We had typical English bank holiday weather this weekend by the sea – super-windy, with spells of bright sunshine and more than a spot of rain. But of course, with true British spirit, we didn’t let it spoil our fun. We made the most of the shiny new car’s people-carrying properties and took my parents-in-law (visiting this weekend) to a nearby seaside town where we had fun at the fair and a bracing walk along the prom.
This evening my father-in-law (a cruise veteran) and I, armed with binoculars and my iPhone, invented a new pastime – cruise-ship spotting. We identified first the Queen Elizabeth and then the Crown Princess as they in turn sailed past our stretch of coast 🙂
It’s been a week of cricket! C started on Monday, looking very much the part in whites handed down (along with Trixie cat) by our friends who emigrated to Australia. Being on our own reminded J and I of our days before C left school. We played lots of games and looked forward to picking C up once we’d had enough of the peace!
After a day at our home-ed centre on Tuesday, J decided to join in the cricket on Wednesday and Thursday so I had two whole days to make a start on the decluttering I’d planned for next week while the children are at summer camp.
Plus lots of planning for the next school year which, inspired by all the wonderful homeschooling bloggers out there, is definitely my favourite pastime at the moment! I just need to work on that non-strong suit of mine – finishing, in this case ending up with something we can put into practice in our homeschool come September!
I had thought we’d carry on with our usual homeschooling routine (such as it is) over the summer, varying it only in that most of our group activities (drama, Beavers, home ed group etc) will stop for six weeks and C and J will be doing a couple of sports courses/summer-camps. Plus more long weekends and the odd week at the beach, of course. But now that old school-friends are on school holidays, it occurs to me that a change of pace will be good for all of us. Then when everyone else starts back at school in September we can take advantage of that back-to-school energy that will be everywhere around us to start afresh.
A few things I’m going to continue as normal: J has been really gaining momentum with his reading and handwriting so we’ll be carrying on with Handwriting Without Tears, Sound Phonics and reading from Reading Literature: First Reader, all of which take only a few minutes each day. We’ll put aside our Singapore Math textbooks but keep practising number facts with games and maybe read some Living Maths books together; we’ll save our new science curriculum, REAL Science: Life, Level 1, for September but have fun with The Ultimate Book Of Kid Concoctions. And of course we’ll continue to read aloud and listen to the wonderful living books none of us perceive as anything but pure enjoyment.
Meantime, the children are indulging in a Harry-Potter-fest! Having listened to The Prisoner Of Azkaban at the weekend, they went straight onto The Goblet Of Fire on Monday – all 17 CDs of it!! I seem to remember that the books get much darker as the series goes on, so I’ve suggested that the next one be read rather than listened to. Hopefully that will put a natural age restriction on the content!
I’ve been coming across the notion of workboxes on homeschooling blogs a fair bit lately. The idea is that you put each child’s work for the day in a dedicated box/crate/tray, so that everything’s there to efficiently work through during the day, variously with and without parental involvement. An optional extra seems to be little colour-coded laminated cards on treasury tags – I’m not totally sure where they fit in but it all seems to require a level of forward-planning and organisation I am neither capable of nor (fortunately) aspire to! Nothing against those for whom it is apparently a Godsend – I love the diversity among us weird and wonderful home-educating folk and I know from my therapist training that we all see and function in the world in different ways – but as I educate only two children in an eclectic Charlotte Mason style, we do many subjects altogether (the children working at their own levels when they do things like narration and creating notebook pages), so workboxes would probably take more time than they save.
However one nugget of gold from these workbox discussions has managed to work its way into my homeschooling routine. It sounds so blindingly obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to admit it … (drum roll please) … I now store all our current workbooks, manipulatives, living books etc in one box! One box I can bring over to the sofa in the evenings for the pleasant task of gathering resources and planning projects, one box I can pull up to the table after breakfast time – an easy aide-memoire and toolbox for fun days learning at home, and – best of all – one box I can pop in the back of the car when we leave for the coast, ready to be brought out on a Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday…) before, after (on?!) the beach. I love being a homeschooler! 🙂
Few things feel better than staying firmly connected to a sense of calm, happy wellbeing even in the face of other people’s grumpiness and circumstances that might, in less mellow moods, be stressful. That was me, today! And of course no one stayed grumpy around me for long. 🙂
We spent the day playing in the gorgeous sunshine at Legoland with my mum, sister and nephew S. It was FULL of people, the queues were HUGE, and C did NOT start out in a fun mood! But I somehow I felt great throughout it all, and of course the day got better and better.
