Dear Home Ed Mother Me, a year ago

Dear Home Ed Mother Me, A Year Ago,

I know you have read all the articles about how some homeschooled children read later, and how they get there in the end, and I know you are trying to have faith in the process, but at the same time you are holding your breath, waiting to see if it is true or not for you.

I know you have filled the house with books, books that you actually read and that you read to your children, and I know you watch as your eldest, now eight, plays with his lego and listens to audiobooks for hours. I know you are aware that his vocabulary is good – see what all that reading aloud has done – and that understands what he is listening to. That he understands a great deal about a great number of things.

I know that together, you and your son, have worked your way through your reading program, and that you have looked for ways to sneak in reading practice in ways that your son can tolerate. I know you have thought hard and researched whether there is an underlying problem, and come to the conclusion that you don’t think there is one, but will keep your eyes open. I know you have walked the thin line between not pushing him to hard, but also not avoiding the whole topic because it feels so hard.

I know you know that he has grasped the general rules of sounding words out, that he knows quite a few sight words, but he is unwilling to read more that about 5 sentences at a time.

But here’s what I – you a year in the future – know that you don’t yet know:

I know that a few days before you go on holiday in the summer you will go to the library. You will pick up a funny, silly chapter book about pirates on a whim, because the cover caught your eye and you are going to the seaside. I know that you will read the first chapter to your children the first night you are all away, and that they will want more but that it is time for bed. I know that your son will nick off with the book before going off to his room (it is probably a key point that he has his own room, and that he isn’t keeping anyone else awake with his bedside light.)

The next morning he will tell you he read three pages of the next chapter and you will hold your breath. He will tell his grandparents too, and you will start to smile because maybe this whole homeschooling thing won’t actually ruin your children. But you will also wait to see what happens next. He will take the book to a restaurant, and when he goes to the beach. He will have his nose in a book throughout that holiday like he has been doing it his whole life.

He will finish the book, and then he won’t really know where to go next, but he will also know that he has finished a book, and that he did it for fun, and that is an important spark.

He will start reading Beast Quest books.  Then he will start inhaling them. He will have a sleepless night at another grandparent’s house and not care because he will read two and a half Beast Quest novels through that night, and be mighty proud of himself. He will pick up a book called ‘Spirit Animals’ at the library (which will lead to a conversation between the two of you about cultural appropriation) and he will inhale that too, even though the print is smaller that Beast Quests and the page count is longer.

You will, nonchalantly, as if you don’t really care, stick a reading word test in front of him, and idly suggest he tries reading the words until he gets three wrong in a single set. You tried it before, in late spring, while panicking about your ability to do all this, so you happen to have data to compare him against himself. In less that two months he will have jumped four grades.

He will move into his own room and your early bird will start sleeping later because he is staying up reading in his bed. You will go to the library on a Tuesday and on the Friday have a pile of books to go back, which is good because the reservations you and he put in have turned up.

You will buy him eighteen Beast Quest novels for his birthday and two months later there will be three left under your bed, waiting to be read, being over taken by library books for new series that he wants to try.

He will read the first two Harry Potters, and go straight on to the third.

He will devour books. He will build lego figures of the characters. He will offer up their stories in other conversations, connecting information together. You knew he loved stories, he has bathed in stories since he was small, but now he has them at his fingertips.

I know you have read all the articles about how some homeschooled children read later, and how they get there in the end, and I know you are trying to have faith in the process.

Have faith in the process. He gets there in the end and it is SO worth it.




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 2 – What We are Using 2017-18

You can read about what I used to plan our Home Education year here in part 1.

Table Work

Table Work is what we call all the sit down work we do at home. It’s a chunk of our learning every day, and it currently covers Maths, phonics or grammar, spelling, and sight words. Sometime this work is done altogether, but for the last six months or so I have been doing it as a one to one with each child, which works well. This year I am making table work shorter, so that there is more room for other learning, mostly because I have seen that doing a bit every day adds up.

We use Maths No Problem for maths, which is UK based Singapore maths programme. I really like it, it’s reasonably priced and works really well for us. The only problem is that the Teacher’s Guide and answers are via an online subscription and cost £200 per year, because the curriculum is set up for school use rather than home educators. Right now we do completely fine without them but as the children get older and the work gets more complex we will have to switch to something else. Which sucks to be honest.

Maths – No Problem books 1A, 3A and 4A plus the wipe clean document folders I use to keep the worksheets in.

