{Wild Challenge} Wild Flower Foray

Wild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open Home

Guernsey is covered in wild flowers during the month of May so it was the perfect opportunity for us to tick off another experience nature activity for our RSPB Wild Challenge, tying in nicely with our regular nature walks.

Firstly, we walked along the coast from Portelet to the Fairy Ring, spotting a surprising amount of wild flowers along the way, 21!

Next we did a cliff walk up at Icart and through the nature reserve where we spotted a whopping 22 different wild flowers.

Then having done a couple of walks near the coast we headed inland to the country lanes of St. Peters to see how many wild flowers we could find on a country walk. The answer? 27!

And for a final wild flower walk we also visited the Orchid Fields down a L’Eree, part of the La Societe Guernesaise nature reserves.

Then to finish things off we searched through our field guides to identify the flowers we didn’t recognise and then drew some of our favourite wild flowers in our nature journals.

Here is the photo evidence:

Wild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open HomeWild Challenge | Wild Flower Foray | The Open Home

Daisies, foxgloves, poppies, primroses, sea pinks and buttercups are amongst our favourite wild flowers.

What are your favourite wild flowers?

{Home Ed} Implementing a Charlotte Mason Education

Implementing a Charlotte Mason Education | The Open Home

So in my last post on home education I introduced you to Charlotte who developed a theory of education that continues to be used by thousands of home educators worldwide today, including myself.

I also did my best to summarise, in one short paragraph, what the Charlotte Mason philosophy means to me and today I’d like to unpack that a little further, to help you see what a Charlotte Mason education looks like in practice and how you can implement the philosophy in your own home.

Now it’s important to remember that Charlotte created an educational philosophy not a curriculum (although she did create some of these for use in the PNEU schools). You can find some modern day curriculums out there based on Charlotte Mason’s principles, but these are not needed to create a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool, you simply need to implement her methods in your home.

So what are her methods I hear you ask?

Well below is by no means an exhaustive list of Charlotte Mason’s methods, but they are perhaps the most recognisable aspects of a Charlotte Mason education and the ones that in particular drew me to her philosophy of education.

For each point I’ll try to explain how we are currently implementing each method in our home, not that this is the one and only way to do so, but just so you can glean ideas and get a better picture of what this could look like in your home.

 

10 Ways to Implement a Charlotte Mason Education:

 

1. Delayed Academics

Implementing a Charlotte Mason Education | The Open Home

“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life…” (Vol. 1, p. 44)

Charlotte believed the early years of learning should be “a quiet growing time” for children and formal lessons, including learning to read and write should wait until the child is around 6 years old. Families providing a Charlotte Mason education are often interested in protecting childhood, using the early years to develop useful life skills and to connect with their child through play.

In our home Blossom, only started to regularly practice reading, writing and maths at age 6 once she started the equivalent of Year 2. Before this I considered her to be in the early years of education and did not require her to sit still to practice such things. She had learnt phonics at age 5 and would attempt to sounds things out and write things off her own initiative, but not at my request.

 

2. Habit Training.

Implementing a Charlotte Mason Education | The Open Home

“What you would have the man become, that you must train the child to be.”  (Vol. 2, p. 15)

Charlotte Mason encouraged parents to instruct their children in the formation of good habits and positive character traits. Now it’s never too late to work on instilling good habits in our children, but the early years of education, before the introduction of formal lessons is a great time to focus on habit formation, leading to smoother and easier school days in the years that are to follow.

Now in our home a big part of habit training in the early years has focused on encouraging the girls to gain independence in activities of daily living like washing, dressing, feeding and toileting and encouraging them to take part in household chores. These life skills are important and definitely part of habit training, but they aren’t what habit training is all about.

Over the course of Charlotte’s six volumes on education she mentioned 60+ different habits, some physical habits, some mental habits, others moral and religious. There’s a lot to work on!

In our home I am using the Laying Down the Rails resources from Simply Charlotte Mason to guide me through habit training as well as Habits for the Early Years from My Little Robins.

 

3. Living Books

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“Children must have books, living books, the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough.” (Vol. 2, p. 279)

Charlotte believed in reading children rich literature as opposed to dry textbooks and the dumbed down “twaddle” that so many of the modern day children’s books have become.  Books should spark the imagination and connect with the soul, not merely entertain. As C.S. Lewis said “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” I think Charlotte would have agreed.

