Friday 26 January 2018

January Inspiration

January is almost over but here, in England, it always feels a month where it is most difficult to go outside but where the rewards for being outside are greatest. The photo is from Richmond Park on a rather murky day but so good to get outside even in the mud.

I loved this post about how to teach maths consistently. Not mega-science, just a reminder to keep going every day.

This literature map of the world made me wonder whether my book club could make something similar.

Another common sense post was this one about talking to tweens from Ben and Me.

One of the children and I have been reading The Hiding Place about the work of Corrie ten Boom and her family who hid Jews in the Second World War.  Her home is now a Museum and looks fascinating. I've wasted a bit of time, this week,  looking at how to get from London to Haarlem.

For a bit of beauty, pop over to Raising Little Shoots to see Lyn's lovely nature journal.

Hope that you are having a happy January!

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Saturday 20 January 2018

Top Home Educating Resources

Welcome to week three of the Virtual Homeschool Fair run by Susan of Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. This week the topic is How do we cover it all? This is about the programmes and resources that we use.
We have been home educating for almost nine years. This post is about some of our favourite resources.  Some of these items we no longer use but they are ones that have left happy memories. Two of these are free!

My children are now too old for Five in a Row but this was a happy curriculum. Five in a Row is a gentle curriculum aimed at 4-8 year olds around picture books. Each week a different book is selected and read each day. The handbooks then have activities around the book which cover science, maths, art, English, craft and cooking. 

Plus points
-the children and I loved Five in a Row.
-excellent selection of picture books
-manuals have a high resale value
-enormous range of activities so those which fit your family can be selected.
-designed for home educating families

Bear in mind
-Five in a Row is probably better for the lower end of this age range.
-many of the books are American and some are out of print. We decided only to buy the books which were inexpensive and easily obtainable and were able to find the vast majority. 
-It isn't necessary or desirable to do every activity in the manual.
-Branch Out World is written by a UK home educator. This is a similar sort of programme based around picture books but these are based in the UK. For example, Mousehole Cat or Katie Moray.
Veritas self paced history is an on-line history course which is used daily. It has an accompanying list of literature which we used and found enhanced the course. We used it for two years covering New Testament, Greeks and Romans and for the second year, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation.  A typical day would include teaching, maps, a history song, a game and a revision game and more.
Plus points
-generated a love for history.
-requires little parental time and virtually no preparation.
-attractively designed.
-literature bundle enhances the on-line programme

Bear in mind
-after the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation year, the course starts to cover mainly US history. We stopped using the course at this point.
-not cheap but there seem to be sales about twice a year with major reductions (about 50%).
  • Exploring Nature with children
This is a weekly nature curriculum written by UK home educator, Lyn Seddon. 
Exploring Nature with Children is based around a weekly nature walk to the same venue. This can be the back garden, a local park or some countryside. Each week has a theme, for example, seeds, lichen or birds and the weeks are grouped into seasons. Each week includes a poem, book recommendations, an art suggestion and activity suggestions. This may be art or craft, science, writing or music. Children and parents are encouraged to keep a nature journal but there is a separate, more structured journal which can be purchased either with print copy or cursive copywork.

Plus points
- a major encouragement to get outside and to look at nature.
-plenty of activities for a range of ages.
-ideal for UK seasons.

Bear in mind
-this book is written for UK weather and seasons. It may need some modifying if your seasons are very different.
-it isn't necessary to do every activity.
-these are ebooks. The main title can be used on a tablet but the journals obviously need to be printed.

  • Poetry Teatime
Poetry Teatime is a brainchild of Julie Brogart who designed Bravewriter. We have used Partnership writing and certainly use some of the ideas around teaching writing. However, the part of the Bravewriter programme which has impacted us most is the concept of a Poetry Teatime. This is a time set apart for reading poetry, and sometimes other books, over a drink and a snack. Sometimes, we have a carefully laid table and a special snack and other times, the poetry reading is less formal. I have complaints when we miss Poetry Teatime.

