The New Year is in full swing! January in our house is the month of birthdays. Reuben turned 5 and we celebrated with a Superhero themed party! Followed quickly by Dave’s birthday and for this we celebrated with breakfast out (Dave and I that was!)
Lots of people continue to ask me how Home Schooling is going and what we get up to. It feels like quite a journey and like any journey there are changes of direction along the way. Post Christmas I had a day to myself to do some planning and think about the next few months. It was great to have the space to reflect on the term we’d just had, our first term officially homeschooling, and to think about what I wanted to do moving forward.
Whilst one of the positives of Home Schooling is the freedom to change and adapt plans from day-to-day (or not even make any plans) I am also aware, from many years of working with children, that routine is really important and helpful for them. Children seem to thrive when they have some structure and know what is happening next, and I think I do too! So I decided we needed a bit of routine to our week so we all know what we are doing with our days and weeks and what direction we are heading in! I am trying to see it as rhythms to our days and weeks so that I am not too strict on things happening at exact times or interrupting one thing to move on to another.
Another reason why it felt right to have a bit more structure was that it meant more intentional days at home giving us time to develop projects and interests and have extended time to play together. Having a nearly 1 year old means naps are still important and necessary!!! They naturally create some rhythm to our day so I decided that rather than working against them I would work with them! So more time at home with the older two doing activities together whilst Jesse sleeps.
Our new rhythm!
All of that said we are now in week 5 of our new term and I love how things are working at the moment. This is how our weekly rhythm looks; Monday, Tuesday and Thursday is spent mainly at home with just us, Wednesday is often family day as Dave only works half a day and Friday is for days out. Some Fridays we are going to be meeting with other home school friends at a park to try to spend as much of the day together outdoors, learning outdoors, as we can manage!
Each day we are at home we are roughly following this rhythm;
Morning: Breakfast, play, read together, Maths, Sound work, Art (Monday), Animal study (Tuesday), Cooking (Thursday)!
Afternoon: After lunch we have been heading out for a walk, a cycle or to our local park. This is followed with “quiet time” where Jesse naps and the boys play or do activities on their own. This gives me much-needed time to do house jobs, read or get the dinner ready!
Christmas helped provide a whole new range of toys for quiet time which has been great! We have been enjoying building with Kapla bricks, the way to play road and a whole array of animals. Reuben also had a Toucan Box subscription which he loves! He gets a box through the post each month with two crafts (which he can mostly do independently) and a magazine with a whole load of activities in!
Late afternoons are either taken up with clubs (football and swimming currently!) or we’ve been going through the Story of The World book.
A big part of this new rhythm is that every 4th week we take a break from the normal routine and make different plans, see friends and generally have a more relaxed pace to the week. This allows me time to review what we’ve been doing and work out what needs to change and plan for the next few weeks.
A letter a week
I decided to focus on a letter/sound a week to give a structure to our weekly activities. Each week we have had a new letter and we have studied an artist whose name begins with that letter, we’ve looked at an animal and we’ve cooked something! So this is what the weeks have looked like so far:
We looked at the artist Karel Appel and particularly his picture which is in the Tate called Questioning Children. We (Reuben and I) had a go at recreating this whilst Ezra had a go at copying one of his other pictures. As he’s younger he lost interest in this quicker and just used the time to explore the different art materials we had out, paints, chalk etc. But Reuben spent days working on his picture. We made Avocado Dip together this week and investigated Ants!
We didn’t look at a specific artist this week but we looked at the book Beautiful Oops which is fantastic! The boys both struggle with art when it doesn’t turn out how they want, they make a hole in a page or they rip something by mistake. I love that this book helps to encourage us to see every “mistake” as an opportunity to be creative and turn it into something beautiful! We had a go at creating our own Beautiful Oops using newspaper. The boys loved tearing it up and then talking about what the different bits they had torn looked like. Reuben turned one of his torn pieces into the Eiffel Tower.
We made bread together this week which sparked in me a new-found love for bread making! I have found the simplest and most amazing bread making recipe, which I will post a link to separately and it has revolutionised my bread making.
During this week we also talked about butterflies and bats. We got some great books out from the library about these and the boys loved finding out lots about them. They were really interested in how the butterfly changes from a caterpillar and it was amazing that we unexpectedly got to see butterflies emerging from their chrysalis at Twycross Zoo the week after.
For C week we actually looked at an artist whose name begins with “Ch!” ah well! I liked his work and I thought the boys would enjoy having a go at a project based on his ideas. We looked at Marc Chagall, we all learnt something new about him, even I now know he has a stain glass window in the UN building called Peace! The boys enjoyed looking at his pictures and learning about his techniques. Reuben liked that his pictures didn’t always look exactly like the thing that he was painting or drawing! We had a go at our own version of his picture “I and the Village.” His pictures often feature things drawn upside down or on one side of the paper so when Reuben created his own version he wanted to stick pictures facing in different directions. We started by covering a piece of paper in lots of brightly coloured tissue paper and then the boys (mainly Reuben) drew different pictures which we then cut out and stuck on.
The boys wanted to find out about cats this week, particularly big cats! They are fascinated by them and all the different types! It was amazing that we then got to see a Snow Leopard and Amur Leopard at the zoo.
Ezra and I made cupcakes! Reuben was busy playing with Jesse so I let Ezra have a go at making these all by himself. We used measuring cups and he poured and measured everything, broke the eggs and mixed it all in my Kitchen Aid before then spooning the mixture into the cases all by himself. I was really impressed with how carefully he did it and how much he managed to do by himself.
As well as doing these activities we are doing a bit of maths every day focusing on different things like numbers 1-100, shapes and money!
Life is full of learning
As I’m writing this, the older two are out with Dave and Jesse who has just woken from a nap is crawling around besides me. He just touched our radiator and said “Hot” a reminder to me that in amongst all of this he is also busy learning too! He has gone from crawling around to climbing stairs, pushing a little trolley about and cruising from one thing to another! He chats away, repeating things we say and even though it feels really early he’s already copying me saying “Stick, hot, teeth, drink and uh oh” and loves to play football with the boys (they kick the ball and he chases it round doing his funny belly crawl!)
The last month feels like our time has been more focused and fun! Whilst I’ve introduced a bit more structure to our days I have also enjoyed seeing the opportunities we have in our normal activities for learning! We’ve enjoyed some great times out in the park with friends making dens and had another home school family day where we focused on hibernation!
The week I had planned off coincided with a conference at our church which Dave was working at. The boys and I were able to go for a couple of days and they went to their children’s groups. They loved the opportunity to watch Dave and the band rehearsing the day before it all started. I felt so thankful to see them enjoying these sorts of opportunities and for the quality time we get to have with them at the moment whilst they are still young.
These days may be full and sometimes frustrating but they won’t last forever and I am so thankful for the joy of the time we have right now and all the different things we are learning together!