Friday, 26 May 2017

Friday Reflections - 57

Last Saturday, as planned, I took my daughter to parkrun. It was hard work for her, but she kept on running for the whole 5km, and was delighted to have managed it. She's been counting down the days until the next run (tomorrow)!

Post-Running Photo

Beautiful sunshine, half term approaching, the summer holidays in sight; all this seems to make everything feel a little less fraught - some of the time. The children all seem to be at about the stage I'd like them to be at at this time of year, so we should be able to finish steadily rather than in a rush.

We've been in the garden more, and enjoyed our walks together.

Some Unusual Statues

Bubbles in the Rose Garden

More Statues...

Cuddles with the Guinea Pigs

Today we met for our home education group. We were looking at Chile, and we made bubble wands from copper wire since copper is the main export of Chile. A little tenuous, but great fun to make, and we had the perfect weather to try them out in the church garden at the end of our session. I was pleased that they worked!

Bubble Wands made from Copper Wire

Next week, we are swapping houses with some friends who live in the North East of England, so we eagerly anticipating a week away with all sorts of trips out planned. A break from routine and from lessons will be welcomed by us all.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Friday Reflections - 56

Last weekend, the children put up their tent in the garden for the first time this year. They have spent much of their break times - rain or shine - in there with books or games. It has made for a quiet house at times!

We met with friends for running again, which went down well with my 5 year old daughter and my 9 year old son. They both managed further than last time, as did their friend who ran with us, but my daughter excelled herself by managing to run (without either walking or stopping!) a full 5K. Tomorrow I plan take her along to Parkrun for the first time, something she has been very keen to try.

My 5 year old and me after our run.

We have also managed to fit in one or two activities that have been squeezed out for various reasons over the last couple of weeks. One was a Nature Walk, searching for ants and drawing them.

Looking for ants.

Drawing ants.

My 11 Year Old's Drawing

Michael also taught a couple of science lessons, including one on convection currents using a pan of water balanced over our hob, some ice, and some food dye.

Convection Currents Experiment

The Food Dye Shows the Currents

Other highlights of the week included my daughter slipping on a banana skin (yes, really - she was utterly thrilled!), and my 8 year old moving onto a new maths book (he's very happy). Both of these events seemed very significant to my two youngest children!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Friday Reflections - 55

This week has meant the children enjoying some of their favourite activities - cooking, reading, park trips, and a birthday.

We began with our church lunch on Sunday, and my younger two decided to cook this time round. My daughter made chocolate orange cookies, while my youngest son made a lemon cheesecake.

Making Cookies

As well as our usual walks this week, we also met up with some friends in the park so that I could run with any of the children who were keen to do so. My 9 year old and 5 year old had a go as well as one of their friends - and we hope to try to run regularly together.

Our home education group met today, and we were looking at Peru. My youngest two were working together on a presentation, and they did a pretty good job. We did a little weaving, and made guinea pigs models out of fondant icing (so we could eat them!).

Simple Weaving

My 5 Year Old's Weaving

Edible Guinea Pigs

My 7 year old turned 8 this week. He has been so excited about his birthday this year - and he had a lovely day. Pancakes for breakfast, a dinosaur birthday cake, and a friend coming round for tea were highlights - as well as his presents, of course.

Opening the gift from his siblings - model guinea pigs in a hutch.

Birthday Boy and Birthday Lego

For me, of course, his birthday means remembering when he was born. My 8 year old was born on the day of my Grandad's funeral, which made for a very emotional day. I attended the funeral 6 days overdue in a difficult pregnancy (due to pelvic pain). I somehow dragged myself around on crutches while in early labour, then went home and had a baby later that evening! I'm glad I went, though.

