Week of Home Ed – Secondary Two

So, continuing my tour of the boys’ home ed experiences (last week I wrote about Middly in Secondary One), this is what Eldest gets up to in a – relatively – typical week.

Last year Eldest was already Secondary age, and this is the sort of thing that he was doing in a typical week.

Eldest has always found it tricky to motivate himself. We’ve had a lot of up and downs with his school work over the last year. Sometimes I think that I’m not quite as encouraging as he needs me to be. Some days I panic that we’re running out of time to get the work done and he doesn’t seem to be taking it very seriously.

He is coping really well with groups these days, which is fantastic to see. I know that being around other children can be a bit stressful for Eldest, so I’m really proud of how well he copes with the many groups he attends.

Monday

An early start for Eldest. He got up at eight, made his own porridge, and got on with his work straight away. Aside from a few spelling mistakes, his Maths and English went very smoothly indeed, and I suggested he have a go at writing neatly while he did his Biology.

After finishing all his work, Eldest read a Terry Pratchett book for a while. When he lost interest in reading, Eldest got into a fight with Youngest, so I sent him out to check on his rabbit.

Eldest made chocolate milkshakes for himself and his brothers. Then we sat down to do History.

Eldest has been joining in with Youngest’s history lesson, it’s been really lovely doing this together. A part of me has regretted not trying the Charlotte Mason style of Home Ed earlier, but I think we needed time to get to a point where Eldest could cope with listening to me. I don’t think we would manage more than one lesson a week styled like this. Practising retelling stories in his own word is really good for Eldest.

I read a chapter of ‘Story of the World’, and all the boys had a go at retelling the story in four sentences. Then Eldest did a wordsearch puzzle. All the boys decorated an old shirt to make a technicolour coat. 

Eldest helped tidy away the art supplies and unstacked the dishwasher. He checked on his rabbit and played with him for  a few minutes. Thenplayed ‘Viva Pinata’ on the X-box until lunchtime.

After lunch, Eldest was at a bit of a loose end, so I suggested he thought of a project to occupy himself. He wasn’t keen, and started bickering with Youngest. I said that, if he couldn’t think of a project for himself, then I would choose one for him. He decided to build a rocket out of Lego.

Eldest played FIFA on the Xbox with Middly, for half an hour. Then I said there’d been enough computer games for one day. 

Eldest and Middly struggled to find anything to do. They wandered around the garden, clubhouse and living room without really settling on any activity. Eldest finds it very hard to occupy himself. I got fed up with them asking for more computer time and sent them to weed the vegetable bed at the end of the garden.

Tuesday

Eldest rolled downstairs at half nine this morning, had breakfast and made a start on his work. He finished his Chemistry before we left.

Our fortnightly home ed roller skating meet up was this morning. Eldest saw some friends immediately and went off to skate with them. He and a friend helped Youngest skate for a bit. He bought some sweets at the café and joined in with several skating games. After the session finished, we went on to a nearby park. Eldest ate his lunch and played with his friends. Back home, he got on with his school work.

He was a bit cross with his maths and became very angry when I tried to help. Middly managed to explain the exercise, though, and Eldest calmed down. I was pleased he got through it, but a bit sad that he’d rather have Middly’s help than mine.

We took a snack break. Then Eldest got his work finished. He read for a while in his room.

Eldest has a tennis coaching session on Tuesday evenings. It’s a bit too far to drop him off, so I sat in the car park and watched. He played well and made a lot of effort all the way through.

When we got home, Eldest helped Youngest to put away the Lego. Then he watched ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ until tea time.

Wednesday

Eldest came downstairs a little after nine and made himself breakfast. He needed a bit of help with Chemistry and Maths, but it went smoothly. English went well. He checked on his rabbit and moved the branches around the run to stop Blizzard getting bored. Then Eldest read in his room for a while.

He came downstairs when I made him a snack of peanut butter toast and chocolate milkshake.

After snack time, Eldest spent some time building with his K’NEX set.

We all play tennis with fellow home ed families on alternate Wednesdays. Eldest and Middly play with the other older children. We arrived a bit early, so Eldest organised a warm up game while they waited for the coach. I didn’t see much of him during the session, because I was distracted by helping Youngest. But, he seemed to enjoy himself. After the session, we all had cakes and sang happy birthday, because it was one of Eldest’s friends’ birthday today. Eldest chatted to his friends for a bit, then we all came home.

