Organised Chaos

Our plans for September seem an awful lot clearer than they did 3 days ago.
A venue has been found for a ‘potential’ activity so looking like that is now a definite on the diary, a pencilled in commitment looks like it can be penned in
Our trip to see the local home ed tutorial centre due an unequivocal no to joining in activities there.  Nothing to do with the centre, it’s amazing. More it’s a big commitment in our week and we can do so much more with our time when you consider the travelling. Left decision entirely up to Sam and he was definite that it was a no. I was on the fence so happy to get a decision. A pencilled in activity can be rubbed out, buying us precious time.
Still no idea how to fit in all we want to but at least I know what I’m fitting around. Now comes the fun bit ūüėÄ
I really had to buy this diary as so very, very me.

PJs, Preparing and Youtube

We have declared Tuesday our sacred, pyjama day for this academic year. ¬†We really do need a day at home (local parks etc not really counting as out) every week and the only way to to keep that is to be really hardline. ¬†Unless it is a friend’s birthday that is the only thing we will go out for.

We’re in a bit of a transition phase this week. ¬†We’ve a few big days out planned so I decided that we wouldn’t start ‘work’ properly until next week. ¬†This week is about making sure we are practically and psychologically ready for next week, breaking the bad habits we slip into over the summer and stoking enthusiasm.

Sam was slow to get up (one of the bad habits to break) so we started the morning browsing the offerings of this year’s Into Film festival. ¬†Signed up to 3 this year; BFG, latest Ice Age (on his birthday) and the Jungle Book. ¬†Sensible amount and good choices I think. ¬†Had the realisation that we first saw Ice Age 2 as part of the forerunner to this festival! ¬†Old!

We spent much of the morning setting Sam up a private blog for him to put any computer based work he does in one place.
sam's blogAfter lunch Sam made ginger shortbread to take out with us tomorrow.

20160906_11 20160906_14 20160906_18As you all probably know, lots of our ‘work’ actually is just reading so we made some bookmarks as we have a few longer books planned this year. ¬†I was taken with the Gruffalo one I made for the under 10’s group I run so we went down that path.
20160901_3¬† I’d love to say these were my idea but I saw them on Red Ted Art’s Youtube channel when I was checking the basic folds for a corner bookmark.

20160906_13 20160906_17 The excitement of the day was that while he was being slow about getting up I bought and installed some screen capture software. ¬†He’s spent a fair chunk of the afternoon working out how it works, how to edit videos and add sound and how to upload stuff to Youtube. ¬†Happy boy, rocking the new specs ūüôā ¬†20160906_19

Cocooning and Planning

Far more cocooning than planning going on actually. ¬†Seems odd to be making plans to get us out and about when all we seem to want to do is close the door on the outside world. ¬†With both boys at home we’re happy in our own little bubble. ¬†I’m trying to make the effort to post one group ‘we’re going here’ post every week to stop us completely shutting ourselves away.

It will come to an end though Jack will go back to school (happily really although he will grumble) and Sam and I will embrace the HE social scene again (again with a feeling of dragging ourselves out).

Planning the social is where I start our HE planning every year as this is the one that is hardest to get right and I’m least able to control. ¬†Last year we found a lovely hall and set up some good activities and have so many more in mind. ¬†It has just been a case of spending a bit of time this week trying to sell it to more group members so we keep up attendance and they remain feasible.

Again, as I’ve explained so often, Sam he needs variety. ¬†Weekly stuff is a struggle to do. ¬†Even code club – his hobby, with his best friends became too much (I think the dodgy computers really didn’t help). ¬†I have been trying to put my finger on what it is and think I have it. ¬†He is my child and like me while he enjoys socialising I think it is mentally taxing to him. ¬†So when we leave a group or activity tired there is a tendency for him to pick up on one small (tiny, minute) thing that wasn’t right – a voice too loud even. ¬†A week isn’t long enough to forget (I think often it becomes a far bigger deal in his head over the following days – overthinking is a family bad habit) and focus on the fact that he enjoyed everything else. ¬†A fortnight or¬†ideally a month lets him forget completely and he’ll be enthusiastic again. ¬†Going somewhere or doing something different is okay.

