This Homeschooling Life – What January looked like

January has been a strange month. I say that, but with regard to home education, all of our months have been different anyway. I spent half of it still feeling the heavy weight of pregnancy symptoms and the second half being stuck down with what I can only assume actually was the flu, because its still lingering. It’s meant that we haven’t been up to as much as we usually are and after the chaos of Christmas, I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty about that.

I especially felt it last week when we got back into a routine of practising phonics using the Alphablocks Reading Programme we’d set aside for a while. Talitha’s mind is so absorbent and she picks up and retains more complex sound combinations easily now. That should have delighted me but instead I felt guilty for not being more consistent with following the programme. Her reading is coming along so well but there’s always that irrational niggle that says, “Would she be further along by now if she were at school?” And then I remember, she is only four, for goodness sake. There is absolutely no rush. And there’s no need for me to compare her time at home with what happens in a system we’ve chosen to opt out of.

Mostly we’ve just been reading. We’ve been loving Little House in the Big Woods
, which we gave Talitha for Christmas. Nothing really “happens” yet we are both transfixed by it. For me, I’m intrigued by their self-sufficient lifestyle. For her, it’s all about a little girl who lived in a world of bears and panthers and got to make things (even if these things are bullets and butter!). I planned lots of fun activities to go with reading it, like making paper dolls and smoking meat but we haven’t got around to any of it yet! We’re not done reading it yet, though so maybe this month.

Where I haven’t been able to offer more input at times, she’s enjoyed playing, on her own, with her sister and with friends. Indoors and out. She’s gone ahead with creating. Always making something with paper and scissors, glue, tape and junk. Always drawing. Always asking questions. Always wanting to help me with whatever I’m doing.

The other day she suggested we do face painting while Ophelia was sleeping. I painted a butterfly on her face and she painted flowers on mine. Then she wanted to create a story about a butterfly and some flowers for us to act out. We each added parts of the story for “our show”, involving one of the cats as a character. She then suggested that she’d draw the story and write it down. With help, that’s exactly what she did, though we had a bit of brainstorm figuring out how to summarise it in a sentence.

On the weekends and on his days off, Laurence has been doing lots with the girls, whether it’s taking them outdoors somewhere new or just pottering around in the garden. He and Talitha took photographs of a nearby beach the other day and I came downstairs to find them each sketching from one of their shots. This Saturday, they spent a lot of time with a map, checking out the beach we were going to cook lunch on and when we got there, they referred to it again and it was exciting how much she understood from it.

This is something we’ve been talking more about, recently. How can each of us bring our skills and experience to the table with home educating? Something like looking at a map or creating one wouldn’t thrill me. I also wouldn’t find it particularly easy. If we did it, it would be purely for her benefit. On the other hand, it’s a natural thing for him to do with her.

We’ve been doing some bits around Chinese New Year more recently. We’ll be going to a big celebration at a local Chinese supermarket (complete with dragon dance) so in preparation, we’ve been reading books about Chinese New Year, crafts, watching videos and putting up our display.


Another January highlight has been finally getting our hands on a Spielgaben set. It’s essentially a huge set of beautifully made, non-toxic, environmentally sustainable wooden toys which are divided into sets and come with activity guides for play, creativity and mathematics. They’re “manipulatives” in Maths speak. The set appealed to me because I wanted a system with everything in one place to help us approach maths in a physical, practical way and this looked like a lot of fun.

So far, they girls have played with the sets freely and Talitha has done a few of the activities. We’ve started doing them “in order” but before I read the guides, we were just dipping in and out and she came across these 3D shapes she wanted to build. Naturally we got talking about the different between cubes and cuboids and how many faces a pyramid has. The great thing so far is that it’s something that Ophelia can do alongside us, even though she’s not doing anything structured with the pieces. I’m looking forward to delving more into it.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie

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  • Ah I loved reading this! I love the photos too, the map one and the one with snow in the background. We had a bit of a school versus home education wobble last month, well I say we but it was actually Matt. We’d spent time with Cherry’s cousin over Christmas who in the year above Cherry and has developed a real passion for maths, I think he felt like she was really behind compared to him. I think it’s natural to have those thoughts and worry but like you said it’s crazy to start doing it when we’ve chosen not to put them into that kind of system. The Spielgaben sets sound fab, will have to check them out x

  • Ah, what a lovely month! (Although sorry about the old preg symptoms)
    With regards to reading, there is a lot of evidence to suggest anything under 7 is way too young, developmentally, for kids to read. They can do it, but it is far harder for them and can sometimes go wrong (dyslexia) because their brains are at that stage yet. Of course, you may not care to read into that, but I just wanted to reassure you that there are SO MANY parents who see our job in `’helping our children to read” is simply to read to them them and let them enjoy stories 😀 😀 xx

    • Hi Lucy, thanks for your comment! I’m pretty sure I’ve read that before. It may even have been because you shared it previously. I have read a lot around reading with regards to what you’ve said and totally agree that many (maybe even most) children would benefit from waiting. As an early reader myself with a child who desperately wants to learn to read, though, I’m happy to help her – mainly because she asks me! But certainly, whenever she loses interest or finds something tricky, we happily drop it and find it comes together rapidly later on. Lots and lots of reading stories happening here. I generally feel time outdoors and a good book and the day is a success.

  • loved reading this, we had a funny kinda month, think it was just January! Love that she’s showing an interest in reading – they all come to it when they’re ready – but I think that if they show an interest then it’s the right time to help them.

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