Back home, Eldest emptied the dishwasher and put away the dishes, then he and Middly played on their phones together for a little while.

Then Eldest took a book out to read in the clubhouse. 

He came back for another snack. Then took Middly out with him to play table tennis. 

After that, he watched the rest of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’.

Thursday

After breakfast, Eldest made a start on his school work. Then we had to get going for our Home Ed Gym, Soft play and Swimming meet up. This happens once a month. Eldest played badminton and football with Middly and some friends. Then they all swam, dived for seal toys, and jumped in the pool. 

My husband came to the meet up with us this week, which made it a special occasion. So we stopped off at Giraffe for a late lunch on the way home. We played eye-spy while we waited for our food. Eldest had a burger, chips and lemonade.

When we got home, he carried on with his book work. It went smoothly today.

When he was finished, he played on his phone for a little while. Then Eldest went out with my husband to pick up a new pane of glass to fix a window.

He played on his bike until tea time.

Eldest goes to Scouts on Thursday evenings. He’s switched very smoothly from one troop to another since the house move. I’m really pleased with how well he’s coped and how friendly and supportive both troops have been. They met up a little earlier than usual this week as they were going on a night hike. He went out straight after tea.

He fell asleep reading a book, which was rather sweet. I turned off his light when I came up to bed.

Friday

We use Fridays to catch up on any school work that didn’t get done during the rest of the week. This week, Eldest is on top of his school work.

He played on his bike this morning, then ate a banana before we went out.

We go to a weekly home ed sports club on Friday mornings. This week the boys played Pacman and Tag-Rugby. Eldest played with a lot of energy.  Afterwards, he played with friends at the park and ate crisps.

We got back home for a late lunch. Then Eldest cleaned the downstairs bathroom. Since the boys are at home all week, I think it’s really important that they join in with the regular cleaning jobs. Eldest is not at all keen, but he did it anyway.

He played on his phone for a while. Then had some biscuits. After that, I set up Continents Twister for all the boys. First they played with all the names visible, then I covered the names of the continents up for a few more rounds. Obviously, Eldest knows all the Continents, but it was good for him to play with his brothers.

The boys played in the garden for a bit, and I set up a physics experiment in the kitchen. We didn’t fit in a science practical yesterday, so we experimented with the extension of springs under different amounts of force today. My husband wandered in towards the end and helped the boys display their results on a graph.

Eldest harvested some spinach from his vegetable bed for tea.

Then he watched ‘Johnny English Reborn’ while it cooked.

Reflections

Eldest is not a keen scholar. I think he dislikes the vulnerability of being taught. I try to keep a hands-off approach as much as possible, but sometimes he needs help and we have to try to get through those moments together.

These are Eldest’s current text books:

He has moved on since last year in all his subjects, and has pretty much caught up with his school year. That’s pretty fantastic. I am worried about how he’ll cope with the greater concentration required for GCSE level work. I think we may prune his studies further, dropping History and Geography to give him more time for Maths, English and Science. At the moment, his plans are still to sit GCSEs and A-levels, so I will do what I can to equip him for that level of study.

This is what I have seen him reading this week:

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A Week of Home Ed – Secondary One

I have two children of Secondary School age now! I’ve decided to bog a week in the lives of each of my boys, last week I blogged about Youngest and this week it’s Middly’s turn.

This is what he was up to last year.

Since last year, Middly’s made steady progress. He’s a hard worker, though he does need to go over things a few times before they’re fixed in his mind. We’re all very proud of how well he’s doing with his school work. He’s become much better at occupying himself over the last year, and is starting to develop a few independant hobbies, which is fantastic to see!

Where we live now, a lot of our home ed groups are fortnightly. So we have a busy week followed by a quiet week. This week happens to be a quiet week. Quiet weeks aren’t always easy for Middly who loves to be around other children, but he has a couple of evening clubs a week, which helps to top up his social life!

Monday

Middly wakes early. This morning, he came to find us about six, we sent him back to bed, and he read for a while.

When I got up, he was already dressed, and came downstairs with me to have breakfast.

He made a start on his Chemistry, which was following on from some work on ionic compounds that he began last week. Unfortunately, Middly had completely forgotten everything he learnt last week. I offered to go over it with him, but he was really upset about struggling to understand his work, so in the end, I suggested he took a break instead. He went back upstairs and read for a while.