Plus points
-poetry in a relaxed environment. 
-reading aloud practice
-sometimes, we write. Covering the table with brown paper and providing pens helps this.
-sometimes, we invite friends to this sociable occasion.
-poetry tea can take place outside the home. We have had poetry in cafes while waiting for an older child taking exams or at Bateman's,  Rudyard Kipling's home, because this seemed the place to read Kipling .

Bear in mind
-you might not want to introduce an extra snack! We are trying to have healthier snacks although this doesn't always work.
-funny poems work well, particularly, with children who aren't used to poetry.

  • Morning Time
Morning time is another free resource. This is a time to gather all your home educated children and spend time together. Morning time can make a definite start to the day and helps put first the items that you want to be first in importance. We start with prayer, a Christian book, memory work and a hymn. 
We then put in either extras that we don't want to miss or a special book/topic. Our current items are
-a double spread of  the Usborne Introduction to the First World War
-a chapter from one of the children's current book club choices: a Long walk to water and the Astounding Broccoli Boy.
-a weekly podcast from Classics for Kids or music from the First World War.

Resources for Morning Time include
-Pam Barnhill's podcasts Your Morning Basket
-Kendra Fletcher's book Circle Time: the best part of your day
-the Farmhouse Schoolhouse posts about Morning Time.

What are your favourite home education resources? 

Looking for more curriculum ideas? Visit my fellow homeschool bloggers! 

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources - An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace
Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Choices, choices - how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Our Curriculum Needs - grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time
The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
What I Use with 7th and 9th Grader - Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses

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Saturday 13 January 2018

A day in our Home

This is the second post in the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair. Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds runs the Fair through January. The topic this week is Our Method of Homeschooling. For this topic, I plan to give an overview of a day in our home. It is from a day this week with some general comments.  I don't for one moment think that this is the way or the only way to home educate. This is just the method that works for our family. 
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I currently home educate my eleven year old and eight year old. One of our challenges but also privileges is that I care for my husband's elderly mother who is bed bound. We have various different people visiting our home every day to facilitate this. There can be a fair few interruptions!

Our day is divided into
  • morning time
  • English
  • maths
  • afternoon activities
That looks really simple!

Morning Time
I aim to start morning time at nine o'clock. 

Our morning time changes as the children change. However, it always starts with prayer and reading from a Christian book (currently The Case for Christ for Kids). We usually have some memory work on going, currently, this is the Sunday School motto text (Seek the Lord, and ye shall live. Amos 5 verse 6) We then sing a hymn which on this particular day was He reigns, Christ the Saviour reigns.

The second part of Morning Time varies most. Often, we have art appreciation, music appreciation , a science book and a chapter from a book club book on different days. This term, we have a big topic about the First World War so are reading a section (just a couple of page spread) from the Usborne Introduction to the First World War.  We read about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. This involved a fair amount of referring to the map and talking about the treaty blocks that we had read about the day before. 

My daughter went to her desk to work independently. She worked on typing and spelling while her brother read to me.
My daughter then read aloud from one of her favourite Roman Mysteries before doing her piano practice.
Usually, her brother then does more English before having a short break but this is the first week of term, and he loves Prodigy Maths so that is what he did. Next week, we should be back to normal!

The children had a break. I try to get them to go outside and today, they played swingball before they were rained off. Break time fits in well as I need to spend some time with Grandma at this point in the morning.

Maths starts with ten questions. This is my own cheap and cheerful invention. I write ten maths questions in the children's maths books, usually, the day before. The questions are items that I want them to revise so they might include some times table questions, simple division and fractions, square roots, decimals and so on. 

The ten questions plus a couple of other items also mean that the children can keep working if I am called away. This is the part of the morning that most often gets interrupted. So the children can use

  • 10 questions
  • Either Schofield and Sims Understanding Maths workbooks (Younger Daughter)
  • Prodigy Maths (Youngest Son) 
On this particular day, there weren't any major disruptions so Youngest Son and I also worked on decimals. We used the exercises in the Galore Park Junior Maths 2 book.

Youngest Son and I fitted in a game of Slug in a Jug and Country Lotto. They are both easy for him now but he still asks for them. 

