We are just under a year into our newest home education venture with Eloise just entering year 4. I did home educate Eloise during her reception year and was also home educated myself so I’m no stranger to the world of home education but it’s taken us the best part of a year to properly begin to adjust and start to find our feet. I asked on Instagram a while back if anyone would be interested in a blog post going over our home ed timetable and what sort of things we get up to and I had an overwhelming majority that voted “yes” so here I am.
At the moment we are loosely following National Curriculum, we do include a lot of other things that aren’t on it but I just find it easier to follow the topics they would be doing in school, purely in case Eloise decides she ever wants to go back. Anything on there that she really isn’t interested in though we will skip over or swap for something else. She’s in control of what topics we learn and each month we sit together and choose the following months topics. I then put together the lessons/activities, organise any items we need for them and then assign them to each week. Everything is subject to change, if she doesn’t want to do a certain element or wishes to alter it then that’s ok. Nothing is set to certain times or days and she is free to pick and choose. Some days we do one or two of the activities, some days we do 7, it all depends.
She’s very much into her art and history so we try and make that the focus of things at the moment and try and incorporate those into various lessons. We also don’t just stick to the topics that would necessarily be covered by her age group, mainly because there is a lot she has already gone over independently, particularly history and science topics because she forever has her head in encyclopedias.
When Eloise was at school, for example, she was coming home with baby books and being told to put back Roald Dahl books she had chosen in exchange for picture books despite the fact she was reading Roald Dahl confidently at home which really knocked her confidence. She has just gone into year 4 and is flying through year 6 exception words with her spelling which she started last year purely because I believed in her wanting to challenge herself and followed her lead and not tick boxes or percentages. Every child has their strengths and often these are overlooked in a school setting just as their struggles are too. Not that teachers aren’t amazing, don’t get me wrong, but trying to cater one lesson to potentially 30 different learning styles and levels is no easy feat. That’s the beauty of home education, you can really cater everything to a level your individual child is comfortable with.
*Just for reference, Eloise is 8 years old and just gone into year 4.
Our Home Education Timetable
Read On The Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan – Because we own a biiig book full of poems by Spike Milligan I asked Eloise to find the poem in the book rather than on Google. This is a good shout if you have the books in the flesh as it will help them to develop research skills using the contents or index of a book.
Listen/watch performances of the poem on YouTube – This will help them really get a feel of the beat and rhythm of the poem, clapping along can help the more tactical learners
Talk about the nonsense words Spike Milligan uses, the structure, rhyme scheme, etc – This will help children notice patterns and rhythm within a poem as well help them recognise which are made up words.
Read the poem aloud – You can simply just have them read it out or make it more interesting and pretend you’re at a proper poetry reading and have a pretend stage and microphone or maybe even film it like we did.
Complete a worksheet that concentrates on the rhyming scheme or pattern of the poem – This sheet had blank spaces at the end of each line so Eloise can think of her own nonsense words to complete the poem. This encourages them to use their imagination as well as phonics skills.
Spellings – accommodate, accompany, according, achieve, aggressive, amateur, ancient, apparent, appreciate, attached*
*any words she is not familiar with she either looks up in a dictionary, googles the definition or asks Google Home.
Read The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll – We read this online after searching for it on Google. Anything that needs searching for, Google is your friend. All children need to have computer researching skills because let’s face it, we all use Google on near enough on a daily basis and the world is becoming more and more centered on technology and this skill is definitely one that will be invaluable for your child.
Perform The Jabberwocky – Again, like last week, getting them to read the poem out helps them feel the rhythm of the words.
Draw own interpretation of The Jabberwocky – This is a great way to get the imagination flowing and pick up on what bits of the poem they really took in and test their comprehension skills in a fun way.
Spellings – attached, available, average, awkward, bargain, bruise, category, cemetery, committee, communicate
Read “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou – Again, I got her to search for it online and read it that way.
Watch a performance of Still I Rise – I found a video online of Maya Angelou performing the poem herself, who better to get the feel of a poem than the poet themselves.
Chat about the poem – We talked about what sort of langauge Maya uses and what the poem is about. This is a great way to gauge how a child has interpreted a poem. Some may thing this poem may be a little too much for a child of 8 to be reading but it’s easy to explain most things in an age appropriate way.
“Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?”
Some parents would read the word sexiness, get to the last line and be horrified that I allowed my 8-year-old to read and study this poem but her interpretation of this verse was that she is writing about womanhood and how girls should be proud in their own skin.
