Home education diary, May-June 1999

For the last few days of April and the first ten days of May, my parents were visiting us in Cyprus. So we didn't do any formal academics. That doesn't mean the boys didn't learn anything, however! We read a great deal, and they did some programming. They played some computer games with their Grandpa and also some cricket and french cricket in the garden, and we went on various outings around the island. They had their music lessons - and did at least some practise - too.

For the first couple of days after they left, we were very tired and did nothing much other than programming and reading. However, on the Friday we revised a couple of French Linguaphone lessons; both Daniel (12 years seven months) and Timothy (10 years eight months) started writing new stories using an English text book; and we did some history - Tim still learning about Britain from 1930 onwards (based on a history text book), and Daniel researching online about mediaeval times. At the weekend, they played cricket for three hours with some local people.

Then I kept track of what they did for the rest of the month, in some detail:

Monday 17th May: French - one hour. Some comprehension questions from Linguaphone lesson 19, and part one of lesson 20.  Biology - we ended the first module of the course we're doing, and studied some slides in the microscope, which we talked about.
English - they both spent about an hour working on topics in Heinemann English text books.  In the afternoon, two of their friends were over; they played with Meccano, electronics, and Lego. Later they played piano, Dan did some programming, and they both read. 

Tuesday 18th May: Tim read, and Daniel programmed. Then we spent 45 minutes on French lesson 20. Geography - using World Watch book 3 and other books, Tim did some research about the oceans of the world, while Daniel looked at deserts, based on Heinemann Geography in Action.  Maths - Tim did some early algebra using Steps book 5, Daniel used the Letts KS 3 book and worked on equations and graphs. Then Dan did some programming, while Tim went to the school choir where he's singing, which is accompanied by a friend of ours. 

Wednesday 19th May: We did an hour of French - we worked on lesson 20, then decided to back-track a bit and revised lesson 16 thoroughly. Quite encouraging. Tim did some music composing while Dan did some reading.  Then we did some chemistry - talked about catalysts, and oxygen from the air, and wrote up the experiments.  That took about an hour and a half. 

Thursday 20th May: Spent half an hour revising French lessons 17 and 18; 45 minutes of RE - the story of Jacob and Esau; an hour or so working on their stories from the English text books, then some programming and reading, and Dan practised his clarinet. 

Friday 21st May: Half an hour revising French lessons 19 and 20, then did the grammar exercises for lesson 20; both did some research about both Beethoven and Napoleon for magazine story-writing; Dan drew some cartoons. 

At the weekend, they played cricket, read, wrote email, practised music (piano/guitar/clarinet), and Dan listened again to some of the French Linguaphone. 

Monday 24th May: Tim spent half an hour working on his website, while Dan got up. Then we spent forty-five minutes on French lesson 21. Geography for an hour - Tim learned and researched about rivers, and particularly the Mississippi; Daniel learned and researched about deserts, particularly the Mojave and also the Grand Canyon area.  They spent half an hour writing their stories, and half an hour on Greek.  Then I helped Daniel with some of his website planning and re-writing, and later we collected some sea-water that we needed for a biology project. 

Tuesday 22nd May: Forty-five minutes on French lesson 21. Forty-five minutes on Biology where we looked at module 2 in our text book, and set up the experiment with different types of water.  Then half an hour of maths: Tim working on pie-charts, Daniel doing some review of the chapter he had just finished.  After that, Tim went to the choir where he sings, and Daniel did some algebra programming.

Wednesday 23rd May: Did some general email, web-site work and tidying! Spent an hour on French lesson 21, forty-five minutes on Jacob and Laban (RE), and forty-five minutes researching and writing their stories.  We also did some reading and programming. 

Thursday 24th May: Chemistry. Spent an hour and a half talking about, and trying out water purifying experiments. Not much else done!

Friday 25th May: Revised French lesson 21, did more research on both Beethoven and Napoleon. 

Monday 28th May: A public holiday! Both boys did some programming with Richard, who helps them a lot; they also wrote email and did some reading. 

Tueday 29th May: Programming, email and reading, plus some research. Examined the water-samples we had set up for biology. Then talked at length about schedules, learning and general responsibility.  

Wednesday 30th May: Decided that instead of following similar pattern every week, we would spent one week per month on writing and web-page work.  Daniel wrote a story for an American magazine, and Tim started to make a web-page about stamps. They both did programming, reading, and writing email. 

June: Having talked so much about schedule, we eased off completely as the weather started to get hotter. We did some more Linguaphone French, wrote a lot of letters, and did some maths. Plus the regular programming, reading, writing and music. Not much else.

All in all, Daniel is blossoming at home. He's far more self-confident and motivated than he was, despite having been pretty happy at his primary school in Birmingham.  I was a bit worried about how I’d be able to keep up with him, particularly in science which is NOT my strong point, but we’re all learning together with the help of text books and the Internet. 

We did visit a local school here and saw their ‘science fair’ but it seemed to consist of rather basic projects with lots of printouts from the Internet and CD encyclopedias, with no research or experiments or anything other than a display that looked nice. So that was all encouraging in a negative sort of way. I think I'll probably continue home education with Daniel until he starts work or wants to go to college, although Tim is still half-thinking he might like to go to secondary school when he's old enough - ie September 2000. We won't have to decide until the Spring next year, though.

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