Therefore what works for us is a routine with a lot of variety.  The big discussion from holiday is we want more time at home and making most of what is on our doorstep Рsea, skatepark, Alver Valley, Action Stations.

Routine for the coming year will hopefully look a bit like this;

Monday – Start the day with something out and about – skatepark, bodyboarding, a walk at the country park (or another nice local space). ¬†When we’re feeling a bit more social and fallen into routines more will probably post plans to the local group if organised enough to make plans. I think once we’ve emerged from the cocoon we’ll enjoy it more with company. ¬†I will wait and see how early it is we find ourselves going out though, suspect that will decide whether it is even worth asking others! ¬†Will make the rest of the day a cosy, crafty, reading sort of day.

Tues – PJ day. ¬†This is going to be our sacred ‘day at home’.

Weds – Our big social day. ¬†We’ve two monthly home ed groups planned that will work to fall that we have a group fortnightly. ¬†Workshops and days out, sometimes alone but mostly with others will take care of the rest.

Thurs – a morning at home and then an afternoon with Grandad and plans to attend group trampolining fortnightly and hopefully swimming on the other weeks.

Fri – still a work in progress. ¬†I have a monthly HE group for younger ones. ¬†Now Pete is off on Fri may leave Sam at home as per original plan, will depend on what Pete is up to. ¬†Have the library tables reserved for 4 Fridays too, have offered a book/board game group as they weren’t be used for drop in with your own stuff sessions but no take up and it something we are happy to drop. ¬†Will offer once more as posts get lost over the summer before cancelling. ¬†Goes against the grain to give up free space even if we don’t need them.

Most planning energy has gone in to group stuff although have managed to sort out craft cupboards, order some new resources and plan maths and English in detail.


The learning packs from Mathletics definitely met the criteria last year of including online stuff, teaching worksheets, lots of variety and hands on activities, all within an easy to stick to frame work.
This year is definitely a case of it isn’t broken don’t fix it.
It isn’t a programme for children to get on with themselves. ¬†Lots of two player games and activities. ¬†Works well for us though as Sam likes me about and likes doing different things.
We’ve upgraded from spreadsheets to online planners though, to give Sam more control as he can allocate jobs to days now.

I’ve allocated the 10 topics to weeks over the year. ¬†For each topic I’ve given him a list of online games (from Mathletics) to go with the pen and paper stuff. ¬†Where appropriate I’ve fitted in some of their enrichment tasks.

I have learnt my lesson about not printing the assessment stuff because of course we never looked at that.



Still our hardest area but starting to come together. ¬†Spelling, grammar and handwriting are reasonable. ¬†Creative writing is still not happening. ¬†I had planned to give it up as a bad job and focus on building up basic report style stuff starting to get ideas out of his head and recorded. ¬†We do so much verbally. ¬†We’re a long way off exams but feel we need to move more towards recording information, baby steps. Sam specifically stated creative side was something he wants to develop though – just need to make it fun.

Plans are to keep working on comprehension through narration.  Mostly through Writing With Ease 3 but perhaps using a bit of narration on our read alouds.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar – will read through Usborne’s Improve your English and do some of the activities (verbally mostly).
To help with structuring writing we’re going to work through Collin’s Aiming For Level 3 Writing and hopefully start Level 4. ¬†These are old versions so don’t follow current NC but I prefer that. ¬†What I like about them (and think Sam will too) is that they are written for older children who need support and as such aren’t fluffy and cartoony like a lot of junior age resources.
Story telling, the aim is to just have fun. ¬†I bought this Show Me a Story book years ago and love it. ¬†It is one of those that you browse time and time again thinking oh I’d love to do that but it never seems the right moment. ¬†I think it is probably a now or never agewise. ¬†We’ll use the hands on activities in the book to make and use story prompts and will do it verbally. ¬†I might transcribe the odd one for him to embellish and improve but we will see.
Not sure if we’ll do regular handwriting practice yet it will be see how things go timewise and if we feel it is a benefit. ¬†If so we’ll stick to Getty Dubay as they have served well (and I have the next book ready).


