What does a home educator do all day?

I’ve recently shared what my children’s days look like. So, I thought it would be interesting to follow up with a post on what it is that I do all day.

Monday

I got up to find my husband was already up with the kids (hooray). I looked in on Middly, who was hard at work and Eldest, who was reading in bed. Then I went downstairs. I admired Youngest’s duplo themepark, then made myself a cup of tea.
I took Youngest upstairs to get dressed. When I came back, my husband had made me toast. I ate that whilst reading my book.

Middly showed me his Minecraft house and I made vaguely approving noises. I dropped in on Eldest and encouraged him to consider getting up. 

I did some laundry. Youngest read his reading book to me. I helped Middly make his breakfast. I gathered some books that explained how batteries worked. I gave the books to Middly to help him write this week’s Science Club newsletter.

Youngest found his Songbirds workbook and I helped him do a few pages in that, occasionally spelling words for Middly.

I went upstairs to check on Eldest, then ran back down to break up a fight between Middly and Youngest.

I had a quick chat with my husband about work stuff (interrupted a couple of times to help Middly with the computer and Youngest with his drawing). Then I made salad for lunch.

We ate lunch together. Then my husband helped me get shoes and sweaters on all the children. I drove to the library.

I returned last week’s library books. I read your books to Youngest and discussed which books the older two were taking out. I helped Youngest take out his library books.

We had a walk in the park, then I drove back home and made the children a snack, and drank a cup of tea. I helped Eldest with his crystal growing project.

While all the boys were occupied with library books, I snuck in ten minutes quiet time. I used to have a regular routine, but these days it feels more like snatching tiny bits of unoccupied time.

I drove Eldest and Middly to my brother’s house and left them there to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Back home, I made brownies with Youngest. Then I read to him.

Then my husband and I took Youngest to the park for a play before we picked up the older boys.

Back home, I made nut roast for tea. I watched Harry Hill’s Tea Time with the boys. Then we all ate tea together. Eldest finished a workbook book today, so we made a fuss, and celebrated with brownies for pudding.

I sorted out the boys’ work for tomorrow and made sure that they have everything they’ll need. Then I watched TV and sorted laundry.

Tuesday

My husband brought me a cup of tea in bed this morning. 😊

I played a game with Youngest, which mainly involved pretending to sleep, so that was easy.

I helped Middly with his Punctuation work. Then I managed to read a bit of my book while I ate breakfast. I got Youngest dressed, then I helped Middly with some Biology that he was finding tricky.

Stopped in to discuss work  my husband.

Youngest turned on the PC and announced that he was going to type this own newsletter. So, I opened a new document and showed him how the return key and space-bar work.

I put on a pot of coffee. Then Middly asked for help with a maths puzzle. I gave him a clue to help him figure it out.

Youngest wanted to print his newsletter, so I showed him how to do that (I’m hoping that I don’t live to regret teaching him how to print, he goes through quite a lot of paper already). Middly showed me that he’s solved the maths puzzle, and I was suitably impressed.

I put on laundry and made pasta for lunch, then listened to Youngest read while lunch cooked.

After lunch, Middly and I messed around with multimeters, nails and LEDs, trying to finalise plans for tomorrow’s Science Club.

Middly got bored, but my husband came down and had a look with me. 

Then I drove Middly to his swimming lesson. While he swam, I read books to Youngest. Then I pretended to understand the swimming teacher’s tips about Middly’s technique (I can swim, but I am not at all polished, so Middly is already far better than me). As we drove home, I handed out snacks and told Middly all that his teacher had said and it made sense to Middly, so that was good.

Back home, I put on the TV then finished Science Club prep on my laptop. Finally, I sorted out the boys’ work for tomorrow.

Wednesday

Read to Youngest, watched Middly do a ‘play’ with Lego. Helped Eldest make a crossword using a website. 

My husband took the boys to McDonald’s for lunch, and I met them at Science Club. I talked a bit about atoms, electricity and acids. Then I handed out experiment sheets and the children made simple batteries out of water and cola. I walked around troubleshooting experiments and occasionally dragging Youngest out from under the tables. I talked more about how the cells worked, and challenged the older children to connect their cells up to make batteries that could power an LED. I sorted out a few troublesome experiments and stopped Middly drinking all the cola. I talked about static electricity and did a demo with a balloon and tissue paper. Then I admired the children’s static electricity works of art. Then I tidied the room, put all my equipment in the car and went to the park.

One of my favourite things about Science Club is getting a chance to chat to other home educators. It’s immensely reassuring and a lot of fun. I really love the group of people I see at Science Club.

