We opened the curtains on Monday morning to a world covered in snow; well partially(!), only a smattering really, but for us, it’s a rare occurrence and therefore a big deal! Clearly, work would have to wait whilst the children got their fill of snow related activities, including the building of their own ET snowman look alike and as they termed it, conducting “a snow clearing service for our cars”. Much appreciated children, thank you!
It was bitterly cold outside, so after about an hour of snow fun, they were keen to come and sit by the fire and wolf down their hard earned breakfast, ready for starting Morning Basket at 8:45am. Yes, we have early starts in this household (we normally start work around 8), as they both wake up and hit the ground at full pelt!
As I’ve written about in this post, Morning Basket is a relatively new addition to our homeschool, but is now a firm favourite. Usually lasting about an hour, it’s a chance for us to come together as a family at the start of the day to share some of our favourite activities, such as reading beautiful stories & poems, and delve deeper into topics that fascinate them. We all genuinely love this part of our day. Today’s basket included:
- singing (let’s be honest ‘shouting’) This Little Light of Mine (it wasn’t our most tuneful of experiences!)
- taking turns to say what we’re grateful for (one of my favourite Bean7 quotes from today: “I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to home educate” – love that he loves what we do, but also that he sounds like a child from a Charles Dickens novel!)
- starting to memorise a passage from Twelfth Night in which Viola/Cesario and Orsino discuss whether women can ever be as faithful and true as men when it comes to love…! We use this book as our Shakespeare guide.
- learning Spanish vocabulary
- starting our coral reef topic (one of their current obsessions) with this delightful book
Today’s Morning Basket concluded with another run around the garden and play in the snow, before they started their individual work for the day.
Individual & Group Work – A Weekly Perspective
Although our homeschool mornings are fairly consistent, what happens next differs from day to day. To show you one day in isolation would be to only give you a slither of the full picture, and so before I get on to what the rest of our Monday looked like, it’s worth reviewing the broad content of our week.
Over the years, we’ve developed a weekly rhthym that best suits our family. I tend to frontload our work, with busy Mondays and Tuesdays, covering a large percentage of their individual work, such as maths lessons (although maths practice happens daily), language arts (reading, writing, spelling, grammar), Spanish and little bit of Latin. We usually end these home based days with a walk, a bike ride or a scoot by the sea front with friends.
Wednesdays are a kind of a half way house and our sports focussed days. Maths practice and creative writing (another passion of my daughter) are punctutated by a much loved multisports lesson with their home ed friends at a local sports stadium. They play a whole variety of team based games; hockey was last week’s focus for example, and athletics is the emphasis for the summer period, with access to brilliant facilities and equipment. As a second physical activity for this day (aside from the almost continual twisting, turning, jumping and climbing that occurs throughout every day!), they both attend an evening Karate class. These have been brilliant for improving their core strength and balance (which is a bit of a familial weakness to be honest; both my daughter and I regularly walk into stationary objects/fall over multiple times a day!) and the ability to progress through the levels appeals to their innate competitiveness.
Thursdays are our relaxed day; we have fun together with science in the mornings and at 11, we head outdoors for a completely unstructured play & romp through nature with their friends at our local home ed meet. Whilst the locations alternate each week, ranging from woods, to beach combing/fossil hunting, to meadows and streams, the enjoyment and happiness that radiates from the children at these sessions, remains very constant. Even in the depths of winter, they happily play for four hours or more, completely absorbed in the complex imaginative games they create with each other. This is an important part of the week for me too, allowing me an opportunity for some adult conversation and support!
And finally, Fridays have a music and history focus, starting with a lesson each from our brilliant piano teacher, whilst I work on mental maths skills with the other one, as they wait for their sibling to finish. Back home, we work together on our history focus for the week, before finishing the day with a swimming lesson.
Although this forms the basic structure of our week, as opportunities become available or new passions are formed throughout the year, we add in mini unit studies and days out to museums, castles, theatre trips, science or history events, adventure courses etc and take out some of the more standard elements. Or for example, if we book a holiday or adventure away from home, we’ll want to spend some time beforehand researching the area or country in more depth, building the excitement and anticipation for the upcoming trip.
But back to this Monday!
After being rejuvenated by our Morning Basket ventures and play in the snow, they came in for their maths and language arts lessons and work. This lasted from around 10 to 12:45 with a break in the middle for further modifications to their snowman, and included a lunch eaten as they worked. They prefer it this way. My daughter finds the whole process of chewing and eating deathly dull, and is a million times happier if she can be doing something at the same time, to distract her from this boring necessity of life. I appreciate there may be some people out there horrified by this admission, but having tried everything, I’ve found this is what truly works best for our family at this time. It also means that as soon as they’ve finished their morning work, they can go straight off to play, which today means another jaunt into the cold snow.
Their play is interrupted however at 1:30 by a phone call from my mum, who has had a car accident near us (someone crashed into the back of her car as she waited at the junction) and wants us to come and act as a witness to the event. We jumped in the car and almost immediately, they fired a million questions at me. Is she OK? What’s insurance? How does it work? Why does she need us to come and help? Why did the person run up the back of her car? Why do we need to take photos?
I was feeling fairly calm as I knew she’d not been hurt and the damage to the car was minor, so it was the perfect opportunity for a life lesson in what to do at the scene of an accident. How people can be affected by shock. The importance of carefully documenting what happened and taking photographs. Accepting that accidents do happen, and how best to deal with them when they do. Such a rich learning opportunity and they’re fascinated. It’s interesting to watch their different approaches. My daughter makes my mum a cup of calming camomile tea and helps her write down exactly what happened, in case she needs it for insurance purposes. My son on the other hand, just won’t stop asking questions! He needs to sort everything out in his brain, as to exactly how and why it happened before he can move on.
We’ve never had a car accident interrupt our work before, but it’s not unusual for our day to be intersected with, well life! A plumber arriving to fix a tap, an oil tanker arriving on our drive to refill our tank, a mission to Halfords to get a new battery for daddy’s car, a quick dash to the supermarket for a missing ingredient. These interruptions used to fluster me, but now I’ve learned to embrace them for the excellent learning opportunities they present.
Finally at around 2:15pm, everyone had calmed down enough to complete the rest of their work, a 10 min piano practice and 20 min Rosetta Stone Spanish lesson for each of them. On finishing, they shot off to play; Bean7 to look up frostbite in the dictionary (!) and investigate some of the travel guides on the shelf before getting out his rock collection, and Bean8 to tell stories to her teddies.
At 5pm, we regrouped ready for their evening meal and the obligitory ‘documentary dinner’, in this case, another episode of Thailand: Earth’s Tropical Paradise. This was followed by bathtime, a couple of chapters of our current read aloud, The Ghosts of Greenglass House, and bedtime for my youngest, at 7pm. My daughter read her book (Anne of Avonlea) for a while, and then we played our favourite game together, Dutch Blitz, before she made her way up to bed just after 8pm. I then collapsed in front of an episode of Call the Midwife, before dragging myself up to bed to recover from the day’s excitements, ready to do it all again tomorrow!