Category Archives: Homeschool Routine

A Day in the Life of our Homeschool – With an 8 year old and a 10 year old

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Each day of the week is very different for us. Some days we’re with friends all day, or we might spend a whole day immersed in a hands-on science project.

But the day I’m sharing here – Thursday – follows a similar pattern each week. Because we’re out over lunch, there’s no time for big projects. Instead, we fit in lots of shorter activities and reading aloud. It might be my favourite day of the week!

7 – 8 AM

I wake up and meditate, then come downstairs to let the dogs out.

After I’ve unloaded my part of the dishwasher, I savour the day’s first cup of tea and a bowl of porridge in my study.

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Greeting the day. Blue(ish) sky!

8 – 9 AM

I do my daily German Duolingo lesson.

Usually I catch up on emails and blogs at this time, but today C(10) gets upset while practising her guitar and needs a pep talk. She’s having difficulty adjusting to her new teacher, and is being a bit tough on herself. I give her a cuddle and remind her that she can’t solve anything when she’s feeling down. She agrees we’ll talk about it again later when she’s feeling better.

9 – 10 AM

J(8) asked to learn about quantum physics this term. The Uncle Albert books are a wonderful introduction to the subject. Last week we heard about special relativity in The Time and Space of Uncle Albert.

Today I read aloud from Black Holes and Uncle Albert, a story about “the exploding universe …  black holes that swallow up everything, speeded-up time, light that is yellow but also red and blue … and how it is that you are made of stardust.”

Lots of big ideas to talk about as we read!

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J(8) asks to try tea, so I make him a cup of lemon and ginger with a dash of agave. He’s not impressed!

10 – 11 AM

C(10) and I do Latin and then maths together. Right now we’re working through Math Mammoth’s Division 2. Although we don’t follow a curriculum, individual books from the Math Mammoth Blue Series are great value when a child needs extra practice on a particular topic.

C(10) fills in the answers on her iPad using Notability  “This is fun and kind of relaxing,” she casually comments as she works. {I mentally punch the air.}

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J(8) plays with Lego in his room. He tells me about the RPG game he’s invented with them.

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11 AM – 12 PM

We leave for French class at 11:40 and we’re not back until 1:40, so we eat pancakes before we leave. I read aloud from Puddles in the Lane, a lovely story about a family of children evacuated from the London Blitz during World War II.

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Pancakes and reading aloud

12 – 2 PM

C(10) has 15 minutes one-to-one with the French teacher before J(8) join them for an hour. I walk the dogs in beautiful nearby woods. The children emerge from their class with Valentines “coeur” cookies.

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French Valentine cookies and dog walking

2 -3 PM

After lunch (soup and sandwiches), I practise guitar while the children play Minecraft together.  J(8) is paying her Minecraft gold to build houses for him in a world he’s created.

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Playing Minecraft together

3 – 4 PM

I do maths with J(8).  I suggest that he tries the division pages C(10) enjoyed earlier.  As soon as I read out the first question, J(8) starts to roll around the floor on a space hopper.

I have an epiphany. It occurs to me that J(8) has as much difficulty concentrating on maths while he’s sitting still, as I do when he’s leaping around the room. (Sometimes I need to be reminded of something a thousand or so times before the penny finally drops.) I decide that as the grown-up, I need to to overcome my difficulty focusing, and find a way to accommodate J(8)’s wiggles.

It works! We actually manage to maintain enough momentum for him to learn some new maths.

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This much movement in 30 seconds of maths!

Meanwhile, C(10) mixes up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. We bake six cookies and freeze the rest.

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C(10) making cookies

4 – 5 PM

We enjoy C(10)’s cookies at Poetry Tea. She reads an extract from The Pied Piper, from our new poetry book, A Child’s Introduction to Poetry (thanks, Lisa), and “Double, double, toil and trouble” from Macbeth.

