Surprise—a Post on Education!

As the blog is basically supposed to include a bit of the kid’s home education I thought I should write a brief on what they’ve been up to. The kids and I have been spending a little more time since January on structured educational work. This can mean anywhere from two to five hours a week. Ok—so it’s not tons of time—but it is working a treat! What they absorb in casual conversations and as topics come up is amazing and too hard to record. This morning was mostly dedicated to the structured side of things, so while it’s fresh in my mind, I’ll record what they are up to.

Kieran is still just doing a small amount of formal work. I don’t feel he needs much sit-down work as he is just 5, and to me that is still quite young. The difference between him and Hazel at this age was that she was constantly writing and drawing. I wasn’t too worried about her building up her pencil and motor skills—she was doing it all the time. To help him strengthen his motor skills he has been working on some handwriting exercises, things like tracing lines and shapes. He also has some pre-school type workbooks he likes to work in. I usually figure on him doing a couple of pages, but once he gets going he’ll do up to ten pages at a time.

Kieran has developed an interest in space and reptiles lately. So to keep this interest going I’ve found kindergarten style math, language and science printable worksheets online for him that are based on both themes. He has mostly done the math sheets as they are fairly self-explanatory and don’t require too much writing. They all have pictures to colour in, so that’s helping with his motor skills.

We’ve started some verbal maths as well. He is getting fairly good at basic addition and subtraction. He has been able to count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s to 100 for awhile now. He can even count by even and odd numbers. Counting backwards from random starting points has been a new little trick he taught himself. He is also now able to tell time by the hour and half hour. He is starting to learn the 5 minute increments. We enjoyed listening to Hazel explaining this to him the other day.

He has also amazed us at how quickly he has improved with the Lego’s. He has made all sorts of vehicles, including a double decker bus, and all sorts of buildings. He can play with these for most of the day. The only down side is he hasn’t quite managed to keep the mayhem down to the bare minimum yet.

He is still proving to be a quick learner with an easy grasp on most things. I don’t think he has any limits on his curiousness, he asks a zillion questions all the time, and he retains just about anything he hears. He is also still really good about using reference materials. When we were reading a basic book on Space today and it mentioned the first rockets, he had to go get a book that detailed the lunar landings.

Hazel has always astounded me with what she can do. Her writing, though always good, has improved even more. She sometimes rushes her work, but when she concentrates she has no problems forming all the letters into very legible writing. She is also spelling more words on her own. The basic words are usually correct, and her phonetic spelling is always readable. I’m loath to start spelling ‘tests’ and will only do so if I think she needs it.

Her reading has always been excellent, and she is a wonderful story reader. Kieran has been spoilt by her reading to him whenever he asks her. She has started to read a bit more just to herself lately. She has always been able to ‘read in her head’ and not out loud, though I think she prefers to read to others. I have caught her on quite a few occasions lately just picking up a book to go read by herself. She read one of the Bramley Hedge books today. Hopefully this means she’ll read for pleasure. I was a bookworm and absolutely loved it, and am hoping she will be like me in just one little way!

I have started some phonics and grammar books with her lately, though I’m not all too sure about them. Firstly, she can do them quite easily (They are for age 7-8), but I also almost think they aren’t very good. She seems to have no problems on her own knowing the right sounds for words when she is reading. She would know to read ‘cap’ and ‘cape’ as to different sounds without knowing the silent ‘e’ rule. Her verbal reading skills prove she understands punctuation without it being explained. It’s almost like I’m showing her things that would make her question what she already knows. Does that make sense?? But for the meantime we will continue, at least it’s an easy thing for her to do on her own and she does actually enjoy the work.

Math has come on quite a bit. We are still working on mental addition and subtraction as well as worksheets. She can do just about all of the KS1 math requirements, just need to work a bit more on multiplication. She spent some time today on learning to add double digits and to carry over the tens. It only took a little while before she was doing them without any help. Obviously she didn’t always remember on the first day to carry over her tens, but the idea was there. She very proudly did some with Michael when he came home. I went over a KS2 level mental maths practice exam booklet with her today. I didn’t let her see the page, just did it verbally, and she got almost all of them the first time. That is for kids about age 8 I think. (I really should learn the school system terminology here!) She can tell time almost to the minute on an analogue clock, knows the calendar year, seasons and most 3d shapes.

She has also been learning about space with Kieran, and also has a set of themed workbooks in all the subjects. She enjoys these types of worksheets—they all have something to colour and she likes making books out of them. She can also do most of the 1st grade ones by herself. It is hard finding a set of themed sheets on birds, but she has liked the space and reptile one, and will work on a farm animal one next. We will be visiting a planetarium in June, so hopefully we can learn a bit more so it’ll be something they can follow easily.

We try to keep her interests in nature alive by getting out when we can. She is also in charge of her RSPB kilometre and has been doing the Friday challenges for the Nature Detectives. She has two new note books for our next visit to the bird hide, whenever the latest batch of rain moves on. We got her one to keep a diary and one is a sketch book. She wants to keep a nature diary of what she sees throughout the year. I’m going to keep one as well, and Kieran wanted one too. Obviously I’ll be doing most of that as well. She wants to learn how to draw birds, so that’ll be something she and her dad work on.

Art is still where she is most at home. She is still enjoying colouring, drawing and painting. She will sit for hours drawing pictures for anyone and no one—I have piles of them. Not that I generally keep everything, just these are the good ones I’d hate to bin. Though she is improving on her own, I think she’d like a more polished product. This is where I fall short—she could do with some drawing lessons and more crafty things. All so not my cup of tea, so all suggestions on drawing accepted!

So that is a round-up as to where they are in the ‘structured’ side of things. This, as most parents know, barely touches what they really know. It doesn’t cover their skills they’ve learned just from playing and doing. Dealing with money in shops, reading weather maps, reading road maps to plan holidays and travel routes, baking and preparing food, history & geography lessons wherever we are, well—this list could go on and on. Suffice to say, we are happy with the progress both children are making and we will continue as we are until we feel a need to change.

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