In our home this involves reading a lot of classic children’s literature like Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Milly-Molly-Mandy and The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse and avoiding the gaudily illustrated stories about underpants and bogeys that seem to be the focus of much of children’s literature these days. As with all things though the 80/20 Principle does apply. I do let my girls bring home books from the library at times that aren’t particularly to my taste, but I do not keep such stories on our bookshelves at home.

 

4. Nature Study

Implementing a Charlotte Mason Education | The Open Home

“It is infinitely well worth the mother’s while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects.” (Vol. 1, p. 71)

Charlotte advocated for ample amounts of time outdoors, particularly in the early years of education before formal lessons start. Children receiving a Charlotte Mason education often spend hours outdoors everyday, go on regular nature walks, keep nature journals and become familiar with the natural flora and fauna of their local landscape.

In our home this looks like attending a weekly nature explorers group with other home ed families, taking a weekly nature walk through the same public garden so that we can familiarise ourselves with this specific nature spot, completing a phenology wheel and calendar of firsts in our nature journals and dedicating time during our Monday morning book basket to learn more about natural history.

 

5. Art Enrichment

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“The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore a child should have a generous curriculum.” (Vol. 6, p. 111)

Charlotte believed in spreading a liberal feast of ideas before the child. She wasn’t just concerned with educating the mind, but educating the whole child. Children receiving a Charlotte Mason education fill their hearts and minds with the beauty and wisdom of hymns and folksongs, they memorise poetry and scripture and also study the works of great artists and composers.

In our home we implement this by having a poet, artist and composer whose work we study for the term as well as familiarising ourselves with a new hymn every month or so. Practically we do this by including an art enrichment slot in our morning book basket everyday. On Monday we do hymn study, on Tuesday picture study, on Wednesday composer study and then on Thursday we review one of our old hymns. As for poems we read a few every day during our morning basket and try to memorise a couple of our favourites over the term.

 

6. Short Lessons.

Home Ed | Implementing Charlotte Mason | The Open Home

“… the lessons are short, seldom more than twenty minutes in length for children under eight.” (Vol. 1, p. 142)

Once a child is ready for formal lessons these lessons are kept short so as to engage the child and keep them fully attentive. A child may have lessons in reading, writing, maths, literature, history, picture study and poetry all in one day, but no lesson is more than 20 minutes long for a new student and some last only 5 minutes or so.

In our home our Table Time work, which includes copy work (writing practice) and maths for my 7 year old only takes about 30 minutes for the two subjects. Our morning book basket, which consists of our daily devotions (bible reading, prayers and gratitude journal), art enrichment as mentioned above and then our main lesson (either history, geography, natural history or PSHE) is all done within an hour. The short lessons means all our formal school work is currently done within an hour and a half every morning a little longer if we add in craft projects to accompany our main lesson.

 

7. Narration

Home Ed | Implementing Charlotte Mason | The Open Home

“Narrating is not the work of a parrot, but of absorbing into oneself the beautiful thought from the book, making it one’s own and then giving it forth again with just that little touch that come’s from one’s own mind.” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 125)

Charlotte recognised that children naturally narrate or “tell back” stories from their day so she used this as a key tool in their education. Once a child is receiving formal lessons from around age 6 they can then be asked to narrate orally (and creatively) and then around age 10 they can begin to write their narrations. Narration has the double benefit of enabling the child to express and process what they’ve learnt from a lesson without the need of having to fill in a dry comprehensive worksheet.

In our home we are just starting out with oral narrations for my 7 year old and I have chosen to start with our art enrichment subjects of picture study and composer study. After studying a picture or listening to a piece of music I simply ask a question about what we’ve studied, questions like; How did that piece of music make you feel? What instruments could you hear? What do you think the people in this picture were feeling? What do you particularly like about this picture?

In time, we will start adding in narrations for our history, geography and nature read alouds too, making it 1-2 oral narrations per day. I have personally chosen not to do narrations for our literature read alouds as I want these books to simply be savoured and enjoyed as a family.

 

8. Copy work

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“A certain sense of possession and delight may be added… if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favourite verse in one poem or another.” (Vol. 1, p. 238)

Copy work is another of Charlotte’s methods introduced once formal lessons have begun around age 6, although Charlotte called it transcription. Copy work initially begins as a way of practicing letter formation and hand writing but in time, if done well, it is also a fabulous way of getting a child to slow down to take notice of spelling and grammar and also enables them to internalise words of great beauty.