J(8) chooses poems from A Children’s Treasury of Milligan, which he received for Christmas. J(8)’s comic narration and Spike Milligan’s poetry are a match made in heaven; C(10) and I are very grateful to Santa!

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Poetry teatime

After poetry tea, C(10) asks me to join her while she practises guitar. She plays beautifully, this morning’s upset long forgotten.

Thank you, Hwee, for the inspiration to join Simple Homeschool’s Day in the Life series!

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3 Things I’ve Learned About Homeschooling in 2013

things ive learned about homeschooling

One of my favourite things about homeschooling is the never-ending learning opportunities it offers me. Not only do I get to facilitate and witness my children’s learning, but every year I get to learn how to be a better homeschooler.

Since love of learning is  – according to the Authentic Happiness Centre’s VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire – my greatest strength, this means I get to live a pretty charmed life!

Here, in no particular order, are three of the many things I’ve learned about homeschooling this year.

1. You don’t need a curriculum to learn maths

I have friends for whose families maths curricula work wonderfully, and I’m delighted for them. But although everyone in our family likes maths, we’ve never got on with a maths curriculum. Back in April we gave up trying to find one, and began a living maths experiment.

We love being able to choose which maths topic we learn about when, and what resources to use. I am more in tune with my children’s needs and abilities than any curriculum could be, so as well as being more enjoyable, learning maths this way makes much more efficient use of our time.

C(10) and J(8) benefit from one-to-one attention learning maths this way. With any curriculum there is the temptation to leave a child to get on with the set number of pages while you get on with something else. My long-term goal is for my kids to be independent learners, but the best way for that to happen is for me to be by their side now, enjoying puzzles and stories, asking good questions and modelling creative problem-solving strategies.

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A few of our maths playtime activities

We’ve recently looked at some of the maths test papers English schoolchildren sit in Year 6 (Grade 5). Sitting comfortably at my side, my kids approach the test questions as fun puzzles. Even if they haven’t come across a topic before, they don’t panic – they try to figure out a way round. (And I make a note to explore the topic together another time.) Homeschoolers don’t have to take these tests, but I find it reassuring that C(10) and J(8) would have no problem passing if they did – no curriculum required.

2. My children learn a lot from videos

When my kids want to find out how to do something, the first place they go is YouTube.

In the last few weeks, C(10) has prepared illustrated essays on fossils and the history of skateboarding using YouTube as one of her primary research sources. She also teaches herself drawing, sewing and cooking techniques, and guitar chords from videos.

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Recent projects C(10) has chosen to do

At the moment, J(8) mostly uses YouTube to solve specific problems in his computer games, but that doesn’t make the critical thinking and writing skills he’s acquiring during the course of his research any less valuable.

For some reason it took me a while to catch onto this trend and use videos in the learning we do together. I guess it’s another layer of my deschooling (“learning must come from books”), combined with having grown up in a different technological era.

I can’t skim videos the way I can books or web pages, so it can take a bit longer to pull together strewing material. But as more of us use video in our homeschools, the more links to good quality material are being shared, which makes the task easier. (I love the way Hwee, for example, includes videos in most of her blog posts.)

Next year I intend to use video much more in our homeschool. {Perhaps my children will give me some tips on where to look.}

3. You can do less than you think in a year, and more than you think in three years

Sometimes when I look back on a school year, it feels like we haven’t accomplished much. Yet when I look back on the three and a half years since we began homeschooling, it’s obvious my children have learned heaps.

Similarly to the way they get taller when we’re not looking, children seem to learn in spurts rather than in one continuous steady flow. Or perhaps learning is more like the movement of waves in the ocean – always happening, but only visible at certain points in the cycle.

The more of these learning cycles I witness, the easier I find to stay relaxed during periods when not much seems to be happening.

J(8), for instance, does a little copywork or handwriting practice most days, but until recently had never written more than a few comic strips of original writing. Then last month he sat down at the computer and wrote a 1,500 story for NaNoWriMo. A story filled with the rich vocabulary he had apparently acquired over the previous two thousand hours he’d spent lounging around wearing headphones listening to audiobooks.

