Pages

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Year 1 - The Plan

My daughter has only just turned 5, so I am not especially worried about pushing her too hard academically at the moment. If she were in school, she would be in Year 1 (and probably the youngest in her year), but my plan for her is based on what I think she is ready for rather than what she "should" be doing.

Here's the plan:

Bible:

Bible Time. I plan to start working through the Bible with her, along with her 7 year old brother.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast. We have also started reading through the Bible with her 1 chapter a night since she turned 5. At the moment, we are reading through Mark's gospel.

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children, and here for how we read through the whole Bible with each of our children.)

English:

All About Reading Level 1
(All About Spelling, once All About Reading Level 1 has been completed)
Handwriting

I have written about All About Reading and All About Spelling here.

Maths:

Singapore Maths 1A
Mental Maths

History:

The Story of the World 2 - The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance

(I have written about this curriculum here)

Art

An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.

Science

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol.1 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children (New for this year.)

Year 1 Books

This is not a huge step up from last year, though I plan to try to work on reading for a little longer at a time as she seems ready. She will still have plenty of time for playing, listening to stories, and messing about in the garden.

Monday, 29 August 2016

September Wobbles

Today I found myself worrying that our planned trip to Legoland with the children clashed with the harvest moon this year. Seriously. I'm always a bit on edge as the new academic year draws near - so much to do and to plan and to arrange - but I realised that this was verging on the ridiculous!

I have spent much of the summer break planning, cleaning, sorting, and preparing for the year ahead. I think  we are ready - but there are so many different areas of life that I am trying to hold together that my mind is constantly flitting from one thing to another that I need to be organising or arranging.

What's on my mind?

How we structure our days.

How I will fit in the new subjects I've added for this year.

A new book group for younger children that I'm going to run.

Diary planning; already I am booking in visits, activities, days out for the whole term - and its a little overwhelming.

Making sure I keep up with my marking better this year.

Above all, I know just how hectic life will become over the next couple of weeks. Our evenings will once again be filled with Bible studies and prayer meetings. The days will be filled with teaching and trips out. Even our Saturdays are getting booked up quickly.

I feel like I am just about holding everything together, and that if I lose concentration for a moment, it will all come crashing down!

In truth, I know that my worries are misplaced, and not just because I have planned well. When I focus on the structures and lists and making sure that I am in control, I lose focus on the key things - my relationship with my children, with my husband, and, above all, with the Lord.

The reality is that this means slowing down a little to listen to a child, read them a story that isn't on the plan for the day, pray with them; it means taking time to chat to my husband, not just put dates in the diary together; it means making sure I start the day in my Bible, not in a fluster of activity to make sure that we start off on track for the day.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Friday Reflections - 18

This week, my daughter turned 5. When asked how she wanted to celebrate her birthday this year, she said that she would like to go to the beach, and that she would like to get a new spade. So that's what we did! The hot weather this week meant that a beach trip worked brilliantly, with sandcastles, swimming in the sea, crabbing, ice creams - and a bit of reading too.

The Girl with her Spade

Books on the Beach

Crabbing

Playing in the Sea

Since she is now 5, we have also begun reading through the Bible with our daughter. She was really excited about this, which was good to see.

We also enjoyed watching the first episode of the Great British Bake Off together (except for our 5 year old - she needs to be in bed). As last year, I am allowing the children to bake something for each week. This time my 7 year old (who was too young to stay up with us last year) made cupcakes for us to enjoy.

Cupcakes for Bake Off

The rest of the week, we have mainly been decorating the boys' bedroom. The children have managed to keep themselves occupied pretty well while I have painted and painted. The carpet will be fitted tomorrow, and we hope to move the boys out of the spare room and back into their own bedroom tomorrow afternoon.

While I have painted, the children have been reading, making PowerPoint presentations (mainly about Star Wars), drawing, playing games, and, this morning, decorating the entire house with socks! Perhaps it is good that we get back to the books in a week.

Bananas Wearing Socks!!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Year 3 - The Plan

My 7 year old would be in Year 3 if he went to school. Remarkably able at maths, but having had significant speech issues (pretty much speaking clearly all the time now, though), my third child benefits from having a curriculum that both enables him to be stretched where he needs to be, and to have additional help where he needs it too.

Here is what I have planned for the coming year:

Bible:

XTB Bible notes.

Bible Time. I plan to start working through the Bible with him and his younger sister, as I have with my older two.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast. We are also reading through the Bible with him 1 chapter a night. At the moment, we are reading through Isaiah with him.

