At the end of every month R makes a picture calendar showing what we will be doing during the next month. This includes and trips we have planned along with appointments and weekly classes.
|Making a calendar|
Every week the children attend music classes at Dynamic Rhythms Music Centre. Both children are learning to play the keyboard and to read music. We try do do 3 practises at home each week.
Both children also take swimming and gymnastics lessons once a week
Every week we attend a home education group: Home Education Penrith (HEP). Here we enjoy social time and group activities such as art, drama, cultural studies, music, basketball, gymnastics, cooking and more. We have free play afterwards at a local park or, in Summertime, we go swimming at a nearby river. The group often organises excursions to local places of interest. Its a great way to meet friends and exchange ideas for both Mum and the kids.
|Emergency services day at Home Education Penrith|
Once a week we visit our local library to max out our cards with 60 books. These don't last long before the kids have read them all. Sometimes we attend story sessions and workshops at the library or at the museum next door.
|At the library|
R also goes to Joey Scouts each week.
|My Joey Scout|
We like to attend local and Sydney events such as parades, exhibitions and fairs. We have season tickets to visit the Australian, Maritime and Powerhouse museums in Sydney and the Science Centre in Wollongong. The Art Gallery of NSW and the Botanic Gardens are free and we often visit those too.
|At the Australian museum|
We like to go along to most public events and cultural celebrations in Sydney and our local area. These typically include Australia Day, Chinese New Year, Bondi Kite Festival and Sculptures, Camden Show, Vivid Sydney, Campbelltown Steam Museum Open Day, Thirlmere Festival Of Steam, and lots of others. Click on "Events" on the side bar for more.
|Street food at Chinese New Year|
So as you can see we are educating, not at home, but out in the community a lot. So what do we do at home then? A work day at home involves maths, English, music practise, typing, reading, computers and fine motor skills in the morning. In the afternoon we concentrate on more practical activities such as science, art, history, geography, cooking and gardening. Typically the day starts late as the children sleep between 12 and 14 hours a night. First things first, they get straight out of bed and into some reading.
Every week we will have 3 sessions on spelling and 1 on grammar from the Jolly Grammar curriculum. I supplement this with my own materials linked to the spellings such as crosswords and word-searches. The children get tested on their spellings at the end of the week.
We usually have 2 sessions on writing or sometimes 1 longer one. The children will often work together at the ideas stage and then separately to actually write their piece. We use pen and paper methods as well as word processing on the computer. I usually design the writing curriculum myself but we have been using the 4 Square Writing method and writing frames from Sparklebox too.
|Some writing by R|
Each child has at least 3 sessions of reading aloud to a parent each week. I choose the books they read for this session to ensure they are sufficiently challenging. As well as read-alouds the children have 3 sessions of assigned reading, which is linked to the topics they are studying in science, history or geography. This assigned reading often keeps them busy on long car journeys, or is a way to keep one occupied whilst I work individually with the other. There is always lots of time left for reading for pleasure.
|Assigned reading on the solar system|
The children do 2 sessions of handwriting each week. We use the Targeting Handwriting workbooks. Both children are also learning to touch type with the English Type programs.
The children also have activities to improve their fine motor skills (and therefore handwriting too). They can choose from puzzles, sewing, threading, pegs, hammer and nails, using tweezers, and lots more.
|Fine motor skills|
We occasionally join other home educators to give presentations or to have drama lessons together. Many of their speaking and listening skills are covered by everyday situations and talking to lots of different people.
All aspects of English come into other subjects across the curriculum and in everyday life. Other subjects will usually involve reading, writing, listening, discussing and presenting. The children also like to enjoy audio books whilst travelling in the car.
Each week the children have a session using the Targeting Maths workbooks and 2 sessions using Maths on Line (maths on line do a home-school rate).
|Working with Maths on Line|
In addition, the children have 2 sessions to practise their tables and 2 maths lessons which I design myself. I often use lesson plans from the UK national curriculum which can be found archived here. We try to use manipulatives, games and practical methods where possible. Sparklebox has lots of maths card games.
|This is maths about odd and even numbers!|
Again maths comes into lots of other subject areas and everyday life. Examples include making graphs, taking measurements, timelines, cooking and shopping.
In addition to typing and on-line maths the children use computers across the subjects to research the internet, manipulate images, produce text and make graphs and tables. Dad takes each child once a week for a dedicated computing lesson which he devises himself.
Each week we spend some time on our science unit study. We are currently using unit studies from Intellego. We like these unit studies which are a mixture of reading, videos, games, model making and practical experiments. We try do do at least one experiment a week. Science is also about living every-day life and discovering the world around you so lots of science concepts are picked up through conversations and just living. Many of our excursions also have a science component.
|Soil science at Camden Show|
We have a history session each week. I use a combination of unit studies from Intellego and other publishers available on the internet and a curriculum I have devised myself. We also use the Story of the World books and activity guides. Lots of our history studies are carried out at museums, events and re-enactments. We like to try and live, dress and eat like people from other times and cultures. We keep timelines of various scales up on the wall and add events as we learn about them.
Lots of geography is covered by just going places! As well as actually going to different places within Australia and abroad we try to get to any public events with a cultural theme. We also use unit studies by Intellego or unit studies I have made up myself. We have maps of different scales including global, country and local available on the wall and we add places to the map as we learn about them.
|Colours of India day|
We have 1 or more art sessions a week. I make up this curriculum myself often drawing ideas from the many blogs I read (see side bar). I also use the books Drawing With Children, Inspirations for Art, Sketchbook Challenge and hundreds of other I have in my collection. I try to link our practical art making to either another subject we are studying or to an exhibition that is showing in Sydney. We find the exhibitions at the Art Gallery of NSW to be the best. Whenever we can we study the art works of other artists in real life, however the book A Year in Art is useful for artist study.
Each week the children can expect to do some cooking or gardening along with some chores.
|Tending our square foot garden|
There's usually time each week to slot in a few other things of our choice which could include, listening to or composing music, scrapbooking, garden sports, watching documentaries, using websites, bush walking, DIY, listening to stories, role playing, board games, extra excursions and more.
Yes I do have a timetable, but no I won't be showing you. The reason for that is that a timetable needs to be specific for your own situation in order to work. With Dad working random days and shifts our weekly schedule is never the same. Sometimes we work on weekdays sometimes on weekends, and usually in school holidays (so we can have time off when all the other kids are at school!). The main reasons I have a timetable are 1) to make sure I cover what I have planned and 2) so I can schedule one child with independent work freeing me up to work 1 to 1 with the other.
I have a blank 7 day time table with all of the fixed classes (like swimming and music lessons), already in place. I also have a list of all our standard activities that I want to cover each week. First I find out which days Dad will be off work and try to make a least one of those days a free day. Next I add any unusual appointments, excursions or extra classes. I then start to put in all the activities. Computers is taken by Dad so it needs to be scheduled when he's off work. If there is an activity that the children will need lots of individual help with I try to schedule that when both parents are around. If we have a class on a particular day then I usually include other lessons on that day as we wouldn't be going out on an excursion or relaxing at home anyway. If we are out in the week I will often give the children some work to do in the car. Over time I have learnt which activities I can schedule at the same time. Some things the children can work independently on, others they need a little help and others constant attention. So for example if I am doing a maths lesson with L then I need R to work independently on something like touch typing, reading or handwriting. Keeping one child occupied whilst working with the other is possibly the most challenging aspect of home-educating more than 1 child.
I hope that has given you some insight into what we do all day and hopefully given you some ideas to inspire you own home education schedule.