For my 7 year old, who started copy work at the start of this academic year when 6 years old, I simply write out scripture verses, poems, or hymns that she’s enjoyed into a little handwriting exercise book and encourage her to copy it using her best handwriting. She started by writing just a short list of words back in the autumn term and now as we come to the end of the school year she will write out several lines and has also moved on to joined up (cursive) handwriting.

Now some people choose to buy handwriting curriculum to use for copy work, but I have to say I have found this simple approach to be highly sufficient not to mention cost effective. The improvement in my 7 year olds handwriting over this academic year with just a few minutes of writing practice every school day has been incredible.

 

9. Handicrafts

Implementing a Charlotte Mason Education | The Open Home

“The human hand is a wonderful and exquisite instrument to be used in a hundred movements exacting delicacy, direction and force; every such movement is a cause for joy as it leads to the pleasure of execution and the triumph of success.” (Vol. 6, p. 328) 

Children receiving a Charlotte Mason education are encouraged to learn meaningful arts and crafts and produce useful pieces of work, as opposed to throw away crafts that often come in a pack. Think knitting, sewing, pottery, woodwork, sculpting, baking and calligraphy, all things that make for great life long skills.

In our home this currently looks like embroidery and weaving which we aim to work on once a week, but it’s often more like once or twice a month. With their embroidery the girls will eventually be making some personalised bags as gifts and with their weaving they are due to start making a wall hanging to display in their newly decorated bedroom.

 

10. Free Afternoons

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There is “… satisfaction to do the day’s work in the day, and be free to enjoy the day’s leisure.” (Vol. 4, p. 173)

Charlotte advocated that children should have afternoons free from formal lessons, made possible by the short lessons mentioned above that ensured that school work was out of the way by lunch time. The afternoons aren’t a time to simply be idle but a time to be productive and learn in more hands on and practical ways.

Things like going on nature walks, music practice and lessons, working on handcrafts, serving in the community, pursuing hobbies and following their own interests.

In our home this looks like poetry tea time on a Monday, handcrafts or baking on a Tuesday, a play date on a Wednesday, nature walk on a Thursday and Girl Guiding on a Friday, all with lots of free play throw in.

———-

Home Ed | Implementing Charlotte Mason | The Open Home

So there you have it. Ten ways that you can implement a Charlotte Mason education in your own home.

Which of Charlotte’s methods appeal to you most?

{Home Ed} Introducing Charlotte

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

Since we started home educating Blossom two and a half years ago, six families have been in contact with me directly to discuss the possibility of home educating their little one(s) at home on this island, not to mention the countless others I have spoken with online via a Facebook group for home educators in Guernsey.

They usually start by asking me what do we do and are then very eager to know what we use to do it.

This line of thought often has people bogged down in the “how to” of home educating, most often before they have even given much thought as to the “why” of home educating.

I personally feel it’s important to understand why you want to home educate your kids before you start planning how to home educate them and unfortunately, I’m often not much help when it comes to the “how to” of home educating, especially not when someone is after a curriculum suggestion, as we do not follow the national curriculum nor a box set of curriculum.

What I do follow however, is an educational philosophy.

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

Now if a curriculum is the “how to” of an education then an educational philosophy is the “why”. It’s the guiding principle that keeps the big picture in mind and the reference point for all learning.

This is why when prospective home educators are seeking advice on how to home educate their kids I like to encourage them to first take some time to think about why they want to home educate their kids. I find researching the various educational philosophies can really help with this, enabling you to identify the educational values and methods that aren’t always used in schools, but are important to you.

Now there are many educational philosophies out there and not everyone that home educates chooses to follow one and many even glean ideas from a few. Waldorf Steiner, Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason and Un-schooling seem to be the most popular ones, but there are others and I’m not going to go into the details of all of these here as I do not follow them all.

Instead today I would just like to introduce you to Charlotte Mason, the creator of the one educational philosophy that I do follow.

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

Now Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As a child she was mostly educated at home by her parents and then as an adult went on to become a teacher, lecturer and educator who authored many books on the topic of educational theory. She also co-founded an organisation, the Parents Educational Union later renamed the Parents National Education Union, or the PNEU for short which offered support and resources to parents who were educating their children at home.

As her theory of education became popular the first school based on her principles was opened in 1890 and there are still a few PNEU private schools operating in the UK today, not to mention thousands of home educators worldwide choosing to educate their children the Charlotte Mason way.

