We got socialised!

This afternoon I took Aaron to a home education meet for the first time. We walked into town and then caught the bus there. Although it was mostly older children there were quite a few younger ones too. I met a lovely lady who lives close to us and is involved with a smaller group locally, so I’m hoping to go along to that on Tuesdays. Aaron had lots of fun, playing with the other children and doing crafts with long paper straws. At one point he picked up a couple of straws and held them to his shoulder like a violin, and then picked up another straw and used it as a bow. It was so cute! He’s been fascinated by my violin for a few weeks now, so I’m seriously thinking about buying him a 1/16 size. All in all we had a great time and will definitely be going again.

Letter box

Not the kind you put your post in! I went round the house gathering the letters m f e r o and put them in a box. I used flash cards, magnetic letters, cut out some from cereal boxes, brochures and Christmas cards and also printed out a few letters onto card.

I included a few simple object words with one or more of the letters in, such as flower, frog, mouse and rose. Aaron sometimes has trouble generalising concepts, so I thought he’d better learn to spot letters in words right from the start to make sure we don’t get frustrated later.

Today we just used two letters, m and f, so I put all the other letters away into a bag. First of all Aaron sorted them out into two piles, naming each letter as he did so. Once that was finished he lost concentration and was messing around with the letters, so I turned it into a game. He hid all the letters underneath his legs, I went “fishing” and “caught” one, which he then had to name before I gave it back. He was in fits of giggles and was confident at recognising the two letters by the time we finished.

We also made the letters m and f out of leftover salt dough. They are baking in the oven at the moment and Aaron will have a go at painting them once they are done.

Rain or shine

For the next two weeks our topic will be weather. This week we’ll be covering sun, clouds and rain as well as having a simple look at the water cycle. We have family visiting over the weekend so we probably won’t get much done on Monday, and on Wednesday I’m hoping to take Aaron to the local homeschool meet. Last week I found it very useful to have a plan to refer back to, so here’s a rough outline of my ideas:




Water cycle:

The reality

It’s been a very hectic week for various reasons but we managed to get almost everything on our list done, plus a few extra craft activities. However, we didn’t get through all the reading material that I had planned to cover. Aaron needs to know five letters before we can begin the main lessons in the Funnix reading program. He surprised me with how quickly he learnt the letters m and f on Monday, but the next two days he seemed to find the lessons rather boring. Remembering Doman’s golden rule of never boring a child, I decided not to push the issue and we didn’t get to the end of the three lessons. I do still think he will enjoy the main lessons, so next week I need to find some fun activities to teach him the five letters instead.

The biggest success of the week was probably the colour-matching caterpillar. Although Aaron knows lots of colour names and we often talk about colours, he isn’t able to identify the colour of an object when I ask. Usually he just makes a wild guess and we’ve often wondered whether he is colour blind! He did manage to match up most of the bottle tops to the correct colours though, so the colour matching caterpillar has become a new favourite.

Days of the Week lapbook

We used fingerpainting to make the caterpillars and butterflies on the front cover, which Aaron really enjoyed.

At the top of the left side is Exodus 20:8 and two songs. At the bottom is a pocket containing the colour-match caterpillar and the butterfly life cycle wheel. On the right side is the names of the days with their corresponding fruit or food. Some of the letters Aaron traced really well, but other times he got carried away!

These caterpillar shapes and size sequencing butterflies and caterpillars were also in the pocket.

The colour-matching caterpillar was a big success. I still need yellow, pink and black bottle tops though. Colin spotted a purple one today as we walked past a recycle bin. We can’t recycle bottle tops in our area, so I took it!

Fishy friends

On Monday Aaron helped me mix up some salt dough. We used 4 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt and 1-2 cups of water. I made some sea creatures to go in his nearly finished nautical-themed bedroom. Aaron made lots of mess.

We baked the creatures at 120 degrees C for about three hours yesterday evening and then another three hours this morning. They are quite large which is why they took so long. There was still some dough left over, so I would probably halve the recipe for making smaller decorations.

This afternoon I painted the sea creatures while Aaron did some painting on paper.

Once they were dry, we put the sea creatures in their new fishing net home hanging from the corner of Aaron’s ceiling. It’s made out of a toy net that my grandma gave me when Aaron was born but I’ve never really found a use for it until now. His bedroom is almost done, I just need to paint the last porthole picture to go on the wall.

(Please excuse the poor quality photos, I am using Colin’s camera phone until my camera comes back from repair.)

The plan

For the rest of this half term we’ll be doing a project on Times and Seasons, starting off with the days of the week. A couple of weeks ago I bought this wooden magnetic weather board and Aaron enjoys changing the magnets every morning.

Up until recently he hasn’t really understood much beyond “tomorrow” or vague explanations like “after Christmas it will be your birthday” but I’ve noticed that he’s starting to develop a better understanding of time. Last Sunday Grandpa told him that he would take him swimming on Saturday. I explained to Aaron about the days remaining and how many times he would have to go to bed first. Throughout the week he was talking about going swimming on Saturday and would list some of the days in between. Yesterday I had a proud mummy moment when we were in the car on the way to church. I casually asked Aaron what day it was and he straight away answered “Sunday”!

