for a nap while I cleaned up and planted some bulbs in the garden.
There has barely been a cross word between the children today, they’ve been too happy playing and laughing together. I’ve actually had to ask them to laugh quieter! Tomorrow we are all looking forward to trying out a new softplay with a group of home ed families and then swimming in the afternoon.
Friday I took the older girls to a roller disco which was a lot of fun, although after ten years of not really using my skates I did ache on Saturday!
R is on her 2nd reading challenge after completing her 1st one. She is now asking to read and always takes a book to bed with her. Depending on the book it can lead to interesting questions. The other evening she was asking about medieval torture methods! She has also been asking to do maths and we have been learning times tables together.
S can now read all the level one Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Level 2 is still a little tricky for her though and has shown that we need to look at blending sounds more. I understand that she is only 3 but she is so keen to read so I am being lead by her enthusiasm.
The house is so much calmer without the chaos of school runs, uniforms and homework. The children are happy again and we have so much to look forward to. I feel very blessed.
So last week all the local children were on half term. That didn’t make a lot of difference to us except that everywhere was so busy! We were supposed to meet up with a couple of other home ed families at Moors Valley but it was so busy the car park was full and we were turned away. Instead the children and I decided to go to Avon Heath Country Park, even that was heaving but we managed to park down the road and walk in. The older girls loved playing with other children in the woods and making dens while E and little S played in the park. We had a lovely picnic and then headed to the visitor centre which has been redone since my last visit and was amazing. The children got see animals skulls, a stuffed owl, a stag beetle and lots of other things. There were buttons to press to listen to different bird song, a camera that they could move to look through the woods and at the bee hive, and also computers and puzzles. We had a really great time and will definitely be returning when other children are at school and it’s a little quieter.
We’ve also made a cardboard box castle, made a trampoline in the living room out of cushions and quilts, sown lots of seeds, been to the swing park, visited family and played with cousins, done maths and looked at the organs of the body. We spent a little time looking at space and the planets and with almost perfect timing both Mars and Venus were visible just below the moon one evening. We even got see Orion and the Big Dipper, the children would now like to take a closer look at the constellations.
I’ve come to the conclusion that any calories I may have burned off with all the extra running around I’m doing will be gained with all the cakes the children keep baking. R made a particularly nice ginger cake yesterday, S made some Peppa Pig cupcakes Monday and E wants to make a lemon cake. I’m hopeful that I can get them cooking more savoury foods before long.
Today we went to home ed club, which was all Dr Seuss themed. The children made Cat in the Hat cakes and played with Gloopey Gloop. They did knitting, played Minecraft on the Xbox, ran around (a lot) climbed trees, played cars and Duplo, did lots of socialising with children from 5 months to 14 years old and all this before lunch. Then it was home for a while before dinner and swimming lessons. S is 97% through stage 1 so should complete that next week and R’s front crawl is improving, her backstroke is magnificent and she is learning to dive.
One of my aims is to get the children excited about books. R used to spend hours hiding behind the sofa with a pile of books, that is, until she started school. She lost her love of books, would get upset at the sight of the school reading book, refuse to read it and end up in tears.
So this week I took them all to the library to get their own cards and to choose some books. It was quite an experience for me I can tell you. 4 small children and me. All started well, excitement at going somewhere new. Then the came the paperwork, then the slightly bored children, then the running around toddler and the “I’m busting for the loo, Mum”. So it was a very quick checkout with about 20 books, one screaming toddler, 2 children busting for a wee and one 7 (going on 17yr) old who didn’t want to get a baby book! But they all said they enjoyed it and want to go back.
We’ve done lots of reading this week, or rather I have to them but it’s a start. S got very excited when a parcel arrived for her and it was her preschool bookstart pack which contained Hairy Maclary (an absolute favourite of hers) and a book entitled Go To Bed. I particularly like this one as she is going through a phase of being a bit of a pickle at bedtime. I was also extremely proud of her this week as she read a whole book with no help from me.
This evening R and I were reading some Biff, Chip and Kipper when I set up a challenge for her. To read all 32 books and when she has completed she’ll get a little something. Telling her this just before bed might not have been my best decision as she was so excited she didn’t want to go to sleep. She wanted to read, so much so that when I tucked her in after she had fallen asleep she was surrounded by books. Hopefully this is the 1st step towards her rekindling her love of books.