Roam Education

Sometimes people wonder what life is like for home educated children, how our days and weeks look. Sometimes I like to write a post describing our day or our week - just to give an insight. I heard someone recently refer to HOME education as ROAM education, referring to how little they were actually at home, and this is rather different to the image many people have of children sitting at home, rather isolated from the world outside. This week has certainly been a week of ROAM education for us .... Here's how it went ....
A highlight of our Novembers is always the Into Film Festival, when schools and home educators are able to watch films in the cinema for free! Last week, we saw "Sing" and the amazing "A Beautiful Planet" in 3D, which was filmed on the international space station, and featured truly incredible views of our fabulous, fragile planet from space. We loved that! This week, instead of our usual Monday morning swimming lessons, we kicked off with another visit to the cinema to see "Despicable Me 3" which was just good fun!

We have to make soup for lunch on Mondays. (My third son is a creature of habit, and likes some regularity to his week.) And then Monday afternoon is always our chore time, so we put some music on and all get busy tidying and cleaning up the house. I have a chores rota, which divides the jobs up between the six of us. My husband and older two boys have a slightly reduced load in light of the fact I know they are all so busy, but we all do our bit. Sometime on a Monday, son number 3 (aged 11) will log on and complete a lesson on his Conquer Maths programme, which he chose to sign up to this year. He enjoys that, and is studying common factors at the moment. His younger brother might play on Maths Seeds at that time. He loves this, and doesn't see it as work or as maths. It is just another way to play. Later on a Monday afternoon, my third son has his tennis squad. He is obsessed by tennis and spends any time he has to himself either watching, playing or reading about tennis. Interestingly, when his brother was talking about percentages the other day, he was able to talk about percentages in the real world context of the stats given for tennis players during a match, percentage of first serves in etc. I hadn't really seen the connection there with mathematical concepts.

Tuesdays we head over to my parents, who live about 40 minutes drive from us. My Mum will do some art work with the boys. This week, we had a go at still life, but using only one colour of paint to practise painting tones. My third son did a really lovely painting. Then my Dad will tell them stories from history. He is a great source of historical knowledge and brings it all to life. This week, they were talking about Charles 1st. We have lunch with them, and then drive home.

In the afternoon, we caught up with an episode of Blue Planet 2, a documentary about the oceans, which we are really enjoying on the BBC. Again, on a Tuesday, my third son goes to his squad.

Wednesday morning this week, we had another film to see at the cinema, Cars 3 in 3D. There were quite a few home educators there, including a few friends we know, so that was fun. We came home for lunch and then headed out again for our fortnightly nature group at our friends' house. We meet in the park for a walk, and then go back for hot chocolate, snacks and to discuss our finds, and perhaps draw in our nature journals. This week, we were looking at mosses. This group consists of 6 families, so around 10-15 children, depending on who can come.

Wednesday evening was busy for me as I went down to Oxford with a couple of friends to hear Katharine Hayhoe speak about climate change, and how to have gracious conversations with those who are sceptical. It was a bit of a treat and some time out for me. She is a great inspiration!

Thursday morning is our new collaborative learning group. Based on the Reggio Emilia philosophy, in this group we are exploring what happens with child directed learning in a community context. I am quite excited about it. We are 5 families: 5 adults, 9 children (aged 4-11) at the moment. This week, we were at our local art gallery where there is a Reggio playroom open once a month. We enjoy having the use of it. It is filled with interesting objects and textures which lend themselves to creative, open-ended play. It is fascinating to observe the children in the space. This month, the three girls worked collaboratively to build a fantastic ice hotel, using so many of the different items available to them. One little boy lay down looking into a mirror, and described the sea creatures he could see. He then ran around saying he was a shark. We all became krill he was trying to catch to eat. This game widened to involve other children. How much of this play was inspired by his watching Blue Planet 2? Certainly the oceans are an interest shared by several of the children in the group. As the adult facilitators, our role will be to identify such shared interests and then facilitate learning around that interest. I was interested to observe the other boys in the group as they were running around a lot, and using a lot of space. Then they would sit and do a very focused activity, building a complex pattern with the blocks for example, but then run around again. It made me think about the length of time boys are expected to sit still at school.

After our play session ended, we explored some of the other galleries for a while but it was such a lovely sunny morning, the children wanted to go outside. So we went across to explore the Cathedral ruins before finishing our time together with hot chocolate in the gallery café.

Thursday afternoon was our final home ed tennis session of the season. About 15 children aged 5-15 turn out for this fun session of tennis games. We will miss it until we start again in the spring. My third son returns to the tennis club again later in the afternoon to play with a friend from his squad until dark. And then, after dinner, he goes off to scouts. This week, his oldest brother was talking to the scouts about his recent involvement with F1 in Schools, and his trip to the World Finals in Kuala Lumpur. I was told he was "an inspirational speaker" and even his brother said he was pretty good -high praise indeed! He took in an old engine he removed from a car to show the scouts as part of their mechanics badge.

Friday morning, we were back at the art gallery for a workshop I had organised for home educated children around the current Picasso exhibition. 23 children came along to explore pattern and print in the galleries, to look at Picasso's lino printing techniques and to have a go at their own print-making. My smallest, aged 5, spent ages carefully pressing his design into his polystyrene block. Even after others had finished, he was totally absorbed, taking his time and working so carefully. I love the fact he is not rushed. After the workshop, we went for lunch at a café with some of our home ed friends, and then one of my third son's friends came home with us to play. On the way, we dropped my youngest off at his friend's house to play for the afternoon. I had a friend over for coffee, and before I knew it, it was getting dark and another week was drawing to a close. Friday night was junior club night at the tennis club, and the older boys have their youth group. Busy, busy, busy .... Roam education!