For phonics we use Ready2Read from Annie Moffatt (aka The Moffatt Girls) – my 4 year old is starting Level 1 and my 6 year old is just finishing up Level 3.  This is the only phonics curriculum we have ever used and it has worked really well for us.

I really like The Moffat Girl’s products – they are solid and mostly No Prep, which means you can print out what you need and get straight into it, rather than having to do lots of work ahead.

(That said, Ready2Read does have prep if you use the hands on activities, which I would recommend because they are great. They need printing out on card and cutting out where necessary. But it wasn’t very much work and I have saved and re-used those piece within each unit, with each child, and then just re-printed out the worksheets for each unit as we have come to it.)

We are also using 1st and 2nd Grade Language Arts and Grammar as the work my 6 year old and 8 year old are doing post-Ready2Read, and the Build a Word bundle for hands on spelling.

Our sight words are mostly Learning Resources Popcorn set 1 and 2 (which I got for a lot less money than that link would suggest.) I pull out 10 cards each for the 6 year old, and 8 year old. For the 4 year old I have printed up the pre-primer and primer sets from here and have pulled out 7 that we are working on at the moment.)

Morning Time

This year I have reinstated Morning Time, which I have split in two – Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday as one group, and Thursday/Friday as the other. Thursday/Friday we watch some educational videos (TEDed, and The Kids Should See This), followed by me reading the next chapter from whatever Arabella Buckley we have on the go, (right now it’s Wild Life in Woods and Fields). I am trying to encourage the children to draw while I read, and have a good book on drawing trees, and some Usbourne colouring books that I hope will help this along.

On Monday we will start our Map Making project which I’m hoping to run till half term in October. This is something I am winging, due to my love of maps and geography, and because I think it’s will take in a whole load of skills that will be useful as we dig deeper into history and geography, and global studies later. My plan is the start with mapping a room, and then our home (particularly apt since we have builders in and will being having work done now for the next few months), our street, suburb, city, country, country, continent, and the World.

I have a load of great resources for that, so I’ll try and give it it’s own post once the project is properly under way. (Wish me luck!) Map Making will be our Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday project, and I’m hoping to follow it up with a project on what I am calling ‘Global Studies’ but which could equally be called ‘How People Live Around the World or ‘Hey Kids Lets All Expand Our World View and Try to Become Better Global Citizens’. Again I have some great resources and this project needs it’s own post, once we are actually doing it.

I am planning for this to include looking at religious festivals throughout the year. As a secular family in a broadly Christian country I think my children have a general understanding of the standard Christian festivals. However I think it would benefit all the family for us to look at what festivals are common elsewhere, as well as festivals that are celebrated by those of other faiths in this country. I’m planning to use Children Just Like Me: Celebrations as the basis for this, and then order books from the library about the specific festivals as the come up.

And then ready for the depths of Winter my bestie and I devised a list of musicals, so that we can curls up and have a Musicals project. And aptly that’s around the time I’m off to see Hamilton in London, so we will likely be all about the Musicals at that point.


We are still using Mystery Science. It is still really working for us, but we didn’t do it as much as I would have liked last year, and so it now has it’s own dedicated time in our weekly plan.


We are using Write Shop for our writing this year (Primary and Junior), and personally I plan to read some more by Julie Bogart. I am working on a three day a week schedule for each child for write shop this year. We will see how this goes. Probably I should be combining my six year old and eight year old, but right now I’m not.

Because of how our schedule works we should do write shop on a Friday, but that would squash a regular opportunity to meet up with friends, so I am trying, for this term, to do our Friday Write Shop sessions straight after breakfast on a Saturday, and leave the time after table work on a Friday for time with friends, and after that, play and down time for us as a family. I’ll let you know how that goes once we’ve done it for a while.

The Extra Curriculars and Regular Meet Ups

As with last year we are doing a home ed climbing class, home ed music lessons at the local council music center, as well as after school swimming lessons at the local pool, drama group, and the eldest is still doing cubs. (I remember a time when I said we weren’t going to do too much. Thank goodness they aren’t all after school or in the evenings!)

We also have some meet ups with friends that are regular enough to be on our schedule (and if they don’t happen for whatever reason then that is more time to play, follow rabbit trails, or read.)

So that’s it. That’s the plan.

I’ll try and check in at half term and let you know how things are going, because we all make these great plans during the summer, and rarely show what worked and what sounded good but fell by the wayside.


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