Talking of audiobooks, I used to wonder how J(8) would ever learn to spell, without seeing actual words in books. Then suddenly, about a month ago, he began inundating me with “How do you spell…?” questions. These come at all sorts of odd times, like when we’re out walking or he’s in the bath, rather than while he’s writing. Meanwhile I’ve started receiving perfectly spelled emails and text messages from him.

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J(8) writing his first “novel”

To the untrained eye it might appear that J(8) did nothing for several years and then learned to write and spell in a month. But really, like a wave steadily moving towards the shore, he was of course learning all the time.

And so am I.

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To find out what the other Homeschool Help ladies want to remember about 2013, head over to:

Every Bed of Roses – Our Year in Review 2013

Highhill Education – Looking Forward – Best College Degrees

Barefoot Hippie Girl – Looking Back: Our 2013 School Year

One Magnificent Obsession – The Days are Long and the Years are Short

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Overcoming Homeschool Burnout – The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Overcoming homeschool burnout
Credit: Squirmelia

Homeschool burnout sucks. Perhaps the worst part is feeling so bad about something that once brought so much joy – something you felt passionately called to do.

Many homeschoolers with more experience than me have shared fabulous advice like this for overcoming burnout. But sometimes it’s not as easy as following a few tips. Sometimes we feel so stuck that although the advice sounds very sensible and could probably help “other people”, it couldn’t possibly help us because [insert our unique, insurmountable circumstances here].

What we need is something to help us get unstuck.

In my work as a coach and therapist I used many different tools to help my clients get unstuck.  This process is one of my favourites. It can be used very effectively to help overcome homeschool burnout, by reconnecting you with the energy and passion that first inspired you to take on this blessed role.

How to free your thinking and overcome burnout

All you need is a piece of paper and a pen (or electronic equivalent), and twenty minutes undisturbed time. (Yes I know… Do it in the middle of the night if you have to!)

Step 1 – What do you want?

Write down in your own, positive words what you want. Not what you don’t want, or what you think you can get, but what you really want.

Example – “I want to feel inspired and energised about homeschooling.”

Step 2 – What’s stopping you having what you want?

Now write down all the things that are stopping you having what you want.

When you’ve finished, check there’s nothing else by asking, “What else is stopping me?”

Keep going until until you’ve written down every single thing that stands between you and your goal.

Example

“Homeschooling has got so stressful. I know we ought to take a break but if we do we’ll fall behind with the curriculum. I want my kids to work more independently but they seem to need me for everything. Writing lessons are so frustrating right now, but if he doesn’t learn to write he won’t be able to take exams. I’m sick of the daily grind. I hate our curriculum but we can’t afford to change. I need some time to myself but that’s impossible.”

Step 3 – What are you assuming that is most limiting your thinking?

Look back over everything you’ve written in step 2. What is the single most important thing you’ve written down, the one that really stands in your way?

Example – “(I feel like taking a whole month off but if we take that long off) my kids will forget everything and we’ll never get back on track.”

Write it down again on a line of its own.

Step 4 – Is it true?

This is where I’m going to ask you to make a leap of faith. (It will be worth it, I promise.)

When we’re stuck in problem thinking, everything seems set in stone. But when we shine a little light on them we  begin to find our reasons actually rest on assumptions we didn’t even realise we were making.

In our example – “(I feel like taking a whole month off but if we take that long off) my kids will forget everything and we’ll never get back on track.”

Will your children truly forget everything they know if you take some time off? Will you really never get back on track? (And anyway, don’t you want to find a new groove instead of returning to the same old rut?)

Some reasons might be objectively true, but on closer inspection are found to rest on their own limiting assumptions.

Example: “It’s March now – if we take a month off my daughter won’t be able to take her exams in June.”

Or: “If we take a month off, we’ll lose our place in the co-op.”