Thinking Time

We’ve slowed down a lot this week and it seems both of our brains have shifted into holiday and planning mode. ¬†Mine is mostly focused on short term goals, particularly getting us ready for and fitting in everything I want to cover work and home wise before then.

Sam is obviously thinking longer term. ¬†He’s been asking questions about different levels of qualifications and what he might need for the future. ¬†Whether he might want to go to school (not likely) and how we can get him the qualifications he might need. ¬†Talking about whether he’d prefer to specialise in hardware or software development. How he can build and customise his own computer, what graphics cards etc. ¬†I am already rather out of my depth – my job is to research, facilitate and finance stuff.

Shorter term he’s been looking at coding books and online courses and trying to decide the best way forward with Python. ¬†We’ve agreed the time is right for a Raspberry Pi so we’ll get one when we’re back from Wales. ¬†He has a list of programming languages he wants to learn and an order he wants to do it in. ¬†Minecraft mods and how to write them are also of great interest and helping to drive the interest in learning Python. ¬†Servers are his starting point and another post holiday plan is for two servers, one for him to use in coding and testing mods and one to play on with friends. ¬†He’s decided that the long term aim is an online server but has really, really impressed me with the amount of thought he has given to the potential difficulties of how to moderate it, both in terms of having practical (techy) solutions to some issues and recognising that he needs to be sure he can deal with the social/emotion side first.

There has also been a bit of discussion about the practicalities of what activities Sam wants to fit into our weeks, prompted by yet another Code Club cancellation and our Dockyard pass expiring.  Think we may have a plan but waiting to see if he changes his mind.

Which brings me to what we got up to on Tuesday.  Neither of us were too sorry to see Code Club cancelled really as it meant a more leisurely start to the day.  Sam wanted to go to the Dockyard even though we knew it would be busy with the strike so we ran some errands in Gosport and headed over.

We spent lots of time in Action Stations. ¬†Typically on our last visit before the pass ran out Sam plucked up the courage for the rotating climbing wall (he doesn’t do heights at all!) and decided to chance¬†the kick boxing again (he’s refused to do it for about 18 months for some unknown reason) and loved them both.

20160705_125714 20160705_131210 20160705_133143 20160705_133936 20160705_135454 20160705_135640 Pit stop for cream tea (I hadn’t realised I got two scones!)
20160705_142330 Chocolate cake for Sam.

20160705_142407We finished off with a trip to the Trafalgar Gallery. ¬†I can still tie a good knot ūüôā
20160705_145425 20160705_145551 20160705_150020 20160705_150448 20160705_150615 20160705_150859 20160705_150944 20160705_151440




A Time Turner Would be Nice

Found myself typing a post on our local home ed group this morning saying I’ll run an art group. ¬†If you haven’t guessed, although I lack skill personally, doing art appreciation – creating art based on the work of famous artists is one of my favourite things to do with kids. ¬†If I can make Sam enthusiastic about this one then I must be okay at it too ūüėČ

Then before pressing send I stopped and thought ‘when?’, ‘when do you possibly have a gap in group activities to fit one in or even in your own diary?’. ¬†So I deleted it. ¬†When I sent out the list of what was on this week there were at least 2 group activities every day and that is without counting a large number of regular groups which are closed numbers wise. ¬†I think something would have to give way to it and what is that going to be?

I asked before confirming hall bookings for Sept and got a loud yes to everything continuing as is.  I suspect in reality that might not translate to numbers in Sep as lots of new ideas/groups popping up and people saying Рooh yes!  So possibly may have time (and halls) to play with but only time will tell.

In the mean time I am fighting the urge to say ‘ooh yes’ to lots too. ¬†I want to be supportive of others organising stuff and the activities are our sorts of things but it is the fitting it in timewise and financially that is boggling the mind.

It really doesn’t help that our plans for what we want to achieve at home are increasing too.

