{Learning at Home} Keep it Simple!

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

Along with the rest of the world, many families on island are now faced with the prospect of possible school closures in the face of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) world wide pandemic.

Now if you do find yourself stuck at home with your kids during this time, firstly do not panic, all will be well, you will survive and may even find that your child’s learning will thrive during this time, even if you do get a little cabin fever along the way.

Now remember that during this time at home your child’s education will still be the responsibility of their school and if living in Guernsey, the Education Department and I’m sure they will be providing you with ideas and resources that can support your child’s learning from home.

Also remember that your kids are home for a good 6 weeks during the school summer holidays every year, often enjoying lots of free play and unstructured time and their education does not suffer because of it.

However, as a home educator I appreciate that you may be feeling daunted at the prospect of suddenly having your kids at home with you all day and somewhat overwhelmed by the thought of having to guide their learning during this time.

I therefore thought I would share a blog post or two over the coming weeks with a few ideas and resources you can draw on to help support your child’s learning at home should you find yourself in that position.

*Please note that my posts here will focus on learning with primary school aged children as that is the experience I have as a home educator.

So lets jump in and lets keep it simple.

10 simple things you can do to learn at home as a family:

 

1. Chores

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

I start here on purpose. Chances are if your family is now home for most of the day then you’re going to have a lot more mess and clearing up to do. To preserve your sanity and to help make time and space for enjoying this home learning experience then everyone needs to muck in to help keep this new learning environment at it’s best. Chores are an important part of family life as it is, enabling children to serve others and feel like contributing, needed members of the family. Plus life skills are just so important, I mean, who wants an 18 year old that can do long division and algebra but can’t even do a load of laundry!? Not me! So get them making their beds, emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, sweeping the porch, setting the dinner table and contributing to family life.

 

2. Reading

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

I know, I know, you know this one! Of course reading! Whether it be read alouds as a family, older kids reading to the younger kids or your new readers doing individual reading practice with you, do it all! I’m sure your child’s school will provide you with reading lists to use at home, but if you find yourself with extra time on your hands then this is a great opportunity to get out those books you’ve meaning to read to your kids for some time. Perhaps there is a series you could work your way through, the Chronicles of Narnia, The Famous Five, Harry Potter, there are so many to choose from. Don’t have the books at home and can’t get to the library? No problem! Then just get an audio book subscription like Audible and listen along.

 

3. Writing

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

Writing does not have to be boring form filling, spelling tests and comprehension worksheets. I’m sure during isolation your kids will be missing school friends and family members so help them to stay connected whilst working on their writing at the same time by sending letters and postcards to friends. A simple postcard a day really will suffice. Gather them up at the end of the week and pop out for a quick stroll to the nearest postbox (if you’re not in official quarantine) and grab some much needed fresh air too. Perhaps stock up on postage stamps ahead of time.

 

4. Baking

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Missing all those sweet treats and coffee dates that made up part of your week? Well baking is a great way to eat cake whilst incorporating math skills in a hands on way. Stock up on ingredients now before school closures or quarantine hits and then once a week get your kids weighing ingredients, doubling recipes, halving the batter and setting the timer. Make a real party of it too, something to look forward to at the end of the school week or perhaps something to fill in the space where the kids are missing out on attending a group. Maths at it’s sweetest! (Pun intended)

 

5. Games

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

Most board games include some sort of math skills, whether it be basic counting, sequencing or even geometry. Great for turn taking, patience building and family bonding too. There are also card games and parlour games, whatever takes your fancy. Perhaps pick a game a day or even schedule a (screen free) games afternoon once a week.

 

6. Crafts

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

If you’re anything like us then you’ll still have boxes of unopened craft kits ready and waiting following Christmas. Whether it be candle making, soap making, sewing kits or simply painting and play dough, now is the time to do them all. Pull out the paints, open up the boxes and let them get messy and creative and enjoy the sensory experience. You could even start a hand made project ready for Father’s Day or even Christmas depending on how time consuming and technical it is.

 

7. Gardening

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

Gardening is such a great way to teach a variety of subjects. Maths is involved as you count out seedlings, writing as you label pots, natural history as you identify flowers and nature sciences as you discuss the benefits of composting and mulching. If you find yourself stuck at home and getting cabin fever then get out in the garden as much as possible if you have one. Weed, plant, identify birds, make a bug hotel and get your hands dirty all in a good way.

 

8. Music Practice

Learning from Home | School Closures & Quarantine | The Open Home

If your child is already learning a musical instrument then they now have plenty of time and no excuse not to be practicing it, possibly even twice a day! By the time they go back to music lessons and school orchestras they’ll be able to impress their teachers with their self directed progress.

