Home education diary, February 1998

By the start of February, we'd reduced the number of tests (see January 1998 entry for our proposed schedule) as the boys were finding them frustrating.  We also decided not to bother with Scott Foresman maths any more - it's really so very tedious. The one thing that kept us going was the thought of taking a week off for 'half-term' from 16th Feb, when some good friends from England were coming out to see us.

During that week off, we probably had more real learning experiences than any amount of bookwork - I suppose that's what field trips at school are for, at least in theory. We visited various archaological sites and talked about ancient pottery and weapons etc; we spent lots of time on the beach, partly exploring since we hadn't had much chance to play at being tourists. The boys also spent loads of time reading, and playing with Lego with their friends.  They also got out their recorders, as our friends also played... between them they had a mini-consort and played some pieces together. Daniel was delighted as he's very much missed the school recorder groups.

We started back our more formal home education again on 23rd Feb, with various new text-books I'd ordered online, and fresh inspiration to make it more interesting. In that week, this is what we did:

Maths:
Daniel spent a couple of hours using the Collins 'Steps' mathematics book 5(2) working on a section about slabs and patterns. Tim worked on tables, factors, and patterns.

History:
I spent an hour with Tim using a workbook about Tudors, covering the introduction and overview. Daniel did an introduction to timelines and drew a rough one, as well as doing some reading.

Greek:
We spent about an hour together using the book  'Modern Greek for Foreign learners'

English:
They wrote some letters, spent about half an hour on handwriting using age-appropriate 'Nelson' workbooks, and spent a couple of hours each on creative writing they'd chosen.

Science:
They wanted to know about cogs and gears, so spent some time using K'nex and Meccano to explore these. Richard explained some of how they work, and looked at their bike chains with them to see the connection.

Literature:
We read about Shakespeare and his plays, and did some research about the Globe Theatre, based on a chapter in Daniel's Heinemann English book.

IT:
We have an excellent new text-book, 'The great LOGO adventure', so we've installed LOGO, which they'd both used somewhat at school, and have spent a couple of hours working through that. It's very well-written and self-explanatory, and I've learned a lot too!

Other:
They've read plenty, as usual, played with Lego, done music practice etc.

Conclusion:

I spent some time online, trying to find out about homeschooling in England, since there doesn't seem to be anyone else doing it here. I found the website for 'Education Otherwise' which seems to be the main group in the UK overseeing it, and from their site found an internet mailing list called UK-HOME-ED, which I've joined. 

I'm quite surprised to read that there are actually vast numbers of people homeschooling in the UK - they call it 'home educating', mostly. They seem like a helpful bunch of people, and mostly quite relaxed about what they do. It does seem that being more flexible, and not having a timetable, means that it's more interesting for us and less tiring. I suppose schools have to have timetables just so as to organise that many people, but there's no particular reason why we need them to educate at home. Interesting.

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