My husband met up with us again and we went to visit my family. I drank tea, ate cake and talked nonsense.

Then we came home. My husband and I made a curry together. After tea, Eldest went out, and I baked a cake with Middly. 

Before bed, I found Youngest’s missing Ninja Turtles. 

Thursday

Got up early today, admired Middly’s magic tricks and made breakfast.

Then we went to Chessington Amusement Park for the day. I went on rides, took photos, and generally had a fantastic time. When we arrive at big places like this, I insist that everyone picks one ‘must do’ activity. Then I can be sure that we do at least one thing to please each of us. In the event, the queues were very short and it was easy to fit everything in. I chose a zoo ride that we could all go on together.

Eldest and Middly loved the big rides. Youngest was particularly excited by the baby monkey.

We came home very late and I carried a sleeping Youngest to bed.

Friday

Unsurprisingly, we got up late today.

Played Lego with a droopy Youngest. He had a bit of a temperature. I gave him some medicine and asked my husband to look after him when I took the older two out. I don’t often get the option of leaving a slightly unwell child at home, I was very glad of it today.

Helped Middly make a model train. Made a picnic for those of us going out and sorted out lunch for those staying home.

Took the big boys to a park. We met up with a group of friends. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of home ed friends, and one of them organised an archery lesson for the children today. I watched the archery, and even had a bit of a go, myself. 

We are our picnic together and went for a walk in the woods. 

Some of our friends came back to our house. I made coffee for the grownups and snacks for everyone. I supervised Middly and his friend, playing with the rats. 

I reminded Eldest about his tennis lesson and found his racket for him.

Middly, his friend expressed an interest starting a drama group. My friend and I talked about how we could get this sorted out for them. While I chatted, Youngest snuggled up on my lap and went to sleep.

My husband and I made tea together again. Over tea, Eldest said that he would like to start a family book club. We discussed that. He’s already selected a book, Cogheart, so we agreed to read that as a bedtime story, so that everyone will know it.

Saturday

My husband took the boys out for a treasure hunt. We’ve used Treasure Trails several times now. They’re a fun addition to a long walk and can liven up an area we already know.

I did the ironing, treated myself to a ready meal for lunch and finally got a few hours of writing done.

I feel like I ought to praise my husband for taking the boys out. He does this roughly every other weekend, and I do appreciate it. But, honestly, I don’t think that I could cope without these breaks. Having a day to work on my own projects is vital to me.

Sunday

This is our family day. Church in the morning, an easy lunch, then board games. We played Q-bitz and Brain Box games this week.

Our board game sessions are rarely entirely peaceful, but I think that they’re worthwhile.


Thoughts

This week, my husband was around a lot. He didn’t visit clients’ sites, so we saw a lot of him, which made this a very good week!

Looking back over what I do all day, I’m still not sure! I seem to spend a lot of time providing an audience for the boys. Youngest still does reading and writing next to me, but the older two are more independent. My main role in their learning seems to be planning and providing activities, then celebrating when they’re done. I find the emotional and behavioural stuff the most draining. Breaking up squabbles, soothing tantrums and trying to encourage politeness is an endless loop. I don’t think that’s exclusive to home educators, though!

Books

Like my boys, I usually have a few books on the go. At the moment, I’m reading Robin Hobb novels for escapist fiction, Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History for non-fiction and  An Introduction to Elementary Logic to challenge myself.

Advertisements

Home Education – Secondary School

My Eldest is the right age for secondary school, so I’m going to finish my set of weeks with a week of what home education looks like for us at secondary school age.

Monday

Eldest’s lessons on Monday are Grammar, Geometry, Physics and Geography.

When Eldest finished schoolwork, he played Minecraft with Middly.

Then Eldest read until lunch.

Eldest has recovered from chicken pox, but, we’re keeping him away from public places for another day. So, he stayed in with my husband this morning and read.

When I got back home, Eldest helped me write up the instructions for The Leaf Disc experiment for this week’s Science Club.

Then he played Lego with Youngest. After a bit, I put on the Garfield Movie, and all the boys watched it together.

Tuesday

Today’s lessons were Biology, Problem Solving, Fiction and History.

When he’d finished, Eldest played Minecraft on the PC for a while. Then he read library books until lunchtime.

This is (thankfully!) Eldest’s last stay stuck in the house. He spent it beginning  make plans for the Geography course he’s going to lead next year. He’s going to focus on Mountains and Volcanoes. So he started today by brainstorming activities we could do and aspects we could cover.