Now I won’t go into all the principles of a Charlotte Mason education here nor will I share in detail about all of her wonderful methods, which appeal to so many. I will save that for a later post as this one is already getting rather long. Today I just wanted to briefly introduce you to Charlotte, to put her on your radar and then in my later home ed posts I can unpack the philosophy a little more.

Personally I have found following an educational philosophy, particularly the Charlotte Mason philosophy to be very grounding and affirming in my journey as a home educator. It’s enabled me to better understand my educational values, to keep focused on what I’m trying to achieve in our homeschool and it gives me greater freedom when making decisions as I have some guiding principles to come back to.

So in conclusion today I would just like to briefly sum up, in my own words what the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education looks like. I’m sure that other home educators would explain it very differently, as different aspects of the philosophy may appeal to them more, but for those who are unsure of some of the traits of a Charlotte Mason education then these are the elements that drew me to the philosophy.

Here we go:

“The Charlotte Mason philosophy of education is also known as the gentle art of learning. It provides an education rich in the liberal arts offering a wide variety of subjects that educate the whole child, not just his mind. There is a focus on forming good habits, gaining life skills, spending time outdoors and using quality children’s literature, with short formal lessons being delayed until a child is around 6 years old.”

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

So in my next Charlotte Mason post I’ll share more about how we implement the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool, mentioning some of the main methods she used that have now become some of the key characteristics of a Charlotte Mason homeschool education.

So tell me, what are your questions about a Charlotte Mason education?

{Wild Challenge} Feed the Birds

Wild Challenge | Feed the Birds | The Open Home

The girls have ticked off their first help nature activity as part of their RSPB Wild Challenge bronze award, meaning we’re now half way to achieving it! This time they got their hands sticky in an attempt to feed the birds.

We stocked up on nuts, bird seed, suet bites and meal worms and mixed it all together with some grated cheese, raisins and lard. We were able to create 7 yogurt pot sized bird feeders for hanging around the garden as well as a bird food cake to put in our ground feeder.

Our resident robin in particular is especially appreciating their efforts and the girls feel pleased they are helping nature right in their own back yard.

Here is the photo evidence:

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When was the last time you fed the birds?

{Wild Challenge} Bird Watching

RSPB Wild Challenge | Bird Watching | The Open Home

The girls have ticked off another experience nature activity as part of their RSPB Wild Challenge bronze award, this time by going bird watching. They made use of a break in the rainy weather a couple of weeks back and embarked on a Daddy expedition to the bird hides by vale pond taking with them their nature supplies complete with binoculars, camera, field guide, clipboards and of course, those all important snacks.

They managed to spot snipes and coots, herring gulls and ducks, great tits and pigeons, a robin, blackbird and plenty of crows.

Here is the photo evidence:

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When was the last time you went birdwatching?

{Learning at Home} Keep Calm!

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

As of today Guernsey schools are officially closed, two weeks ahead of the Easter holidays meaning at least 4 weeks at home for Guernsey children with a recommendation to socially distance (not self isolate as yet, unless you’re considered more vulnerable), meaning most families can still pop outdoors for some sensibly distanced fresh air at this time.

(N.B. The situation may have changed since this post was published on Monday, 23rd March 2020 at 9:00. Please keep an eye on the States of Guernsey website for the latest updates.)

Firstly parents, please don’t panic! Your kids are home from school for 6 weeks over the school summer holidays every year, often enjoying lots of unscheduled free time and they do just fine.

Yes these school closures could last much longer, but we don’t know that for certain at this stage and you now have time to plan for that possibility over the coming weeks.

Secondly, during these school closures your child’s education is still the responsibility of as the States of Guernsey, Education Department and the schools will likely be providing you with suggestions of projects, online resources and apps to use whilst your child is at home. So again, don’t panic! You will be supported and guided over the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime as a registered, long term home educator I just want to share a few pieces of advice that I give to new home educators, which I hope will also calm your nerves and reassure you as you transition into learning at home with your children this week.

5 ways to keep calm as you transition into learning at home with your children:

 

1. Take things slow

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

Honestly, even if you treat the next 4 weeks as an extended Easter holiday and simply schedule lots of free play, outdoor walks and family fun activities, you’ll have done plenty.

You don’t have to have everything sorted straight away. It’s fine to take a few weeks to prepare, come up with ideas and formulate some sort of plan. It’s fine to start small and to start slow, introducing one subject into the school day at a time.

Our full days of learning have been a process of two and half years of slowly adding in the next thing, working out what works, rejigging things accordingly and then trying again. Give yourself some grace, you’re learning too!