Paint Maya Angelou and write out her poem – I got her to do this for her Women in History project. I thought having a poem in there would be a nice change to just a bunch of facts and it would mix things up a bit.
Spellings – community, competition, conscience, conscious, controversy, convenience, correspond, criticise, curiosity, definite
Read True Feminine – This is a poem that took the internet by storm not long ago because it is so powerful and beautifully written by a child in 3rd grade which equates to year 4 in England.
Write out True Feminine and highlight favourite parts – Pretty self-explanatory but the reasoning behind this is to practice hand-writing as well as encouraging the child to read the poem at a deeper level and think about which bits resonate with them personally.
Write a poem in this style – By in this style I mean just about being a girl. Anything goes outside of that.
Spellings – We go over the previous spellings for the month again, particularly any she got wrong.
Maths Workbook – Maths is Eloise’s least favourite subject so we try and keep things short and sweet. We tend to work from curriculum focused workbooks every day where she will do at least one page as well as ticking off curriculum topics as we go along. Depending on how confident she is with the topic we either go through the questions together or El will go off an do it independently and we will then go over her answers together. Anything she has got wrong we sideline in for a more focused lesson afterward which normally includes a maths game on the internet if there is one focusing on that particular topic but if not then we will practice the solutions together until it sticks.
Practise Times Tables – Whether this is from reading her multiplication square, writing them out, or just from me flash quizzing her throughout the day.
BBC Bitesize – Visit the BBC Bitesize website and have a look through their “What is renewable and non-renewable energy” and watch the video.
Renewable and non-renewable energy – talk about the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy. Talk about the main energy sources.
Complete worksheet – This worksheet included prompts to explain the difference between the two energy types as well as room to list some examples.
Talk about fossil fuels – We watched some clips online, researched a bit on books and went over how fossil fuels are non-renewable or “green”.
Do BBC Bitesize quiz – Eloise loves quizzes like this and flew through it. These are a great way to gauge how much fo the information has gone in but it’s best to wait a day or so before doing these as you’ll be able to review your next lesson based on how much they have remembered. El aced it so we can move along faster than I first anticipated and this is what makes home ed amazing, you can really tailor it to your individual child and go at their pace whether they are flying through something faster than the speed of light or want to take the scenic route to learn the topic.
Research green energy sources – Wind turbines, solar panels, etc. Have a brief look at how each one works. How it can work out cheaper for households to generate energy using solar panels, that kind of thing.
Look at solar panels in real life – My Grandparent’s had solar panels put on their house so this is a perfect opportunity to see them in action, so to speak. Seeing something in the flesh is a great way to help the information stick.
Create a fact sheet on green energy – For this I had Eloise create a sheet about the main 3 green energy sources and how they work including drawings too.
Look at how a simple circuit works – For this, I used BBC Bitesize, they have brilliant clips and videos to help with explaining things.
Learn the Electrical symbols – Again, BBC Bitesize to the rescue. For this we watched their video on the page I linked above and then did the quiz.
Draw a complete circuit – Pretty self-explanatory but it will help to determine if the knowledge has stuck and outline anything that perhaps might need going over again.
Build a simple toy car – I bought a small car making kit off eBay for a couple of quid. It is from China so took a couple of weeks to arrive but it was much, much cheaper than any UK versions I found.
Look through an atlas – We have a giant world atlas on Els bookshelf so we took this opportunity to get it down and have a good look through. This not only gives a feel for the locations but also gives the child a bit of an insight into what the world looks like as a whole. Finding different countries using the index and navigate the atlas itself.
Point out locations – After she’s had a bit of time to get to know her way around an atlas I ask her to point to various locations. Starting with easier ones like Europe, Africa, Russia, America, Australia and then onto more tricky ones like France, Italy, Mexico, China, Japan, etc.
Capital cities – Over the week we find and talk about different capitals as well. Point them out of maps, any that strike an interest with Eloise we research. Anything she already knows about these locations we chat about too.
Choose one country and research it – For this El chose Africa. We have a print out booklet of country worksheets so she coloured it and wrote some facts about Africa underneath.
Watch a documentary on Africa – Because her chosen country was Africa we watched a couple of Netflix documentaries that featured Africa or animals found in Africa, that sort of thing. Whenever we watch a documentary we talk about it throughout, any particularly relevant to the lesson I will point out by either repeating it or relaying the information in a question to her, I find this really helps things stick.
