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Things that feel important right now

wet autumn leaves in brown, green and yellow, and a pair of feet in brown shoes at the bottom of the image

      • Adam Buxton Podcast – Hassan Akkad I really like Adam Buxton’s podcast, it’s usually really interesting, fun and pretty light hearted. This week he interviewed Hassan Akkad, who fled Syria in 2012, about his experiences and his journey to Europe. I recommend listening to it, so much. It was fascinating, and heartbreaking and important.
      • Happiness is Here – Please don’t make this mistake with Christmas gifts I haven’t been reading this blog for very long, but I really like Sara’s commitment and passion for children’s rights, and respectful parenting. Everything in this article makes complete sense to me, even though I can see why people justify giving presents with strings attached. (oh and while we’re here – I loath the idea of Elf on the shelf, and people can make it as pinterest-cute as they like, the concept is still massively creepy.)
      • 13th Century Children’s drawings – because people have always been people
      • Learning Well Community – 102 ways to start your Homeschool morning out right This was overwhelming in a really good way, to the point where I actually printed it out, so that I can pen all over it, and make notes and stuff. (I think, even if you don’t home educate, there are some jems in that list for you too.)
      • The Lazy Genius Holiday Podcasts – since October Kendra has been knocking it out of the park with a series of podcasts about making priorities and rocking the holiday season. Every time a new one lands in my podcast app it’s a must listen.
      • And in case anyone here play Animal Crossing New Leaf on the Nintendo 3ds, my kids and I have been exploring the dream town of Hush, which has a lovely Christmassy thing going on.
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You can read about what I used to plan our Home Education year here in part 1.

Table Work

Table Work is what we call all the sit down work we do at home. It’s a chunk of our learning every day, and it currently covers Maths, phonics or grammar, spelling, and sight words. Sometime this work is done altogether, but for the last six months or so I have been doing it as a one to one with each child, which works well. This year I am making table work shorter, so that there is more room for other learning, mostly because I have seen that doing a bit every day adds up.

We use Maths No Problem for maths, which is UK based Singapore maths programme. I really like it, it’s reasonably priced and works really well for us. The only problem is that the Teacher’s Guide and answers are via an online subscription and cost £200 per year, because the curriculum is set up for school use rather than home educators. Right now we do completely fine without them but as the children get older and the work gets more complex we will have to switch to something else. Which sucks to be honest.

Maths – No Problem books 1A, 3A and 4A plus the wipe clean document folders I use to keep the worksheets in.

For phonics we use Ready2Read from Annie Moffatt (aka The Moffatt Girls) – my 4 year old is starting Level 1 and my 6 year old is just finishing up Level 3.  This is the only phonics curriculum we have ever used and it has worked really well for us.

I really like The Moffat Girl’s products – they are solid and mostly No Prep, which means you can print out what you need and get straight into it, rather than having to do lots of work ahead.

(That said, Ready2Read does have prep if you use the hands on activities, which I would recommend because they are great. They need printing out on card and cutting out where necessary. But it wasn’t very much work and I have saved and re-used those piece within each unit, with each child, and then just re-printed out the worksheets for each unit as we have come to it.)

We are also using 1st and 2nd Grade Language Arts and Grammar as the work my 6 year old and 8 year old are doing post-Ready2Read, and the Build a Word bundle for hands on spelling.

Our sight words are mostly Learning Resources Popcorn set 1 and 2 (which I got for a lot less money than that link would suggest.) I pull out 10 cards each for the 6 year old, and 8 year old. For the 4 year old I have printed up the pre-primer and primer sets from here and have pulled out 7 that we are working on at the moment.)

Morning Time

This year I have reinstated Morning Time, which I have split in two – Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday as one group, and Thursday/Friday as the other. Thursday/Friday we watch some educational videos (TEDed, and The Kids Should See This), followed by me reading the next chapter from whatever Arabella Buckley we have on the go, (right now it’s Wild Life in Woods and Fields). I am trying to encourage the children to draw while I read, and have a good book on drawing trees, and some Usbourne colouring books that I hope will help this along.

On Monday we will start our Map Making project which I’m hoping to run till half term in October. This is something I am winging, due to my love of maps and geography, and because I think it’s will take in a whole load of skills that will be useful as we dig deeper into history and geography, and global studies later. My plan is the start with mapping a room, and then our home (particularly apt since we have builders in and will being having work done now for the next few months), our street, suburb, city, country, country, continent, and the World.

I have a load of great resources for that, so I’ll try and give it it’s own post once the project is properly under way. (Wish me luck!) Map Making will be our Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday project, and I’m hoping to follow it up with a project on what I am calling ‘Global Studies’ but which could equally be called ‘How People Live Around the World or ‘Hey Kids Lets All Expand Our World View and Try to Become Better Global Citizens’. Again I have some great resources and this project needs it’s own post, once we are actually doing it.

I am planning for this to include looking at religious festivals throughout the year. As a secular family in a broadly Christian country I think my children have a general understanding of the standard Christian festivals. However I think it would benefit all the family for us to look at what festivals are common elsewhere, as well as festivals that are celebrated by those of other faiths in this country. I’m planning to use Children Just Like Me: Celebrations as the basis for this, and then order books from the library about the specific festivals as the come up.

And then ready for the depths of Winter my bestie and I devised a list of musicals, so that we can curls up and have a Musicals project. And aptly that’s around the time I’m off to see Hamilton in London, so we will likely be all about the Musicals at that point.

