Let the countdown begin…

So last night I booked tickets for me and the Ps to go to Berlin to visit our lovely home ed friends who moved there this summer.

To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement! I’m also slightly apprehensive about taking the Ps on their first flight without the Stinker. But mostly I’m excited!

I was going to wait to tell the Ps until nearer the time but I just couldn’t hold the excitement in… so I told them this morning expecting shrieks and jumps, but they were so cool about it!

After I explained about the flights they started to get a bit more excited, then we looked at some pictures of the Christmas markets and the level of excitement definitely increased. When I told them we were staying with our friends the shrieking and jumping started! So we are all most excited about the same part of our trip ūüôā

Let the countdown begin….

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Forest School Friday…

When Pickle started in Year 1 at school in September, I was most concerned to be told that they would no longer be doing Forest school sessions due to lack of time! (see¬†Where the Wild Things Are…) Being stuck indoors all day was one of the big contributory factors to her dislike of school and our decision to home ed her along with Poppet.

Since that time we’ve been hunting for a good Forest school session to attend. Although we can, and do, do lots of the activities ourselves at home, there’s nothing like having someone else to do the hard-work and clearing up afterwards and a group of friends to share the fun with.

We’ve been very lucky to find a great group, not too far from home, organised by a friend we’ve made through another home ed group and a trained forest school leader.

So, despite the weather finally starting to feel more like winter than spring, the Ps were mega excited this morning about Forest School Friday. We wrapped up extra warm, packed the waterproofs and headed to the forest, via the shop to buy sausages to cook on the fire for lunch!

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The girls had an amazing 3 hours: Pickle particularly loves the mud kitchen and water (hence the need for warm waterproofs!); Poppet had a great time whittling and making a toadstool to put next to the fairy door in our garden; Piccalilli enjoys spending her time putting little sticks into the log with holes in it! I just love seeing them outdoors, being free-range, enjoying nature and rewilding; I also enjoy sitting around the campfire, cooking, chatting and singing songs I remember from my childhood (“Do your ears hang low?” – anyone else love that one?!)

Forest School Friday – one of the best¬†ways to spend a day, as long as you’re prepared to wrap up warm and come home to hot chocolate in front of the log burner to warm up those toes ūüôā

Seven tips for ‘planning’ a topic.

Aside from the basics of reading, writing and maths (see¬†A ‘Typical’ Day…), essentially we learn anything! Whatever Poppet and Pickle ask about, we learn.¬†Topics we have covered so far since our home learning journey began six months ago include dinosaurs, the great outdoors, space and currently celebrations around the world. These are all topics chosen by the big Ps and the planning (said loosely) for what to include is mainly decided together.

So, my 7 tips for planning a home learning topic are:

1. Find out what your children are interested in.¬†When we first started home ed we came up with a list of things that Poppet wanted to learn about (which included dinosaurs, space, ballet, gardening and sewing). Of course, some of these things alter or are ongoing or seasonal, but it’s a good starting point.

2.¬†Choose one topic to focus on for a period of time. We do termly topics, as the Stinker is a teacher so we have a defined break, but a week/fortnight/month can work just as well. Like I said above, some topics are seasonal; it’s best not to focus on gardening in November or winter celebrations in June, unless you live in the Southern hemisphere of course! But above all, it’s best to try to go with your kids’ current interests.

3. Talk about the topic with your children. Get them to ask questions to focus the topic. Or you might even find that they have some great ideas for activities you could do РPoppet remembered that her grandparents had visited the poppies at the Tower of London last year and thought it would be a great idea to try to create our own clay poppies.

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4. Spend some time, without your kids present, scouring the internet. It’s a great tool to enhance their learning experience, but there’s so much out there that it’s best to have an idea before you jump in with the kids. Searching for things while the Ps are waiting often results in arguments or a loss of interest! I guess that being an ex-primary teacher gives me a slight advantage in knowing where to look for age-appropriate resources, but to be honest, if you type ‘Space¬†for kids’ into your search engine pretty much everything you need for that¬†topic comes up! And saying that, some of the programmes that Poppet most enjoyed about space were aimed at adults. When I pointed out a shooting star and she explained to me¬†that I¬†shouldn’t call it a shooting ‘star’ because it’s actually a meteor, and then went on to explain nebula and supernova to me, I was astounded by her level of knowledge – kids really are sponges!!

5. Be prepared. Have a variety of links, games, visits and activities under your belt. Something that looks amazing to you might only engage your kids for five minutes, while something else could have them hooked for days! I also like to mind-map our ideas just so I can refer to it on those days when we need a bit of inspiration. (Poppet also enjoys ticking things off!)

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6. Be flexible. I always come back to this with home education! I know some people follow a very structured timetable, but in our experience there is no point in being too planned – kids’ focus¬†shifts, they ask questions and your learning can go off on a complete tangent! While making diya lamps this week, Pickle started asking about light and shadows, so we ended up at the library looking at science books; it now looks like we might end up doing a mini-topic on electricity!

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7. Have fun! One of the main reasons we decided to home ed is to get away from the rigidity of formal education. Therefore our main focus for any topic is that the learning is FUN!!