Each of those statements may be true, but what are you assuming will happen if your daughter can’t take the exam this June? Is this the only opportunity ever? Will she never get a job if she doesn’t take the exam this year? Of course not. And if you lose your place in the co-op, will the world end? Perhaps other doors will open if that one closes?

Gently examine your limiting assumption until you realise it’s not one hundred percent, provably, “true”.

Step 5 – What is a liberating alternative to the limiting assumption?

This is the cool part. Look at your limiting assumption and ask yourself, “What is the complete opposite of this?” Then close your eyes and tune into your heart.

This is not a semantic exercise. If the words you come up with bear no resemblance to your limiting assumption, that’s a good sign.

Some real examples from my own experience:

Limiting assumption: “I can’t get anything done here because I have no control over how I spend my time.”

Liberating alternative:  “Right here and now, I am freer than anywhere to do all the things I want.”

Limiting assumption: “Because my blog isn’t as successful as others, I’m not good enough and may as well give up”*

Liberating alternative: “Every word I write is the perfect contribution to the world.”

* I wrote that a few years ago 😉

In our imaginary Example:

Limiting assumption: “My kids will forget everything and we’ll never get back on track.”

Liberating alternative: “A long break is exactly what the children need to get excited about learning again.”

Step 6 – The magic question

{Drumroll please}

Take your liberating alternative and insert it into the following question:

“If I knew, without a shadow of doubt, [true alternative], what would I be thinking or feeling or doing differently now?”

Example

“If I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that a long break is exactly what the children need to get excited about learning again, what would I be doing differently now? How would I be feeling different? What would I be thinking?”

Sit quietly and notice what comes to mind. You’ll be amazed at the wisdom and resourcefulness that flows in. (It’s always been there, you just couldn’t reach it from the limited thinking you were stuck inside.)

overcoming homeschool burnout

I’m so excited about sharing this tool that’s helped me get unstuck so many times in the past. If you use it, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Happy homeschooling!

overcoming homeschool burnout

For more views on the subject of overcoming homeschool burnout, visit:

Every Bed of Roses – Homeschool Burnout

One Magnificent Obsession – Avoiding Homeschool Burnout

Barefoot Hippie Girl – What to do when you run out of fuel

Highhill Homeschool – How do I keep homeschooling?

overcoming homeschool burnout
Credit: Gustty

Resources

Time to Think – I first came across the process I’ve shared here in this wonderful book

This free pdf Incisive Questions is a short summary of the process (as designed to be used in a coaching session) by the same author.

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How we learn more by taking breaks – Why year-round homeschooling is not for us

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We’re lucky here in the UK that we don’t have to keep homeschooling records or prove we’ve done school for a minimum number of days per year.

Although this means we have complete freedom to choose our schedule, in practice our family mostly follows the local school terms. We also take off several term-time weeks each year to travel. Since my kids probably learn more on these vacations than they do at home,  I’m good with this.

How we benefit from “school holidays”

1. Better strewing

The way we homeschool doesn’t involve any lesson-planning as such, but I am kept busy finding and strewing interesting resources to enrich my children’s learning environment. Breaks give me time to replenish my strewing resources and inspiration.

Some strewing is quite routine. For example, I try to offer at least one fun science activity each week. Once a week I reflect on what the children are interested in, and find a related hands-on science activity. I do the same for maths.

But breaks from our daily routine give me time to delve into subjects more deeply –  to read whole books, even! Books about homeschooling, about particular subjects, or historical fiction for grown-ups, for example – all of which contribute to my children’s education.

2. Recharging and Modelling

Having more time to myself on our breaks also gives me time to pursue my own interests, which not only recharges my batteries but often also inspires C(9) and J(8).

This summer, for instance, I found time to begin learning German, which I’ve been wanting to learn for twenty years! After seeing me having fun on the Duolingo app, C(9) decided to learn too.

3. Breaks are good for the brain

I come away from our breaks refreshed, inspired and enthusiastic to begin homeschooling afresh. The children benefit just as much.

