Home Education Day in the Life 2018 with a 9 yr old, a 7 yr old and a 4 yr old

Right now we are in the middle of building work and that affects a lot of the things that are going on around here. But let’s jump in where we are.

My alarm goes off at 6.15 however let’s not kid ourselves – it’s cold out there, so I stay snuggled under my covers trying not to wake W (my husband) while I go through my rss, and read blog posts until I get to the point where I really have to get up. Today that is 7.10am which is a bit later than usual.

I get dressed into my morning walk gear, and go downstairs to put breakfast into the oven, because today we are having baked oats and that needs 30 minutes to cook.

Once that is in the oven I realise we are out of apples (again) so I incorporate a trip to the supermarket into my walk. Even though my morning walk has been all over the place in the last six months or so, this introvert still really needs it as quiet time, so I try to get out for at least a few minutes (ideally half and hour) each day. Now that the children are older this is much easier, but on the flip-side it is harder to get up when you’re not made to by a two year old, even though I consider myself a morning person.

I get out of the house and enjoy the morning sky while listening to The Guilty Feminist which this week is talking about Hope.

I come back with shopping and W emerges fully dressed but still half asleep, and we catch up for a bit while the plasterers arrive, and start re-boarding and skimming the ceiling in what will eventually be our kitchen.

At breakfast we get two out of the three children because the 7 year old is reading in bed. She comes down eventually, has a hug on my knee and takes her breakfast back upstairs while W leaves for work. After breakfast I find two of the songs that the 9 year old has been playing along to in his rock band music class, and I make him a playlist in You Tube for easy access.

I do some tidying up in our temporary kitchen and when I come back to my phone it has decided to randomly die on me which is a bit worrying, so I bring it upstairs to revive it before I have my shower.

And now it is 10.20am, I am dressed, the phone is working, the girls are playing with playmobile in the shower and my son is playing lego in his bedroom. This winter has been one of slow quieter mornings and this is a prime example of one of them.

After I clean up I convince the 9 old to come do tablework. Right now the tablework for each child consists of a Mrs Wordsmith word, a spelling sheet, a multiplication card, a grammar sheet and a maths lesson, set up for their level of ability. (My four year old also practises 10 sight words and counting in tens up to forty.)

I am really glad that tablework is a short and sweet because it makes it doable while we are having work done to the house. But even so the disruption of it has broken up the day in day out reliability of that routine and today I get a lot more push back than I usually do. Somehow we get the work done, and no one cries. Yay.

Once the 9 year old has finished his work, his sisters come downstairs and (unusually for us) do their tablework at the same time. I used to do it like this all the time when the older two were tiny, but switched to one to one as they got older and the work got more complicated, but it worked pretty well today so if they are up for it we might do it again more regularly.

Once tablework is done everyone goes off the tidy the front room in varying states of willingness. I tidy up all the table work stuff, file the work we have done, and then help them out. Now it is 12.50pm, I am about to make lunch, and the kids are watching Ninjago on netflix.

After our lunch W nips home from work to make himself a sandwich. He and I make a list of all the things that we expect to have to pay for on top of the estimate from our builder. We agree to never buy anything ever again. (We have been saving for this building work for seven years and it is very strange to be finally spending the money on it.)

I tidy up after lunch while the kids finish up their screen time. I go upstairs and write my December and January Empties post, and then put all the containers in the recycling, and thus have a slightly tidier bedroom. Yay.

Once they have finished their screen time we go out to the park. We have been playing in this park for a good seven years and we are still finding new favourite places to play within it. While the kids climb trees, make pretend camp fires and strip back of old sticks with their pen knives, I sit on some logs for a few minutes and do some hip stretches and the physiotherapy for my Diastasis Recti.

And now it is raining and I am freezing my butt off, but I am listening to Truth in the Trenches and have promised myself that when it finishes in half an hour we will go home. However my 9 year old ended up cutting his finger on his pen knife so we have to go home because I don’t have plasters in my bag. We end up buying apple juice and mini cheese cakes that have been massively marked down on our way home.

Once home, cheese cakes are eaten, a small plaster is administered and I spend an age downloading Redwall onto my laptop for the 9 year old to listen to while building with lego in his room. Our ancient, second hand tablet died randomly last week and my old phone, which the girls mainly use to listen to audiobooks, is somewhere in the house but even a reward of a shiny pound coin has not caused it to resurface so we are a bit devoid of technology at the moment.

