MS 2014 – BB

I like doing mission statements in 2 yearly dollops. I don’t have to write it every year :) . This doesn’t meant that I am not thinking about what we are doing. Home ed is a very evolving path, reactive and reflective to what BB wants, and what she hasn’t yet thought she wants, and what she might need without wanting! for the last 4 months SB hasn’t been here, so the sole focus of our home ed efforts is BB, and a spotlight on what she may need and be doing. The last one was actually not much over a year ago though, so I am a bit early :) , but somehow this year I feel the need to write things down again.

I love home education. It has educated me. SB’s education along the way has been hindered or helped in equal measure by my thinking someone else has a better resource and trying to implement it. SB being an amenable sort has given most things a go before letting quite a number of them moulder. BB’s education has been far more about her all the way along. She is very different from SB, and her home educated peers are all so very different that it has never really seemed sensible to try what x is doing. SO she remains, autonomously educated with the odd push and nudge, doing things at her speed and pace. BB is really far more individualistic and internally motivated – ie as a translation is not going to do it because i ask! We understand the value of dead ends, false starts and rethinking, so there is less pressure to ‘get it right’ and more belief ‘in the process’. Both of these mean that autonomous [our way] is working. What we have seen in the slow and steady methodology of the last 2 years is a real move forwards for BB. She gets easily worked up when she hits a difficulty or snag, so we have meandered with oxbows to consolidate and gently move on at her pace. This seems to have really worked. Because we don’t reference to others, either at school or peers, there is no internal or external pressure to ‘keep up’ and mark one’s achievements against others. This has been a blessing, as I think with pressure and stress we wouldn’t be moving on so well or so confidently.

anyway, here goes – normal disclaimers still apply!

Taking us to jan 2015 – ie BB 11 [2 years]

I think full formal education starts too soon for many children. BB really only now seems right and ready for some formal education amongst the life. In our educational philosopy, the first period is about learning skills, and getting the information with basics of reading and numeracy, but lots of living, exploring, finding – and then we move onto the second period which is about consolidation and expansion, making the links between things and building on the skills we have. Education and knowledge is for us about showing and finding out about the world as an exciting and interesting place to live, picking up skills to find out more. We plan to show and help find the knowledge without being overly concerned to the most part on how long it is retained! Some skills we hope to built on – namely literacy, language, numeracy and practical things such as art, music and sports. Others will come and go.The key thing is to view the tapestry, not count the stitches. The basic warp and weft will be forming.

In this, we vacillate between child led and autonomous with nudges – I am not sure either. We have an eclectic mix of styles, with lots of literature and reading based learning a la charlotte mason, a nod to classical education, with our spiral learning of history in chronological form, and science through experimentation. We are perhaps on the ‘bookish’ side for home educators, as we do use a variety of resources, chosen to complement the way our children work. Never entirely sure whether that stops us being ‘autonomous’, maybe. However, BB tends to choose what she learns and when. We have a ‘ticksheet’ each week, which although it sounds fussy and timetably is really just a tidier way of strewing. It gives choices [nudges] of things to do through the week, which encompasses the booky things, but allows swaps in, adding to and gets altered frequently. I am altering it currently as BB wants more science book and reading spaces on it and a lego space. There are no negatives for not doing much on it. A busy out and about week, or a taking over crafting project, or just too much lovely weather and outside stuff can be more interesting at the time and so we have peaks and troughs.

There are things i would like to keep moving forward with – reading, a bit of maths and piano, encouraging french and things that i know we will do a fair bit of – joint looking at books, art and crafts, science experiments and some things we might do a lot of and some less so dependent on child interest led. I think we most closely could be labelled as automous. Although I have rough idea of what we may get through as such in the next 2 years, it isn’t ‘must do or else’, and often I skip bits : more a guide to where i see us using and doing. BB has a clear idea of what she finds interesting at the moment, and so it seems entirely reasonable to look at these and follow the spark of her interest over the years. I have no prioritised information, or educational heirachy to worry about, so following her self led discovery seems as good a pointer as any. Also, with having a home educated older sibling, she can’t help but have some overspill from that input.

