As this year seems to be flying to a close and 2020 is getting closer I have been really knuckling down and starting to plan out how this whole home education thing is going to fall into place when Lily officially starts home education. I use the word “officially” only because most things I’m doing with Lily at the moment are things most parents are doing with their toddlers and preschoolers whether they plan to send them to school or not – Things like playing, reading, letter recognition, counting, writing their name, following their passions through books or days out, etc, and while home education is definitely an extension of that it isn’t official in the eyes of the law until they hit 5 or “compulsory school age” which is also a term I hate because schooling and education are two entirely separate things but we will come back to that at a later date or I will go off on a tangent here, haha.
For those of you who don’t know, I home educated Eloise during her reception year and neither of my kids has ever attended pre-school or nursery so the early years were left up to me so I do like to think I’ve had a bit of experience in this field and while the prospect of home educating two children of a pretty big age difference is quite daunting, the EYFS side of things I have done before so I wanted to share my knowledge as well as a few things that I wouldn’t be without!
Lily absolutely loves writing with wipable pens, the novelty is not wasted on her! We have a few wipe clean workbooks with various numbers, letters and handwriting activities which she loves doing but I felt like she would really benefit from a plain board to draw on as well as practice her handwriting so when I saw this beautiful natural solid wood board I low key fell in love with how perfect it was. I have been gravitating to a more natural colour base as well as materials these days as I find they help Lily to focus more as lots of brightly coloured things seem to distract her a lot, especially when it comes to letter writing which she is really enjoying doing lately. Not only that but this board will last such a long time! It can always be sanded down and re-varnished should it need to which is so great and much kinder to the environment than plastic alternatives.
This is quite a recent purchase but I can see this being invaluable for a wide array of art studies over the years! Ours has a chalkboard side as well as a plain side for the paper to be clipped or stuck onto for lots of paintings! Lily loves drawing with the chalk and it means another, more fun way to practice her letters. She has started to draw cats for example and then writes the word “cat” next to it and she loves doing this on the chalkboard! Mixing things up so it’s not all just pen to paper is so important for younger kids, everything is much better absorbed by their amazing brains when it’s through play!
If you’re looking to buy an easel I encourage you to get one that has a regular plain side for holding paper because this is a great asset for art lessons! Lily recently used hers to paint a wonderful butterfly for our Butterfly + Moth Lifecycle Topic.
We are steadily working through the alphabet with Lily because she is showing a real interest in learning phonics at the moment. I wanted flashcards that weren’t really brightly coloured and reflected more natural things on each letter card rather than your average a for ant or z for zebra but anything outside your generic, b for ball or k for kite are damn hard to find so, in the end, I made my own! We do have the generic brightly coloured ones which are great too but I love how natural watercolours look and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. I think having a few different types of flashcards is a good idea because it helps ensure the child recognises the letter formation rather than just the picture so I am painting up so more plain cards to mix things up a bit for when she’s a bit older.
Tuff trays or builders cement mixing trays are all the rage when it comes to creating activities or “tuff spots” for children and for good reason! These seemingly simple things are absolutely invaluable for not only for pre-school children but throughout the EYFS stage and beyond. There are so many ideas on Pinterest as well as blogs (including my tuff spot ideas ;)) which are great for independent play and to support pretty much any topic you can think of. They are definitely worth investing in!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Non-fiction, living books, poetry books, picture books – There is nothing more invaluable to home education than books, or at least there isn’t for us. All of our lessons are centered around books or reading of some sort and whenever I’m planning each topic I always include an array of books about the subject from living books to non-fiction, for example, for an upcoming topic on WW2 for Eloise, the topic will start with the book Goodnight, Mister Tom which is a story about a little boy who was evacuated to the country during the war, another book that will more than likely feature is Anne Frank’s Diary among various fact books I should imagine and for Lily’s topic on ponds we will read various stories like Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Jeremy Fisher. I think it’s so important to provide a selection of different styles of text alongside any topic for children of all ages, it helps to nurture their understanding on so many separate levels then.
Play trays are something that have been a big part of Lily’s play for a long time now, I switch them up every week or every topic change and she loves them, think tuff spots but smaller. We have a little shelf and display board in the living room for Lily which I keep the trays on so she has access to them at all times and is free to choose which one she wants to play with, as and when. I will continue to use them as we start our home ed journey to make sure there are as many elements of play to her learning as possible. There are so, so many possibilities with these trays and they’re so easy to incorporate into learning as they can be left out a lot easier than a tuff tray for example (and you won’t be tripping over them, haha!). Both trays have their place but these definitely sit at the forefront of Lily’s learning at the moment!
For this, I’m not just talking about pricey wooden toys although they’re brilliant if you can afford them and last amazingly (I really recommend the Grimms large rainbow!) but really, you can find an abundance of wonderful materials for learning and play right outside your door. Empty snail shells, leaves, interesting pebbles, and sticks cut and sanded into natural building blocks are all fantastic additions to your resource library!
I hope you found this somewhat helpful, especially if you’re thinking of home educating your little one! I know I’d have found blog posts helpful when I started home educating for the first time 5 years ago! Let me know if there are any particular topics you’d like me to cover, I’m always looking for new things to write about and share my ideas.