We had to leave quite early because we were meeting a group of other home educators at Dinosaur Adventure. Middly sat in the front and operated the CD player on the way there.

What Middly did at the dinosaur park:

  • Lots of climbing on the adventure playground. Middly climbed to the top of everything and waved down.

  • Dinosaur trail. Middly was pleased to find a set of bongos to play on.

  • ‘Fossil digging’ in a big sand tray. Middly spent ages carefully uncovering a model pterosaur skeleton and talking to some younger children about it.

  • Soft play. He was thrilled with the fast drop slide.

  • Another Dino trail.

  • Enjoyed looking around the farm park, especially the rats.

  • Held a hissing cockroach and a millipede. Chatted to the animal handler.

  • Showed Youngest how to use a digger toy.

  • Played tag in soft play with Eldest.

  • Showed Youngest and other little ones how to balance on the rotating beam in soft play.
  • Bought a cuddly dinosaur using his pocket money.

After all that running and climbing, Middly slept on the journey home.

When we got back, Middly ate a big bowl of popcorn and asked me to help him with his Chemistry. We read through the work together and did one of the questions together. Then he was able to complete the rest of his work.

He had no trouble with his grammar exercise, but needed a few pointers on his maths.

When he’d finished his book work, Middly went outside to play on his bike.

After a while, he came back inside and read some of his library books. He played a bit on his phone before tea.

Tuesday

Another early start for Middly! He got his English done without trouble, planning a piece of writing, which he’ll finish next week.

He found his Biology a bit tricky, though. He took a break, had breakfast in his room and read for a bit to calm down.

Middly has been joining in with Youngest’s history lesson which I wrote a bit about last week. Usually, we do History on Mondays, but we had our big trip this Monday, so we did History on Tuesday instead. I thought this might be a good way to get him back downstairs.

So we read a chapter from the Story of the World together, looked at some maps, then Middly did a wordsearch and had a go at making a seal out of clay.

Middly was feeling much better after History. He finished his maths, and was able to let me help him get his Biology done.

Then he tried to join Youngest’s game with toy dinosaurs. He was a bit over excited, and the game went wrong. So, I suggested he went outside to jump on the trampoline.

After a while, he came back, calmer, and helped me make toast and vegetable sticks for lunch.

After lunch, Middly played with his rats. He’d made them a ball of ice, by freezing water in a balloon. The rats showed very little interest, so we added a pile of paper for them to explore as well.

After we put the rats away, Middly used salt and food colouring to make ice globes, like Youngest did last week.

We met some family for a walk and play. Middly had ice cream, played Pokemon Go, did a lot of climbing, and showed off his photos of his rats.

Middly has started attending a local youth group on Tuesday evenings. I was so proud of him on the first week, when he strode in confidently, even though he didn’t know a single child there. Middly is incredibly good at making friends. I really admire that about him. This is his fourth week and he has made a few friends now. We were a bit late this week, because of the family trip, but he was eager to go anyway. He had a good time, apparently they had milkshakes and pizza this week.

Wednesday

Middly played with toy cars in his room until the rest of us were ready to get up. Then he read a library book for a while, until I suggested he made a start on his school work.

It went well this morning. He asked me a few questions, but coped well with needing help and finished it all by half ten. I don’t know why this morning went so smoothly, while other days this week have been trickier. If I knew why Middly sometimes finds asking for help hard, I’d be able to do something about it.

After he’d finished, Middly played on his phone for a bit. He had a snack and began to fight with Youngest, so I sent him out to play in the garden.

After a while, he fell off his bike and grazed his knee. Then he read library books for a while.

When Eldest finished his work, he and Middly ran down to their clubhouse at the end of the garden to play table tennis until lunchtime.

After lunch, Middly read library books for a bit. I played ‘Da Vinci Code, The Game‘ with him (which a logic game about working out numbered tiles, nothing to do with the Dan Brown books). Then we went to the library to choose new books. I recommended that he try ‘The Queen and I’ by Sue Townsend, hopefully he’ll find it funny!

When we got back, Middly made Horlicks for himself and his brothers. After snack time, he emptied the dishwasher and put everything away.

Then Middly and Eldest played with the rats and fed them grapes.

After we put the rats away, Middly went back into the garden to play on the trampoline.

I wasn’t feeling very well, so Middly tucked me up on the sofa with a blanket and helped my husband to make Red Dragon Pie (it’s a family recipe: bean chili with mashed potato on top) for tea.