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children, and here for how we read through the whole Bible with each of our children.)

English:

Rod & Staff Building Christian English 3, Beginning Wisely
Writing with Ease 1
Set Reading
All About Reading Level 4
All About Spelling (I have written about All About Reading and All About Spelling here.)

Maths:

Singapore Maths 3B
Beast Academy
MathsWhizz (until his subscription runs out - he's ready to move on now, really)
Mental Maths

History:

The Story of the World 2 - The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance

(I have written about this curriculum here)


IT

Programming (Code.org)
Touch typing

Art

An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.

Science

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol.1 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children (New for this year.)

Books for Year 3

This is the formal work I have planned. In addition, there is our home education group where we are focusing on different countries (geography!), trips out to museums and other places of interest, and swimming lessons.

This will be quite a step up for him from last year, but I think he's ready to do more. His reading has improved dramatically over the last year, so we will have finished the All About Reading series by the end of the first term if all goes well, which will take the pressure off in his English. Beast Academy is a new addition, which I think will enable him to take the maths he's already doing a little further. He's very excited about extra maths!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Painting & Parenting - The Boring Bits

Today I began painting our boys' bedroom. A new carpet is being fitted next Saturday morning, so we need to finish this week. The disruption caused by moving 3 boys out of their bedroom along with almost all their stuff is also something that I'm looking forward to coming to an end fairly swiftly.

As I was painting skirting boards, for a number of hours, I was thinking about how decorating has so many dull tasks that need to be done before the fun stuff can begin. Sticking down masking tape, hoovering up dust, shifting furniture, painting skirting boards all have to be completed before walls can be painted and IKEA furniture constructed (my favourite job).

My life, focused as it is on raising and teaching our children and running our home, feels a lot like this. Much of the time is spent doing repetitive but vital tasks. Saying "no" and meaning it. Teaching a child how to do up a zip or squeeze toothpaste out of a nearly empty tube. Cleaning up cuts and breaking up arguments. Helping a child who has always struggled to get to sleep quickly. Praying with a sad or hurt or anxious or repentant child. Admiring pictures or listening to descriptions of Minecraft creations. Reading the Bible. Teaching a little one to listen when we pray. Saying sorry when I mess it all up (again).

The high points happen because of the unseen hours of labour. I don't mean exam results or getting married or having a great career (these are way off for us anyway). I'm thinking of when a child suddenly shows growth of character, or that they have won a victory against a particular sin that they have been struggling with. I mean when a child tackles a difficult task and perseveres, or shows a love of reading or maths or art for its own sake. The (many) days when all four children play together peacefully, with the older ones enabling the younger ones to join in by adapting their play are wonderful to see. When I see them mature in love or in faith - though they, like me, often slip up again - I thank God for the work he does in their lives.

Being a parent is an amazing privilege, which brings many joys. Our children are a blessing, and we thank God for them. The day-to-day reality of bringing up our children, and of home education too, is often doing many unseen, unnoticed and menial tasks. Often it is tempting to look for easier ways - to give in to moaning or skip a Bible time because bedtime is running late, or to do every day tasks for our children rather than to train them to do them. If we avoid the mundane or squeeze out the basics, however, we can't expect to see the good stuff too. I know - I've tried at times! If I'm stricter, my children are happier. If I take time to listen to them and to hear their concerns, I'm better able to encourage and help them. When I take time over reading the Bible and don't rush, then I have better conversations with the children about what we have read.

Doing the day-to-day everyday aspects of raising children is where the real work happens. It is here that our relationships with our children grow as we help them in their struggles, and where we can point them to Christ, not just at Bible times, but after arguments or while eating ice cream or when they are sitting in the bathtub.



Friday, 19 August 2016

Friday Reflections - 17

The Peach family have had a full week, with a mixture of days out, friends visiting and holiday club at the end of the week.

Last Saturday, we visited London Zoo for the day. Michael's parents were visiting, and we all enjoyed having them with us. The highlight of the trip was seeing one of the baby tigers, though butterflies, penguins, lemurs and giraffes were all great fun too.

A Lemur

Baby Tiger

Giraffe

I also took the children to Eastbourne for the day, where we met my aunt and spent the day with her on the beach.The weather was glorious, and the children loved having a chance to play in the sea.

Perfect Day for the Beach

My eldest brought his kite, and there was just enough wind for that to work well too. We finished up with a walk to the end of the pier and back before catching the train home.

