Dear Home Ed Mama Who’s Decided To Send Your Child To School

My children have been educated at home since pretty much the day they were born, and as such, we’ve always mingled with people who intend, or do, home educate their children. As a result, we’ve come across pretty much every ‘type’ of home educator known to man, I’m sure. From those who do it for religious reasons to those that do it for anti-establishment reasons, from those who do it purely while they wait for schools to come available, to those who do not intend to send their children to school, ever.

We’ve met and engaged with all the styles too, from the extreme unschoolers who don’t even like ‘themed’ activity days at the home ed groups, to those who follow a strict curriculum, from those who teach nothing at all formally, to those who have flashcards for their two year olds. We have met them all.

The biggest shock for me in the home learning networks has been the difference in parenting styles. Our first home educating network consisted mostly of the style of parenting known as attachment parenting or gentle parenting. Subsequent groups introduced us to much stricter, more regimented parenting styles.Read more: Dear Home Ed Mama Who’s Decided To Send Your Child To School

Little Passports Early Explorers – Famous Landmarks

Our second Little Passports Early Explorers box arrived, and it was just a wonderful box. We loved it so much. Little Passports Early Explorers

This one was themed “famous landmarks” and came with five ‘mini figures’ – little figurines of five well known landmarks: The Great Wall of China, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Taj Mahal, The Great Spynx, and The Eiffel Tower.

Along with them comes collectors cards with information on each landmark, ,and a printout with more information on each one. There are also stickers that can be stuck on the continents map, on Asia, Europe and Africa.
Little Passports Early ExplorersRead more: Little Passports Early Explorers – Famous Landmarks

The Changing Face of Learning At Home

Many people have – through no fault of their own – a really outdated view of what exactly homeschooling – or home education as it’s called in the UK – actually is. People still see it as children sitting around the kitchen table, or in bigger homes a dedicated learning room, following a curriculum and doing ‘school’ at home.

There are still some places where that is exactly what homeschooling looks like – school at home – which is generally a state-mandated control on home based learning. We are fortunate in the UK that we are not currently bound by many laws around how we teach our children, or what we teach them, so long as they are receiving an adequate education.

Some people follow the idea of ‘unschooling’, which is a term I don’t particularly like myself because I think it causes a misconception of what exactly it is. People hear ‘unschooling’ and if they don’t immediately think ‘lazy parenting’, they think ‘uneducated’. As a degree level student, who loved most of school, that is exactly what I thought – unschooled children couldn’t read, didn’t learn, and had no chance in life outside of childhood… but this simply isn’t the case.Learning at HomeRead more: The Changing Face of Learning At Home

Twinkl Home Education Resources

A few months ago I discovered an online resource for Early Years, KS1, KS2, and SEN teachers, classes and home educators called Twinkl. I emailed them to find out about a rate for Home Educators, and eventually got the full membership, so that I can give it a try.

Twinkl is essentially a compilation of teaching resources and themed printable documents. While it’s true that a home educating parent could probably sit and create all their own resources for whatever theme you’re working on, I have found Twinkle to be an invaluable website for a number of reasons:

1. Twinkl gives you resources on tap

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While we tend to plan our PlayLearning themes well in advance, I don’t always have time in the run of daily life to actually prepare all the resources in advance. At those times, it’s wonderful to be able to quickly head over, type in our theme, print out a few pages – be they colouring pages or activity sheets – and give those to Ameli to keep her busy while I put together other things, like craft projects, or experiments to go with our themes.

2. Twinkl gives you a starting point for your own projects

Last week we were looking after two friends who are moving to Australia soon. I printed out Australian and UK flags, and cut them out. The children coloured one of each flag and while they did so, we spoke about our friends moving away and what that means. We then made those into bunting to show we’d always be connected, even though we’re in different places. Of course I could have printed these from other places, but I didn’t have to search, sort or think about it too much, they were there and ready.

Twinkl

We took an ambulances word sheet from the role play section, and cut them out and used them for a treasure hunt, before using the same pieces to trace the letters and try to read the words.

3. Twinkl gives you options for themes

One week we went to the fire station for emergency services week. We printed out paper themed with little firemen all around it to write thank you notes for the firemen. Of course this wasn’t necessary but it was nice! (And I now remember I haven’t posted them yet! )

Capture5If we had a theme for a longer period than a week, we could, as an example, print off themed alphabet pages – emergency services, spring or whatever we were working on. (Remember Ameli is still preschool, so we’re not using all the formal bits yet.)