Neuroscience tells us that taking breaks improves learning.  Our brains need time to process and consolidate what we’ve taken in. And time away from studying allows C(9) and J(8) to make new connections and creatively apply what they’ve learned in novel ways.

And of course, we never stop having conversations or reading great books.

4. Friends, Camps and Hobbies

School holidays are when there’s time for my kids to hang out with their friends, both schooled and home-educated. To do sports, art and drama courses. To spend hours on a hobby, making daisy chains or just relaxing with a book without being interrupted by our usual extra-curricular schedule.

And quietly observing how my children choose to spend these long chunks of unscheduled time helps me be a better homeschooling mum.

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Our homeschool routine helps create momentum that carries us towards our learning goals.  But from time to time it makes sense  to slow down and check we’re all heading in the right direction.

homeschool breaks

For more perspectives on year-round homeschooling (or not), visit:

Barefoot Hippie Girl – School Year Round or Not on Your Life

Every Bed of Roses – Year Round Schooling

Highhill Homeschool – School Year Round?

One Magnificent Obsession – Summer: Repair and Prepare

Next week the Homeschool Help team will be considering the subject of grades. If you’ve visited before, I’m sure you can guess which way I go on that topic. 😉

Here at Navigating By Joy I post regularly about how we homeschool science, maths, history, English, art, geography and a lot more besides.

To follow along, just pop your email address into the box at the top right of this page and click the “Subscribe” button.

 

 

Week in My Life – Friday

Welcome to my final post in Week in My Life 2013. Click here for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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Today’s dog walk

Most Fridays at 12 PM J(8) has therapy for his Sensory Processing Disorder. This week, though, his appointment was at 9:30 AM. Combined with the hour long round trip, that took up most of our morning. I had a lovely walk while J(8) had his session.

After lunch C(9) practised her last few multiplication facts using the free booklet Nothin’ But the Facts.

times tables

One strategy the book suggests for the twelve times table is tens plus twos. So 12 x 11 is 10 x 11, plus double eleven.  C(9) also enjoys the number patterns the book leads you to discover.

I like how all the multiplication tips make you think about numbers instead of just requiring rote memorisation.

J(8), meanwhile, is enjoying working through Life of Fred: Ice Cream. He’s very pleased with himself this week for discovering that a ream of paper is 500 sheets. It’s the random things, sometimes!

After our kazoo project on Wednesday, this afternoon we watched a few videos about the science of sound. We especially liked the amazing water & sound experiment.

 

J(8) wants to reproduce the experiment.  Now I just have to figure out how to produce a 24hz sound wave.

In the meantime we made our own “Moaning Myrtle” – a vibrating hex nut inside a balloon. I couldn’t find any nuts in the tool box so I had to attack C(9)’s project chair with a spanner.

Screaming balloon

I was very proud of myself for remembering to screw the nut back on later.

nut screw

While C(9) packed for this weekend’s Cub Camp, J(8) helped me make blueberry muffins. We used a packet mix, so for once the results were gluten-free and edible.

blueberry muffins and poetry

We enjoyed our muffins with cocoa and poetry.

Poetry teatime

At 4:15PM I dropped C(9) at her Stagecoach class and took J(8) to trampolining.

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C(9) learning her Bugsy Malone lines

Week in My Life has been lots of fun. And next week my family are going to enjoy not feeling like they’re starring in a reality TV show. 😉

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Art Thursday – Week in My Life

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I’m documenting my life every day this week (Monday to Friday) as part of Melissa’s fun Week in My Life series. I’ve often wanted to be a fly on the wall in other homeschoolers’ homes. I hope this series gives a glimpse into everyday life here at Navigating By Joy.  Here are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Thursday mornings, unusually, we’re at home until 11:30 AM, so I try to organise an activity we couldn’t easily fit into a shorter time slot.

