Home education diary, May-June 1998

April was very enjoyable, spending time with two sets of guests - friends from the UK, and then my parents for a fortnight. We went out somewhere most days, usually walking, but Richard was able to take a bit of time off too for further exploring. 

During our time off, I drew up a programme of what the boys would have been learning in school, according to the 'medium term plans' we'd been given, particularly in maths. Then I worked out where in our various text-books they would cover these topics, since we don't have all the books they had in school. 

I suggested again that we go and look around the local secondary schools, but Daniel is certain that he wants to continue homeschooling for at least another year, preferably longer.  When I pointed out that I didn't know anything about secondary school science, he said he didnt mind; he'd talk to Richard and find web-sites and read books, but he really doesn't want to go to school in Cyprus.

It's good to know he's enjoying being at home so much. I certainly like the extra time we get together. 

Once our guests had left and Easter had passed, we discussed together a schedule that we hoped would work better than the rather rigorous one we started with back at the start of the year! We agreed on:

8am - alarm clock, me to ensure both boys woke up, got dressed and had breakfast
8.30-9.30 - music practice (piano, clarinet, recorders)

Monday:
2-3 hours of LOGO using the Great Logo Adventure book, plus email and any letters that needed to be written. Science in the afternoon with Richard.

Tuesday:
A couple of hours working on world history together in the morning, then some English together using Heinemann PLP for Year 6. Art and technology in the afternoon.

Wednesday:
An hour of maths from text-books, using the outline from school, half an hour of handwriting from Nelson books, an hour of Geography from new text-books, half an hour of Greek (their piano lessons are on Wednesday afternoon)

Thursday:
An hour of maths, and an hour of grammar in the morning. Art or technology in the afternoon.

Friday:
45 minutes of Greek, 45 minutes of maths investigation, and an hour and a half of creative writing of their choice.

Did we do this?!

Yes, for the first week... mostly. It seemed to work well. Richard wasn't able to take the Monday off, and half an hour of painting was enough for them on Tuesday. We couldn't decide what technology was exactly, and they do a lot with Lego, Meccano and K'nex, so we didn't worry about that.  But mostly we did cover what we'd intended to in the mornings.

The second week we borrowed a Greek Linguaphone tape/book set, having decided the book 'Modern Greek for Foreign Learners' was getting too complex. The first lessons seemed very easy, which was encouraging.

One morning of the second week Tim wanted to know about viruses, since he had a cold, so we looked them up in the encyclopedia, and on the DK Science CD-Rom, and that took most of the morning. 

Then, for the rest of the month we roughly followed the morning plans, though none of the afternoon activities happened, other than their piano lessons, which a friend is giving them.

In June we continued for a couple of weeks, with much the same schedule again.  However, by mid-June the weather was getting too hot to concentrate much, so we decided to stop.  That's when the Cyprus schools finished, anyway. 

At the end of June the boys and I are going to the UK for six weeks, mainly so that Daniel can go back for his class's final three weeks in St Francis School, to go on the various outings, take part in the last Assembly, party and service etc. We had promised him that he could do that, back when we left the UK, though we hadn't thought we'd have more than the last week of school. However flights are much less expensive if we fly before the end of June.

Conclusion:

They seem to be learning something, anyway! The maths is somewhat of a struggle at times and I'm not convinced Tim is taking it in - whereas for Daniel it's all apparently obvious and intuitive. 

Of course they still miss St Francis School a lot, but they seem to be enjoying learning at home, particularly since we condense it all into three or four hours each morning and they reckon now they still do about twice as much as they’d have done in school. We’ve been able to order, from the Internet, a biology course specifically for home educators so they’ll get some science in the Autumn. Richard intended doing science with them on Monday afternoons, but has only managed to have about four afternoons off to do that so far. I’m managing history and geography all right by giving them outlines of topics; they both seem to enjoy research and doing ‘projects’ and I’m learning as much as they are.

Daniel's novel (started back in November) seems to be progressing well, and they're doing a fair amount of history research together which seems to be interesting. Daniel is learning Quick Basic rapidly - I started trying to teach him with a book, one evening, but after an introduction he decided he'd rather learn in his own way. He seems to be succeeding far more quickly than I ever learned programming. 

LOGO continues to be fun, and the Greek Linguaphone is a better way to learn than just with a book. I'm a bit concerned about art and technology, and PE simply doesn't happen - but overall I feel a lot more relaxed about home education.

And it's just as well I am enjoying it now, since it looks as though we'll be doing it for another year. In the Summer when we go to the UK, I'll make sure I buy some Key Stage Three books back in the UK. 

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