Just figure out what your priority is. It may be reading practice, maths, a daily walk or craft? Pick one area, establish that into your daily routine and then add in the next thing. It’s like spinning plates. It’s easier to spin the next plate once you’ve already got the first plate spinning.

 

2. Keep it simple

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

Sometimes less is more and as I said in my last post there are many simple things you can do to learn at home as a family. Think crafts and games, gardening and baking, not tedious worksheets and hours studiously sat around a table.

Learning from home can be noisy and messy and that’s okay! One of the great things about learning at home is that you can be creative in how you learn, when you learn and what you learn. There is no right or wrong way to home educate and every home educating family I know does it differently, so just do it your way.

 

3. Forget about school

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Learning from home looks very different to learning at school. My kids aren’t sent out for break time at 10:00am everyday or sat at little desks whilst I stand by a white board and deliver a lesson. Most of our learning takes place cuddled up on the sofa, outdoors in nature or at the dining table with our craft supplies strewn around.

Just remember…

  • You don’t need a strict daily schedule or even a weekly timetable
  • You don’t need to do maths every day nor cover all subjects every week
  • You don’t need to do school from 9-3 everyday
  • You don’t need to do school from Monday to Friday

You can…

  • Fit in school work around your work and family commitments
  • Create a daily rhythm that works for you
  • School on the days that suit you, taking days off mid week if need be
  • Prioritise the subjects that are most important to you and your child

 

Personally, we do a 4 day school week which allows me to work 2 days as well. We tend to have the academic part of our school day – our reading, writing, maths and main lesson – done by lunch time meaning our afternoons are then free for crafts, time outdoors and lots of free play (or if need be a movie so I can catch up on housework or sleep!)

We don’t do maths every day. We don’t yet do a foreign language or music lessons and we plan to skip geography completely next school term, because we can.

We prioritise history and the arts, literature, nature study and PSHE because they are the subjects we love and find most important.

Work with your knowledge and enthusiasm, follow your child’s interests and figure out what your priorities are for learning at home during this time.

So remember, it doesn’t have to look like school, in fact most home educators educate their kids from home because they don’t want it to look like school! That is why here in Britain we tend to prefer the term home educating over homeschooling, because we are not trying to recreate school at home.

 

4. Rhythm is your friend

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

The highly scheduled timetable of school is necessary when you have a huge number of kids to control and coordinate, but at home such a schedule is unnecessary and can take the fun, flexibility and freedom out of learning.

A rhythm on the other hand can be your best friend! A natural ebb and flow to the day where chores follow breakfast, maths follow chores, then a morning walk and lunch, followed by a family read aloud and afternoon of play. The day may start at 9 one day and 10 the next, but the flow is the same.

There is no pressure, no falling behind and flexibility to linger longer over that book you’re all enjoying so much or to skip maths today because you woke up late and need to get outdoors for a walk before the rain hits.

The predictability of a daily rhythm is reassuring to many children, helps you keep your sanity and ensures you get stuff done, but it’s flexible and enjoyable in the process.

So think rhythm over schedule – you can check out our daily homeschool rhythm {HERE} if you need some ideas.

 

5. Learn together

Learning From Home | Keep Calm! | The Open Home

One of my greatest privileges as a home educator is that I get to share in the joy of my children’s learning. I get to watch them connect the dots, help them to grasp a new math concept, read to them words of wisdom and learn right along side them.

So Embrace this moment. It may be inconvenient and it may be far from your first choice world at the moment but in the grand scheme of life this time at home learning with your children will be fleeting.

In a matter of weeks or months they will be back at school and during this uncertain and unpredictable time you want to show your kids that when life throws you lemons you can make lemonade!

You want to make this time enjoyable for you all so that in years to come when you look back and think of the school closures of 2020, you’ll remember with fondness that not only did you survive but you thrived!

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So those are 5 things that I hope will guide and reassure you over the coming weeks as you navigate learning at home with your children.

Remember to be kind to yourself and to be gentle with your kids. It’s an unsettling time for us all and if we adults are feeling anxious it’s no wonder that our kids may be acting out too. Even my girls who don’t attend school have been unsettled this past week and they don’t face the same extreme changes that school going children are going through.

So keep calm, keep it simple and watch this space. I have a few more posts lined up over the coming weeks for those of you who find yourself thrown into learning at home, which I hope will give you some practical suggestions and usable resources, all of which have been tried and tested by a long term home educator, me!

So tell me, which point above feels most relevant to you at this time?

{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!