We first started home education with a timetable that showed learning occurring between the hours of 9am to 3pm. Simply....it didn't work. Juggling two little girls and home education was not going to work with a timetable so I learnt to just go with the flow. I realised then that one of the best things about home education was the freedom to learn whenever it suited you and whatever you wanted too. I threw away the timetable and started playing with my children.
So, what does a typical day of learning look like in our home? Firstly, there are three things that we do EVERYDAY and they are:
- Shared Reading (story time) - I read and read and read some more to my children. Whatever book (picture book, chapter books, informational text) they hand me, I will read. This always seems to happen first thing after breakfast and morning chores. This reading time has not time limit and it involves all of my children who take turns at choosing books they want to hear me read.
- Guided Reading - Following our shared reading, it is then my son's turn to read as we are already comfortable and in the 'reading frame of mind'. He chooses from a range of readers/books that we have for him to read. At the moment he has been reading books from Clifford the Big Red Dog series.
- Sight words - Following our reading, we are ready to play so we take our sight word flashcards (we used Fry 1000 Instant Words, free download) and do just that! Any creative, fun, tactile, sensory, play-based way possible, we write, draw, paint, trace, mark-out and say our sight words.
Now, this is not the end of our learning day. The rest of the day is always different. I made a chart (pictured below) with the idea of my son taking ownership of his own learning. He chooses his own learning activities from the cards provided and stick them onto his My Learning chart.
So, how did I come up with the activities on the cards? Firstly, we have a maths program that we follow called Targeting Maths. This program has a student workbook, a mental maths book and computer games CDROM. My son will always pick one or more of these activities to do daily as he really enjoys maths. We also have a Targeting Handwriting student work book that gets used about once a week as well as a on-line reading program called Reading Eggs.
Secondly, we always seem to have a 'unplanned' unit of work in progress which is based around my son's area of interests (at that time). Our current unit of work started from a conversation my son and I had while we were jumping on the trampoline together. He told me he wanted to learn about Australia 'because I need to know about the place I live', were his words. So I asked him what about Australia did he want to learn and wrote down his ideas and suggested some of my ideas and went from there.
There are other learning opportunities that happen spontaneously throughout our learning day and week. These activities are:
- visit to the library
- visit to the park
- sports activity with our local home school group
- piano practice
- listening to music and playing with music
- science experiments (some are planned)
- cooking (always a learning opportunity here)
- arts and crafts
- and general learning through life
This is a rough outline of how a day of learning occurs in our home. Not everyday runs smoothly. There are teething toddlers, mess, housework, tiredness and sickness that seem to pop their unwanted head into our life but that is apart of life and its apart of learning.