So personal priorities we need:

  • At least one full day and two further half days at home every week.
  • At least one day a fortnight that can be used for all day trips, casual meet ups, hanging out with friends, having appointments, doing what we fancy when we get up that morning…
  • At least 1/2 a day for time with my dad
  • Ideally weekends and 2 evenings/late afternoons for work (my work!)
  • Of the activities Code Club is his favourite so as long as that continues, hassle though it is, it is the thing I will try and fit around.
  • The social sessions at Alverstoke are the ones that work best for us. ¬†They are the ones that feel most like a HE group session should be. ¬†Mixed age, relaxed, with no real agenda therefore we can do arty or science or cooking or games for variety, kids of all ages participating and playing group games together with little adult input.
  • The DIY group is the one most tied in to Sam’s interests. ¬†It is the one that I find most interesting and he does too and the one I would really like to develop into a proper D&T/science investigation group in the future. ¬†It is the one I expect we will need to lose from the numbers though. ¬†Just seems to be a shortage of boys in particular of that age to whom it would appeal. ¬†That might possibly be my art group.
  • The under 10’s group I will do as long as there is a call for it. ¬†I enjoy it and keeps me thinking for work. ¬†Although if numbers tail off space is good for so many other things and I have a LONG wish list and a book of one day plans ūüôā
  • Of the new stuff being touted. ¬†Trampolining is a priority to try and fit in. ¬†Swimming would be nice but won’t happen in reality as no longer a direct bus there. ¬†Possibly would if we lose Code Club. ¬†Outdoor meets will always have to be a flexible, slot in on quieter weeks thing.

It’s so hard to prioritise what we want to do. ¬†I have to sit on my hands sometimes to stop myself typing – Young Engineers Club, Crest, Philosophy, Art Awards, Book Group, Around the World sessions, History, Walks, Archery, Laser Quest, no end of one off workshops and trips I would love to book… ¬†Just don’t have time or money. ¬† Also have to face the fact that the most popular activities for Sam’s age group and the ones where most children he would/does get on well with go have absolutely no appeal to him or me. ¬†Far prefer doing the book work educational stuff ourselves, we toy with going to some of the tutorials for the social aspect but doesn’t feel right. ¬†One day probably. ¬†Plus need to be mindful of the fact we’re home birds who burn out easily with too much socialising.

So good to see home ed thriving locally and so much on offer for everyone.  I would definitely rather have the dilemmas I have than the opposite.

Busy Bees and Chilled Out Times

End-of-term-itius is upon us, it may have taken me far longer than it should have to recognise that this is a real thing for us. ¬†Mainly as the whole ‘term’ thing didn’t really feature in our home ed world in the days before Jack went to school. ¬†We’ve adjusted well on the whole¬†and have come to make the rhythm of half terms etc a positive but do find this time of year the hardest, in an ideal world we’d down tools¬†from about late May and bounce back with enthusiasm early August. ¬†Just doesn’t fit around the reality of having one at home and one not though.

I’d planned well this year¬† Finished off some of our curricula already and don’t have much left on the rest. ¬†Project work is drifting a bit but I’d picked stuff that is easy to let go, and as ever we’re picking up other stuff to fill the gaps.

After the excitement of Monday, Tuesday was a near to home day as Code Club was cancelled again.  We had a few errands to run and my Dad has been ill so we dropped in on him.  Most of the day was spent lazily though.  Lots of reading, still in Roald Dahl phase and a pile of new books had come through the post about Bunnicula, the Vampire Bunny (yes really!).  Then Sam worked on Scratch and read more while I did some of my FutureLearn Europe course and watched a rather bizarre version of The Tempest (Russell Brand and Shakespeare combined is odd).

Weds we did some bookwork and read more before heading out to home ed group for a visit from a bee keeper.  Was a very, very busy session but a nice one.  Lots of new and not regular faces.
20160623_1 20160623_3 20160623_4 20160623_6On the way home Sam gave me a list of things he wants to learn about and what part it is he is interested in. ¬†SO back to the drawing board on next year’s plans then ūüôā




Apathy, Reluctance and Active Avoidance

Not here, Sam is quite happy reading, musing, asking lots of questions, drawing, making stuff and dismantling things.  I am very much in back seat mode at the moment.
I’ve talked many times about why we don’t fully embrace unschooling so I won’t go into that. ¬†Knowing that I do go in for a bit of structure I get asked quite often how that works for us, do I have to put up with apathy, reluctance and active avoidance?

