Thursday, 13 January 2011

New Resolve and a New Timetable

Well, we're back to 'school' with a vengeance. As Henrietta pointed out in the previous post, we aren't under any obligation to keep to school terms. But we had Dad on a two week holiday, so there was no way we were going to 'do school'. (We actually tend to keep to other terms, more or less, because of cousins being off school, swimming classes working in with school terms etc)

Anyway, while we were on holiday over the past week or two, the girls and I spoke quite a bit about things that were working and things that weren't.

We have now devised a fairly rigid timetable, and have decided to maintain it as much as is possible. It's quite a tight schedule, but we're going to stick with it for the first three weeks of term anyway and then we'll review it. The first couple of days back after a relaxing holiday can be a bit of a struggle anyway, but at this time of year - with dark mornings that cry out to you me that bed is the logical place to be - it can be rather painful! However, so far, so good.

After three weeks, we're going to review it. If the schedule has been too tight, we will take some days at the beginning of February to catch up. If needs be, we'll tweak the timetable and give a little more breathing space within it. I have suggested slaving for three 'hard working weeks' and then having one week of catch-up (and catching our breath!) each month.

Have any of you worked to this kind of schedule? If our initial three weeks prove do-able (just!), we may have a three-week month and play catch-up for the fourth week. We'll see.

The Wee Guy is lower primary level. His timetable has Maths and Language every day. We use Abeka for each of these subjects. As well as his daily diet of these subjects, I add a weekly (sometimes twice a week) spelling test (often done on the whiteboard, because he enjoys this so much more!) and a written piece of work. The subject varies week on week. A few weeks ago, we'd read the tale of Androclus and the Lion. So, Calum's writing for that week was a story of a dog coming to the rescue of a boy who'd fallen out on the moor (his choice).

He does memory work too. We learn Scriptures (Isaiah 40: 1-5 just now) and maybe some poetry (The Land of Storybooks, by Robert Louis Stevenson right now).

Each week, we do some map work and, with some inspiration from OMSH's wall map ideas, we're pinning pictures of different places on our wall and linking them up to the map. Sometimes we read about a specific country, think about issues that may be concerning believers in that country, and talk about how we could pray for the peoples of that particular nation. 

The world is a fascinating place.

Here are our wall maps at the moment.
The Butt of Lewis lighthouse and Afghanistan are our photos right now.

Our lighthouse the day we 'showed OMSH the world'

Our plan is to have a UK map to the right of the World, and a proper USA map to the left. 

The Wee Guy has also begun learning to draw. By this I mean that instead of just drawing his picture and colouring it in, we are trying to learn specific skills to make drawings more life-like. We are using Usborne's Drawing Animals. I have no skill in this area. I mean none whatsoever. 

Step by step....

This is his orangutan hanging from a branch. (I say 'his': we did do it together, following the step by step instructions, but it's mostly his work.)
In my book, this is good. Really good and artistic. But I admit to having the artistic ability of a piece of wood!

We read quite a bit together, and he reads for pleasure - at the moment, mostly these books:

You get the drift??

Then we spent hours listening to innumerable facts about soldiering through the ages.

"Mum, did you know.....?"

"Yes, dear"

"Did you?"

"Er.... no. I meant no..."

"Well, wait til I tell you...."

(Mum stifles yawn and feigns interest) 

Clearly, I was cut out for this homeschooling lark. I have such enthusiasm for all my children's interests. 

So, after all that, there you have a glimpse of the Wee Guy's schooling. I'll post about the girls' soon. 

Providing we haven't been besieged by a Roman Army, decimated by the Vikings or speared by the Greeks.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Do you have to keep to school terms?

We often get asked if we have to keep to school terms/do so many days a year/follow the local schools' pattern.

In England, the answer is no, we don't. Our obligation is to provide a full time education which is appropriate to a child's age, aptitude and ability.  There are various legal cases which define some of those terms, but nowhere are the hours/subjects defined.

The current legal guidelines are as follows

"What's required of you:the facts about home education are:

•you do not need to be a qualified teacher to educate your child at home

•your child is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum or take national tests, but as a parent you are required by law to ensure your child receives full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude

•any special educational needs your child may have must be recognised

•you do not need special permission from a school or local authority to educate your child at home, but you do need to notify the school in writing if you're taking your child out of school

•you will need to notify the local authority if you are removing your child from a special school

•you do not need to observe school hours, days or terms

•you do not need to have a fixed timetable, nor give formal lessons

•there are no funds directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children at home

•some local authorities provide guidance for parents, including free National Curriculum materials"

However, having said that, we as a family *do* tend to follow school terms. When the children were all younger, we had fewer outside activities, so were more free to set our our timetables. As they have gotten older, and are involved in so much outside of the home,  it makes sense to keep to (roughly) the same terms as their schooled friends do. For example there are activity classes that only run during the government school holidays, which our children get involved in, as well as activities that only run during term time (e.g. gymnastics).

We do take time off during school terms for days out - if we time it right we can get to some of London's  busiest attractions when they are very quiet :-)

And also, we do not take the six weeks off in the summer that the schools do. We tend to have the first week and the last week off, and do some different activities/lessons in the middle - mainly the reading scheme.

Children who have imminent exams do not take many holidays!

We've had a longer break that normal over Christmas/New Year, since we went down with a ten-day tummy bug just before the end of term; and that combined with the time Julian had off (we don't do lessons when Dad is home); and a few educational days out, means we've not got back into routine properly till today.

We did return to lessons last Tuesday, but that was more a case of finishing off what had been missed, catching up, and   - the oh so difficult! - getting used to starting work at 6.45am.