Posted on June 22, 2015
End of School Year Wrap Up
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Homeschooling blogs in North America have had posts about the end of the school year for quite a few weeks now. Here in Scotland, we don’t stop for the summer holidays until the end of June, and in England it is even later, mid-July. As home educators, we don’t have to follow the exact same school term as the state schools, and I have some friends who homeschool year-round, but our family does like to have an extended break over the summer, usually roughly the same as Scottish schools, from the end of June, to mid-August. As the end of June is fast approaching (how did that happen?!), I thought I would write our end of school year wrap up. Here is what we have been up to since last summer, and what I hope to do differently next year.
Government Unit Study
We started the 2014-2015 school year a month before the Scottish Independence Referendum. I though it would be a good time for us to learn more about the system of government in Scotland, and more widely across the rest of the UK, so we started with a field trip to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. If you are close enough, a visit to the Parliament is well worth it, and guided tours are free! If you want to take part in a guided tour, you have to book these in advance, through this Scottish Parliament page, and if you mention that you are a home educator, the children will be given education packs when you book in.
There were a lot of relevant online resources and articles available in the run-up to the referendum, and we also ordered a lot of books on democracy, the right to vote, UK and Scottish political systems from our local library, and we bought the Dorling Kindersley book Who’s In Charge ? The education pack from the Scottish Parliament included a ‘Get Elected’ board game which we enjoyed.
Of course, our house move was a big feature in our homeschooling last year. It meant that we were often homeschooling round at my parents’ house when viewers came to see our house, and we took over their dining room with our homeschooling books and crafts for the months of December and January, while we stayed with them. We were not able to put up as much of the children’s artwork as usual, or to display our history timeline but we still added to this weekly, just didn’t have it up on the wall.
Homeschooling has meant the flexibility of the children being able to be much more involved in the moving preparations than they might otherwise have been, and we were able to take homeschooling materials with us in the car when we went to see prospective new houses (all over the country!). While we have moved away from good friends in our old area, we have begun to make lovely new ones near our new home, and have kept in touch with the old ones by letter, and Skype too.
A New Language
Since moving, we have been learning Scots Gaelic, as I mentioned in my post on our favourite language learning resources. We are still really enjoying this, although I think that over the summer we will have a think about whether we are doing too much, in terms of languages. Our son particularly enjoys French, whereas our elder daughter much prefers German, so we might move to them doing one of those each in addition to Gaelic, instead of all three.
In May we made Martin Luther Lapbooks, which were closely followed by us attending the wedding of a lovely homeschooled friend, for which we decided to teach the children some Scottish ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lee”) dancing. It turned out that our dining room, while waiting for its new roof, can be used as a dance floor as well as a cold frame for veggie seedlings! You can see an example of ceilidh dancing here (thankfully not performed by us!).
For the first week of June, one of my husband’s best friends came to stay with us. We took a few days off homeschooling, and were able to visit a local castle, a broch, (which is an enormous stone built, chimney-shaped structure seen in lots of places on the north and west coasts of Scotland), and see some beautiful parts of the island that we hadn’t had the time to visit yet since we moved here in February.
In the last couple of weeks, we have really enjoyed being able to do some nature study again. Although May was very wet, we have had a few beautiful sunny days, and have had our nature notebooks out when we found a newt under a stone in the front garden, a dragonfly, and a frog in the byre (a ruined stone barn), behind our house.
My son has been monitoring several birds’ nests in the garden (he does this for the BTO nest record scheme), and took this amazing photo of song thrush chicks in one of them (they are fledged and away now).
In terms of other wildlife, we have heard and seen several cuckoos, and though not so wild, our new chickens have provided constant interest (and now eggs!), and we are currently using our neighbours ‘lawn mowers’ in the back garden:
What Has Worked and What Hasn’t
Some of the most positive learning we have had over the last year has come from our read aloud books. We have particularly enjoyed reading (and discussing), Our Island Story: A History of Britain for Boys and Girls from the Romans to Queen Victoria, by HE Marshall, Samuel F.B. Morseand Johannes Kepler, by John Hudson Tiner, and Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy(as a side note on that last book, I edited as I read it aloud, as it is quite graphic at times, but I felt it was helpful as part of encouraging our children to be outward looking). We have really enjoyed our continued (slow) progress through Mystery of History (we only use it once week), which gives us the chance to stop and dig deeper into things we are particularly interested in, such as Martin Luther and the Reformation, or to do extra picture studies on Raphael’s paintings with an extra book (Raphael: Art for Children).
Our two older daughters have continued to enjoy using Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL), and our youngest daughter was very excited to get her first ‘big girl English book’ (LLATL Yellow), in April, after she had finished Jolly Grammar Handbook 2. Our son has not enjoyed LLATL Grey as much as the earlier books, mainly due to the smaller number of practical assignments in the Grey book, which he had liked in the earlier ones, but he has still continued with it until the end of the year, and looks forward to moving onto something else. Icthus Resources supply LLATL books in the UK.
The girls continue with My Pals Are Here from Singapore Maths, and our son is almost finished Teejay Mathematics F (a Scottish Maths curriculum), and is ready to begin studying for IGCSEs after the summer. He already has an idea of the subjects he wants to do, so we will decide together over the summer holidays which exam board he will use, and get the relevant books accordingly.
We have greatly benefitted from the Apologia General Science books which Claire from Angelic Scalliwags generously posted to us as part of her book giveaway. It has meant that our older two have been doing more detailed science study on their own. The Apologia books are also available in the UK from Icthus Resources.
Plans for next year
So far, I have not thought too far ahead about home education for next year. After all, the school year isn’t even finished here yet! But after this past year having been a bit disrupted by our house move, I would like to be a bit better organised, and I was inspired by a recent post on this subject by Simply LindseyLoo, entitled How to Plan Your Homeschool Year, which includes links to her earlier homeschool planning series.
I have to say, I am not someone who usually plans the homeschooling year out in advance down to the week or day, and I want our older two, in particular to be fairly ‘self-propelled’, as far as deciding how much of their maths, English and geography needs to get done each day. However, after a year of mostly ‘winging it’ in terms of what we will do next, I am looking forward to having a think about some of the things I would like to cover, including day trips to the local area around our new home. Our curriculum and the core books we use will still pretty much the same, but it will be nice to plan ahead for the ‘extra’ things we do, such as unit studies or lapbooks, and any ‘field trips’ that might fit in with those.
How has your school year gone? Are there any things you will do differently next year? Please share them in a comment.
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