Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Juggling Different Levels of Education

Until the beginning of this school year we were so blessed to be able to learn generally the same things all together.  All three boys worked at their own levels on Maths Whizz and in whatever literacy program they may or may not have been using, and sometimes individual lapbooks at their own levels too, then for most of the rest of the time we watched programmes and read stories and played games all together, with all three boys taking in what they could easily digest.  Looking back now from our current, different state, that seems to have been such an idyllic phase of our lives for which I will always be grateful.  I am a little sad that those times are mostly over for Eldest - and me to a degree as I miss his presence in the fun stuff - but life is a journey, and progress is natural.

I have to admit, I have found IGCSE level Home Ed really tough.  Learning in order to pass tests has never been our style, and Eldest and I have not found it an easy transition to make.  By the end of last term I felt that I was neglecting Middle and Youngest too much.  They were still doing MathsWhizz and English workbooks on alternate days, but none of the lovely fun activities we used to get up to together, as all my time was now spent trying to help Eldest with his studies. Happily, by the end of last term we seemed to find our groove, and the time Eldest now needs me to spend with him is much less than it was - about an hour to two a day at present, which has allowed me to pick up some of the more fun stuff with Middle and Youngest.

So I juggled our plans yet again (the primary characteristic needed in HEors surely has to be adaptability!), and now we are growing into a routine that means all three boys get the time they need with me.  Once a week we all go to forest school for a much needed day of outdoor fun. The other four days we get up, have breakfast, walk the puppy and get on with the morning's activities: Eldest does Mathswhizz still (I was concerned that he was 'behind' in maths but when we looked at a GCSE curriculum recently we found that he understands the vast majority of it already, so hooray for that!), and then he reads several pages in his GCSE text books for Geography and Biology with me - and answers the questions by himself - checking with me if he gets stuck.  All together this takes 2-3 hours on average.

Middle and Youngest also do their Mathswhizz - usually by themselves, but sometimes needing my presence to help them focus, annd then we do a planned fun activity every day.  So far this week we have had made penguin collages for Art, from the Deep Space Sparkle website...

Mummy's penguin

Middle's penguin

Youngest wanted to make a daytime penguin and a night-time baby penguin 

we made underwater volcanoes (to learn about convection currents) for STEM, using the Dyson STEM challenge cards...

and today we listened to Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons for Music (PDF here)...

Tomorrow they will do their project books - Middle is learning about the Human Body, and Youngest, Habitats. This only takes them about 1-2 hours, and then the rest of their time is for more autonomous learning - their own choice.  This week has seen them choosing a combination of GridClub (LOADS of educational games), Brainpop (educational video clips and quizzes), lego, role play, Madlibs, reading books, writing to Blue Peter, and designing and building long domino tracks.

Adding both styles of HE together fills all my mornings up to lunch, when we can sit together and watch some TV with a learning focus before the afternoon is left for HE groups or the boys' free play while I try to get on with housework, checking Eldest's work, and my own writing (prioritising on that is my next challenge).

I will always look back fondly on our happy years of just enjoying learning whatever we wanted all together, and will always be proud of how the boys thrived in that environment.  It does make me a little sad to not be able to show you how brilliantly Eldest is doing on this blog - GCSE answers being less cute than penguin pics - BUT he is growing so well and we have entered a new phase. Time for Mummy to learn some advanced juggling skills, and to develop a new pride in them all as they mature and conquer new challenges.

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