Today I set up acrylic paints for us to play with. We used the Art Together:E-Zine, which I at Raising Cajuns, as our guide.

We each started with blue, red and yellow acrylics on our palates. First we mixed the secondary colours.

Secondary colours

Then we chose a paint chip colour each and tried to mix a colour to match, using only the three primary colours plus white. This, we discovered, was harder than we’d thought!

J(8) was delighted with his blue within a few tries, but C(9) and I were convinced we must both have chosen particularly unusual hues of green!

colour matching success
“That’s it!”
Colour matching
so many greens…

As well as learning about colour mixing, we all came away from this activity with much greater appreciation for the work artists do!

We used up our leftover paints – and enjoyed making free with colours after the restrictions of the colour-matching exercise – by painting on black line drawings.

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J(8)’s painting
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My painting. (C(9) wasn’t happy with how hers turned out)

After the paints were cleared away, C(9) cooked us a stack of pancakes. I read aloud Understood Betsy (still loving this story!) as we tucked in.

Pancakes
pancakes and story time

At 11:40 AM we left for French class. I walked the dogs while C(9) and J(8) made French Halloween cakes.

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Halloween cakes and glorious woods

I made turkey and cheese croissants for lunch – another fab MOMables recipe (who knew you could get croissant dough in a can?).

croissant lunch
turkey & cheese croissants

Inspired by yesterday’s game of History Heroes: How Well Do You Know Your Monarchs?, as we ate we listened to the story of King William II in the Our Island Story audiobook.

Instead of copywork today, we enjoyed a few rounds of Telephone Pictionary and Consequences.

telephone pictionary
telephone pictionary

Then someone suggested searching YouTube for a Horrible Histories video about William II. We’ll definitely remember the details of William’s lonely death in the New Forest now!

And then there was just time for twenty minutes’ room time (meditation for me, Minecraft for the kids), before we left for C(9)’s gymnastics class.

I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for my last day of Week in My Life.

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A Typical Unschooling Day – Week in My Life – Wednesday

river walk

We spend so little time at home, I sometimes wonder how we get any homeschooling done. Then we have days like today, when learning just flows and the day seems to stretch pleasantly to fit everything in.

At 8:30 AM I walked the dogs by the river while J(8) was having his occupational therapy session. C(9) did copywork and German on Duolingo and read her Rick Riordan book.

When I got back C(9) and I edited a story she wrote last week for a newspaper competition Granny had kindly sent her in the post.

Waffles  shakespeare

Editing left us a bit peckish so we decided it was waffle time. We’ve been reading about the Battle of Agincourt in the Story of the World this week, so I read Shakespeare’s Stories: Henry V as I cooked.

Which led to a long game of History Heroes: How Well Do You Know Your Monarchs?, a great game we just came across thanks to Hwee. As we’ve not learned much English history recently we picked out a few cards to play with. The cards are packed with different kinds of interesting information which makes the game really easy to adapt to any knowledge-level.

History heroes

While we were all gathered together, I invited the children to listen to Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure which I bought after Julie wrote about it. This tied in nicely with the science project I had in mind for this week – making kazoos – and also with C(9)’s recent maths work on simplifying fractions.

Kazoos

At 2 PM each Wednesday a lovely guitar tutor visits the house to teach classical guitar to first me and then C(9). Before he arrived, J(8) and I read Life of Fred: Ice Cream together.

Maths  copywork

After guitar, C(9) and I worked through some more of the wonderful {free!} times tables book for visual-spatial learners, Nothin’ But the Facts! We started this book last week and C(9) has learned almost all her multiplication tables since then! Today we learned a trick for multiplying any number by 11 in your head – it’s very cool!

Then it was time for fifteen minutes’ meditation for me while the kids played Minecraft in their rooms on a Skype conference call with their cousins. (I still marvel at how they set all this up on their own. I wouldn’t have a clue.)

minecrafting

At 4:45 PM I popped dinner in the oven then took J(8) to his swimming lesson. I managed to squeeze in a quick half hour on the cross-trainer at the gym while he swam.