4. Twinkl saves you a lot of time

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Again for the fire services week, I found a ‘game’ where you can mix and match the fronts and backs of emergency service vehicles. I printed these off (I printed them 4 to a page, if I recall, so that they were smaller), then cut them and laminated them. Again, I could have searched for a variety of vehicles, edited them all to the same size, spent time looking for similar styles – but with just a few clicks we were on our way, and Aviya still plays with them, weeks later. This is so useful for reinforcing learning – in this case of the 999 number for my two year old.

There was also an interactive PowerPoint with videos of emergency vehicles that I didn’t have to search through YouTube to find – it’s ready and fit for purpose.

5. Twinkl printouts can make gifts with no effort

Capture8We recently went to a birthday party for a four year old. I had a very small budget, and didn’t want to buy a toy, as such so instead I bought a box file, magnifying glass, basket, stick of glue, a note pad and pen on a lanyard. Inside the box, I placed a few printed worksheets for mini beast hunting, a spring hunt checklist and so on.

If I was doing them for an older child there would have been more difficult activity sheets or experiments in the box, but I thought a nature explorer slash bug hunter would be great for a four year old. I know mine would have loved it! Again, of course I could have spent time searching for something good online, but the whole gift took me half an hour to assemble (once I’d bought a few bits) and I was very happy with the price, and the end result.

6. Twinkl can be your first port of call

Tomorrow we will be spending some time on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I can spend my evening on Pinterest looking for ideas, for sure… or I can pop over to Twinkl and download the massive resource they have available, and cherry pick what we want. If I have more time, and more ideas,  I can go to Pinterest. But if I need something quick, easy, accessible and quality, I know where to go. If the resource isn’t there, you can request it – it won’t be immediate, but if you plan ahead, you can make that work for you too.

I know the argument some people use against paying for a subscription service with a resource like Twinkl – mostly because as educated, computer literate people, we can all design our own stuff, or even better, use the many, many free resources  around the internet including some on Twinkl.

I also love how, if I do want to create my own resources, I can do so using their templates, and I can share and save it to the site, for which you get points too, and enough points can win you ‘freebies’ and prizes too.

If you’re in a position to be able to do that, great stuff, but for me as a working and home educating mama, I love the ease of Twinkl, how it takes the pressure off me on the small, standard stuff, so I have more energy and time to spend on the fun stuff.

Disclaimer for reviewsP.S. If you sign up using my links, I’ll get a free month on Twinkl and my girls and I will be super duper grateful!

 

Learning: Reptiles And Writing

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because after all this playlearning, I’m too tired to think straight!*

From time to time we make giant strides forward in our desire to home school our children, and I reach the end of the day feeling like we may just be able to pull it off. Today was one of those days. I know it’s not really ‘schooling’ when your oldest child is three years old, but I think it sets a nice tone for what’s to come, and the way I’d be happy to teach the girls – through play, and engagement.

We’re planning on following along with the Summer Camp at Home schedule as set by Tiana at Two Cheeky Monkeys, who chooses a theme and posts her suggested activities that she will be following with her own sons every week. I loved doing it last year, because I found having a ‘theme’ to work with made it so much easier to keep busy and keep the children entertained, even if we didn’t follow everything, and often have to swap days around to make it work with our schedules.

So, today we started with week one:

  • Theme: Reptiles
  • Colours: Brown and Green
  • Shapes: Triangle and Circle
  • Letter: R

 

You can pop over to Two Cheeky Monkeys to see the plan for the whole week, but as Monday is our stay at home day, we did a lot of crafting.
We started with some letters, and while I wasn’t watching Ameli copied more than just the letter ‘r’. I was so impressed – more so that she actually knew what the letters were. I guess all that reading is paying off.

We decorating a paper snake, which we later hung up under the light fitting, so the ‘diamonds’ glitter.

Did you know that snakes don’t have ears, but hearing holes?
Did you know reptiles can have four or no legs?
Did you know they have scales, not fur?
Well, these were the talking points for our discussions today.

I also used the scraps from the triangle and circle cutouts (which I’ll use later on for Aviya’s colour and shape learning) for a DIY mosaic, which I thought is great for a bit of fine motor skill practice.

Tomorrow we have a totally unrelated field trip slash day out, but we’ve printed some free reptile colouring pictures to take with in the car for entertainment, and to continue on our theme.
Learning Points:

 

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