Spring Nature Study

Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home

“Why be indoors when you can rightly be without.” – Charlotte Mason

Although autumn is my absolute favourite season, spring has proved to be one of my favourite seasons for nature study.

This term we’ve done lots of walking and climbing and stepping out of our comfort zones to get up close with nature. We took a closer look at snails and caterpillars, watched nesting birds, identified wild flowers along the cliffs of Guernsey, learnt about plant life cycles and the differences between frogs and toads.

And without even realising it we’ve now added in a weekly mother-daughter nature journaling session to our homeschool week. Its something we both enjoy doing together and I love that Blossom gets to see me learning right alongside her.

Here are some of the snap shots:

Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
April showers and petal gathering at our regular nature spot.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
The big spring tidy up.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Wild flower cliff walk with our Nature Explorers group.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Identifying and drawing our finds.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Our spring/summer nature walks tend to lead us to the sea.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Bird watching, duckling spotting and tree climbing at our favourite park.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Grey days are still great days for exploring!
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Mother-daughter nature journaling.
Spring Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Rock pooling starts in the Spring in our family.

What do you enjoy most about nature in the Spring?

{Home Ed} Common Questions & Misconceptions

Home Ed: Common Questions & Misconceptions | The Open Home 

We’ve been home educating our girls for six months now and I must say I’ve been genuinely surprised by the amount of interest and encouragement I’ve received, both online and in real life. Yes I get a few negative comments and blank stares from time to time when people realise my kids don’t actually attend a school, but overall people have seemed intrigued and inspired by our flexible learning lifestyle.

As people have slowly found out that we’re home educating I have naturally received a lot of questions in regard to homeschooling in Guernsey and have discovered two things:

  1. There are way more people on Guernsey interested in home educating than I first thought, and
  2. That some people have a very limited view of what home educating actually is, how it can be done and why you would do it in the first place.

I therefore thought I would collate the main questions and misconceptions I come across here, because perhaps it’ll give you some much needed answers too.

Home Ed: Common Questions & Misconceptions | The Open Home

1. Do people actually do that on Guernsey?

Why yes they do! We’re not the first family and we certainly won’t be the last. In fact the numbers are growing every year as more families choose to educate their children outside of the traditional school system.

2. Why would you do that when there are so many good schools on island?

Simply put, because we want to. What you have to realise is that although education may be compulsory, schooling is not and for many families like ours, home educating is simply a lifestyle choice. There is no questioning the fact that the schools in our area are indeed very good, but home educating isn’t just for those families who can’t access good schools.

Home Ed: Common Questions & Misconceptions | The Open Home

3. What do you do?

I’ve come to learn that when people ask this question what they’re actually trying to do is get a visual on what home educating looks like for us in our home environment. As minimalist homeschoolers we do not have a dedicated homeschool room and simply use our main living areas to learn in. Our dining table is used for arts, crafts and nature journaling as we store all of our craft materials in a cabinet near by and it will eventually become the place where we do our “Table Time” work, also known as reading, writing and maths. Lots of toys and books are stored in the lounge and this is where we do some of my favourite learning. It’s the place where we gather together for morning book baskets and random story times, it’s also the place where we play games and work out puzzles. There are of course lots of outings and groups, but this is what we do at present in our homeschool environment.

4. What do you have to do?

Well according to the education law here in Guernsey we simply have to provide “an efficient, full-time education suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude” how we put this into practice is very much our choice. There are no set timetables, curriculums or subjects that we have to follow and we actually have great freedom in choosing what we learn and when. We personally do not follow the national curriculum and are very much led by our girls interests and abilities.

5. How many hours do you have to do?

We do not need to log a certain amount of hours per week and for us it would actually be kind of hard to gauge how many hours we do because for us family life is very much the curriculum right now. We do no formal lessons at this stage, no reading, no writing, no maths, and we’re not restricted to our home during school hours on a Monday to Friday. It’s all very flexible. I personally choose to do school 4 days a week from Monday-Thursday with Friday being for library visits and social groups. I anticipate that when we start introducing reading, writing and maths to Blossom from around age 6 that her main Table Time school work will be around 30 minutes a day, 4 days per week. Most tell me that even into the High School years work is often done within 2 hours a day, meaning that many kids do school in the mornings and have afternoons free for extra curricular activities, crafts and hobbies.

Home Ed: Common Questions & Misconceptions | The Open Home

6. Who assesses you?

Here in Guernsey (as in England) no one actually assesses us. We simply informed the Education Department of our intention to home educate and an education officer now visits us at home every 6 months or so to see how we’re getting on and to offer support. This is not actually a mandatory visit, but one we welcome. We simply sit on the sofa, sip tea and show off some of Blossom’s recent work.

7. Aren’t you worried about socialisation?

Ooh the big one! This question comes up a lot and seems to stem from the misconception that homeschooled kids are sat at home all day every day pathetically trying to recreate the school classroom on their own. As I mentioned before life is the curriculum which makes the world their classroom and their class mates their community. My girls have regular play dates with friends, weekly outings with grandparents, attend girl guiding groups and holiday clubs, take part in church groups and participate in a weekly home ed co-op group. So no, I’m not worried about socialisation. If anything I love that home educating allows them more time to mix with children and adults of varying ages.