We left Windsor at 5pm and drove to the coast through summer Friday rush-hour traffic, the journey an extra hour long thanks to vehicles exiting Goodwood’s Festival Of Speed (in my good humour I actually LAUGHED at the irony!) Inspired by our recent visit to see “We Will Rock You”, we listened to loud guitar rock the entire journey, and we laughed. And I basked. 🙂
This time a year ago as we wistfully left the beach on a Sunday afternoon, the sun still high in the sky, I looked forward to the time when C would be home educated alongside her brother and we would be free to stay and enjoy the beach for as long as we wanted, free of cares about Monday morning school runs.
I love it when a desire comes to fruition! Yesterday we played with our friends in the sunshine all day, had a leisurely supper on the balcony, and today enjoyed another beautiful day, the beach all to ourselves 🙂
A few months ago I wrote I love Thursdays! about a lovely day at home. Life has changed a lot since then (ever-expanding, in wonderful ways). We have a few extra regular activities – we’ve started going to a home ed centre (45 minutes drive away) one day a week, the kids have started French lessons on a Thursday morning, and we’re well into our summer habit of spending weekends at the coast All that travelling makes me sooo extra appreciative of our time at home!
Today has been a wonderful day that just worked. We did enough “educational” stuff to keep me happy – reading, handwriting, maths (not just one but two kinds! Singapore Maths, which we’re trying out as a core curriculum, plus Living Maths (we read How Did Numbers Begin and continued with The Great Number Rumble, and looked at some ancient number systems in Think Of A Number).
But there was also plenty of time for everyone to relax and take time out doing their own thing.
We honed our writers’ observation skills using all our senses describing cups of hot chocolate topped with fluffy pink marshmallows (something out of The Writers’ Jungle I’d had in mind for weeks) – some of my favourite descriptions were C’s “It’s like foam on a beach, glistening pink in the sunset” and J’s “I like the way it jiggles”:-). (Thanks, Gaynor, for introducing me to Brave Writer!)
All that makes it sound like we had a busy Monday, but we really didn’t. There was a wonderfully relaxing quality to our day, with plenty of room for the kind of spontaneity that is my absolute favourite part of home educating. An example – I’d loosely planned a science experiment continuing our recent fun with water.
But when J noticed “Seed Babies” on my iPad and asked me to read it, we found ourselves on a very pleasant bunny path culminating in seeds “planted” in jars with varying degrees of light and water – documented in a very scientific manner using these great free notebook pages 🙂
Grey skies and strong winds, plus a nasty calf sprain poor Big J suffered trying to keep up with the children at the park on Saturday, brought us back inland yesterday, so we’ve spent the second half of the bank holiday weekend at home. I had planned to use the rest of this week decluttering while the children are on a sports course but – yay – I got ahead of myself!
I am blessed with a wonderful room here all of my own. It has bookshelves, a desk, comfortable chairs, a little table, and beautiful curtains (I love the curtains. When they were first hung I renamed the room – formerly my “office” – “Mummy’s Parlour” 🙂 ) But … Mummy’s Parlour had begun to drown in paper. The desk, the stool, and a large proportion of the floor were covered in old bills, invoices, guarantees, swimming certificates, school photos (from Cordie’s nursery days – ahem) – you get the picture. I had found myself, lately, opening the door a crack, and lobbing in a bank statement before making a fast retreat, shutting the door tight behind me to stop anything escaping the kittens going in and having the time of their lives.
And now … it’s all put away [smug, happy grin].
Now, instead of avoiding my room, I can’t resist taking a peek every time I pass. Ahhhh. Bliss.