We’ve got a good number of children attending our Science Club and the Poetry Course went well. There’s an appetite for another short course, and Eldest is very enthusiastic about leading it. I’ll be there to help, of course.

We had a snack. Eldest played Lego with Youngest. Then, I left him at home with my husband while I took Middly swimming. Eldest read, and was still reading when I got home.

He helped a little bit with making tea, then returned to his book again! It’ll be great to get him back out of the house tomorrow!

Wednesday

Eldest began the day with Grammar, Chemistry, Numbers and Bible Study.

Then we had a snack, and then he played Minecraft on the PC.

We had a quick lunch and Eldest helped find and pack things that I needed for Science.

We went to Science Club, which was all about plants and photosynthesis. Eldest popped out to buy biscuits because we didn’t have enough.

He made a leaf mobile, and did the leaf disc experiment. He helped make teas and coffees at break time, and helped Youngest make a cress head. Then he handed out copies of the newsletter and hoovered the hall at the end of the session.

We all went to the park. Eldest played chase with his friends, climbed up the goal posts and played on his phone.

When we got home, we had another snack, Eldest put a load of laundry on.Then Eldest and Middly played with the rats until tea time.

After tea, we watched Catchphrase together. Then Eldest went out to his youth group. They made bottle rockets this evening.

Thursday

Eldest began the day by making origami frogs.

Today’s lessons were Physics, Fiction Writing, Geometry, and Geology.
I helped Eldest look through his work and set him a challenge of writing a story without forgetting any capital letters. He managed (hurrah!), so the day began on a positive note.

Youngest was making ‘breakfast stew’ by mixing three cereals together. Eldest wanted to have some too. I think having Youngest around makes Eldest more open to being playful.

After breakfast, Eldest read for a bit. Then we had a quick snack before going to the library.

Eldest returned last week’s books and selected a new pile for this week. He played Pokémon Go and we went out for lunch with Nana.

After lunch we had a quick park trip (it was cold). Eldest mainly played Pokémon Go on the swing.

Back home, Eldest played with his rabbit. Then had another snack.

His Geology lesson today was about minerals, and it included a description of how to grow crystals. So, we set some up to grow.

Then Eldest went to his tennis lesson. Nana drove him there and he walked home by himself.

When he got back home, we looked at his crystals, which are slowly progressing. Then Eldest cooked sausages and mash for tea. He has taken on responsibility for cooking tea once a week. He chooses what to make and lets me know what he’ll need. It’s a new development, but going well so far.

While tea cooked, we all watched the start of Inside Out.

When my husband came home he didn’t recognise our crystal solution for what it was, and he washed up the saucer. Oops! So, after tea, Eldest and I mixed up another batch and left it to evaporate overnight.

Friday

This morning’s lessons were Bible study, Comprehension, Sequences and Punctuation.

Eldest got up rather late today. He did his work, ate breakfast, ate snacks, read for a while.

I invited him to help me test our battery making experiment for next week’s Science Club. He was a little reluctant, but keener when I let him strip wires.

After lunch, we went for a walk with some friends, and talked about local history.

Eldest taught one of the younger children to play Pokémon Go, and then walked next to her for the rest of the walk to stop her bumping into things!

Then Eldest went to tennis practice.


Workbooks
One of the things that I love about Home Education is how easy it is to cope with Eldest’s spiky learning profile. He loves science and is doing well. He finds English tricky and still struggles a bit with expressing himself in words. Many of his workbooks give him small amounts of practice at re-phrasing ideas in his own words, which seems to be helping his written skills to develop.

Eldest is quickly discouraged if he finds work too difficult, and finds it hard to accept our help. We choose his workbooks carefully to build his confidence and take things at his pace. 

Eldest prefers unfussy workbooks, so he’s very keen on Schofield and Sims. Unfortunately, he’s nearly finished them all, so we’re starting to encourage him to use more textbooks.

He is very keen on Activate Science and Aaron Wilkes’ History Textbooks, both of which contain lots of ‘copy and complete’ exercises.

Reading

Eldest is a voracious reader. He is the only one of us who likes to re-read books. He often reads books several times.

Thoughts

Reading through this, I am impressed by how often Eldest helps out. He’s growing into a responsible young man. He clearly enjoys helping me around the house, and helping younger children at our various groups. 

When we first took Eldest out of school, he was wasn’t very confident in his own abilities and he wasn’t keen on socialising with other children. Looking at how happy he is to write instructions for Science Club, and how encouraging he is when he helps Youngest, I am starting to think that he’s regained a lot of self-esteem. He is also genuinely enthusiastic about spending time with his friends now, which is really wonderful.

