Thursday, 13 August 2020

Making Plans For The New Home-School Year

I can hardly believe that we're just weeks away from September...since the UK went into lockdown in March it almost feels as though the world has pressed pause, and life has sort of just floated around in suspended animation ever since.

I keep thinking about how much the time has dragged since then but yet at the same time it feels as though the year has evaporated within the blink of an eye.

But here we are. September will be here before we know it, and for me that means it's time to sit and think about our plans for the home ed year to come.

Although as a homeschooling family we're not obligated to follow the school year at all and in most ways we don't - we take breaks whenever we want them and  don't follow the school holidays, usually preferring to do most of our work when the school kids are on break as our usual favourite hang out spots become suddenly crowded!  - I do still see September as a sort of "fresh start". Maybe it's because its what everybody else is talking about at this time of year, maybe it's because my own school-going experience has just etched September as the starting point in my brain forever - who knows! For whatever reason, September is what I consider to be the start of our home school year.

This year will be the first that I have THREE official home schoolers! If my youngest had been going to school, he would have been due to start in September - and so now is when things will get really interesting around here as I face the challenges of home educating 3 children all at very different levels and with very different interests! Yikes!

So how are we going to go about that, whilst I also juggle working from home and managing multiple chronic illnesses?! Well...who knows?! If I've learned anything over the past few years of home schooling its that nothing is ever set in stone and the best laid plans are the ones most likely to fail.
I always have some back up plans ready incase of a particularly bad health day, such as this list of educational indoor activities for kids that I saved when I was browsing for beach holidays with kids in anticipation of travelling again!

We've chopped and changed our home ed approaches and philosophies many times since we began, and I've finally come to accept that this is just a normal part of life as a homeschooling family. What works one minute, suddenly doesn't work anymore - you have to be adaptable, willing to try something new at a moments notice. That's just part of the fun!

I'm the kind of parent who worries constantly about whether the children are doing and learning enough, and I always struggle not to compare them to school-going children which can be really damaging - but a couple of months ago we actually had a review with the local authority who came out to do an assessment (You don't have to allow this, but we did as we welcomed the feedback.) and this did wonders for my confidence!

We received a glowing report which offered us a lot of reassurance that the children are doing really well educationally and, most importantly, that it was evident that they're happy and thriving - so I almost feel as though this has breathed new life into me when it comes to going forward into the new school year. 

Although I don't want to be too rigid in our approach this year and feel drawn to follow a more unschooling approach than usual, I'm a born planner and so I still start a fresh year with a basic schedule and outline to follow - knowing it may change at any given moment!

So here's how we intend to kick things off!

The Little Ones

Noa is 5 years old and Sailor is 4 - one thing most home schoolers agree on is that this is simply too young for formal education. At their ages, I firmly believe that the majority of their learning should happen through play and exploration rather than through hours of sit-down work. 

With that in mind, I have bought three Nature based curriculums to use with them - Hygge In The Early Years, Exploring Nature With Children and Wondering Wildlings. 

My plan is to combine the best elements of these curriculums together - with most of our focus being on topics of interest, allowing the children to take the lead on what they're interested in and what they enjoy learning about. 

The Wondering Wildlings curriculum does have some maths and phonics included which we're going to try, and Noa does usually see a tutor on a weekly basis but we're not sure of how that will continue with the ongoing Covid situation so we'll need to wait and see!

They will also attend fortnightly Science club as well as forest school and pony club,  and they're booked in for some outdoor First Aid lessons too.

The Biggest

My eldest son Tyne is 7 now, and is reading and writing confidently. He usually sees a math tutor on a weekly basis and attends outdoor nature-based maths lessons too but, again, we need to see how these play out with the Covid situation. 

I'm currently weighing up some potential curriculums for him to try as we'd like to break away from the workbooks we've been using.  He also attends science club, and will be going to forest school and pony club too. We're also looking for something to replace his beloved Coding club which has sadly become a casualty of Covid 19 and is no longer running.


We cover topics of interest that the children request on a weekly basis - sometimes they last just a week, sometimes they can last for over a month. It really just depends on how much interest they have in it, and how much there is to cover. We often find ourselves returning to the same topics to cover them in more detail than previously, as they get older and ready to learn more.

Our plans for the coming few months topics are: Evolution & The life of Charles Darwin, Bees, Rocks & Fossils, Greek mythology, Romans and Roman Britain, and The Great Fire Of London.

So those are our loose plans for the first few months of our home ed year - it's certainly going to be strange with many of our usual clubs and activities either on hold or looking very different from usual, but I'm sure we'll muddle through and make the most of it.

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