Monday 28 May 2012

Planning and reflecting

We haven't quite reached the end of our school year in England but it is a good time to evaluate. What has worked, what hasn't and where we need to go.

I wrote about a year ago about why sometimes things don't go well and the same issues still apply. When I loose sight of why we are home educating and who is the Lord of our education then all else becomes useless.

This year, I've realised that it is necessary to be more focused about goals. For the next academic year, the children will be 12(UK year 8), almost 6 (UK year 1) and 3 and 1/2 ( preschool). A wide range of ages with differing needs. So, I've been working on goals both for the children and for how home education fits into our family.

In order to achieve these goals, we've been working on which curricula to use. We are fairly eclectic so this isn't a complete list., really a skeleton on which we hope to hang the flesh. In addition, education is part of life and sometimes things come up which lead to altered plans: the swarm of bees that landed in the garden or the trip to see The Snail and the whale or the chance to host Flat Stanley.

This is what we hope to use next year in some subjects. I haven't given a full list  of subjects although am happy to give details should anyone be interested.

Bible: Obviously, the Bible-we read this with the children daily and at the start of their educational day.   We hope to do regular memory work perhaps using the sort of system suggested by Raising Olives. We have been doing memory work this year but need to build in a review system.

English: Middle Son has been using the home educator's distance learning from Little Arthur. I found writing difficult to mark and so appreciate the fact that someone else marks his assignments. Little Arthur is an English language based course. I need to add in some more formal English literature including a little Shakespeare. This post by Se7en has given me some ideas about introducing the Bard and I have been pulling some resources together.

Miss Belle has used Jolly Phonics and Reading Eggs this year. We have used other ideas and books but these have been the backbone. We plan to use The Grammar Handbook 1, by the same authors as Jolly Phonics, for spelling and grammar. Improving literacy is a major aim for this coming year.  We also plan to use reading books, writing, copywriting and narration. Much of the work in other subjects, except perhaps maths, will be aimed at improving reading and writing.

Mr Exuberance is learning letter names and sounds in a relaxed way. I want to find a variety of activities so he can work on letters most days but not realise that he is working. We have used Five in a Row books this last year but plan to have a book of the week and structure  activities around this. Of course, there will  need to be plenty of reading aloud, both for Mr Exuberance and Miss Belle.

Maths: Middle Son has been using the Galore Park maths books for some years. These are designed for working towards Common Entrance, which Middle Son is not taking, but they also seem to form a basis from which to work towards starting a IGCSE course. We are finishing So you want to learn maths book 2 and hope to start book 3 in September. For the first time, I have a copy of the answer book! Previously, I have thought that I should work out all the answers myself and there is real merit in this but the answer book should save time.

 Recently, I have found the Khan Academy videos which are useful for re-enforcing more difficult concepts.

Miss Belle has started Mousematics which is a Welsh programme for years R-2. It can even be used in Welsh although we use the English version! The CD with Mousematics is sold with Mother's Companion volume one. We plan to continue to re-enforce this with games. I have a long wish list of manipulatives but need to work out what we actually need.

Mr Exuberance likes counting and is starting to play simple games like dominoes. We hope to expand this.

Science: Middle Son has been using Apologia General Sciencee but this is the year to go back to UK textbooks in preparation for starting IGCSE courses in the future. We plan to use Science to 14 published by Oxford University Press.

I hadn't planned to do anything formal with Miss Belle and Mr Exuberance beyond kitchen table experiments but Mr Exuberance has shown such interest in the Apologia Human Anatomy and Physiology book that I've changed my mind. The plan is to do a study on the human body partly based on the Apologia book but changing this quite considerably in view of their ages. This is a subject that I enjoy teaching with my background in medicine.

History: In order to try to avoid Mummy burnout, we decided that it makes sense to study the same period in history with all three children so we are hoping to use Susan Wise Brauer's History of the World book 1 with ideas from the workbook. Obviously, the activities will be very different for Middle Son than the younger two but  this should be good for trips and means that I only need to do one lot of research at the time.

I'm looking forward to spending time, over the summer, fleshing out our programme for next  year.
It is important to remember, though, that
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Psalm 127 v1


  1. lovely post!
    how do you find the grammar handbook?
    Looking forward to reading your new plans..


  2. We did the anatomy book last year and it was awesome. Our favorite year of science ever.

    Popping in from the Blog Hop.

  3. Stefanie, I really like the Apologia anatomy book too. I've used it twice before-with Middle Son and with a group but am looking forward to using it again. It will need a fair amount of modification for such young children though.