Kite Flying

Walking Down the Pier

The children have been reading a great deal this week too, including making the most of the train journey to Eastbourne and back. I was running out of book ideas for my eldest, but an appeal on Facebook yielded many great suggestions, including a series of books by Simon Mayo which combine adventure and chemistry (according to my eldest). The first book is called Itch, and they have inspired my son further in his enthusiasm for science. He's been studying the periodic table in our science encyclopedia, and begun a collection of elements.

All this reading has meant that the children have finished their Summer Reading Challenge - with two weeks to spare. They've done well, and have been rewarded with gold award prizes, and with an optional extra challenge for a platinum award - a further 10 books for my eldest, 7 books for my 9 year old, 4 books for my 7 year old, and 8 books (to be read aloud to her) for my youngest. We stressed that this was optional (desperate not to be too pushy) but they were all very excited about it.

Summer Reading Challenge Completed
My eldest has also recently become friends with another boy who shares his science interests. When this new friend visited this week, we allowed them to take apart an old laptop which was festering in the garage. They were eagerly watched and egged on by my other children too. They were keen to identify all sorts of parts, and my eldest wanted to add silicon to his collection of elements. Much fun was had, and my son now wants the motherboard that he removed displayed on the wall by his desk!

Dismantling an Old Laptop

One Very Happy Boy!

In the midst of all this activity, I have been trying to bring order and cleanliness to my kitchen. The oven has been cleaned, my stock cupboard has been reorganised, and all the other cupboards have been cleaned out too. Although these are mundane chores in many ways, it just helps life to run a little smoother if I can quickly and easily find what I need in my kitchen cupboards.

The week has ended with two days of holiday club at church. Crafts and Bible studies and activities have been planned and carried out, and we have had the opportunity to teach children about true treasure that lasts forever - knowing Jesus. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Year 5 - The Plan

My 9 year old would be in Year 5 if he went to school. Here is what I have planned for the coming year:

Bible:

XTB Bible notes.

Bible Time. We have been working through the Bible in chunks. We are part-way through the Psalms at the moment, and will continue from where we left off.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast. He is also reading through the Bible on his own, working through different books at a time.

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children.)

English:

Spelling Workout E
Rod & Staff Building Christian English 5, Following the Plan
Writing with Ease 3
Set Reading
All About Spelling (I have written about this here.)

Some of our Year 5 Books

Maths:

Singapore Maths 5A
Mental Maths

History:

The Story of the World 2 - The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance

(I have written about this curriculum here)

Latin:

Latin Prep Book 1 (continued)

IT

Programming (Code.org)
Touch typing

Art

An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.

Science

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. 2 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children (New for this year.)

Music:

Piano

This is the formal work I have planned. In addition, there is our home education group where we are focusing on different countries (geography!), trips out to museums and other places of interest, archaeology club, swimming lessons, and a wide range of reading on many different subjects.

We still have a couple of weeks left before we begin again, but it is satisfying to have the books lined up and ready to go.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Friday Reflections - 16

This week my daughter has been having swimming lessons daily. Largely this is due to the fact that we have been unable to get her into any of the weekly classes as they are oversubscribed. Since I have needed to be at the swimming pool mid morning Monday to Friday, we have, by necessity had a quieter week. She has really enjoyed her lessons, though, and I hope that at some point she will be able to have regular sessions.

One big plus of having my husband working from home is that I haven't had to drag all 4 children to the swimming pool each day. I have taken one boy along each day so that there are only 2 left at home. If there are only 2, they are almost guaranteed to play happily for the whole time I am out, whereas leaving 3 is more likely to mean that my husband is interrupted! My 9 year old and 7 year old have enjoyed trips to the library (next door to the pool), while my 10 year old has been able to go swimming himself in the main pool since he is confident swimmer now and can go unaccompanied.

Otherwise, the children have continued to read, with all 4 of them now having completed their silver awards. We are in danger of running out of books for my eldest soon...and I need to think of a small prize for the gold awards imminently!

I have been continuing with my reading too. In particular, I have read A New Name by Emma Scrivener, which was a beautifully written, honest, Jesus-focused, gospel-centred description of the author's experience of suffering from anorexia.

I have also been busy clearing and cleaning our home education room/dining room. I've removed some clutter and ordered new pens and art materials for next year, and it is looking much better. We've still a few weeks to go til we're back at work, but it is satisfying to see the books and materials neatly on the shelves (for now!).