Another wonderful unschooling moment happened over dinner: C(9) got so excited telling her Dad about the maths she’d learned today, she spontaneously grabbed a whiteboard and started teaching him times tables tricks! 😀

times tables tricks

After dinner it was Cubs for C(9).  She was thrilled that her Six got the most points this half-term by over 200 points, which earned them each a chocolate bar – and she was presented with the “Best Sixer” award.

Best sixer

My chauffeur duties ended at 8:45 PM. What a lovely day 🙂

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Head over to Adventuroo for more Week in My Life fun!  And here are my posts for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

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I’m appreciatively linking up with Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up and the Hip Homeschool Hop.

Week in My Life – Tuesday

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After breakfast…
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and some fraction fun …

we headed for the home education centre where we spend most Tuesdays (from 11 AM until 4 PM).

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The kids love hanging out with their friends in the centre’s spacious grounds

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C(9) did art and drama
C(9) enjoyed art and drama classes
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And for me, there was a beautiful dog walk with my dear friend Carrie (who is a wonderful photographer!)

 

I’m documenting our daily homeschooling life this week as part of Adventuroo’s Week in My Life link-up. Click here for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

 

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Week in My Life 2013 – Monday

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I’m joining Melissa at Adventuroo for the Week In My Life Challenge 2013.  See Melissa’s Week in My Life intro post if you want to join in the fun.

This won’t be a typical week, of course – on account of there being no such thing.

ankle cast

We began the day driving my husband to the fracture clinic where his broken ankle was X-rayed and he was fitted with a walking cast. He can go back to work tomorrow – hurray! {Love you, darling ;-)}

At 10 AM my homeschooling mum friend Gaynor came round to give C(9) her creative writing tutorial while I did maths (Life of Fred) with J(8). Afterwards C(9) and J(8) played with Gaynor’s kids while she and I chatted over a coffee.

National youth film festival

It’s the National Youth Film Festival this week so this afternoon I took all the kids  to see Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters for free at our local cinema. A school group that was meant to be going cancelled at the last minute, so apart from one other home-educating family, we had the cinema to ourselves!

After the cinema, C(9) and I took the dogs to the park. I walked while C(9) sat in trees and sang Bugsy Malone songs (she’s playing Fat Sam in her Stagecoach show this term).

Tree climbing
Can you spot spidergirl?
dogs relaxing
Cuddling up after their walk

Karate collecting

And now, at 8:30 PM, I’m cuddling up on the sofa with the dogs {read: trying to stop them licking my laptop} after collecting C(9) from karate.

For more Week in My Life, see TuesdayWednesdayThursday and Friday.

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Dad’s Role in Our Homeschool

dad's role in homeschooling

Just as there are thousands of ways to homeschool, so there are a multitude of roles fathers can play in happy homeschooling households.

Dad’s role will vary depending on many factors, including how often he works away from the home, the ages of the children, and of course the personalities and interests of all concerned.

For this week’s Homeschool Help series, here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at C(9) and J(8)’s dad’s role in our homeschool.

For most of the time we’ve been homeschooling, James has worked at least twelve hours a day outside the house, Monday to Friday. He leaves the house at 7am and returns at 7pm or later.

This means that almost all day-to-day childcare and homeschooling falls to me. But that’s not to say that my husband doesn’t play a very important role in our homeschooling family.

Moral support

Perhaps the most important role my husband plays as far as I’m concerned is that of sounding-board. No-one else knows our children like he does, so whenever I’m considering any changes in the way we homeschool, I talk them through with him.

James wasn’t sure about homeschooling in the early days (he hadn’t read the seven zillion books and websites that I had), but to my eternal appreciation he’s always kept an open mind, and he’s now fully on board.

I relish sharing with him our children’s successes – usually in the children’s presence – and I discuss with him privately any challenges we’re facing.

