Well, the leaves on the trees are starting to turn, the evenings are drawing in and the air is cooler. Soon the children of our neighbourhood will be back to school, and it will be time for us to get back into routines, which have been rather lacking over the summer. It has been great to see our three boys playing for hours in front of our house with friends from our new neighbourhood, a group of girls and boys of mixed ages, making up little plays and filming them, dressing up as different characters, building dens, riding bikes ... All the things kids should be doing during the summer. Even though the weather hasn't been that warm, it has at least been dry, so playing out has happened almost every day and left me rather at a loose end. This has not been unwelcome, as I am pregnant, so have been thankful for the chance to take a backseat and take it easy. But with the new term, we will need to think about how we organise our home learning once again.
The boys have expressed a preference for being given a list of their weekly tasks and then organising for themselves when they do them. This allows the flexibility to fit their work around outings and other things that crop up, and will also hopefully encourage them to organise themselves. I need to encourage them to be more independent before the new baby arrives in the spring. I also need to involve our youngest son in topic work and other activities, joining his brothers in their weekly Chinese lesson, for example.
It is also the time when we think about what clubs and activities the boy want to participate in during after school hours. Last term, they didn't seem keen to do very much at all, but our eldest went along to the local chess club last night, which he enjoyed very much. He learned to play chess at nursery in Turkey, where the game is central to the curriculum right from preschool, and he is very good at it. The local club here is mostly comprised of older men, so he went along with his grandfather, but there are a number of new junior members this season, which is good to hear. I am hoping that by playing regularly with older, more experienced players, he will develop his game and his strategic thinking skills. He also wants to join the cubs. His brother is considering this or street dance. The youngest wants to do football, and they will all continue with their karate. I can see we will be doing a lot of ferrying about, and am glad to have grandparents close by to help with this too.
A local power station have offered to run Forest School for our Home Ed Group at the farm this term too, so that will be a weekly commitment the boys will enjoy. Forest School is a popular educational phenomenon at the moment, encouraging children to be outside, using tools and developing their team-working skills in various activities.
I did not intend our home education to break for the summer really. I suppose by its nature, organic education never really ceases, as every experience and opportunity a child engages in can be a learning one. Certainly, as people often worry about the socialisation of home educated children, plenty of playtime with friends during their school holidays, is an important part of the whole experience. Here are some other highlights of our summer since I last wrote:
The boys and I had a week in Devon, including time at the seaside and on Dartmoor, and a fabulous day out at Morwellham Quay where we took a train down an old copper mine, watched a potter at work and helped to make rope and a barrel;
The boys took part in a holiday club for primary aged children at our church. They attended 4 mornings and took part in a special service on the Sunday morning, and had lots of fun with Captain Ketchup and his crew;
The boys attended a 5 day coaching course at our local tennis club;
We went to see the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon Treasure, which was found very close to our city in 2009, and the accompanying exhibition at our local Cathedral;
Our middle son finally got to go on his first sleepover with a friend from his former school. He was very excited!
Our eldest son attended the next level swimming course each morning for a week at our local leisure centre;
Kumon continues ... Our youngest son has learnt to read, but has not yet made the jump to reading books for himself. He still doesn't seem ready for that, but is figuring out what text says when he is out and about ....
The boys have been taking part of the local library's summer reading challenge but not with as much enthusiasm as last year. I have insisted on harder books being attempted, and they haven't had time to finish more than a couple each. We will complete it, even if we are late in doing so!!
Bring on the new term!!