We watched Lego Masters together. I try to keep TV watching to a couple of evenings a week, but it’s a very easy way to spend some fun time together as a family.

Thursday

Middly got up, ate breakfast and began his school work bright and early. He got rather frustrated when my husband tried to help with his Geography, and went upstairs to cool off.

He read in his room for a few minutes, then came back to have another go.

We had a bit of a chat about his History. He was looking at ‘Summer is a cummin in’, so I played him some Medieval style musicians singing the song. Then he finished his work.

Last night I found The Mighty Skink for Middly. He was looking at the opening passages of it in his English work yesterday, so he enjoyed reading it today. 

When I bought the Aiming for Progress in Reading set of text books, I went through them and got copies of the books that they use so that the boys could read them alongside their work. It’s been a fun addition to their English and introduced us to books that we wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

To help with his science studies, I am trying to do a practical experiment with Middly once a week. Some of the experiments require specialist equipment or chemicals. So I’m doing the practicals when I get what we need, which means that the practicals are out of step with the book work. This week’s Chemistry practical is actually from a lesson Middly did a couple of weeks ago. It’s a bit of a recap for him.

We did an experiment to test how well washing-up liquid and egg yolk fair as emulsifiers for oil and vinegar.

Then Middly made guacamole to go with our salad for lunch.

After lunch, Middly played on his bike for a while. When he came back into the house, I set up the table to try out using the seals that the boys made earlier in the week. We attempted to stamp them in paint, clay and wax. None of the impressions were as clear as we’d hoped, but Middly enjoyed using the wax anyway.

Middly helped clear up our project. Then he and Eldest went outside to play on the trampoline. When they got hungry, they came back inside for a snack. Middly played with his rats.

After putting the rats away, Middly played with Lego alongside both of his brothers.

He helped me to make sausage and mash for tea, and played on his phone while it cooked. After tea, he went out to his church youth group. Middly goes to this club every Thursday. There’s a short time of worship, a craft, and a bit of general hanging out time. Middly made friends there the first week and has been enjoying it.

Friday

Usually, Middly doesn’t have any book work to do, since we use this day for catching up unfinished work, and he is normally on top of all his work. So this morning he read library books for a while, then went outside to play on the trampoline.

We have a weekly home ed sports group. Middly loves it. There are quite a few children his age, and they get on really well. The teacher strikes a nice balance between trying hard and giving everyone a touch of the ball, and the group has a lovely atmosphere. This week Middly played Pacman, then Diamond cricket. Afterwards we went to the park and Middly had a snack and helped organise a game of Capture the Flag.
We came home for a late lunch, then Middly unstacked the dishwasher and put the dishes away. Then he read this week’s First News.

We try to get a bit of housework done on Fridays. This week we worked on the living room, Middly helped put away all the stuff that got under the sofas and ran the hoover around.

Middly joined in with Youngest’s Geography lesson. I read Clothes around the World and the boys put together a simple puzzle and added velcro pictures of children. 

Then Middly tried his hand at designing a hat for people living in Canada.

Middly played on his phone for a while. Then he helped prepare vegetables for tea.

Reflections

We don’t expect a vast amount of book work from the boys, about three pages a day. I am very aware that Middly would be doing a lot more written work if he were at school. He is on track with his learning, however, so I am not worried about the amount of work he produces. We spread the work over a lot more days, since we take shorter holidays than schools do.

These are the books that Middly is currently using. His Science and Maths are slightly ahead of his English skills at the moment.

I am a bit more concerned about Middly’s handwriting. He can write neatly if he really focuses on it, but he doesn’t usually bother. I think that the more he writes messily, the more fixed the habit will become. We’re trying to encourage him to practice his handwriting at the moment, but, if it doesn’t start to improve, I’m thinking of trying Speed Up.

A lot of the text books are the same as they were last year. These longer text books can take a while to finish.

Middly is usually very willing to help out around the house, and does a couple of chores most days. 

All the boys read a lot. These are the books that I’ve seen Middly reading this week:

Library books:

I allow a relatively free choice of library books, only stopping the boys from reading adult novels with a lot of violence or sex. Middly’s pretty happy to take my word for it that some books are too unpleasant for him. He seems to think that I reject books because of lots of fighting. The fact that he can’t imagine the graphic scenes I might want to protect him from, assures me that he still benefits from that protection.

Home books:

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.