Category Archives: December

Ya Boo Sucks to the HE Unbelievers

One of the most useful things I’ve found about writing this blog is how it has helped me to gather my thoughts.  I find I have SO MUCH to think about that it’s a relief to get those thoughts out to stop them running round and round my head.

Another useful thing is that it’s a great record of what we’ve been doing.  Some days I feel as if we haven’t really done a lot but when I begin writing it down I realise how much we’ve done.  I don’t feel very busy most days, the pace of life compared to school days is incomparable: no early starts, stressful school runs or angry homework battles.  But looking back on our first 4 months in home school… we’ve been so busy!  But it’s not like ‘school-busy’: it’s fun-busy; exciting-busy; and happy-busy.

We started HE for 2 reasons: firstly, because M wasn’t interested in anything she was learning at her £10k a year school; and secondly, she was miserable there.  Given that both girls clamour to show off their work to anyone who walks through the door I think we can definitely say that both girls are engaged in their learning now.  As for the latter, M is 200% happier and calmer.  She wakes with a smile on her face rather than looking like an angry grump.  D no longer wakes with the question ‘is it a nursery day’ followed by tears.

For my own pleasure, I have trawled my posts and written down EVERYTHING we have covered since home-school officially started in September (we still use the term ‘home-school’ though I can see it is nothing like school as we know it).  I have to say it is an INCREDIBLE list, and I am feeling quite smug about it.  This is a ‘ya-boo-sucks’ to those teachers who said: ‘but you’re not a teacher, ARE YOU?!!!’; ‘Oh your poor children: they really need to be socialised’; and not forgetting the corker ‘but she’ll [M] be missing out on debating skills in Y6’…

  • English: Reading, Reading Eggs, Junior Scrabble, crosswords, word search, letter writing, library Summer Reading Challenge, handwriting skills, verbs, nouns, adjectives, antonyms, compound words, poetry, using a dictionary, alphabetising words and writing book reviews.
  • Science: colours/mixing colours, sundials, cooking using the sun, structures, cooking, leaf identification, Butterfly iDial, growing a courgette, germs on hands, digestive system/body organs, how lungs work, how your diaphragm works, gloop, bubbles, nutrition, making butter, solar system, and the weather.
  • Maths: Mathletics Year 2 completed, Numberjacks Mission to Learn, Numberjacks CBeebies Programme, 2D/3D shapes, times tables, Arithmasticks, addition & subtraction, division & multiplication, bar charts and tallies, counting to 100 and beyond, reading the time (analogue and digital) and regrouping/borrowing.
  • P.E.: trampolining, judo, swimming, cycling, ice skating, dancing, gymnastics, climbing trees, parks and walks.
  • Art/Creative/DT: watercolour, oil pastels, poster paints, Klee, Mondrian, using shapes in pictures, cross-stitch, collage, junk modelling, air drying clay modelling, rangoli patterns, tessellating patterns, making a pulley and marble run.
  • Music: Peter & The Wolf, The Nutcracker and Melody CBeebies Programme.
  • Day trips: Wollaton Hall, (Nottingham) Newstead Abbey (Nottingham), Kensington Gardens (London), Kew Gardens (London), Wimbledon Common (London), Cutty Sark (London) and Painshill Park (Surrey).
  • R.E.: Diwali
  • ICT: LightBot (programming), Mathletics, Reading Eggs, Leapfrog computer games, Use of various Android tablet painting/drawing apps
  • History/Geography: staircase historical timeline, map reading, map making, India, passports including flags of countries we’ve learnt about
  • Games: chess, pirate ships and ship wrecks, travelling the world on a raft with a globe, spies, Lego, schools, Snakes and Ladders, shops, dolls, Connect 4 and jigsaws
  • Life skills: tying shoe laces, telling the time, doing up zips
  • Clubs: social groups once/twice a week, judo, swimming, nature club, and chess
  • Random conversations: death and inheritance, theft, fences and prisons, viruses, supply and demand, slavery, contracts and rental agreements

I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring!

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Do we have an official Christmas holiday?

For the last few days I’ve been ruminating on what to do over the Christmas holidays.  Do we stop all structure in imitation of a school term?  Or do we carry on as we are, with some semblance of structure?

Our natural rhythms appear to have answered this for me, because even though we live life at what I consider to be a gentle pace, it seems that actually it may not be so gentle after all: M is so tired she can barely manage simple addition in Mathletics; and I for one don’t have any mental space beyond making dinner and hanging the washing up.

Out of all of us, D leads the most simple life and probably spends 90% of her day playing.  Not that she isn’t learning anything, but she certainly doesn’t do as much formal learning as M (which is how it should be considering her age!).

Consequently, M and I are very ready for a holiday, while D has bags of energy.  She is desperate to do Reading Eggs and has to be coaxed off in order to give her brain a rest.  With this in mind I’ve resolved to take the holidays as they come.  If they want to do formal work, they can, if they want to watch Tinkerbell all day, they can.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that you don’t really ‘holiday’ from home education because learning is everywhere, but this Christmas we will be at my parents’ in Nottingham for 2 weeks and so for us it will be a break from the norm.  Knowing the sausages, they will be learning in every which way: they are unstoppable.