My Grandad was a godly and kind man whose faith in Jesus was clearly central to his life, and remembering the day when my son was born reminds me of him; not so much of my sadness at his death, but all the good memories of his life. I especially remember going to stay with my Granny and Grandad a couple of times as a student when Cambridge life was a little overwhelming, and seeing for the first time the habit that my grandparents had of sitting and praying together for their children and grandchildren before turning in for the night. It was moving then, and is how I remember my Grandad now: quietly caring, godly, and faithful.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Friday Reflections - 54

We decided to make the most of a bonus family day on the bank holiday last Monday, and headed off for a walk along the Thames including a ride in the cable cars over the river. It didn't go quite as planned; one child was too scared to go on the cable cars so I took him under the river on the tube instead, then we got caught in a very heavy rain shower on a section of the path where there was nowhere to shelter. We don't normally mind rain, but we were less prepared than usual and it was a bit miserable for a few minutes! However, we still enjoyed most of our walk, and a trip to McDonald's on the way home warmed us and cheered us after we all got soaked.

A View from the Cable Cars

Smiles before the Rain

The rest of the week has been busy with our work, with a few walks and activities along the way. We have been in South and Central America for our history this week, and we had fun using the Mayan number system as part of this.

Mayan Numbers

One of our regular walks takes us through a small wood, which is an especially lovely place to walk at the moment.


Next week, we have our first birthday of the year when my 7 year old turns 8. He's anticipating his birthday with much excitement, including a request for pancakes for breakfast, and being allowed to help make his own cake. The other children have been working hard making presents for him, so we are all looking forward to the celebrations.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Day-to-Day Life - Home Education in Pictures

Often I am asked what a normal day is like for us. We have a fairly structured approach to home education, but this still leaves plenty of time for all kinds of fun.

In photos, here are some of the typical activities you might see in our day to day lives:

1) A Day Plan. The diary comes out at the beginning of the day as everyone likes to know how much we are hoping to get done. Ticking items off is very satisfying.

My Home Education Planning Diary

2) Book Work. This is my marking box at the end of a day's work - they manage to get plenty done, and this takes up the largest amount of time in any given day. This isn't all the work they do as some things just need looking over as they do them.

A Full Marking Box

3) Cuddling Pets. The hamster is out most of the day, keeping my eldest company while he works. The guinea pigs are outside at this time of year, but still receive plenty of cuddles.

My 11 Year Old with his Hamster

4) Cooking. Not every day - no one could manage that much cake - but baking is a very popular activity.

My 9 Year Old and a Cake He Made

Baking Fun

5) Board Games. The children often get board games out to play together. Even the 5 year old is remarkably competent and even beats her brothers at times. I've written here and here about some of our favourite games.

Ticket to Ride

6) Hands-on Learning. Usually this happens in science or history, where the curriculum has good ideas for activities (so I don't have to think of any!). 

Science - Learning about Friction

Practising Mayan Numbers for History

7) Mess. Mud or paint or glue or cake mix everywhere. Or, on one unfortunate occasion recently, pictures in permanent marker drawn on arms. 

A Particularly Sandy Trip to the Park

8) Multi-tasking. My recipe book stand often has a child's text book on so that I can teach and cook at the same time. With 4 children all working at the same time, I'm often needed all over the place at once. Sometimes I can deploy children to help each other for a while, or arrange the work so that I can help one at a time, but often it is an opportunity for children to learn patience.

Ironing and Teaching Spelling

9) Day Trips. Again, not every day or every week, but we often make trips to museums or other places of interest as an important supplement to our learning. We make the most of being able to make visits during term time when places are often a little quieter.

British Museum Trip

10) Books. We all love to read - which is a real delight to me. It is rare that we go anywhere without at least some children taking a book in readiness for a quiet moment. I also set a wide range of books for the children, and spend the first chunk of time after breakfast reading aloud. This is a very popular bit of the day.

Books at the Park

11) Outdoors. We aim to go for a walk daily. Sometimes this is just a trip to the local playground, sometimes a longer nature walk. Even when we are all a bit tired, it lifts us all a bit to get some fresh air.

A Walk in our Local Park

12) Bible. God's Word is at the heart of what we aim to do in our family - from morning devotions over breakfast to conversations in the park, from formal sessions during our home education day to Bible reading at bed time. 

Psalm 1 Picture