We stopped for lunch and spotted  a green woodpecker on the lawn. Then there was great excitement as the newly published Roman Quest book, Return to Rome arrived in the post. 

Afternoon Activities
Well, we had to read Return to Rome. After a fair few chapters, we managed to stop so that we could read about the Scientific process before a trip to the park. 

We arrive back at the same time as the carers arrive and I help one of them with some blending. 

Younger Daughter helps me put together the things that we need for our Home Education group the next day. I show Youngest Son what happens when we mix yeast with boiling water and with warm water and fits in with our reading earlier.

In the evening, there is more  from Return to Rome.  We will be through this book soon! 

This wasn't a perfect day. I would have liked to have fitted in more science activities and more writing somethings to improve for another day. 

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time
A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace
Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy
So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
The way we learn ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Methods – 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

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Wednesday 10 January 2018

Cooking Challenge 2018

My younger daughter loves cooking so has set herself a challenge for the New Year.  It sounds exciting and quite varied.
Here is the list:
A vegan recipe
          A vegetarian recipe
      Something out of my comfort zone
      Something from an Indian cook
     A recipe from a chef whose recipes I have not used before.
      A recipe that has a nice picture
   Something that I think I will hate
    A starter
      Pastry canapes
   Sweet pastry  
       An Eastern European recipe
     An African recipe
     An American recipe
      A Scottish recipe
      A Welsh recipe
      A World War II recipe
      A beverage. 
     A summer recipe
      A recipe for the pets
   Boiled sweets
      A cake
      A roast
      A bake sale
      A full meal starter, main, dessert
      A birthday cake (big)
     Nigella Lawson recipe
      Mary Berry recipe
      Lorraine Pascal recipe
    Cornish Pasty
   German recipe
   Spanish recipe
   Use a cook book we have not used before
  Chocolate pizza
   Chocolate tart
  A new breakfast
  Bread basket
  Biscuit structure
   A recommended bake
 A cheesecake

I'm looking forward to seeing, and tasting, these recipes!

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Saturday 6 January 2018

Why we home educate and extra benefits

The 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair has started. This is run by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and will run over four weeks in January.
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Over seven years ago, I wrote about why we home educate. Our basic reason hasn't changed since then and so I will copy what I wrote then and then talk about additional, side benefits we have discovered as time has gone on.

We haven't always home educated. Our older three went to nursery aged either two or three and have then been to academic private schools. As time has gone on, we have become convicted of the need to "Provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6 v4) and that we should "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22v6) and of the admonition on Deut 6v6-7 "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up.".

We had also been increasingly convicted of our compromises in having the children in school. We were, perhaps, not interventional enough and Christians we love and respect have the courage and ability to challenge over more issues. We felt compromised by attempts at "worship" in school-nativity plays, "hymns" sung which certainly weren't reformed, the children being asked to colour pictures that were irreverent and depicted the Lord even when a travesty of Christianity was taught, other religions being taught as more than equal to Christianity, the Lord's name being taken in vain by children all the time and there being no rebuke for this. I haven't arrived at evolution and the non-teaching of creation as a credible alternative, atheistic geography and population teaching, sex education from an amoral perspective etc etc. 
We had spoken to staff about issues such as witches in books, about the issue of irreverent pictures, about amoral sex education and about trips/orchestra on the Lord's Day. Our older children have missed several trips due to them being over the Lord's Day.

We know that home educating is not a guarantee that our children will be converted, anymore than not home educating is a guarantee that they won't. God is sovereign. We can only cry to Him for mercy on our children. We realise that we can teach our children at home but still teach them from a worldly and not Christian world view. Our job is to be faithful and to follow His Word as closely as we can.

October 2010

As time has gone on, we have also seen the benefits of being able to individualise a child's education. The Education Act of 1996 says that 

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

(1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(2) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Strangely enough, it is easier to do this on a small scale basis than it would be in a classroom. My history loving child can spend an extra year learning about Ancient History and then another learning about the Romans. My science loving child can have an extra trip to the Science Museum and spent time making rockets in the back garden. We can spend more time on the subjects that are difficult but balance this with plenty of time for the things they enjoy. We can even weave the two together.