At present, Michael's parents are staying with us for a few days. We went to a local park for a picnic today, where we met up with a couple of other families from our home education group. Tomorrow we will all go to London Zoo for the day, which children and adults alike are eagerly anticipating.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Year 6 - The Plan

We are about half way through our summer break, and although I am nowhere near half way through my list of jobs, I have managed to buy most of my curriculum for next year. Perhaps this is because ordering books is more fun than cleaning out the fridge.

Year 6 Books - Ready for Use

Planning for my eldest is relatively straightforward. Usually this has meant getting the next book on from last year, though there are some changes and some additions too. Here's the plan:

Bible:

Discover Bible notes.

Bible Time; We have been working through the Bible in chunks. We are part-way through the Psalms at the moment, and will continue from where we left off.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast. My eldest is also reading through the Bible on his own, 1 chapter a night (he's currently reading through Ezekiel).

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children.)

English:

Spelling Workout H
Rod & Staff Building Christian English 7, Building Securely
Writing with Skill 1
Set Reading

Maths:

Singapore Maths 6A
Mental Maths

History:

The Story of the World 2 - The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance

(I have written about this curriculum here)

Latin:

Latin Prep Book 2 (continued)

Classical Greek

An Introduction to Classical Greek (Initially just weekly, though I plan to build in more as the year progresses)

IT

Programming (Code.org)
Touch typing

Art

An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.

Science

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. 2 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children (New for this year.)

Music:

Piano

This is the formal work I have planned. In addition, there is our home education group where we are focusing on different countries (geography!), trips out to museums and other places of interest, archaeology club, swimming lessons, and a wide range of reading on many different subjects.

Of course, this is just a plan, and no doubt I will have to make some adjustments over the year. I find it helpful to know where we are at least starting from, though. Plus, new books neatly arranged ready for the new academic year make me happy!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Friday Reflections - 15

We have spent this last week in Keswick in the Lake District, where we have been to the Keswick Convention once again.

Last Saturday, we climbed Skiddaw together. We always stay in Keswick with another family, and their 9 year old was also keen to climb, so we had an extra child with us too. We chose Saturday as the forecast was reasonable, and we had the whole day free before the morning meetings began, but we ended up in the cloud at the top, and it was pretty windy, wet and cold! Nonetheless, everyone managed to make it to the top, mostly cheerfully, and there was still a great sense of achievement.


The Top of Skiddaw

As usual, we had more than one chance to play in the lake. The children colonised an "island" (a clump of rocks just in the lake) and had great fun defending it.

Later in the week, we climbed Catbells together. Climbing this small mountain is a yearly tradition which we all look forward to. The weather was perfect, and we had spectacular views. There is a bit of scrambling involved, which the children all particularly enjoy. This year, I took my eldest and a friend on a little further to the next crag after the peak of Catbells. If we'd had more time, we may have walked on, but instead we turned back on ourselves, and managed to catch up with the rest of the party who had made a more leisurely descent.

Climbing Catbells

The Top of Catbells

Beyond Catbells!

Unfortunately, two of my children (the youngest and the eldest) ended up ill during the week, with some sort of virus. Each spent a day in bed (one after the other) with a nasty temperature. The youngest slept with short breaks for Calpol for about 20 hours; the eldest was in bed for a similar length of time, and watched 3 films, played on the kindle fire, and (when almost better but still in bed) finished reading David Copperfield. No one else fell ill, though, and although both children missed a day of activities, it felt like a blip in a good week, not like it spoiled our holiday.

While my eldest was ill I stayed behind while the rest of the household went on the Keswick launch across the lake. They engaged in our now traditional activity of dam building there.


Dam Building

We had also squeezed in a bit of dam building earlier in the week, so my eldest had a chance to build a dam too.

More Dam Building

The 3 boys also had a go at a climbing wall which is often set up in the centre of Keswick. £2 for two climbs makes this a fairly inexpensive treat. The two older boys climbed to the top. The 7 year old didn't get high, but he was very determined to keep trying, and enjoyed himself!

Climbing Wall

A Determined Climber

Nearly at the Top

Our main reason for heading to Keswick, however, is so that we can benefit from the Bible teaching throughout the week. This week, the main Bible readings were from Isaiah, and were very helpful, Christ focused, and encouraging. The children were all studying Isaiah in their groups too, and had a fantastic time. They look forward to these groups all year, and come home full of all that they have learned and all the activities they have enjoyed.

During our long car journey home, amidst some grumpiness with 4 tired, hot children in a car for a number of hours, we also had a lovely long chat about prophecy in the Bible inspired by all the teaching in Keswick. We pray that what we and our children have been learning this week in Keswick will bear fruit in our lives as we grow in knowledge of Jesus.