The answer is yes sometimes. ¬†Not often now at all though I think we have reached a good balance of reasonable expectations, easy routines, understanding what is negotiable and what isn’t and a feel for when I can sit back and let him lead and when more prodding is needed by me. ¬†Not saying it is all rosy all the time but bad home ed days are very, very rare. ¬†Bad days when they happen now are usually the result of external influences or internal issues, lack of sleep, raging hormones in other words I make things go wrong by not reacting well – I am human it happens, those days would be bad whatever we were doing.

I can’t give a a simple answer of how to make structure work children are all so different. ¬†The three key points I think are:

  • Work with your children. ¬†Different children work best at different times of the day, learn in different ways, have different interests. ¬†Some benefit from the security of a detailed, almost timetabled routine for others that would be a nightmare. ¬†Know your children, talk to them about what they want.
  • Education should be fun! ¬†If resources aren’t working for you change them. Be inventive and have confidence in yourself to set your own agenda and standards for your child. ¬†Structure doesn’t have to mean workbooks and sitting at a table writing. ¬†Anyone who follows the blog knows that workbooks and the National Curriculum are not my favourite things ūüėČ
  • Expectations – keep them low! ¬†I think as home educators we sometimes over estimate what others (and particularly schools) are doing. ¬†Have your bare minimum of what to ‘you’ makes the day/week a success and keep it low and non negotiable – let children know what is expected. ¬†It will change as they grow older. ¬† You can build up and out from there.

Here are some of the practical  things that work for us.  They may or may not for others, they are just ideas.

We keep things short and have lots of variety. For example for English we do a page of a workbook (handwriting, vocabulary or spelling depending on day of the week), a grammar exercise – usually verbally, we’ve been doing prepositions lately which have involved a lot of climbing on and under and behind stuff and either a narration exercise or dictation/copywork. All in usually takes about 1/2 hr.

Over the years I’ve learnt to focus on the process not the end result. I am only just starting to reintroduce the idea of him writing stuff down as he’s getting close to 11. I gave it up as a bad job and a source of unnecessary conflict when he was about 7. So for about 3 years we’ve done writing practice in the form of handwriting books, copywork and dictation pretty much daily but we’ve not really done any of writing in other subject areas really. I found that his handwriting improved massively when he wasn’t having to think about what he wrote down. I’m a big Charlotte Mason fan and we do a lot of reading and discussing.

Another thing that works for us is having idea of ‘school hours’. It was a side effect of the older one going to school that we needed it. The idea is that from about 9-2 four days a week about 32 weeks a year (with a lot of flexibility) during that time we are doing something! The something is vague – we might go out (we go out a lot!), we might be playing boardgames, we might be doing maths and English. I don’t do housework or ‘work’ work in that time and the computer, tv etc is educational use only.

Using his interests.  He loves computers so we have done a lot of art activities on the computer this year.  I want to start moving towards recording stuff more next year as we are getting closer to secondary school age.  I am thinking typing and a blog might be the way in.

Planning ahead so I have an idea of the day/term in my head helps. Preparing so I have resources to hand for a range of craft projects on say the Tudors or experiments on electricity, whatever chosen topic is, has been a big step forward. We don’t have as much time for interest to wane while I set up or ‘what shall we do?’ moments. The trick is not to be wedded to the plan, these happen outside of my non-negotiable bare essentials I wouldn’t insist we do the activities I’ve planned. ¬†I see it as a safety net, if he isn’t leading I’ll come up with ‘lets…’

My bottom line is that I need to feel like I am providing an education as that is my duty and I tell Sam that. It isn’t a threat as in if you don’t do maths I’ll send you to school. Just a ‘this has to happen it isn’t negotiable, so how do you want it to work?’ way. We’ve chopped and changed the resources and routines so many times over the years to establish ways that work most of¬†the time.

