It’s been a while since I posted anything about what we are up to with our schoolin’, which is odd given how much of our time it takes up and how much of my thinking it takes up! I spent a great deal of the Christmas holidays planning our relaunch into homeschool in the new year. Though we had managed to keep up with things over the summer and through the autumn it was patchier than I was happy with and constantly under threat from the business of our lives. What with building a house, packing, moving, settling in and generally wishing for a small hole and a pillow to hibernate on, it was never a stress free process.
But no longer! I can honestly say that since we started up again in the new year things have been very different. There have been lots of contributing factors one being Neirin attending preschool a couple of mornings a week, giving me a 2 hour window to work 1-1 with Huwyl, this works really well for us. I’ve also narrowed down my focus on the kind of work we are going to do this year using the Ambleside Online book list as a basis for our curriculum. I’m not using their week to week plan and there are elements that I am leaving out (bible study and books based on overt Christian teachings) but the suggestions for wider reading and history stories (50 famous stories retold and Viking Tales) are complementing our existing books really well.
So this is what our week is looking like:
Monday: Phonics (we are using Explode the Code and Huwyl is on book 2), History with Story of the World followed by SOTW activity book activity, stories from 50 Famous Stories Retold and some Maths games on the computer.
Tuesday: Music Lesson in the morning followed by errands. In the afternoon we do some phonics and Artistic Pursuits, a great art history and practical art curriculum.
Wednesday: Social time with friends (often a ‘field trip’ or activity) some phonics and a science experiment. At the moment we are using a science kit Huwyl got for Christmas and then we are moving on to RSO Earth.
Thursday: Phonics, 50 famous stories, Aesop’s fables (we are using the lapbooks at homeschool share as extension activities) and Math games/activities. We have a Math Mammoth curriculum but I am trying to vary our experience too with some Living Maths elements and games.
Friday: Free day! Crafts, play dates, fun movie…whatever suits us on the day.
In addition to all this Huwyl does Music practice every day as well as some household chores, the rest of the time is for play.
This rhythm has taken me quite a while to find and I try to be realistic about what can be achieved, after all Huwyl is only 6! The days where Neirin is at preschool are our more ‘intensive’ days, but even then I am aiming to keep us moving, bearing in mind the recommendation from Charlotte Mason that a child of this age should only be working for 10 minutes or so per subject. We don’t stick to that but I think it is a useful guideline to remember when considering what a child can cope with and how much to expect.
Using some of the classical resources such as SOTW and the First Language Lessons (we are returning to then when we’ve finished Explode the Code), as well as the picture study and practical elements of Artistic Pursuits and Explode the Code, fits in really well with the Charlotte Mason methodology of using narration as a learning tool, especially before the age of 10. Huwyl has a phenomenal memory for stories, poems, anything he has heard really so narration is perfect for him. He does some writing with Explode the Code (2-4 pages a day is our current goal) so I am happy for him to answer most questions verbally. Penmanship is something we can develop a bit more next year and my feeling is that until he is 8 or so it will be a bit shaky!
Sometimes I worry that we are not ‘doing enough’ or that he isn’t writing enough, reading enough etc etc. I know this is natural but I remind myself of what we are doing. He is being exposed to art and art history, to ancient history and the great tales of Britain, we are exploring science, working on our own crafts, he’s learning to write and enjoys reading whatever he sees around him. I’m not sure what he would be doing in school but I feel that the developmental path he is on now is one natural to him. He’s allowed to work in ways that work with his natural tendencies rather than having to conform to a standard that may not suit.
Our story reading time doubles up as snuggle time on the sofa, maths can be about movement as well as numbers, if it is a glorious day outside he can have more time to play in the snow and ice. I feel that he is experiencing a very ‘free’ education; not one devoid of work or effort but one designed for him and, in some ways, by him. As well as developing core skills I really want the boys to be aware of how much wonder there is in the world, how many great things there are to see and do. To have an overview of the world not a blinkered one.
I’m sure this rhythm will change again, as the season changes as our needs change. But for now this is working really well and I so enjoy the time we have, working together on projects, reading stories and even posing for my very own portrait! What could be better?