Although making the decision to Home educate the children wasn't exactly easy, it was a lot easier than deciding what sort of home educator I am! Although there are many quizzes out there that can tell me what Disney princess I am, how amazing my husband is, which country I should live in, which job I should I have, how many children I'll have, which character I am from hunger games/harry potter/twilight/avengers/etc, there isn't a quiz to tell me what sort of home educator I am. Am I going to unschool, take a more autonomous route, be structured or semi structured etc. There are just so many different approaches to take, its difficult to know where to start. After weighing up the merits of each style and what would work best for our children, we've decided we're going for a semi structured approach. Were going to have a rough weekly plan and an idea of where we want to be and what we want to have taught by the end off the year. Great, so what are they going to learn?
In England , and different countries have different rules, there isn't a curriculum children have to follow. There aren't any subject I have to teach, so the slate really is blank! After picking subjects we think the girls need to focus on for the next year its time to write a curriculum with what we would like to focus on. I'm sure there will be so much more as the year goes on, so this is just the out line of what we plan on looking at for the next 12 months. The subjects and curriculum has been written after talking to both girls and finding out what they are interested in.
English - We've decided to go with the Jolly Phonics programme, We're not really looking to teach Big Girl to read, just to recognise the letters, but we thought we'd start with the programme we will eventually use to teach her to read. I've purchased a teachers manual and the workbooks and she really enjoys them. We also started using the Reading Eggs website, and although she really enjoyed the games and picked up a lot, it suddenly got too difficult for her, so we've put that on the back burner and may return to it in the future when she's ready to start reading properly. We are also using the Early comprehension workbooks by Schofield & Syms, again there are parts of these workbooks that are just beyond Big Girl at the moment so are using these as a starting point for working out where she should be. A few weeks ago I was also able to get lots of fun games from the ELC sale including spot the difference cards and pairs which is really helping with her comprehension and story telling.
Maths - I found trying to gauge to her level much more difficult with this. Her nursery report claimed she knew more than she seemed to, so I decided to go back to the beginning and bought Carol Vordemans Maths Made Easy. There are 4 books in the 3-5 year old category: shapes, numbers, adding and colours. We're not really using the work books at the moment as, although she can complete most of the work, they rely on her being able to read and write, which obviously she's only just getting to grips with! So again I'm using them as a jumping off point, gaining ideas of what she should know and incorporating maths into our every day lives and play. Its working really well, I can now confidently say she can recognise numbers 1-5 and add up to 3.
RE - As Christians, religious education is important to us. My mum told me about a programme she was using with Little Bro. Written by member of the LDS faith, Discover The Scriptures spends a year covering each book that we use, from the Bible to The Book of Mormon. Although the programme is a little bit old for her, as again it relies on her writing, we're sitting down and going through it together. Big Girl is really enjoying this and learning to love the scriptures which is a real bonus.
Science - We've decided to incorporate science into topical subjects, looking at the human body, magnets, animals, under the sea and plants and flowers are just our starting points. I'm sure as the year goes on there will be lots of questions Big Girl has and we will have lots of opportunity to answer them.
History - We're going to be looking at where Big Girl came from, her history. Finding out all about her first, her likes, dislikes, colour of her hair, favourite animal and colour, then looking at her parents and finally her grand parents
PE - On the Physical side of things we will be focusing on jumping, running, skipping, hopping, throwing and catching, spending time in parks, soft play centres (if I gain the courage to enter one again that is!) and in big open spaces allowing both girls the freedom to enjoy running free.
Art - In art we will be cutting, sticking, colouring in the lines, playing with play-doh, painting, modelling and just generally being creative.
Music - I'm really keen for the girls to learn how to pay an instrument, but I think its also the one that will cause the most contention at the moment! Both girls love playing the piano and although I would LOVE to teach them how to play it properly, they just don't have the attention span required for a 10 minute lesson! I think this is one subject that will have to wait till next year, for the time being they can continue to play on it and enjoy the music they make.
Life skills - We want to teach them to clean up after themselves focusing on wiping up spills, putting laundry in the washing basket and putting their toys away. We also want to teach them how to care for their environment, so sorting laundry ready to be washed, cleaning windows and mirrors, wiping down the table and setting the table ready for dinner will also be focused on.
Social Skills - The question that comes up over and over again is 'how will they learn to be social if they are taught at home?' Home Educating doesn't mean that the children will never leave the house again! We are actually out and about a lot, they are meeting people constantly, saying hi to shop assistants, asking for things at the post office and going to groups and activities where they see a range of adults and other children. As well as continuing to do these things to develop their social skills, we will look at recognising feelings in our selves, and also in others as well as listening to and following basic instructions. The social side of things really isn't forgotten at in Home education, and there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat