We’ve just finished our first official month of home educating or “doing learning at home” as Reuben calls it. One of my worries when we were trying to decide whether to home educate or not was would we find enough things to do in the days when a lot of friends would be at school! I’m surprised to say that so far this has not been a problem and we’ve been so busy that I don’t know how it’s October already!
So what exactly have we been up to?
Growing a love for learning
One of the main reasons I felt excited about home educating was the time to encourage our boys in their love for learning and to explore things they already enjoy! Over the last few months I have noticed how Reuben (our eldest) has independently shown an interest in reading and writing. So most days have involved him having a go at writing for some thing or another whether it’s been a note to a friend, menus for people we’ve had round for lunch, lists of jobs to do that day or even writing words for a song that he and Dave then put to music!
It’s amazing to hear him sounding out words and being ambitious about what he thinks he can write and I can’t believe this time last year he could only really write his name! Ezra also seems to want to write more and more and often picks up a pen and says he’s written letters or his name.
I have started using Ruth Miskin as this is the phonics scheme we followed when I worked as a Teaching Assistant (https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/). I know it and so I feel comfortable using it with the boys. I ordered a bunch of the books and the sound flashcards and Reuben is enjoying working his way through this and doing really well with sounding out, blending and remembering sight words. He has always really loved listening to books being read so it hasn’t been hard to encourage him to read.
I’m also enjoying using Numicon (recommended by a teacher friend!) The boys can both use it and its a great resource for developing an understanding of numbers. I decided to start really simply with numbers and make sure they have a really solid understanding of what a number even is!!
So we’ve been trying to look at a number a day and do fun activities to learn about that number, writing it in flour, finding it hidden on bits of paper round the house etc. We have repeated this for a couple of weeks and it has been great to see how Reuben has learnt to write and spell the numbers 1-5 and can say different ways to make each of these numbers using adding and subtracting. Ezra has enjoyed using the Numicon to find these numbers too and filling the Numicon board just using the 1-5 blocks and he’s enjoying counting his cars!!
I am learning to see how we can do “maths” in our every day life; they’ve been interested in coins in my purse and so we’ve talked about what each coin is worth and how many pence are in a pound, and we’ve talked about time and what time we do things each day, what the hands on our clock mean etc! Reuben also loved chopping carrots into “halves and quarters” when we were cooking together!
We’ve also started using an app called “Bedtime Maths” which a friend recommended. The boys love it as each day there is a fun story or description of something followed by some problem solving questions related to the topic, so far these have things like transformers and giant lego cakes! It’s great as it works for both of them as there are questions for different abilities and they love finding out what it’s about that day.
Getting to know more about the world!
To give a bit of structure to our week we have been going to a weekly science group for preschoolers at our local soft play. The boys have so far enjoyed the topics and doing little experiments. After which they have raced around the soft play burning off lots of energy!
Over the summer my sister in law recommended a book called Story of the World, so we’ve started working through that. The book is in short chapters and starts with a great introduction explaining what History is and how we find out about the past. This is followed by a bit about archaeology and a chapter about the First People! Reuben has been asking lots of questions about history so he’s really enjoying it and Ezra has sat and listened to the chapters we’ve read so far too!
After reading the first chapter we decided to draw some pictures of what our local park used to be like as it is currently being refurbished. We are planning to make a little time capsule with our drawings and some photos to record our own bit of local history ( !!!
I also found this idea on the Imagination Tree (https://theimaginationtree.com/digging-dinosaur-bones-maths-game/) so I made salt dough bones for the boys to find and buried them in the garden. They had great fun searching for them with tools, dusting them off, sifting out all the dirt and then together they ordered them from the longest to the shortest! So there was a bit of maths weaved in too!
After reading the chapter on the first people, and talking about “Nomads” (Or the “Yes-mads” as Ezra liked to call them!) we went in to a cave under our kitchen table that I had created using blankets and some “cave noises” from You Tube. The boys loved it! They loved pretending to be living in the cave and got really stuck in to the imaginative play. They decided to make a fire (a pretend one under our table!!) so found lots of sticks from the garden, caught animals to bring into the cave for tea and created their own bow and arrow from sticks in the garden! I’d also stuck paper to the underneath and legs of the table so they had fun dong their own little cave drawings.
Each morning we’ve tried to start by getting our globe out and praying for a different country. We talk a bit about the country and then we look for it. Reuben was really interested in India this week so we got our children’s atlas out and he found out a bit more about the country.
Spending time with people
We’ve also spent a lot of time with friends and family this month. At the start of the month we had family to stay so the boys had fun with their cousins making dens, building houses together out of Duplo, chatting together and playing games in the garden.
We’ve also got to know a few families who are also home educating and so we’ve had some great days spending time with them. It is so lovely to see children of varying ages, from 7 through to 2 just playing, helping each other climb trees, trying new things and exploring together. We’ve spent lots of our time with these families out and about in parks where the children have been content climbing trees, moving sticks around and making dens together. It is such a joy to watch and a massive blessing to have people like this who the boys can get to know, learn from and with.
This month we are looking at ways to do more things together with some of the new friends we’ve made and I’m excited to dream up new ideas with these other mums who are also starting out on this home educating journey!
Learning through our normal life
I have realised this month that I need to get a good balance of time out and about and time at home. Some of our best days have been spent together doing normal things in a relaxed way and taking our time to enjoy just being together and learning to do this well. I’ve been getting the boys involved with the cooking and letting them use the peeler, grater and knives to help me prepare the ingredients ready to cook! They have loved this and I want to make more time for this as they learn so much when we are doing it!
They’ve also enjoyed a bit of woodwork with both my Dad and Dave, they built a tree house in my parents garden, and the beginnings of one in ours and they helped Dave make a wood store!!
So as I look back over this first month of “learning at home” I am actually amazed at how much we have managed to pack in and although there have been times when I have wondered whether I’ve made the right decision (screaming toddler, teething baby, everyone’s tired and grumpy sort of moments) I am definitely enjoying the journey so far!