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.

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