Science

We are still using Mystery Science. It is still really working for us, but we didn’t do it as much as I would have liked last year, and so it now has it’s own dedicated time in our weekly plan.

Writing

We are using Write Shop for our writing this year (Primary and Junior), and personally I plan to read some more by Julie Bogart. I am working on a three day a week schedule for each child for write shop this year. We will see how this goes. Probably I should be combining my six year old and eight year old, but right now I’m not.

Because of how our schedule works we should do write shop on a Friday, but that would squash a regular opportunity to meet up with friends, so I am trying, for this term, to do our Friday Write Shop sessions straight after breakfast on a Saturday, and leave the time after table work on a Friday for time with friends, and after that, play and down time for us as a family. I’ll let you know how that goes once we’ve done it for a while.

The Extra Curriculars and Regular Meet Ups

As with last year we are doing a home ed climbing class, home ed music lessons at the local council music center, as well as after school swimming lessons at the local pool, drama group, and the eldest is still doing cubs. (I remember a time when I said we weren’t going to do too much. Thank goodness they aren’t all after school or in the evenings!)

We also have some meet ups with friends that are regular enough to be on our schedule (and if they don’t happen for whatever reason then that is more time to play, follow rabbit trails, or read.)

So that’s it. That’s the plan.

I’ll try and check in at half term and let you know how things are going, because we all make these great plans during the summer, and rarely show what worked and what sounded good but fell by the wayside.

 

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Last week we started our fifth year of home educating.

It’s the first year that all three children are officially school aged, although the youngest chose to start doing some table work, like her brother and sister, a few months ago and has been part of our group lessons since she was tiny. I guess that’s just how it is for the littlies in home ed families.

We tend to run the same sort of term dates as the schools in this area, so we started our table work on Wednesday and did the basics for the second half of the week. We also went to buy shoes on Wednesday once our work was done, which was pretty good timing I think, given the change in the weather over the last few days.

How I Plan

For the last three years I have used Pam Barnhill‘s Plan Your Year set up as the back bone of my summer planning. I like the step by step instructions, and how it starts with your big picture, and gets you to focus further and further into the details as you go along. Of course the trick is not to get TOO detailed, which in essence is what I want to write about here.

I usually start planning in June and early July before we finish for the summer. I look at what is working, what fell by the wayside, what I wanted to do but didn’t get time to, etc, and think about how I want things to go next year. I use the printables included in Plan Your Year to assess what is going on with each child, what each child is going to be using next year, and what I need to research. These all go in my A4 planning folder.

I come back to this planning part of the way through the summer holidays and work out what I want to work on for each child, what we are going to work on all together, and put together how the weekly schedule is going to look.

How I Organise My Day to Day Planning

I don’t write down a day by day account of what lessons we are going to do and when. We would get off track very quickly.

Instead I write down what the subject is in a weekly ticky-box plan, and then have separate lists for each child for what they are going to being doing for each of those subjects. These I put together as a small document folder for each child, (plus a family one for work we do all together), by photocopying the contents from our maths books, printing out the list of units for our phonics and grammar programmes, and printing the spelling work lists from our spelling curriculum.

I also headline up some sheets of lined paper with things like ‘Videos we watched’, ‘Documentaries’, ‘Science Units’ etc, so that I can record what we do as we go along. At the end of the year I can put all these document folders together into one for the year, or add each child’s folder to their portfolio, along with sample of their work. (I don’t need to do this, but I do it anyway in case we ever need it. Usually I pull some work from the front and back of their work folders once they are full to bursting, and recycle the rest. *cough* I also make little flick through videos with my phone, which I keep for personal use, to show how much was in there before I recycled. Belt and braces? Yup.)

I have started to record all our fiction and non-fiction readalouds in Goodreads as a specific HE bookshelf for the academic year and plan to print out the list at the end of the year to add to the folders.

Weekly Folders and Do the next thing…

As I said before, I don’t write a list of every exact lesson we are going to do each day. Instead I set things up so that we can do ‘the next thing.’

With maths we just turn to the next lesson, and when we have completed it I tick it and date it in the folder. (Again I don’t need to do this, but it helps to show me the progress we are making. It is a ‘we are here!’ mark, if you will.)

With the phonics or grammar, I print out the latest unit or two, and keep them in a separate folder and then build a folder of work for each child for the coming week, at the weekend. It probably takes me half an hour to file the stuff from the previous week and pull out stuff for the coming week (and I have just realised that I am rusty at doing this, since I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon and I haven’t even thought about doing this for the next week! Oops.)

I use a six pocket folder for each child – one pocket for each day of the week, so that I can piece out the work, plus one at the front to catch all the work that has been done and needs to be put away. I have been doing this for three year and it works really well for us, though I am on the lookout for folders that lie a bit flatter and than you can flick through rather than concertina out, just for ease of use.

I made myself a master sheet for each week, which I can change on the computer and print out as needed. This lives on a clipboard and I mark it up every day with what we did and didn’t do. (Guess what? I don’t need to do this. It’s just another of the ways I track what we are doing so that I feel good about what we are achieving. I’m all about the visibility.)

(I made it editable, and obviously our home copy has the children

This take a lot of the decisions out of our day to day home education. I can choose that we don’t do something I guess, or that we spend more time one something and skip something else to make room, but I’m never getting up and trying to work out what the children are going to learn, (as various extended family members have assumed of me.)

Tomorrow I’ll post part 2, (I know!) about what we are using this year, and why.

I am really enjoying a new homeschool podcast called Homeschooling in the North Woods, which had an episode on loop scheduling for homeschool planning.

 

 

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