When I started to blog late last year I promised myself that I wanted it to be for fun, a hobby, a way to keep a record of this year of our Home Ed journey not just another job I had to tick off my to do list!
So here I am in January blogging about our Home Ed life in November and December, a conscious decision not to put myself under pressure to get it done before Christmas!
We had so much fun in November and December and on the whole I felt more settled about our decision not to send Reuben to school yet and more relaxed about the pace we were taking with learning and what this looked like for the boys.
It feels so long ago now since November that I have had to go back through my diary and remind myself what exactly we did!
One highlight was our day with three other Home Ed families who we have got to know through our local Home Ed Facebook group. We are meeting once a month now, at our house, and in November we had a fireworks themed get together where the children split into age groups and learnt about Guy Fawkes and made firework pictures! There are 11 children when we are all together so it is not only great fun but also a little crazy!! But it is great to see them enjoying time together. At this session we also got the children making a coffee filter poppy which we then put together to create our own poppy wreath for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The boys were surprisingly fascinated by the First World War after they saw some old family photos of family members who were involved in the war in different ways. They asked a lot of questions about what happened, what roles people played, why the war started etc. Reuben chose a book on the World War from the library and it became regular reading for most of November. They loved finding out about how it all started and which different countries were involved and what life was like for the soldiers in the trenches. We found out about poppies and then they learnt, from memory, the first verse of the poem In Flander’s Fields.
It was really good to see them developing such an interest in history and asking about what life used to be like for people. As part of our exploration of history we continued with Story of the World which they seem to love. I have been reading through the first few chapters with them very slowly and using it as a springboard for other activities.
The chapter on the “Flooding of the Nile” led us to make our own Nile river with a blue cloth and we then built houses around it. We went outside and used the Aqua Play set to explore why and how flooding happens! So there was a lot of fun had then and loads of learning going on about lots of different things not just history!!
We had a week of holiday as a family and went to stay in my parents house whilst they were away in Uganda. This was wonderful family time and we visited a farm, spent lots of time painting together, went for dark, evening walks around the local area with torches (the boys loved this) and made the most of time spent together! When my parents returned the boys enjoyed asking them lots of questions about their time in Africa.
November also included a few trips away. First the boys went to stay with their Grandparents for a night and had a great time up in their garden which has a large wood in it! They continued to build a tree house with my Dad, hunt for and collect bugs in jars and drink hot chocolate round a bonfire they had helped to build!
Reuben’s second trip away was a night spent in Brighton with Daddy, working with a producer on the album Dave had recorded at our church the month before! What a different and exciting opportunity that was for Reuben, he absolutely loved it and they had a really special time together.
I decided December would be a more relaxed month and I didn’t worry about whether we were doing anything “formal” in terms of learning! It was really good to allow myself to think like this as it got me reflecting and revisiting what I even think “learning” looks like and I decided that I would take some time over December to think about what we wanted the next term to look like (in the New Year.)
We spent the month enjoying activities preparing us for Christmas. I made an alphabet advent calendar for the boys this year! It was one of those projects I accidentally started and then made myself finish! But halfway through painting all the letters I wondered why I had thought it would be a good idea to give myself this task in an already busy period! Each day there was a link to the Christmas story and something for us to do together. These included a visit to a farm to see donkeys, making our own cards, a snowy themed play dough tray with Arctic animals and snowflake cutters, watching a christmas film with Hot Chocolate and looking up some of the places from the nativity in our Atlas.
The best part of the Advent calendar activities were the things I hadn’t planned but just developed as a result of the boys own interests and questions!
One of the first days of the Advent calendar I gave the boys the book Follow the Star to Bethlehem which has various pull out activities in. One of these was a lovely little game that Reuben loved playing where you had to move around the board to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. He decided to come up with his own version around the time of our church carol service (which Dave was playing at and organising) Reuben was so excited to go to the Carol Service and wanted to be really smart when we went! So he themed the game “How to get from Our House to Church” and he came up with all the ideas to write on each square including “Forgot to put on your smart clothes, go back to the beginning!” We had such fun making it and playing it together. Reuben also had a go at writing his own Christmas song and Christmas cards. It was great to see him having fun with writing without being pushed to do it.
We also decided that for our December get together with the other Home Ed families, we would learn something as a family to share with the other children. The boys learnt the first verse of Joy to the World, in French! I thought only Reuben had picked up the words but when we came to sing it, in front of the others, Ezra joined in with all the words too! I was really surprised! At this get together we read Christmas books, made Christmas cards and mince pies, cut plastic animals out of massive ice blocks (the children absolutely loved this!), played with pretend snow and enjoyed lunch together! It was great fun!
During this month we had lots of fun outdoors and indoors, we built dens, went for winter walks along the canal and looked at the reflections on the water, played in icy puddles, made a salt dough nativity and watched a few Christmas movies.
I was so grateful for the developing friendships with some other Home Ed families. In December we organised a Christmas party at our local community centre together and invited other families who we each had connection with. We had about 15 adults and around 30 children at it! We did a craft, decorated biscuits, played some games and had a dance and then enjoyed a yummy bring and share buffet lunch together. It worked out really well and we are all looking forward to doing something like this again in the future!
I’ve loved gathering resources together to use over the last few months. One great resource, which a teacher friend recommended, is Numicon. It is a great Maths tool which the boys love using. They can play with it in different ways and it helps with learning different concepts in a fun way, things like number bonds to ten, times tables and problem solving skills. My friend very kindly put on a training evening for me and a few other Home Ed Mums so we could see some of the ways she uses it. It was great to have an opportunity to learn together!
These past few months I have really enjoyed the time I have had with the boys and feel so thankful for the opportunity to spend more time with them whilst they are little, seeing them enjoy and explore the world around them and find out about so many different things! Don’t get we wrong…. there are hard days, days where I wonder what I am doing and whether I can manage to meet all their different needs and my own! Days when I feel out of control and getting everyone out of the house to go for a walk feels like a mountain to climb! But thankfully these days are in the minority and on the whole 2018 ended on a really positive and thankful note, hands and heart full!