The kids appreciate their dad’s moral support too.  Like most homeschooling families, C(9), J(8) and I spend so much time together we mostly get on great. Even so, having another person around can provide a welcome change of mood!

Dad’s special skills

James is a technical whizz  who, bless him, happily spends hours posing Lego minifigs and creating green screen special effects making movies with the kids.

I’m sure he enjoys using his technical skills to make movies more than he enjoys his role as family IT support guy – but I don’t know what we’d do without that aspect of his expertise in our teck-heavy homeschool!

If a dad is going to take on any homeschool teaching or mentoring on top of paid full-time work, it helps if he’s passionate about the subject.  I know one homeschooing dad who loves taking his son to museums and history clubs at weekends. Another friend, who plays in a band part-time, shares with his daughter his passion for electric guitar.

dad's role in our homeschool

Role modelling

As the non-homeschooling parent, James has more time to make a contribution to the world outside our home. Much of what he does in his role as a banking IT manager goes right over the kids’ heads (and mine!), but he makes a point of sharing with C(9) and J(8) those parts of what he does that they can understand.

Earlier this year, for example, James wrote an Android smartphone app in his spare time. The kids and I excitedly followed along as his app was listed on the Google Play store, then got noticed by a few of the technology news websites, and ended up with over 18,000 active installs.

As a consequence of his app’s success, this summer James was invited to attend a three-day, all-expenses paid, developers’ retreat in Paolo Alto, California. We all thought that very cool indeed, and it was fantastic for C(9) and J(8) to see where hobbies can lead!

Practical support

Of course, when only one parent is doing paid work, their income pays for every book, activity, car journey and computer in a homeschool – not to mention the very roof over the family’s heads!

But as well as financial support, I love that James takes on other practical tasks when he can. From Monday to Friday I do a lot of cooking and chauffeuring, so I love it when James rolls up his sleeves and gets cooking and driving at weekends. (Cooking is not one of my passions!)

I love that on Sundays, he not only takes C(9) to her rugby practice but even walks the dogs at the same time, then comes home and cooks a roast – my hero!

Active and outdoors

Left to our own devices, we’re a family of geeky couch potatoes, so making the time to exercise and get some fresh air is important.

When our kids were babies, James made a conscious commitment that he was going to get active alongside them as they grew up.

In the summer they surf, kayak, sail and swim together, and all year round he kicks and throws balls and goes on cycling trips with the children. {I join in when the weather’s good 🙂 }

My lovely husband even agreed – much against his own personal wishes – to get a dog (now two dogs), which gives us a reason to go walking together, whatever the weather.

When the kids are asked to describe their dad, one of the first words they use is “fun” – which tells me how much of a success he’s made of the commitment he made ten years ago.

Dad's Role in Homeschooling

I hope I’ve managed to strike a balance here between sharing the contribution my husband makes to our homeschool and not embarrassing him.

But I can’t sign off without recognising the fine job my single mum friends do of homeschooling.

I began this post by acknowledging how many ways there are to successfully home-educate. That includes homeschooling with no dad around. For many reasons, some women find themselves homeschooling without a partner by their side. And some of the most amazing kids I know have at least equally amazing single mums.

I myself was brought up by a single mum who did a stupendous job of meeting the needs of my brother, sister and me. Thanks to her example, I’m not the slightest bit fazed by the amount of time I spend alone with my kids.

But I do know that C(9) and J(8)’s dad makes a huge contribution to our family and our homeschool, and for that I am truly thankful.

How does your partner contribute to your homeschool?

Homeschool help - dad's role in homeschooling

 For the other Homeschool Help ladies’ posts, see:

Highhill Education – How My Husband Helps us Homeschool

Every Bed of Roses – Dad’s Helping Hand in our Homeschool

Barefoot Hippie Girl – He’s on my Team

One Magnificent Obsession – Dad’s Role in our Homeschool: the Silent Philanthropist

Hammock Tracks – Dad – The Homeschool Bouncer

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