Locate parts of the UK – For this we watched a few videos which showed the locations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I find videos help get the information to stick better rather than just having a print out to label so whether we do printouts after I tend to squeeze in a video or presentation of some sort too. I think the video we used was just a random UK location one on YouTube that somebody had made into a cheesy song. The cheesier the better. I still remember the one I was shown in year 8 science so they really do help the knowledge stick.
Capital cities – Again, I found a YouTube video to back up our chat about the capital cities. We looked at a map initially and I pointed them out then video time to help it stick.
Capital city test – After watching the video I picked out independently I made up a quiz to test how many had stuck. I don’t always make these tests formal, a lot of the times I will just randomly ask her a question during lunch or on the way into town. At first, I really did try and make the quizzes I did reflect those at school but I think that is a hurdle a lot of home ed parents have to get over and that is that home education is not the same as school. Tests don’t need to be in pen and paper or done sat behind a desk.
Point out local rivers when we drive/walk past – We live right near the River Avon so wherever we go we tend to bump into it at some point along the journey.
River fact sheet – Eloise is good at internet researching and can do this very well independently so I like to incorporate a lot of fact sheets into her learning. For this one, I asked her to put together a page all about rivers with various facts she has discovered during her research.
Research longitude and latitude – I set this as an independent challenge, I didn’t tell her what either meant and had her use her laptop and her books in order to find the definitions of both. I asked her to write it down and she did that complete with diagrams.
Talk about coordinates – We had a talk about what coordinates are and how to use them to pinpoint a location on a map.
Find a location using coordinates – When we went to Coughton Court we found a metal sculpture with coordinates on and we said we would try and find it on a map. Seeing how they’re written down and being able to visualise the location they’re looking for really helps engage young minds in what is quite a boring topic really.
Discuss The Equator, Northern and Southern Hemispheres – We touched on this last year but there is no harm in going back over things.
Worksheet – For this I got Eloise to draw a line where the equator is and colour in each hemisphere in a different colour. Simple but things like this really help them to visualise things.
Research The Coriolis Effect – I thought this topic would be great with a bit of physics chucked in for good measure. For this, we watched a couple of YouTube videos and then discussed them together.
Videos watched –
Carry out our own experiment – We took to the sinks in our home to test the theory and record our results. We came to the conclusion that there were too many variables and that the movement of the water entering the sink/shape of the basin had an impact on which way the water drained which lead to more researching on the clockwise/anti-clockwise sink/toilet debate.
Research The Stone Age – Free choice as to how she wants to research (YouTube, BBC Bitesize, Books, Google Home, Documentaries etc)
Watch Horrible Histories – Any relevant episodes featuring The Stone Age
Watch an episode or two of “The Who Was? Show” – This wasn’t particularly on topic but she loves this show. It’s got the same funny tone as Horrible Histories and it focuses on big names throughout history and talking about who and what they were about.
Research The Bronze Age – Following on from last week I asked Eloise to choose how she wanted to research this, she knows a heck of a lot already with history so I tend to follow her lead a bit more with it. She didn’t do much research for this because she has such a vast knowledge anyway from watching endless episodes of Horrible Histories, reading the Horrible History series and every other book she owns with anything to do with history in it.
Find out what Bronze Age pottery looked like – This is an easy Google Images job which Eloise is more than confident with using. She searched through various different photos and came across a step by step video fo how they used to make bronze axes. This is why following their lead in researching is so amazing because you stumble across some gems and this really interested her so we went a bit off topic and she discovered how and what they melted to make bronze (science lesson there) and how heat changes the state of the melt and the clay.
Design your own Bronze Age jug – Now, I say jug but really it was a free choice. Eloise designed a cat-shaped jug and then made it out of air drying clay and painted it.
Research The Iron Age – Again, Eloise’s knowledge about this era is crazy good so we just had a chat about the things she already knows, anything she finds particularly interesting about it, etc. Re-visiting the past couple of weeks history topics and pointing out any differences, how times had changed etc.
Find out what a Hillfort is – She wasn’t 100% sure on this so we head to Google to help us. Whilst we were there we talk about various details and had a look at some different photos.
Draw a Hillfort – Eloise has always been arty but she has found a new passion for drawing so she is always looking for something new to draw. For this, we just used good old coloured pencils and paper. I had thought about building one with lolly pop sticks but Eloise preferred to draw it.