The last bit of advice I will give is if you are trying to move to a more structured approach do it gradually, small maintainable changes.

Making It Up Monday

After pretty much 3 weeks break, Monday saw Jack back to school and Sam in need of a return to routine.

I know many home educators don’t ‘do’ school holidays with the argument it is all life. ¬†While I totally agree with the philosophy and never thought school holidays would effect our routines that much, in reality though of course they do. ¬†Very obviously they do now with Jack in school, but even long before then. ¬†For personalities like me and Sam who naturally gravitate towards routine (creatures of habit), term time with Jack leaving and coming back at regular times (and the noise of the school run out side the front door), a pattern of home ed group activities and extra curricular clubs and the pattern of places being enjoyable to visit in the week day time means we fall into a natural relaxed rhythm. ¬†That of course goes out of the window when we don’t have the anchor points of activities, our out of the house places are invaded by others, there are schooled friends to catch up with, to say nothing of a teenager (or several) hovering about the house.

Actually it is quite nice to have regular short breaks in routine, stops things getting too ‘routine’ and dull. ¬†I turn my attention to other things ¬†such as household jobs and work projects to try and keep our term day times as uncluttered as possible.

What I also do is plan for the term. ¬†As I have mentioned before my planning is more a list of things we could do tied into certain projects and preparing the materials/supplies so they are ready to be picked up when/if required. ¬†No planning leads to frustration when we want to do stuff but don’t have stuff we need and lots of wasted time and debating about what to do. ¬†The point of the ramble so far is that because I was so busy with work and trying to spend what time I could with older child this holiday planning did not happen.

However we muddled through Monday quite successfully.
Maths and English were prepared back in August so they just happen with no effort.  Spanish and Latin needs no input from me.  So the core work which is the basic block of the day was easily done and dusted by 10 ish.

We chatted about future plans and bought some resources from Amazon. ¬†Lot of discussion was given over to talking about ways to extend his interest in computers. ¬†He had a go at touch typing using BBC’s Dance Mat. ¬†We’ll settle for it wasn’t for Sam! ¬†Touch typing he is keen on the loud, singing goat really didn’t appeal.

I decided to read through the introduction to rivers in our Geography Encyclopaedia as a stress free way to introduce the topic. ¬†Possibly a good thing I hadn’t done too much planning yet as if I’d have done my usual list of ‘what would I like him to know’ I think we could probably tick off most things already. ¬†He knew a lot more about it than I expected (we have never touched on subject formally), even being able to describe the formation of an ox-bow lake. ¬†Turned into more of a question and answer session and decorating faces with (washable) pens.

20160413_4 We watched a few episodes of Horrible Histories over lunch.

Afternoon went in research and prep for Weds DIY session. ¬†Lots of discussion followed about aliens and then random science and ethics of things like cloning and zombies. ¬†Long discussion about ‘growing’ organs for transplant and the moral distinctions between that and cloning whole humans.

Sam then decided to build a calculator on Scratch. ¬†I hung around and watched and chatted with him for a while before realising the discussion was getting far too surreal for me. ¬†Lef Sam on Scratch and I headed off to do some of my latest FutureLearn courses. ¬†Been really disappointed in some lately – I am very much I have started so I’ll finish person but have given up on a few lately or really struggled to the end.

Planning Our Curriculum

If no one has noticed I’m a planner. ¬†I love planning our curriculum. ¬†Nothing like a nicely ordered book shelf to increase my happiness levels.



I’m a firm believer in the adage ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’. ¬†However, I believe a good home ed plan (for us) needs flexibility, needs to, in practice, feel relaxed, spontaneous and unplanned. ¬†I ask a lot!

I have no doubt children learn best when they are leading and shaping the way so Sam’s opinion and my experience of what works for him are the most important considerations. ¬†But I believe there are some essential skills and knowledge children need to learn to have doors open to them and that life is easier with a certain level of general knowledge/cultural literacy. ¬† Pretty much anything can be boring or interesting depending on the presentation, my job is to make as much as possible engaging to Sam.