Home Education – Middle School

Last week, I described a week of home education for my youngest child, who is reception-age. This week, it’s Middly’s turn. A week in the life of my Middle-School child. This is what he does all day:

Monday

Every morning, Middly begins his day by looking inside his box of workbooks. This morning’s selection was Chemistry, Geometry and Grammar.

He got into a bit of an argument when my husband tried to extend his maths into a discussion about the importance of significant figures. But, we backed off and gave him space to calm down.

He finished his schoolwork, and my husband looked over it with him.

When schoolwork is finished, Middly can play computer games as a reward. He bought Minecraft Story Mode at the weekend, so he played that for a bit. It’s a one-player game. So, when Eldest came down, Middly let him take a turn and helped him work out how to play.

I saw an unattended breakfast, and Middly suddenly remembered that he hadn’t eaten it! So, he sat down to a slightly late breakfast. When he finished, he stood in the middle of the room until I reminded him to brush his teeth.

At half past ten, we turn off computer games. Middly picked up a library book. He always has a pile of library books to read. Here’s this week’s selection:

When the boys were younger, I worried about what they read. Now they read so much, I simply don’t have time to read all their books in advance. My husband read one of these ‘Skullduggary Pleasant’ books and wasn’t concerned. Both Middly and Eldest are enjoying them at the moment.

The fact books are mainly there because I insist that the boys take out fact books as well as fiction. They’re not read as excitedly, but, by the end of the week, they’re the only new books left!

Middly put down his book, and asked for something to do. So, together, we tested out the photosynthesis experiment that I want to do at Science Club next week.

The leaf disc experiment is pretty common in schools, you can find a nice description of it here.

It was a success! Which is lucky, really.

Unfortunately, then I went to clear up, so Middly got into a fight with Youngest over some Lego. I calmed them down. Then they played alongside each other happily until lunchtime.

After lunch, we went to Poetry. We were looking at figurative language this week. Middly made up some metaphors and similes and found some in poems. we recapped our work on rhyme and rhythm and Middly took a turn at scaning a line of poetry. We finished by having a go at solving some Dingbats that I made and Middly drew a Dingbat of his own. 

We went to the park after Poetry. Middly brought his football and had a kickabout with his friends.

We came home and Middly ran outside to play with his bow and arrow in the garden. 

He made it at the weekend at an Iron Age activity day that my husband took the boys to. On Saturdays, he takes the children out, and I have a bit of a break.

After a little while, I reminded Middly that he hadn’t played with his rats yet, so we got those out for a while. He has three rats and he plays with them every day.

We put the rats away and Middly cleaned the table, without me needing to ask. He’s got very good at cleaning up after his rats.

Middly and I played Da Vinci Code – the Game.

Then I took Eldest and Middly to their Uncle’s house to play Dungeons and Dragons.

I picked up the boys. Middly played Pokémon Go on my phone on the way home. Then he helped his daddy to make sausages and mash for tea.

Then, they went out to buy a new Minecraft game together before bed.

Tuesday

This morning’s lessons were Punctuation, Number and Biology.

I looked over what Middly had done. We had an interesting chat about orders of magnitude.

Then Middly came downstairs to play his new Minecraft games. They took a bit longer to download than he’s expected. So, he set them up to download and watched magic videos on YouTube.

Then we had to go out because I’d arranged to meet some friends at the park. Middly played football and explored the woods with his friends.

We came home for lunch, then Middly played outside on his roller skates. Eldest went out to play with him, but the game got a bit out of hand, so I brought Middly back inside to play with his rats.

After we put the rats away, Middly put the finishing touches to the newsletter for this week’s Science Club. He and Eldest write them together, and this week’s includes jokes, a review of a toy, how to make a balloon-powered lego car, and a quiz about forces.

Then we went out for Middly’s swimming lesson. Middly played Pokémon Go in the car. Middly has a one-to-one lesson for half an hour, once a week. It’s going well. He likes his teacher and is able to enjoy swimming without worrying about what other children his age are capable of.

Back home, Middly and Eldest played on the new Minecraft game, while I cooked tea.

Wednesday

Middly got up early this morning, and helped Youngest get dressed. Then he got on with the day’s lessons.

Today’s lessons were Grammar, Crime Solving Maths and Geography. My husband looked over his work with him again.

When he finished, he played on his new Minecraft game again.
At half past ten, we turned electronic games off and all the boys played Lego together for a while.

