Annual Review 2011

With the boys never having gone to school we have never fallen under the LEA radar so don’t have formal checks. However, every August I like to stop and reflect on where we are and where we are going.

The big question I always ask, is simply are we all happy to continue home educating.  The answer this year is a very clear yes.  We’ve had wobbles in the past (turns out Jack wasn’t seeing his friends enough to keep him happy) and will probably view the local secondary when the time comes (although when he realises that he won’t be spending all day with his friends suspect that might lose it’s attraction).

Our attempt at introducing more structure into our work has definitely benefited us.  The clear expectations and routine steadies Jack and frees me up to work with Sam.  It was working so well that earlier in the year I started to produce schedules of work for Jack and they worked well as he can see what he is achieving and what I am expecting.  We have stayed focused and suffered a lot less from ‘drift’ than we have in the past.

Academically wise Jack has galloped through his courses.  He has completed the first two books in his English and Science courses (equivalent of 2 years work).  History he has progressed well and written some lovely pieces of creative writing connected to it.

Maths, having finished off the CGP KS2 books he was working on we started on CGP KS3 and struggled. I don’t think it was the maths that was the problem but the change in layout of the course and he found the amount of questions on one page disheartening.  So we opted for confidence boosting and bought the Galore Park Junior Maths, he has done the equivalent of yr 3 and yr4 since Christmas (we skipped vast amounts of it).

Project work, we have managed some when we used Cub badges as the focus but have otherwise fizzled out.

Can clearly see Jack’s tastes maturing this year, we have had some nice visits to places such as British Museum and he has developed a taste for Shakespeare and we’ve had several theatre trips.

He has enjoyed Cubs and Drama and come on well with piano lessons.  We have been attending weekly home ed group sessions although a change of venue have meant that these aren’t working particularly well for us, as well as meeting up with others ad hoc.

Sam’s reading and Maths are coming on well. Learning the lessons from Jack I have opted to study two courses simultaneously with him. So for maths we alternate between Heinnekken and Schofield and Sims, this is to provide extra practice and reinforce ideas at the time, rather than finding ourselves in the position again of completing one course and not feeling ready to move on so starting a new one at that level from the beginning (3 KS2 maths courses from Jack!).  English we have come off the boil and drifted from time to time with reading practice, but even so he continues to improve

We stuck with the book a week concept for a term but fizzled out. Like the idea but not for us as it was too structured and didn’t have the flexibility we need or inspire Sam’s interest enough. So although will still include stories where appropriate in our plans will not base course around them.

He continues to be entranced by anything relating to ancient history and we have enjoyed doing lapbooks and pocket books and plan to do more.

I’ve found the large scale home ed group trips I’ve organised this year quite stressful so think I will draw a line under those and say I’ve done my spell.  Smaller scale ones which don’t involve lots of people I don’t know or go through the website yes, but nothing major.

So thoughts for this year – socialise in smaller groups, stick to structured approach, focus less on maths and english and increase range of subjects, more project work.

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