My key starting points:

We need variety; short lessons and a range of style of resources.

With a good routine things feel effortless, routine is important but it needs to be flexible enough to absorb illness/days out etc.

Have a small set of achievable goals. ¬†Keep these very realistic. ¬†Plan beyond them, aim for more but don’t get disheartened if you don’t keep up.

Prep ahead! ¬†In term time I need things to just tick along. The more I’ve prepped the more we manage to do. ¬†But not too far, as it’s easier to jettison things not working if you haven’t spent hours prepping.

Alongside the one above be organised. ¬†Place for every thing and every thing in it’s place.

Question the educational value of all resources you use and adapt as needed. ¬†Is there any benefit to writing something down when they can say it? ¬†Is there any point in continuing doing practice sums at maths when they’ve obviously grasped the idea?

Year Goals

Bold = First level priority,¬†italics= second level, text = that would be nice if we can fit it in ūüôā ¬†In terms of judging success at the end of the year, failure on first level priority is a ‘should I consider school’ response, failure on second level says tweaking to approach/resources needed

Overall numeracy and literacy remain main concerns but start decreasing importance and increasing focus on science/humanities.  

Start to encourage more writing across the board as prep for KS3 but make sure it is meaningful.

Continue building basic literacy, more work on grammar and vocabulary

Maths – no learning objectives at all, build confidence and make fun

Languages – Latin and Spanish – build up vocab, continue with discipline of regular practice

Some Science reading and activity every week.  Focus on consolidating knowledge.  Have a scrapbook to show at end of year.

History and Geog – don’t let projects drift. ¬†Reduce number of field trips to allow more time for other aspects to get better balance.

Do more group socialising.  Less individual.  Reduce demands on time and guilt levels.

Work through programming books

Regular exercise

Learn about the stories behind diff religions.

Read aloud regularly

Works of diff artists

More time for walking/outdoors


We don’t have a timetable as such. ¬†We have a rhythm and a routine to our weeks and days. ¬†Always a new one for a new year as we tweak the social side.

Our core basics (Maths, English, Languages and reading basket) I plan to a four day week.  The four days might be a different four days week by week to accommodate trips/events/mood.  I do allocate dates on a planner to individual tasks for Maths and English to try and make sure we progress along at a reasonable pace but this is very much a guide and I plan by week rather than by day.  I plot in catch up weeks every now and again at times I suspect we might have got a bit behind.  Plus try and have a very light schedule for the last half term as June is always a hayfever blur.

Year schedule (note this is a work in progress, waiting to see how somethings work before planning further)

It works best to get up and get on with core work first thing and ideally finished by 10.30.  Leaving rest of time clear for the more hands on/going out stuff.

We try and have a couple of regular social things on the calendar and everything else gets slotted in around those and one off events. ¬†Aiming for 2 days a week that are ‘ours’ (no regular commitments) this year.

It’s hard to explain but I have a mental priority list of how things slot in. ¬†I tend to over plan so when I look at science or project plans I know we probably won’t get through all of it but I have in my mind the most important. ¬†What is most important will change as we go based on previous work.

Diary then gets done on a week by week basis. ¬†I don’t use a proper diary, use a notebook instead for flexibility. ¬†Start off with dates on the calendar and idea of regular events. ¬†Then on one page of notebook have a list of the core tasks for English and Maths. ¬†Then Science, project, RE. ¬†Then have a column for carried overs. ¬†Finally a list for extra ideas and at the bottom anything needed to be done for future prep or collected for that¬†week. ¬†On the opposite page have the days and allocate things to days as¬†I can. ¬†This is new approach so very much work in progress. ¬†Will sometimes allocate stuff on day by day basis so we have a lot of flexibility.



Details on individual plans can be found on the below links.