I make dinner and tidy up a bit (again), and ask W if he can come home ten minutes earlier than usual so that I can go get a load of books that have arrived for us at the local library. While we wait the 4 year old and I watch Hamilton videos on you tube. We have been singing like King George all day.

This is not usual, but today I leave W to finish up dinner and go collect the books ready for the unit study I am hoping to do on the Winter Olympics and South Korea. I also pick up a couple of books for me that I reserved, and a couple of Magic Animal Friends books for the 7 year old.

When I get back dinner is ready and we all eat together. Afterwards the children have a run about in the extension and W (who is on a baking kick) starts making a shopping list for his next bake. While he goes to the shops I herd the kids upstairs to start getting ready for bed. Eventually everyone is in their pyjamas and have brushed their teeth and we gather on my bed to read stories. We read Arthur and the Golden Rope, which really needs to go back to the library, (and which is really beautiful!) and more of Angela Nicely Puppy Love. Recently I have been reading lots of early chapter book, firstly to encourage my 7 year old, and secondly because we have a found a few series that are just fun like Claude books and Mango and Bambang. After this I will look to read something a bit meater, and wintery but I’m not sure what.

After stories I should get up and make hot water bottles but I am updating my Good Reads and messing about on my phone. W has taken over parenting duty because at the moment he is better at getting them to settle and go to sleep. I am knackered and looking forward to listening to the latest John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme

(and probably fall asleep half way through.)

(This is what happens.)

There are many ways to plan a Home Ed year. This is mine. Part 1 – How I plan.

Last week we started our fifth year of home educating.

It’s the first year that all three children are officially school aged, although the youngest chose to start doing some table work, like her brother and sister, a few months ago and has been part of our group lessons since she was tiny. I guess that’s just how it is for the littlies in home ed families.

We tend to run the same sort of term dates as the schools in this area, so we started our table work on Wednesday and did the basics for the second half of the week. We also went to buy shoes on Wednesday once our work was done, which was pretty good timing I think, given the change in the weather over the last few days.

How I Plan

For the last three years I have used Pam Barnhill‘s Plan Your Year set up as the back bone of my summer planning. I like the step by step instructions, and how it starts with your big picture, and gets you to focus further and further into the details as you go along. Of course the trick is not to get TOO detailed, which in essence is what I want to write about here.

I usually start planning in June and early July before we finish for the summer. I look at what is working, what fell by the wayside, what I wanted to do but didn’t get time to, etc, and think about how I want things to go next year. I use the printables included in Plan Your Year to assess what is going on with each child, what each child is going to be using next year, and what I need to research. These all go in my A4 planning folder.

I come back to this planning part of the way through the summer holidays and work out what I want to work on for each child, what we are going to work on all together, and put together how the weekly schedule is going to look.

How I Organise My Day to Day Planning

I don’t write down a day by day account of what lessons we are going to do and when. We would get off track very quickly.

Instead I write down what the subject is in a weekly ticky-box plan, and then have separate lists for each child for what they are going to being doing for each of those subjects. These I put together as a small document folder for each child, (plus a family one for work we do all together), by photocopying the contents from our maths books, printing out the list of units for our phonics and grammar programmes, and printing the spelling work lists from our spelling curriculum.

I also headline up some sheets of lined paper with things like ‘Videos we watched’, ‘Documentaries’, ‘Science Units’ etc, so that I can record what we do as we go along. At the end of the year I can put all these document folders together into one for the year, or add each child’s folder to their portfolio, along with sample of their work. (I don’t need to do this, but I do it anyway in case we ever need it. Usually I pull some work from the front and back of their work folders once they are full to bursting, and recycle the rest. *cough* I also make little flick through videos with my phone, which I keep for personal use, to show how much was in there before I recycled. Belt and braces? Yup.)

I have started to record all our fiction and non-fiction readalouds in Goodreads as a specific HE bookshelf for the academic year and plan to print out the list at the end of the year to add to the folders.

Weekly Folders and Do the next thing…

As I said before, I don’t write a list of every exact lesson we are going to do each day. Instead I set things up so that we can do ‘the next thing.’

With maths we just turn to the next lesson, and when we have completed it I tick it and date it in the folder. (Again I don’t need to do this, but it helps to show me the progress we are making. It is a ‘we are here!’ mark, if you will.)

With the phonics or grammar, I print out the latest unit or two, and keep them in a separate folder and then build a folder of work for each child for the coming week, at the weekend. It probably takes me half an hour to file the stuff from the previous week and pull out stuff for the coming week (and I have just realised that I am rusty at doing this, since I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon and I haven’t even thought about doing this for the next week! Oops.)

I use a six pocket folder for each child – one pocket for each day of the week, so that I can piece out the work, plus one at the front to catch all the work that has been done and needs to be put away. I have been doing this for three year and it works really well for us, though I am on the lookout for folders that lie a bit flatter and than you can flick through rather than concertina out, just for ease of use.

I made myself a master sheet for each week, which I can change on the computer and print out as needed. This lives on a clipboard and I mark it up every day with what we did and didn’t do. (Guess what? I don’t need to do this. It’s just another of the ways I track what we are doing so that I feel good about what we are achieving. I’m all about the visibility.)

(I made it editable, and obviously our home copy has the children

This take a lot of the decisions out of our day to day home education. I can choose that we don’t do something I guess, or that we spend more time one something and skip something else to make room, but I’m never getting up and trying to work out what the children are going to learn, (as various extended family members have assumed of me.)

Tomorrow I’ll post part 2, (I know!) about what we are using this year, and why.

I am really enjoying a new homeschool podcast called Homeschooling in the North Woods, which had an episode on loop scheduling for homeschool planning.



Podcast Recs Summer 2015 edition

I am a big fan of podcasts. I listen to them more than I listen to the radio, or even to music right now, particularly when I’m doing errands, and on my morning run or walk (depending on the day.)

Anyway here are a few that I’m really enjoying and that are consistently really good:

  • Friday Night Comedy from the BBC – this is whatever comedy programme is on BBC radio 4 at 6.30pm on a friday. (You know all this obviously – this podcast is hugely popular.) I’m a big fan of The News Quiz, particularly when Sandi Toksvig took over as the chair. But I’m also completely the right age to have a soft spot for Punt and Dennis, so I’ll usually happily listen when The Now Show is on too. I’ve been listening to both these radio shows for about fifteen years at this point, and having them as a podcast just makes listening to them even easier. This podcast is regular part of our weekend and W and I usually listen to it together.
  • Henry & Heidi – I think this has just pipped Wittertainment as my current favourite podcast. I’ve found Henry Rollins a fascinating person since I was reading about him as a teenage in Select magazine and the NME. I’ve been to see some of his spoken word, and would like to see more, (once I get my evening back.) These podcasts are funny, interesting and kinda inspirational. I listen to them a lot when I’m running, and if I’m giggling in the street I’m either listening to that or…
  • No Such Thing As a Fish – This is a podcast of amazing facts, from the QI elves. It’s usually both mind boggling and funny, and has me sprouting all sorts of information at the dinner table (most of which W insists is made up.)
  • Hope*ologie – this is the monthly podcast run by Myquillyn from The Nester, her sister Emily of Chatting at the Sky and their Dad Gary. Hope*ologie is subscription site, but the podcast is free and a great taster for the site. This podcast just makes me happy. It’s like a hug of a podcast and it always makes me smile.
  • Wittertainment – I’ve talked about this podcast before, here, but it’s still a thing of joy. If you like films, or Jason Isaacs, or silly in jokes that you will pick up easily, or two men grumping at either other in an increasingly married way, then this is the podcast for you. I love it. Even though I hardly get to see any films any more, and despite Mark being SO WRONG about Avengers 2. But let’s not go there right now.
  • Read-Aloud Revival – This is the podcast run by Sarah Mackenzie from Amongst Lovely Things, all about creating a family culture of reading, and the importance of reading aloud. I’m still making my way through the back catalogue but I’m really enjoying it, and get a lot of book recs from this podcast.
  • Homeschool Snapshots – This is a short, snappy homeschooling podcast run by Pam Barnhill of EDSnapshots. Overall I like it, and have enjoyed listening to almost all of the episodes. I *did* nope out of one episode due to idealogical differences, but that didn’t put me off the season as a whole. Overall I find it useful and supportive.
  • A Playful Day – I am so late to this party. But I am making my way through this craft podcast, and enjoying it very much.

So there you go – my current favourites. I hope you find something there that you didn’t know about before, and which you might give a go.  If you do, I hope you enjoy them.

What podcasts would you rec back to me?

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