As this two year period progresses, we will be encouraging more formal ‘bookwork’ amongst the general learning and exploring. Learning how to learn the school way is important too, even if it isn’t the prime way BB currently absorbs things. it teaches some discipline and encourages progression as well as giving us leaping off points we might not otherwise see. it helps BB develop from an absorber into a co-learner, able to find things independently of our interests. I can’t see BB currently doing as much work book based learning as SB, but she might surprise me. Below is mostly an account of the resources for the bookwork side of things. I want to re-emphasise that currently this is such a small portion of what home educating for BB will be. Most learning will be through experimenting, finding out, reading books together and watching interesting programmes, visiting places and generally following the interests of the moment.

Play activities are still vital at this stage – as when else in the future are you given the chance to have free play without some pangs of guilt? Lets get rid of the guilt, so that is something that is part of the balance.I think there is very little ‘play’ that doesn’t have some learning potential – from rehearsing life scenarios, honing imagination, fine motor control, etc etc. For BB, who sometimes struggles to work out what other people might be thinking, play is a very important rehearsing tool. But also, towards the end of this period BB will be starting to step out of childhood and towards adolescence, when play can become stilted and limited. Best to be wild about it whilst we can.

the Nitty Gritty

English literacy/language:

BB is a confident and competent reader. SHe reads what she wants, when she wants. She will read aloud to us, and has minimal hesitancy whilst reading quite complex books either fact or fiction. So I just aim to keep her well stocked with books. A surprise success was the oxford reading tree time series, which she really enjoyed. I have just bought her the level 12+ ones. But she is also reading Philip Pullman’s amber spyglass as a more long term project. She seems to like having a read the whole thing option for daily dipping and a longer book for bedtime.

We are still continuing with the explode the code series, mostly as a spelling aid and encouragement to write now rather than using the synthetic phonics to read as this is mastered. She is currently on book 4, which is where SB stopped having decided she could read. BB is currently keen to go ahead, possibly because this is pretty easy for her. We are also continuing on with Getty and Dubay slowly for handwriting.

we are getting ready to start on Galore Park junior english! I don’t think it is quite BB’s style at the moment, but she is getting on with the Collins Books now without fuss, and generally finding them easy. She hates writing still, so we are doing the softly softly approach! Currently doing the spelling and grammar 1 and the comprehension introduction – which we have nearly finished. These are fairly expensive books for the little slips that they are! But whilst they are ok for BB i won’t complain. it is a shame they wont be reusable as she writes in them rather than in a separate exercise book on the whole. However, we are now going through them more quickly and happily as they are now in her comfort zone, so I would imagine we would be going through 2 levels a year for the next 2 years, and considering adding in the galore park 1 as a taster at some point. This is far more book for your money, and you can work through it doing the answers at the childs level – so one book for a varied skill mix. More writing tho!

singapore maths ah yes, we were on the 2b and having quite a struggle getting the concept of HTU – for which we bought base 10 blocks, and did a lot of proactive real life number manipulation and stopped the singapore maths for a while. We moved onto conquer maths where she is currently half way through year 3 [she would be in year 4 at school]. I am happy with her progress here. As with all things, she has a tendency to be flustered if it isn’t easily apparent to her, and she is most satisfied when she can get 100% and a platinum award. I believe a solid basis of numeracy rather than working to her year group is more important, and since we are working and moving forward, I am hoping that we don’t reach another chasm of maths similar to the HTU crisis. As she gets more confident, we may re-introduce something like singapore my pals are here – which we buy as the main curriculum rather than the add on books available at amazon, as I really like it as a solid structure to build on.

we also have some maths reading books which I shall gather up again and read aloud

For the immediate future I have a plan of racing through the history of britain in 5 months with all 3 girls [including our french foster daughter] . this is a slightly crazy thing, and i need to actually sit and plan in detail. We do have some core britain through the ages, as well as some lovely reading books or additional fact books based around most of the ages to supplement this. I plan that we will visit some sites/museums relevant, learn a skill and cook a food [v sotw so will use those to reference too] for each ‘age’ and each girl will have a history journal book to write in, add drawings, photos, postcards about this.
When FrB goes home, we will move on to SoTW 4 – at last! The last 2 years we have reenacted tudor years at Kentwell which bb enjoyed more than i had hoped, and we will do again. we also have our island story on cd which they enjoy, and clearly BB is perfect age for horrible histories! [argh!].