Other Stuff

Other Stuff 15/16

All the bits not worthy of their own post


Last year’s plans didn’t really come to anything at all. ¬†The ukulele was a flash in the pan interest. ¬†Even our classical concert was cancelled – we did make it to a Gamelan one which sent me to sleep. ¬†I’m not going to make any attempt to ‘teach’ music at all this year. ¬†With only limited time available to cover everything we want to it seems daft to waste time on stuff that neither of us find interesting or useful.

That aside he’s become much more interested in listening to music this year and I aim to set it up so we can have music on in the background while we do work. ¬†From time to time he’ll sit there with youtube piano tutorials and teach himself to play a few lines of a song he likes. ¬†Will leave it at that though.

Nature Study

Just read my plans for last year and laughed out loud. ¬†They were very ambitious for us. ¬†We’re not nature lovers, we like being outside but too many allergies to enjoy anywhere with plants for much of the year and we hate being hot. ¬†More jumping in puddles and home for hot choc by the fire sort of people.

Plan to take a more or less completely unplanned approach this year. ¬†We’ve loads of spotters guides (good ones) and activity ideas books. ¬†Whenever time, weather, health and mood allow we’ll try and get out. ¬†We’ve lots of nice walks on our doorstep.

Will include readings from our Enid Blyton’s Nature Lovers book and her Hedgerow, Woodland and Country Tales in our reading basket. ¬†Curled up on the sofa with a book is our sort of nature study ūüôā

 Religious Education and Festivals

Plan to try and address this more this year. ¬†We’ll include some of our collections of religious stories in our reading basket – I have a few ūüôā ¬†Also have the Usborne Encyclopaedia of World Religions to read though.

However I have a set of lesson plans bought from Planbee¬†that I will try to build into our week. ¬†Until we get some routine established I don’t know how realistic this is. ¬†If it works we’ll start with looking at Christianity, where the Bible came from, stories from the Bible, ¬†running up to Christmas.

I’ve been adding dates of random holidays and events to the calendar to draw on if we have time to fill ūüėČ

Computer Programming

Sam has been dabbling with this for a while but looking for an ordered approach this year.  We have these to work through.

20150827_3In case any one else falls for it, the one on the right is not identical to the Computer Coding for Kids with Carol Vorderman on the cover but close. ¬†But it has the advantage of not having Carol Vorderman on the cover so we’ll use this one and pass on the other ūüėČ


I have had the IF Odyssey sat on my Kindle for about 18 months.  I am hoping to set up a monthly group to work through this.  Ideally 4-6 children of similar age to Sam.  Thinking that debating ideas with his peer group will add something different to just talking with me.


Organised sports are not Sam. ¬†Thinking one afternoon a week for Laser Quest/Bowling?/Out door Gym/Long walk. ¬†Then if my Dad will provide transport another afternoon for either swimming or table tennis (we’ll chop and change week by week as mood takes us). ¬†This is work in progress!

Reading Basket

I’d like to get into the habit of reading aloud more again. ¬†I’m thinking we’ll start the day with reading on 4 day rotation from the basket which will have;

Nature Stories (Enid Blyton’s as mentioned above)

Aesops Fables

Year of Poetry

Children’s Bible


We’ll also hopefully keep a longer story on the go. ¬†Probably some sort of fantasy book to tie in to creative writing. ¬†Going to start with Alice in Wonderland.



From wanting to see someone (ideally at our house) nearly every day setting us on a social whirlwind that nearly finished me off, he’s had an about turn. ¬†He’s happy to go out a couple of days a week but wants to¬†stay home the rest which works well for me.

We’re planning on attending one of the adventure playgrounds every week. ¬†Plus laser quest monthly. ¬†Working on monthly bowling and philosophy plans and if they come off will probably suggest a walk/soft play the other week. ¬†That’s 2 group events a week possibly.

Looking around at who’s signing up for things I think numbers for trips might be an issue so will not bother with much trip booking this year I think. ¬†Days out with family and friends instead.

We’ll continue to have friends round as we’ve fallen into routines. ¬†Cubs obviously too.

Will also try and get things set up so he can skype etc.  I do a lot of my socialising through the computer I think I need to accept that that will suit Sam too.