 

9. Screen Time

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There are math apps and language learning apps, yoga videos, nature documentaries, as well as the usual computer games and TV shows that kids just love. Identify the apps that will aid your learning and then slot them into your daily and weekly rhythm in a way that is predictable and clear, making screens work for you and not against you. Perhaps you’ll allocate 15 minutes for a math app every day after lunch, a yoga video twice a week and a movie on the weekend. Whatever works for your sanity and your kids learning.

And remember screen time has it’s place in learning, but don’t allow it to be a crutch. I say this from experience when I advise that you use it wisely and sparingly and set the boundaries of it’s use from the get go. Poor behaviour, lack of attention and sensory meltdowns tend to come part and parcel with too much screen time and not enough time outdoors.

 

10. Free Play

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Last but by no means least don’t underestimate the importance of free play. More and more schools are adding free play time into their schedules and rightly so, it’s a great opportunity for children to express themselves, practice new skills and process what they’ve been learning in the classroom, not to mention de-stress. The chances are if you’re feeling worried by the current health pandemic then your kids are too, however much you’ve tried to protect them from the constant news updates and daily conversations that are hard to avoid. At times like this up the free play accordingly, they’re gonna need it.

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So yes, I know, simple things that deep down you already knew, but as Julie Bogart says in her excellent book The Brave Learner, “everything can be taught through anything” and sometimes we just need reminding of that.

And remember, just because your child is home from school doesn’t mean you need to recreate school at home. Free yourself from that notion right now and embrace the freedom and creativity that comes with learning from home.

In my next post I will share with your some of the free online resources I use on a regular basis to aid my daughters’ education at home. I’m sure you’ll find them useful too, but in the meantime you may find it helpful to read about our homeschool rhythm and see what a day in the life looks like for us.

Got questions about learning from home with your kids? Ask away in the comments below!

{Update} 30 Things in my 30’s

Update 2020 | 30 Things in my 30s | The Open Home

It’s been a little while since I did an update on how I’m doing with my 30 Things in my 30’s list, partly because I forgot to do an update in 2019! You can see my original post {HERE} and my last update from 2018 {HERE}. Well I’m 3 years in now and I’m actually making some good progress, but there is still a lot to do too – 10 things completed, 10 things in progress and 10 still yet to tackle.

Update 2020 | 30 Things in my 30s | The Open Home
GSY LWS, est 2017.

 

Completed…

1. Start a letter writers group in GuernseyThe Guernsey Letter Writers Society was established in September 2017 and continues to meet monthly.

2. Become a blood donor – I wasn’t actually able to become a blood donor so signed up for the Anthony Nolan Trust in 2017 instead.

3. Sign up to be an organ donor completed in 2017.

4. Go to a West End Show in LondonI’ve actually been to two plus a play! Saw Aladdin in June 2017, Wicked in April 2018 and Witness to the Prosecution in August 2019!

5. Go on a weekend away with a gal pal – went on a London trip with a friend in April 2018. 

6. Read the complete collection of Winnie the Poohread with my girls in Autumn 2018 and due to read it again with my eldest this Spring.

7. Get a good camera and actually learn how to use it! bought an Olympus PEN E-PL9 and loving it!

8. Visit friends in New Zealandtraveled solo to stay with my friends on North Island in August 2019.

9. Take my girls to the Lake District – went on a Family holiday in October 2019.

10. Visit Keighley in Yorkshire (where my Gran was evacuated to during WW2)tied this in with our Lake District trip in October 2019

Update 2020 | 30 Things in my 30s | The Open Home
Derwent on Water, English Lake District.

 

In Progress…

11. Learn calligraphydownloaded courses from The Postman’s Knock but still need to dedicate some real practice time and would still like to go on a course if I can.

12. Get fit (and back to pre-pregnancy weight) – I was 28lbs down in summer 2019 and working out an average of 4 times a week. Still working out regularly but not tracking my weight whilst pregnant.

13. Go to 10 new (to me) restaurants on the island – 4 Down. 6 to Go. (So far ticked off Copenhagen, The Rockmount, Buho and The Slaughter House)

14. Take my girls to the other Channel Islands1 Down. 4 to Go. (So far ticked off Herm)

15. Learn to embroider and with my girlsstarted in Summer 2019.

16. Make a patchwork quilt for both of my girlsstarted in Autumn 2019, but going to take me a while to complete!

17. Walk the entire cliffs of Guernsey (in stages)started with the Husby in summer 2019.

18. Become Foster Carersattended first training course in September 2019.

19. Read all of Agatha Christie’s Poirotstarted in Autumn 2019 but going to take a good while to complete!

20. Visit 10 new to me cities1 Down. 9 to Go. So far I’ve visited Wellington in August 2019 and have Dubrovnik scheduled for 2020 travels.