we do regular science experiments, and BB enjoys these. They have been at a variety of levels, from the real science 4 kids to gcse level biology experiments. I tend to think science should be fun and interesting and the kids will take in what is appropriate to them. We have done all the core young engineers club experiments, and so I will be looking at the next level to do with our wednesday group.
She has enthusiasm for astronomy currently as well, getting a telescope last christmas and learning a few of the simple constellations to spot.
She says she wants to do galore park junior science books. we will see! [but not quite yet - something to be aiming for in this 2 year period] However, she has started on some science workbooks she got for christmas and really loves them. the schofield and simms is a bit more challenging than the letts, but will work through a few of these before trying out the galore park. I am not sure letts is doing the wizard series anymore, and that superficial level is just perfect for bb workbook. As she says, she knows all the answers. Hopefully I will be able to source some more. I do wonder whether we should try education city for bb.

will be predominantly history and holiday based. We have many books that are geography and geology based to read also, so lots to pick up and read together, and also we watch enough natural history programmes to have a good basis there. This isn’t going to be part of our written workbooks in this 2 years.

BB has long been resistant to learning french, but with SB away in France she seems to have an incentive to start off. currently we are mostly reading first french books together and she is practicing some of the words. I have the first skoldo as a work book, but I think it will be a while before we add writing and just bought the tatou books to see how that works [she is v happy to have her own books, but I think they aren't intuitive!] . i just want us to pootle in a forwards direction! Since SB will return fluent in French, I might see if she can teach us all!

music :-
BB currently appears to have perfect pitch, so i encourage lots of singing and note mimicry. She has kept on with piano, after a few false starts, and is currently happy to carry on in her own way at her own speed. She made me very proud by playing christmas carols to her home ed friends. She dips in and out of recorder and cello, and hopefully we will do a bit more of one or both. Also plan to restart music theory, as i think she has the confidence now.

critical thinking:

SB loved the non verbal reasoning books, and adapted to the verbal reasoning, so have introduced some to BB as well, I think these are good for activating the brain to think patterns. We are also playing more strategy type boardgames.

currently swimming, judo and and cycling. she is very fit and active, and seems a sturdy runner. Physical fitness is important, and we will continue to encourage high activity levels.

well!! this currently involves a lot of roblox and minecraft, this is starting to get her interested in developing her own games and a friend may well offer coding tuition.

Arts and crafts:
This might be tucked at the bottom after more academic subjects, but it is obviously a huge component of our days! BB seems to have quite a flair for art and crafts. SHe can find t very difficult when it doesn’t come out as she plans it to, and so can be very frustrated. however, often I am amazed by her execution, and so encourage practice of different styles, techniques and she joined SB at arts award lessons and pottery group, both of which have now stopped. I will be looking for formal sessions for her, as well as organising things at home. We have quite a few arts resources books as well. Working through techniques and styles as well as free art in all its guises. We love art and crafting.

BB is v keen on hands on building and technical things, particularly lego, but also woodworking with DH, and taking apart old electrical items and exploring what is in them.

Domestic Science!!: slight rofl at title, but a fair bit of baking and cooking, gardening, and some sewing , but mostly eating the baking :)

Socialising: regular attendance at not quite local groups, local clubs such as scouts, which she loves, national camps and making sure we have a steady stream of houseguests.

Field Trips
We go through boom and bust with field trips, sometimes being very busy and more extrovert, and sometimes more stay at home. Whilst we have our french daughter, we hope to do more field trips, see more museums, ruins, science events, art galleries and broaden our horizons some more. We had perhaps got into a predictable rut, and having FrB will be the jolt we need to liven things up again

communal education
We do also do joint educating, whether with our local home ed group – multisports, ‘forest school’, art and the ad hoc pottery/glass/visits etc – our wednesday group of friends, with Weds4ed – a varying combination of famiy over the years, but with a commitment to ‘do something productive’ whilst enjoying each others company. often a mixture of art, science, music and hopefully adding programming.


I realise how different our approach has been to BB over SB till now, with a much more freeform approach to home educating, only now starting to regularly add in structure and more formal type work. SB was child led interest, BB has been totally autonomous.however, we have both girls happy and enjoying life, childhood and also learning. When I look at other home educators, I still worry that they are completely autonous and it looks good for them, so maybe our girls do too much bookishness [well, mostly SB to this point] and then I look at those that do school at home and it looks good for them, and i worry that we don’t do enough bookishness. I look at those that outsource to tutors and worry that our girls would have better or more, and I look to those that visit countless museums and field trips and think we could add more of that in. Getting the balance right for my children, what suits them, and what we can achieve rather than whirling like a weathervane through all the options is my aim.

[petitsharicots is a participant in the the amazon Europe s.a.r.l. associates programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to]

One response to “MS 2014 – BB

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