England, Family, Homeschooling, My World

Homeschool Diary: March 2018

I meant to write every week about our homeschool woe’s, highs and lows but it’s been almost three months since that first post! Honestly, I did not know where to begin to describe the life-changing commitment that home education is.  This is our homeschool diary.

I blog in my mind all the time.  Great content. Informative posts fluently composed to share with you, weekly.  The trick is finding the time and confidence to put it down on paper. Now that we’ve found a little rhythm and know more-or-less what we’re doing, I’ll just do it. More often too.

So why haven’t I written more often?

Well, time is precious and our lives turned upside down when we decided to travel with our children.

Preparing for Long-Term Travel

It took all of February to plan and prepare for this trip.  We had to prepare to leave and try to spend time with friends and family while renovating our house.  There were issues with internet connection, phone lines, noise, dust and hordes of people coming and going all day long. You know how it goes.

Telkom, a South African service provider, also had problems with the phone lines which meant further internet problems.  It took them most of February to sort it out.

Through all that, homeschool didn’t really take-off the way we planned. So we took it easy and did what we could when we could.

A Complicated Curriculum

Still in February, I struggled to get my head around a complicated and time-consuming Abeka curriculum.

I bought a used set for each child only to review grades one and three.  We’d then start the next grades with a British curriculum equivalent.   The set included the basics and the teaching keys and guides, but I was supposed to buy a few additional books online.  I thought I’d work with what I’ve got, knowing that we will hit the road soon and that I couldn’t take many if any, books along.   Error! It was a mess.

Sourcing used school books is a great way of cutting costs and a good idea for every type of book needed except for the workbooks. Is it worth buying used workbooks if you can’t get the pencil and pen work of the previous kid rubbed out? No, I don’t think so. Your arms are so tired and writhed with spams from rubbing out all night that you can hardly turn a page the next day!

Yes, I could make copies, but remember our renovations and internet issues? Printers were not where they were supposed to be or connecting to devices like they were supposed to.  So, once I got the pages clean and sort of ready for the next day’s lessons, I’d have to spend at least another two hours preparing their lessons.

I think Abeka is an amazing curriculum if you have a strict schedule like a traditional school and if you have most of the day every day to devote to lesson prep and teaching.  I would use it if it suited our lifestyle.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I ditched it and we worked online with Khan Academy and Reading Eggs when we could.  There was just too much going on.

Getting To England

Our 24-hour long-haul flight is something I never ever want to experience again.  We left George at 11 am on the 26th of Feb with a domestic flight to Johannesburg, a connecting flight in Abu Dhabi and arrived at Heathrow the next afternoon.

Read about our flight from South Africa to the UK and why we regret flying with a lap toddler.

The week after our arrival we kept warm, recovered and recharged in our lovely little Airbnb cottage while the countryside turned into a snowy white fairytale-like wonderland.

Catching Up

We settled in and adjusted to our new surroundings in sub-zero temperatures.  Then we got to work.

I ordered Carol Vorderman Workbooks from Amazon and found the UK national curriculum online to use as a point of reference for learning outcomes.  The workbooks together with Khan Academy, Reading eggs, library books, YouTube and educational outings has kept us busy.

I have time to spend with them in the morning, while keeping 2-year-old Kate happy, who also started Reading Eggs, during lessons and in the afternoon.  There wasn’t too much time left for blogging if you add to that chores, cooking, cleaning and exploring.

In February, our homeschool schedule looked like this every day:

By the end of March our homeschool schedule looked mostly like this with a few easy days in between to allow for exploring:

Questions and Doubts

  • Do you have any teaching experience?
  • Are you going to use tutors or someone with teaching experience to help?
  • What sport will they do?
  • What social interaction will they get?
  • How do you know if what they learn is correct or enough?
  • Will they write exams and be officially monitored to make sure that they are progressing?

Questions we’ve been asked about home-educating our children.  All valid questions which we asked ourselves for many years as we explored the idea of homeschooling.  We came up with satisfying answers.  Provided mostly by successfully homeschooled children and their parents.

We’ve read many online accounts and arguments for home education by passionate people who’ve gone the distance with their children and whose children turned out to be well adjusted successful adults able to self-study and self-manage their tertiary education and adult lives beautifully.  Just before we left George we met a few just such passionate homeschoolers who motivated us and made us feel positive about our decision.

Still, the questions creep up and I doubt myself.

The Questions I Ask Myself

  • Are they learning enough?
  • Are they lonely?
  • Is it ok for them to be lonely?
  • Am I good enough to guide and teach them?
  • What if we fail?
  • Are we depriving them of the recognition and rewards they enjoyed at school?
  • Do they need sport and how will they participate while we travel?

We haven’t answered all of them, yet.

I am certain that home education is the right choice for our children this year.  Will we keep homeschooling? That we are not sure of yet, but time will tell.  We have to prove to ourselves that home education is the right fit for us and for them and I think we will be able to at the end of the year when we look back at the outcome as a whole.

As we speak I’m working on a draft post to answer those questions we’re so often asked and that we ask ourselves about home education.

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