Over the last week the 100 ways to home educate blog hop has celebrated home education and has already shown how no two families are the same. We’ve seen autonomous, unschooling and structured home education and read about how these styles work for each family, and yesterday Katie from At Home with the Grays talked us through her semi-structured approach. Today is my turn…
Our style of home education is, well autonomous I guess. But our days will be nothing like the previous family’s. And that is what I love. Our days are ours to do with as we please. If we are feeling really keen we might sit down and do some work at the table. Most of the time screen based learning works best though and so we use Reading Eggs and Khan Academy on the computer and occasionally Apps too. We usually have a semi-project type thing on the go, but the learning around this can be anything from project folders of colouring, writing, craft, worksheets etc, to solely verbal discussion based learning. We have two large display boards in our living area and I always have one based on our current topic/project. At the moment this is Africa as we have friends who spent Christmas in South Africa with family and the kids spent a lot of time looking on a map to see where they were and asking questions about it. This is how I/we usually choose what the next topic will be .. someone will show an interest in something and we go from there! Some of the things we’ve done in the past include the Stone Age, the human body, life cycles, energy, WWII and the Great Fire of London.
We have several group/planned activities throughout the week. Some of these are paid for termly activities that I am slightly more insistent that we attend such as swimming and Forest School, some are paid for but I am more relaxed about (Brownies/Cubs/Beavers) and some are pay-as-you-go ones such as our HE group and HE ice skating. While we do usually go to all of these every week, if something else comes up we will amend our week to fit. We normally also have a couple of social get togethers/playdates with friends throughout the week too, both indoor and outdoor, but these are very much ad-hoc and are arranged on a weekly (sometimes on the day!) basis.
One thing both Gordon and I are quite keen on is limited screen time and more outdoor time. While the kids do have access to computers, TV, adapted iPhones (no SIM so more like an iPod) and we do own a PS4 and Nintendo DS we limit the time the kids can spend on any device and don’t really let them play many screen-based games. And, to the great annoyance of all 3 kids, we have a blanket ban on Minecraft because it seriously affects their behaviour. Jasmine’s personality in particular means that she struggles to switch off from the game, she gets very cross when she can’t do whatever she wants with a game, and she frequently ends up crying because of a game. This is no fun for anyone, including her (although she doesn’t always see it like that!). TV is limited less than “devices” but I know how lucky I am that the kids all love watching documentaries (especially Planet Earth/wildlife type ones), Horrible Histories, wildlife based kids programmes (Deadly 60, Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature) as well as the usual stuff like Pokemon and CBBC. We also all play Pokemon Go every day and the kids have an account between them. I am fully aware that the reason I let them do this is because I want to play and that makes me a hypocrite of huge proportions! I justify it to myself by saying that we are at least outdoors, and we do have rules around it such as if they look down at the screen when there in nothing going on and they are just fiddling with the game, then the phone gets taken away for a while.
And then while we probably have more screen time in the winter, when the weather warms up we can usually be found in the garden, in a local park or woodland, or exploring the beautiful countryside we are so lucky to live close to. And we can go days in the summer with no screen time at all, including no TV (the kids that is… I admit that Gordon and I do struggle when we can’t at least check our emails and Facebook!)
So, autonomous for us means no “typical” day as such. We can spend a few weeks at a time doing similar activities but then the season will change, our mood will change or an interest will change, and with it our “typical” day will change.
You can see what this week has looked like so far here, here and here. Thursday included french homework, a quick Pokemon Go walk, HE group (including a french lesson for Jasmine and Thomas, a Trivial Pursuit team quiz that J&Ts team won, and a group Happy Birthday to Ben!), Beavers for Ben and Cubs for Thomas, Harry Potter aloud and quiet reading before bed for Jasmine and Thomas. Today is more relaxed and so far we’ve had super quick breakfast eating and getting dressed so all the kids can get on and finish building Ben’s birthday Lego model. Now their friend has arrived and they’ve finished the model they are all upstairs playing Lego Nexo Knights and I imagine that’s where they’ll stay until it is time to go ice skating this afternoon! (EDIT: I was wrong, they’ve had an argument and now come down to watch TV!)
Ice skating will take up the majority of the afternoon.. it includes a 20 minute lesson and probably one and a half hours play and skate with a group of their friends. After that, well I don’t know.. probably more Lego, maybe some TV, definitely more Harry Potter, chores, maybe a walk out for Pokemon gyms or Chansey catching if it stops raining!
And that’s us. That’s our way of doing it and at the moment it works. Next Monday, head on over to Paper and String to find out about how she facilitates learning with her two girls.