Our first week

Our first week of officially home educating (in that Sophia is now of school age) is over. And I think we got off to a really good start;  if every week is like it I’ll be pretty darn happy!

I didn’t take any photos so I’m afraid this post won’t be accompanied by pictures of happy smiling children diligently doing activities (!!) but for posterity’s sake I wanted to record what we’ve been up to. As I mentioned several times before we’re following the Wee Folk Art Harvest Time ‘curriculum’ and it really is the perfect fit for us. The term started by focusing on vegetables. We had two books to read throughout the week, a field trip and a few activities to do. The books were ‘Tops and Bottoms’ by Janet Stevens and ‘The Vegetables We Eat’ by Gail Gibbons. Both were really lovely books, a good story and beautiful illustrations in the former and precise and understandable information laid out in an attractive way in the latter. The latter identifies 8 different vegetable groups according to what part of the plant we eat (seed, stem, leaf, flower bud, tuber, root, fruit and bulb) and the theme of identifying vegetables then ran throughout our week. We started by reading the book, then identifying the vegetables we were growing outside, Sophia spoke to Dan about them over dinner and we culminated it all in a ‘Field Trip’ to the Farm shop where I think we managed to spot one from each category. Sophia spoke to one of the staff about where some of the vegetables came from (Cheriton Bishop and Silverton – neighbouring villages) and then Isaac and Sophia chose some vegetables to have with the delicious local sausages for dinner. They chose a teeny tiny pumpkin, cauliflower, carrots and we supplemented with our abundant runner beans. I was reminded of how overrated I think pumpkin is, such a bland vegetable! Maybe I just need to keep trying new recipes but at the moment all I’m convinced they are good for is carving.

At the end of the week Sophia narrated back to me the plot of Tops and Bottoms and copied down her narration onto a journal sheet and accompanied it with a picture. We also learnt ‘Little Boy Blue’, read a different Flower Fairy poem every day and made saltdough pumpkins and carrots. We painted them as suggested but I wish we hadn’t as I keep catching Isaac sucking them and getting wet (possibly not edible!) paint everywhere. You live and learn I guess!

Alongside the curriculum guide, Sophia wanted to maths and reading so she practiced reading the Biff and Chip book that she’d chosen at the library to me (and impressed me with how much she could read unaided, although she does have a habit of trying to make up the story from the picture without reading the words!) and I printed her out a few maths worksheets which she absolutely whizzed through. I need to find her some harder ones to give her a bit of a challenge I think. During the week she also spent a bit of time on the BBC KS1 bitesize site playing some of the science and maths games and wrote a letter to her Nanny and Papi, bizarrely mentioning her birthday party (which isn’t really booked or planned yet….given that her birthday is in December!) We also baked bread, went berry picking and made blackberry crumble, went to the Not Back to School home ed picnic, went to our first home ed group meet of the term, her first dance class of the term and trialled a home ed forest school group at Exeter Forest School which they both loved and we will definitely be signing up to.

What I also (mostly) love is the numerous conversations that we have that they are learning so much from. A conversation about buying local vegetables leads to talking about pollution to how electricity is made to why environmentally friendly options like solar panels and wind turbines are better for our world. A brief mention of the plan for next week’s home ed group leads to a questioning on the Romans, everything they invented and other era’s in history. I remember one of the first books on home education I read (Educating Your Child at Home by Alan Lowe) spoke a lot about how much is learnt informally through conversation and with a very inquisitive almost 5 year old, I am really seeing how true that is! The challenge for me though is to answer all though questions and remain engaged and present when sometimes I just want a cuppa and a sit down with my kitting!

All in all though, a good week. Reading back, it sounds like we were quite busy but with tuesday and wednesday entirely at home it didn’t feel that way. It was nice to be active, to have a plan and to have a good balance of structured learning at home, getting out and about and just doing normal family activities together.

I’m hoping I can hold onto all the positivity and momentum I’m feeling to keep this rhythm going as it seems to really suit us. Not to say it prevented all sibling fighting….I don’t know if the super moon is to blame, the start of term, the change in weather or nothing at all but there is a real love/hate thing going on with them at the moment. Hopefully they’ll settle down soon, I’m not the best at being a calm and just mediator, especially when I’m tired. In fact I was listening to a worship song this morning with the lyrics ‘You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger’ and although it is obviously talking about God it struck me. That is what I want to try and emulate in my attitude towards the kids; rich in love and slow to anger. It’s true that when I’m more angry, they’re more angry and when I’m more patient and calm, they tend to be also. So I’m going to try and follow a regular rhythm, be more loving and hopefully it’ll have a positive effect on all of us.

Have your kids started school? Or has your home ed term re-started? Would love to hear how the start in term and change in seasons is going for you all out there!

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