 

Perhaps you have more specific questions in regard to how we educate our girls at home, what methods and resources we use, what we prioritise or avoid. Feel free to leave these questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them in a future blog post.

What questions do you have about home educating?

{Winter Nature Study}

Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home

“Why be indoors when you can rightly be without.” – Charlotte Mason

Each week we kickstart our homeschool week with Nature Explorers on a Monday morning and it’s always one of the highlights of our week. As a group we’re using Exploring Nature with Children as a guide and I also use this curriculum at home to inspire my library withdrawals and craft activities.

This term we’ve braved the cold winds on our nature walks, we’ve got our hands dirty as we dug for worms and we’ve got technical as we measured the age of trees. We took a closer look at the winter sky and moon and also revisited the tree we chose back in autumn.

We even started a Calendar of Firsts and a Phenology Wheel in our nature journals and ended the season with a rare Guernsey snow day!

Here are some of the snap shots:

Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Watching the sea foam frolic in the wild winter wind!
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Rock pooling in the winter is a favourite nature activity of ours.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Dramatic winter skies are best observed down on the beach.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Winter pond study with early daffodils at Silbe Nature Reserve.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Trudging through the beautifully muddy St. Peters countryside.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Mother-Daughter nature journaling in action.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
The first sign of Spring, Candlemas Bells, more commonly known as Snowdrops.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
First snow day!

What do you enjoy most about nature in the Winter?

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle | The Open Home

Well if you hadn’t quite clued on to the fact that we are home educating our girls then this post will hopefully say it loud and clear.

WE ARE HOME EDUCATING!

Have been since October 2017 and I’m pleased to say that so far, so good we all seem to be enjoying our new flexible learning lifestyle (as I like to call it).

You may or may not be surprised to hear that home educating is becoming more and more popular in Britain as families for various different reasons decide to educate their children outside of the traditional school system. Living on a small island the home ed community here is of course small, but very much alive and growing.

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle | The Open Home

I am aware though, that for many of my friends and readers on the island we are in fact the first home educating family that you actually know so many of you of course, have questions about what we do, what’s allowed and whether or not we are crazy. The latter of which is still open to debate.

Snippets of our home educating lifestyle have and will continue to creep into my Daughter Diaries and Gratitude Journal posts from time to time, but I thought I would occasionally do some home ed specific posts to help you understand it all a little more.

I’ve actually been really surprised by the genuine interest and encouragement that has been coming my way. I guess I was mainly expecting blank and confused expressions, tinged with a side of judgement, which I admit I do get from time to time, but I’m pleased to report that the response has been mostly positive.

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle | The Open Home

Before I share more posts about our home ed lifestyle let me first disclose that I am by no means an expert and this is not a homeschool “how-to” blog. There are many veteran homeschoolers out there with a wealth of information and flashy websites with affiliate links to go with it. I’m not planning to go too deep and wide with my blog posts here, but rather just give you a glimpse into what “school” looks like for us on this tiny island and what led us to home educate in the first place.

My hope is that by sharing a little about our learning lifestyle here that my readers will come to understand two things about home education. Firstly, that it can be a wonderfully enriching educational choice for many families and secondly, that not all homeschoolers are unsociable, tree-hugging, school-hating weirdos – although I’m sure some of us are!

If you have any questions in regard to home educating, particularly on a small island like Guernsey then please leave your questions in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them in future posts.

What would you like to know about home educating on a small island?

{Autumn Nature Study}

Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home

“Why be indoors when you can rightly be without.” – Charlotte Mason

A big part of my girls education involves time outdoors and nature study. We love this aspect of our learning lifestyle as it’s something that all the family gets involved with.

We use Exploring Nature with Children as a guide both at home and with our weekly Nature Explorers group.

This term we’ve taken a closer look at autumn leaves, fungus, moss and lichen and we even picked out our very own tree to study throughout the academic year.

Here are some of the snap shots:

Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Conkering is still our favourite autumn activity.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Mild autumns call for lunch outdoors.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
One of favourite parks for nature walks.
Autumn Homeschool 2017 | The Open Home
A Japanese Maple fairy inspired by the wonderful works of Cecily Mary Barker.
The Open Home 893
Autumn Tree Study. Blossom picked this beauty…
Autumn Homeschool 2017 | The Open Home
… and mama picked this one.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Collecting leaves to paint and print.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
This moss and lichen covered tree kept us enthralled for a while.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
The girls are now very apt and spotting even the tiniest of mushrooms!
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Impressive fungi we discovered on a recent nature walk.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
PE the homeschool way with wellies on our feet and the wind in our hair.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Leaf confetti never gets old.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Our favourite nature treasures remain on display for further exploration.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Nature journaling goes hand-in-hand with nature study.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Getting creative with nature.

What do you enjoy most about nature in the Autumn?