Here are a few snapshots of what we’ve been up to today in Nottingham:

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There’s been a long game of chess this afternoon which, according to Granddad, is “very tense”. M didn’t seem in the least bit perturbed though.  Granddad has asked to continue the game in the morning, ha ha.  Watch this space to see if he will be beaten by a 6 year old…

Yesterday, Tolworth Roundabout. Today, The Shard!

So today found us in a much more sophisticated environment – we went for a meal in The Shard!  For those who don’t know, The Shard is currently the highest skyscraper in the EU with 87 floors.

We went to the Aqua Shard restaurant on the 31st floor, and even from there the views were incredible.  The food and the service were nothing to write home about but J wanted to give the girls a proper grown-up dining experience, which he succeeded in doing.  And we all admired the views.  Well, I say ‘all’, but J has vertigo.  Why you would book a restaurant on the 31st floor if you have vertigo beats me…

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I am happy to say the girls are becoming seasoned Londoners: tackling the crowds and the long tube journeys with ease.  They recognised quite a few sights from The Shard such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral.  Next job for me is to get them fitter so we can do MORE visits to London!

An ‘Exciting’ Visit to a Roundabout

D has been longing to visit Tolworth roundabout for ages.  Yes, really.  We drive through it every week on the way to our Thursday group.  They’ve recently redeveloped it with trees, fencing and stripey pathways which is probably why D was attracted to it.  I needed to pick up a bit of food to see us through until we leave for Nottingham on Thursday so I suggested that we visit Tolworth roundabout while we’re out.

So the girls had a quick run around on the stripey pathways, marvelled at the fact that they were walking under a road in the subway and held their noses at all the delightful smells which came our way.  Bizarrely, they actually seemed to enjoy the trip!!

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We’ve had a very lazy few days as the girls are still recovering from a very full on Friday at a friend’s birthday party and then a very late night celebrating their Nanny & Granddad’s wedding anniversary at a restaurant.

Mentally, I’m done.  I am ready for the Christmas holidays!  For the next few days I will be packing and sorting until we hit the road on Thursday.  I don’t have the brain power to think about projects or anything.  I just want to sit down with a glass of ginger wine and watch a movie.  However, we have got one more VERY exciting trip before we leave, I will leave you on tenterhooks until tomorrow…

One last thing, here is a picture of the Christmas lanterns the girls made the other day.  Gorgeous, aren’t they?

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Painshill Park

Just a short post to say we had a lovely time at Painshill Park today.  The fog made it beautifully atmospheric.  We went on a hunt for Santa’s Grotto, which was led by a mad elf.

After all the walking, the girls were too cold and tired to continue after lunch so we went home, drank some hot chocolate and then headed out to swimming lessons.

Little things:

After reading a Wonderwise book in bed tonight, D told me that she would like to have seen a dinosaur rotting underground.

Maths with ‘Hen-Peas’ and Lego

Hi all, another Christmassy day to day!  The girls were taken by their Aunt Sh to a Santa show at Wimbledon Theatre this afternoon as an early Christmas present so I got a few hours to do sneaky Christmas things while the sausages weren’t around.

Knowing that they would be occupied for the afternoon, we got some maths done this morning.  M came unstuck when she tried to do some subtraction using numbers to 20 in Mathletics so I got her going on a few simple sums in her maths book.  This led on to teaching her ‘regrouping’, or ‘carrying over’ as it was called in my day.  I did show her this a few months ago but she seemed to have forgotten!  I got the Lego out and we went through it a few times and after a while she seemed to grasp it.  She insisted on trying one herself and then had a strop because she couldn’t do it.  Ho hum.  I’ll try again in a few days…

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Meanwhile, D has been desperate (!) to do some work on times-tables so I got her going on the whole concept of multiplication today and she really enjoyed working the sums out using chick-peas (which she rather cutely mis-named hen-peas).

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A lot more Lego was played today.  There was quite a silly argument and a fall-out between the girls over the Lego school M has built.  I refused to get involved as the girls are pretty good at sorting themselves out.  It ended up with D sobbing in bed upstairs so M (off her own back) wrote a very sweet note to her which said ‘I’m very sory’ and they came downstairs the best of friends again.

After dinner tonight the girls made a Christmas lantern, I’ll post a picture of them tomorrow when they’re dry.

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We read another Wonderwise book at bedtime today called ‘What’s Under the Bed?.  It has so much information in it but is presented in such a friendly way that it seems more like a little story.  The book went down really well with both girls, M said she would love to go fossil hunting and D loved looking at the picture of tree roots.  It never ceases to amaze me how keen they are to learn!

Little things:

Aunty Sh told me today that when she takes the girls out she gets lots of compliments about how well behaved they are.  I’m well aware of how excellent they’re behaviour is but it’s lovely to hear from someone else!