Visit All Things Wild Nature Centre – There is a whole section on The Stone Age as well as a tonne of other educational attractions. Days out are always fantastic ways for children to learn.
Go over what we have discovered over the month – Discuss any similarities, differences, specific characteristics of the eras, etc.
Draw what humans looked like in each era – Using Google images to help get the inspiration flowing I had Eloise draw her interpretation of humans in each era using whatever medium she wanted. Paying particular attention to any tools they may have used.
Free choice – We do a lot of listening to different bands as well as singing, I rarely timetable any of this as it’s as and when we feel like it really but we do it most days. Eloise has discovered metal and the 16-year-old in me is beaming. Sometimes we really do just listen to a bunch of different genres and purely enjoy the music, other times I get her to pay attention to the beat and we talk about the rhythm pattern, other times we practice switching from chest voice to head voice, things like that. Eloise has recently shown interest in singing, particularly the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman.
Piano – I have been teaching Eloise to play the piano for a while now, she hadn’t really been too interested until recently but we are working on The Entertainer by Scott Joplin at the moment.
Inspiring women project – Over the summer I set Eloise a project all about inspirational, amazing women throughout history. We have quite a collection so far but because it was such a hit over the summer I have carried it on. For this Eloise chooses a woman from history and paints her on one piece of paper then writes all about her on another. Think Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls but homemade.
L-R Rosa Parks, Susan B Anthony, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart
Craft projects/free choice – Because a lot of the activities I do for Lily are craft-based, Eloise gets stuck in too. This month we have made sea creatures out of recycled cardboard and a hell of a lot of sparkly gems, decorated gingerbread men, made a plane out of a huge cardboard box, plenty of paintings and more recently, soft pastels. Eloise is forever drawing something and gets through paper like nobodies business. Soz rainforests.
I try and incorporate art into a lot of our topics, like the clay jug and The Jabberwocky interpretation. It breaks up any written work she has and because Eloise is such a creative child, she loves anything hands on.
We mix things up a lot with PE, home education means you can do anything from horse riding to scooters as part of the lessons. The only set thing we do every week are family walks and dance because Eloise is signed up to a dance company so she has weekly lessons, everything else is as and when but here are a little collection of things we have done recently to give you an idea:
Dance – Eloise attends weekly freestyle dance classes and will practice her group routines throughout the week.
Family walks/park – We haven’t been on an awful lot of walks this month because everyone has had a cold for at least half of it but normally we do go on quite a few walks or park visits. She also loves staking her bike out too, all depends on the weather and what she fancies that day.
Rock climbing – Eloise loves rock climbing although the local wall is only open at awkward times when it’s not the school holidays but this is something Eloise absolutely loves to do although visits are often restricted to school holiday times.
Swimming – We were due to go swimming this month but then we all got colds so that has been put on the back burner for the last couple of weeks. Eloise adores swimming though and prior to her dance classes, she attended swimming lessons. The only downside to home education is the sheer cost of children’s clubs. You want to book them into more things to ensure they don’t miss out of socialising with lots of children but the cost is eye-watering if you want that socialisation to be structured and not just meeting up with friends. I looked for other groups such as football clubs because after watching the world cup she became much more interested in football, football tours, football anything really but they all cost a fortune or weren’t in our area.
Trampolining – The kids’ Grandad bought them a trampoline earlier on in the year and Eloise would live on it if I let her. She has built up a lot of core strength from bouncing her way through 99% of the summer.
Willow & Wild box – Willow & Wild is a monthly gardening/craft subscription box. These kinds of boxes are a brilliant way to add some extra, more unconventional educational activities onto your timetable, I’ say the age range is slightly younger than Eloise because the quiz elements she finds very easy but the practical side she enjoys a lot. Another favourite of ours is the Toucan Box.
The Week Junior – I have been buying this every week for a few weeks now and it’s basically a newspaper/magazine for kids filled with things going on it the world. It’s a brilliant little addition to Els learning because anything that interests her she can research or we can chat about and it’s great for helping them understand the current news.
National Trust Coughton Court Visit – We have been members of The National Trust for a couple of years now and it’s one of the best things we have ever bought. It’s great for inpromptu days out and just lovely walks and scenery. This particular location will be perfect for when we start learning about the Tudors!
We also contributed to a home ed article this month published on Huffpost UK if you fancy a read –