Middly took the children’s section from the English Heritage magazine up to his room to read. He stayed there till lunch time.

After lunch, we went to Science Club. Middly helped set up chairs and welcome people. We made origami frogs, talked about types of energy, built clockwork dinosaurs from kits, worked out how energy was bring transferred in various ‘Energy Stories’, and made rubber band powered boats. Middly gave out worksheets and biscuits; and tidied up pens and put away tables at the end.

Then we went on to the park with friends. We stayed at the park for a while, enjoying the sunshine, while it lasts!

Back home, all the boys watched ‘Star Wars’. 

Middly went to youth group after tea, coming home quite late.

Eldest came out in chicken pox, which threw our plans out a bit. I had to cancel the remainder of this week’s trips.

Thursday

This morning’s subjects were Physics, Maths and Fiction Writing.

The day started a bit late, with both Eldest and Youngest feeling unwell. Middly finished schoolwork at quarter to eleven. Then he played Minecraft until half eleven.
My mum dropped by some comics and craft kits to keep the boys busy while we’re under quarantine.

Middly read his comic. Then we all started making some sock-animals from the new kits.

After a late lunch, Middly and Eldest played ‘Pick up Sticks’. Then all three boys played with Lego.

There was a bit of a disagreement over the Lego, so I changed the subject with a snack. Then Middly decorated a grass-head doll. 

Middly sorted the washing and put on a load. Then he and Eldest played with the rats.

After he’d put the rats away, Middly used his Biology textbook to find facts about photosynthesis to put in next week’s Science Club newsletter.

Then he read Eldest’s comic.

To make up for missing our trip to. Library this week, I let each of the boys choose a new book online. Middly chose the next book in the Roman Mysteries series. He has been enjoying those books for a while now, and his rats are named after the pet dogs in the books.

The boys watched the rest of Star Wars, plus an episode of Danger Mouse. Then it was time for tea and bed.

Friday

Today’s lessons were Bible Study, History and Chemistry.

Middly got a bit worked up over his History. When he finds something tricky, Middly gets upset and that makes it hard for him to figure things out. He doesn’t willingly give up on a problem, but struggling doesn’t help anyone. So, we took it away and encouraged him to take a break. He read for a while and calmed down. Then he had another look at his History and it went much better. With a cool head, he had no trouble understanding the new concepts.

When he’d finished, he came downstairs and tried to play with Lego. He was still in a bad temper, and got into a fight with Youngest, so I sent him away to calm down again. 

Reading provides an easy escape for Middly and helps him slow his mind down again so he can get himself back under control. 

When he’d had a bit of time to calm down, I went up and we chatted about what had gone wrong. Middly and Youngest made up. Then Middly carried on working on his sock monkey.

Then we had lunch.

After lunch, the boys’ new books arrived. Youngest had chosen a Geography Quest book.

We’ve read quite a few of these Quest books together. They have questions at various levels, some that Youngest can answer, and some that tax the bigger boys. So, I read the book and all three boys listened and took turns solving the problems.

Then Middly say down with his new book,but quickly lost interest. After a bit of encouragement, he finished off his sock monkey instead. He found it tricky, so I was very pleased by his determination to see it through to the end.

By the time he’s finished, it was late. The boys watched Danger Mouse until tea time.

Summary

The chicken pox stopped this being a completely typical week. We would usually have gone out on Thursday and Friday. 

Middly is an active boy, and always busy. He’s very helpful and friendly, and I think that he’s the one who’s struggling most with our enforced quarantine. He works very hard at his schoolwork, and is making fantastic progress.

Books

To keep interest high, Middly used different books every day. This means that I spend a lot of time choosing a selection of books for him!

Middly likes books with lots of pictures and the occasional joke. He uses a lot of CGP workbooks, which are great fun. But they don’t really do much in the way of text books. 

Moving on from the CGP books, for Maths and Science, Middly is beginning to use text books instead of workbooks. Text books have more of thorough explanations in them, which Middly likes at the moment, since he prefers not to need too much help from my husband or me.

I have selected each one separately, printing off lots of sample pages and discussing the choices with Middly and my husband. I have noticed, however, that Middly nearly always ends up selecting OUP publications. They tend to be bright and colourful and to have a bit of a sense of humour.

We had a bit of trouble finding a suitable Maths textbook and ended up choosing this one. Despite the title, we’re not preparing for GCSEs for a few years yet. But, as a lower-level GCSE text, it’s just the right level for Middly right now.

We use Postal Bible School for Bible study, and Middly’s also working through this XTB book.