My youngest son has become very interested in writing words and letters, so I looked out some old phonics workbooks I have had in the cupboard for a few years. He loves them! He makes his own little desk out of a box with a chess board on top, gets out his books and his pens to do 'his work'. There is a video which these books accompany, so he has been watching that and learning to form his letters. He has started to tell me what letters words begin with - at odd moments, when he is bruching his teeth, for example, he'll say 'T. T for teeth. T for toothbrush." He will ask me how to write certain words, and then copy them very accurately onto his pictures, and he does a lot of his own 'writing' with a hotch potch of letters which he then proudly asks me to read. I do not have set times for him to do this work, he just does it when he wants to do it. His understanding of number is evolving in the same way. We'll sit down to dinner and he will announce "We are 6 today with Grandma". OK, so he isn't writing 5+1=6 but I know he is understanding.
In addition to dressing each morning as a Roman Ninja, he is also interested in designing, drawing, sticking and labelling his own maps. This may have been inspired by our project on South Africa, stemming from the World Cup, as part of which we drew flags and a huge map, talked a lot about apartheid and Nelson Mandela, the older boys even composing an a cappella piece in the style of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. A lot of learning at home is done through conversation. So much is imparted to children through watching and talking with significant adults. A lot of our talk is about values, the reasons behind behaviour, the important things which I never felt I had enough time to impart when busy with the urgent demands which came home from school. It is impossible for a teacher in a class of thirty to give such focussed attention to a child, and it is an important, if informal and undocumented part of learning at home. It is good to be able to follow a child's 'why' questions in the pursuit of knowledge about the world, rather than seeing those 'whys' and that natural curiosity suppressed, which is too often (sadly) a necessary part of classroom management in pursuit of the curriculum.