Home education isn't an easy or a main stream choice. If you are wondering whether to go down this route then do think out your reasons and write them down for a rainy day!

Now, let’s see what my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about The Reasons We Homeschool.

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST.
5 Reasons to Homeschool High School by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Weird Homeschoolers by Kim R. @ Good Sweet Love
How We Make Homeschooling a Lifestyle by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Our Ever Evolving Homeschool Story by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
5 Reasons You Will Want to Homeschool by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays
How Our Homeschool Came To Be (and why we continue) by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Home Education - 10 Reasons we keep going...even when it's hard by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
So... Tell Me Again Why You Homeschool? by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 - Week 1 - Why do I Homeschool  by Joelle@Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Reasons: Bullies, Faith and More by Annette @ A Net In Time
In Pursuit of Purpose by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Long Time Ago . . . Why We Decided To Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
The Why Behind Hopkins Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
5 Reasons We Love Homeschooling by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Why We Homeschool - It's What We Do by Kristen H @ Sunrise to Sunset
Why we Home Educate and Extra Benefits by Sarah@Delivering Grace
Homeschooling: The Big WHY? by Lisa @ True North Homeschool Academy at Golden Grasses
Regaining Your Homeschool Focus by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
Why do we homeschool? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our “Homeschool” Why by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
It's Worth it! Why We Homeschool, Even After All These Years by Hillary @ Walking Fruitfully
Because Life is Precious by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
1998 vs. 2018: Why We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

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Friday 5 January 2018

First World War learning Resources

This term's history is around the First World War. There are so many resources available but this is a quick overview of some that we hope to use. My relevant children are aged 8 and 11. 

Spine books
These are books which we will be using to learn a basic outline of what happened. None of these are primary sources and we will talk about this.
  • The Story of Britain by RJ Unstead. This has a useful chapter about the years up to the First World War and then covers the First World War in a chapter which will be a quick overview!
  • The Usborne Introduction to the First World War. This is just over 120 coloured pages and will be our main source book.
  • Usborne History of the World: the First World War. This will be more for the children to dip into. 

Read alouds
  • The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy. This is a sequel to the Good Master but is a story about the First World War from the other side. The story is set in the Hungarian Plains where the soldiers go to fight for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
  • War in the Wasteland by Douglas Bond. This is a fictionalised account of CS Lewis's time in the trenches.
  • If time, War Horse or Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. 
Picture books

I wrote about this almost four years ago. We won't be using these to the same extent now but just to say that these three are particularly worth revisiting with older children.
  • Alfie's War Scrapbook
  • Where the poppies grow-this comes out at Poetry Tea occasionally.
  • Fly, Cher Ami , Fly
Other resources
  • local maps from the First World War or just before. We have been able to locate a 1913 map of our area.
  • family diaries and photos
  • Home Front Legacy This app can be used to record local First World War sites.
  • War Poetry website
  • local history websites
London Places to Visit
  • Imperial War Museum has a First World War gallery
  • National Army Museum has a self guided trail about a soldier's life in the First World War
  • War memorials
  • Other buildings associated with the First World War. The Home Front Legacy site has information about many but not all. 
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Wednesday 3 January 2018

2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair

Over the next four weeks, along with other bloggers, I hope to take part in the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair. This is hosted by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. You might remember that previously I have taken part in something similar called the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This year, the title has been changed and the topics are broader than just curriculum. 
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To give you a flavour, the list of topics are

Week 1 (Jan. 8th): The Reasons We Homeschool

Week 2 (Jan. 15th): Our Method of Homeschooling

Week 3 (Jan. 22nd): Our Homeschool Curriculum

Week 4 (Jan. 29th): Enriching Our Learning

Do come back on Monday to read about the Reasons why we home educate and visit the other bloggers who are taking part.

Visit the bloggers participating in the Virtual Homeschool Fair:

Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Jenn K. @ A Peace of Mind
Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Jen Duncan @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Annette @ A Net In Time
Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Michele Pleasants @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Sarah @ Delivering Grace

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