So here is my plan for the week. It doesn’t seem much written down, but it’s probably best to start off small rather than jump in the deep end and get overwhelmed. I’ve got quite a lot of work to do this week anyway as it’s the end of the VAT quarter.

Unit Study – Days of the Week:

  • learn 2 days of the week songs
  • learn sign language for the days of the week
  • read The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • complete The Very Hungry Caterpillar days of the week worksheets (herehere and here)
  • make caterpillar match-the-colours bottle lid game (ideas from here and here)
  • make butterfly life cycle wheel (I made this one myself, feel free to use it)
  • do caterpillar and butterfly finger paintings.

Funnix Reading:

  • Day 1 to 3 – three exercises per day teaching the letters m f e r
  • Day 4 to 5 – alphabet game reviewing the letters m f e r and introducing the letter o.

At the end of the week I’ll update with the reality of what actually happened! Hopefully my camera will be back from repair by then so I can include some photos of what we’ve done.


“One of the great modern myths is that children need other children to become “socialised.” The exact opposite is true. The notion that little children learn how to be civilised from being with each other has little to recommend it. What can a three-year old teach another three-year-old? Answer: How to behave like a three-year-old.”

– Glenn Doman

Free access to interactive children’s books

Found another great freebie! Mightybookjr is offering one year’s free access to a library of 900 animated books, lesson plans, quizzes, story songs, games and puzzles for ages 2-13. Go to the homepage at http://www.mightybookjr.com/, click on “Subscribe Now” in the top right corner and enter “learntoread” as your coupon code.

Free Funnix Reading Program

I came across this reading program, worth $249, which is being given away free only during January. It consists of 220 daily lessons that take children from being non-readers to reading on a third grade level. As you can tell, it’s an American program, but it still seems really good and very simple to use. I’ve downloaded all the lessons, workbooks, stories and other materials so it should keep us busy for the next two years or so!


I suppose I’d better introduce myself

I’m kind of used to getting strange looks and being bombarded with questions. I got married at 17, had a baby at 19 and have appalling fashion sense! I home birth, breastfeed, babywear, use cloth nappies and do baby-led weaning, some of which are considered quite alternative styles of parenting. I’m also a Christian saved by grace. So all of that should stand me in good stead for becoming a homeschooling mum!

I studied human biosciences at university and infant nutrition is my particular passion. I am fortunate enough to be able to do secretary work from home. In my spare time (what spare time?) I play MMOs with my husband Colin, practise my piano or violin and occasionally dabble in website coding.

Here is a photo of Aaron on his third birthday. He loves cars and all things to do with transportation. He has a huge vocabulary but he isn’t great at longer sentences or pronunciation yet. He’s also a computer genius, for which I blame his daddy!

This is Tabitha, who is ten months old. She will eat anything and everything but doesn’t believe in sleeping through the night, or even close to it! I do baby signing with her and she is starting to respond to some of the signs and tries to sign back.

The adventure begins

Aaron turned 3 at the beginning of the month. Cue an increase in the inevitable “when are you going to send him to nursery?” questions which people have been asking for the past two years. It’s time I had an answer.

Incidentally, I’m amazed at the amount of pressure there is to send toddlers to nursery. When he was one, a government leaflet dropped through my letterbox with “I sing songs at nursery, mum goes to work, la-la-la-lah!” on the front. Long before he was two, I had people asking “does he go to nursery?”. When I replied in the negative they would immediately ask “when are you going to send him?”. I didn’t understand why I would want to send my ickle barely-not-a-baby boy away to be looked after by strangers when I had all the time in the world to attend to his needs. Apparently, it’s important for socialisation. Taking him to groups and activities clearly isn’t good enough. Ironically, the socialisation comments usually come from people who probably didn’t even start school until they were 5.

For now, the answer is that we won’t be sending him to nursery… or school. I was home educated for four years, so home educating my own children has always been in my mind. Even so, it has been a very difficult decision to come to. It’s something Colin and I been considering, praying about and talking about ever since Aaron was born. And it’s certainly not a decision that is set in stone. Children change, situations change.

Next term Aaron will be entitled to 15 hours of free early education each week. In a year and a half he will be due to start school. In a way, each of those events are mini deadlines for reviewing our decision. By April 2011 we need to be sure that we won’t be sending him to preschool. By January 2012 we need to be sure that we won’t be sending him to school when he is 4. The way we see it, the decision not to send him to school at the moment is less significant than if we decided to send him. If home education doesn’t work out by the time he is 5 or 6, we can send him to school and it will make very little difference in the long run. In fact, other countries in Europe have shown that starting school at a later age of 6 or 7 can even be beneficial. It’s not so easy to do it the other way around.

So it’s time for us to officially begin our adventure into “preschool homeschooling”. It will be very informal and flexible at first, with the emphasis on having fun. It will also be a useful exercise for me in lesson planning and record keeping. I’m hoping to keep track of our activities and progress on this blog, so feel free to follow our journey!