Update 2020 | 30 Things in my 30s | The Open Home
Wellington, New Zealand.

 

Still to do…

21. Go on a flower arranging course just for fun

22. Learn British Sign Language – found a local course, but will have to start in a few years time.

23. Go kayaking

24. Climb a mountain with the Husby

25. Get a pet (probably a rabbit)

26. Make a Will

27. Donate my wedding dress to charity

28. Go to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta

29. Celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in Ljubljana, Slovenia – due September 2021.

30. Celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in Rome, Italy – due September 2026.

 

What things do you have on your bucket list?

{Wild Challenge} Signs of Spring

RSPB Wild Challenge | Signs of Spring | The Open Home

This year we’ve decided to take on the RSPB Wild Challenge as a family and we’re currently working towards our Bronze Award. For each award you need to complete three “Experience Nature” activities and three “Help Nature” activities. We started with an experience nature activity looking for signs of spring in our beloved weekly nature spot, Candie Gardens.

We spied new buds, admired spring bulbs, sniffed sweet blossoms, counted petals, compared leaves, listened to bird song and hunted for bugs and frogs.

Here’s our photo evidence:

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What are your favourite signs of spring?

 

 

{February Gratitudes}

Gratitudes February 2020 | The Open Home
For family favourites and the first read of the year.
Gratitudes February 2020 | The Open Home
For animal friends and access all areas.
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For Valentines treats and another year or me.
Gratitudes February 2020 | The Open Home
For winter walks and gardeners that stop to talk.
Gratitudes February 2020 | The Open Home
For small pockets of art and words to treasure.

 

These are the inserts from our gratitude journal during February, reminding us that God is good and we are blessed.

What have you been thankful for lately?

{Daughter Diaries} #64

Daughter Diaries 63 | The Open Home

Dear Blossom, When starting out on our flexible learning lifestyle, teaching you to read was one of the things that daunted me the most. Many parents get to outsource this learning milestone but I was going to be solely responsible for you achieving it and I felt that weight. I’m pleased to say that you’re really doing beautifully with your reading. Are you at the same reading level as other children your age? I have no idea. But do you find beauty in books and have an eagerness to open and devour them? Yes, yes you do and that’s way more important, in my opinion. Dear Bubbles, I love that your favourite books are also, unknown to you, the same three books that your big sister selected from the bookshelf. Probably because you shared such joy together when discovering these literary beauties. Connecting through books is such a wonderful part of our homeschool life and definitely my favourite part of being the Mummy Teacher. I’ll never forget your sweet anticipation as the little wooden horse raced to find his owner, or the childish giggles that can be heard as you read about oompa loompas and enormous crocodiles with Daddy. Dearest Daughters, in the words of Ernest Hemingway, “there is no friend as loyal as a book.”

Whats your favourite children’s book?

 

{January Gratitudes}

Gratitudes January 2020 | The Open Home
For another year, another decade and another stack of books.
Gratitudes January 2020 | The Open Home
For homeschool magic and handmade toys.
Gratitudes January 2020 | The Open Home
For the love of nature and the love of poetry and the combination of the two.
Gratitudes January 2020 | The Open Home
For winter sun and winter fun.
Gratitudes January 2020 | The Open Home
For pockets of creativity and evenings of self care.
Gratitudes January 2020 | The Open Home
For beauty in all seasons.

These are the inserts from our gratitude journal during January, reminding us that God is good and we are blessed.

What have you been thankful for lately?

{Daughter Diaries} #63

Daughter Diaries #63 | The Open Home

Dear Blossom, your love of the arts is plain to see. Be it a landscape by Constable or a sculpture by Degas, a concerto by Mozart or a hymn that hits the soul, you appreciate it all, eager to soak in it’s richness and beauty. I love this about you and I love that such a simple element of our homeschool has such importance to your heart. Dear Bubbles, your little hands aren’t always able to execute your desired art, but when it comes to weaving it turns out that your eager hands are swift and able. Try to remember it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, there is a lot of joy and beauty to be found in the process. Dearest Daughters, may you continue to seek beauty in all it’s forms.

What beauty have you noticed lately?