Monday, 9 July 2018

The State of the Homeschool - or What worked with Jude this year

Exceptionnellement, il existe une version en francais de ce billet, ici.

As I mentioned previously, a little bit by accident, a little bit out of eagerness and curiosity, this year turned out to be our first homeschool year. 

Theoretically I was all for holding off for a little while yet, but when around Christmas Jude started to work out how to read on his own, we ended up injecting a lot more formal education into his life. I think a lot of it has to do with his personality, he LOVES workbooks, and he is very willing to learn things by heart. I was also quite keen to see how I could manage our schedule so as to get everything done (babies, housework and teaching), so I decided to experiment with two "homeschool slots" in our routine which I was planning on keeping pretty low-key and spontaneous. And then I realised that *I* am neither of these things, and so we started things in earnest. 

It took a fair amount of fine-tuning, we definitely hit a point where I was just asking too much of both Jude and I, and it started to take the joy out. Which is why a couple of months ago I replaced the morning "homeschool slot" with "Morning Time" (light some candles, read the Bible, pray, say the poems we have learned so far, practise the one we are learning, read some favourite ones, then read as many books as we have time for) which involves Gabriel better, and definitely feels a lot more fun.

Typical activities during morning time


We started the year intending to mostly do fine-motor exercises, (following this method), play with quantities (we used this a fair amount), learn a few poems and do basic workbooks (did I mention Jude loves workbooks?) - this, and this for example.

After a while Jude could simply fly through all of this and not much was gained by continual repetition, so we upped the ante. My cousin (hi Meige!) suggested this method for learning to read and even sent us the book, because she is awesome. I tried to pace Jude a bit, but we are nearing the end of the book, so I got a bunch of early readers which we are practising on (here and here are some good examples).

In terms of teaching him how to write, I am entirely focused on the mechanics of writing (fine motor skills and spatial understanding on the page), we have finished this and have just started this one, so far so good.

Jude loves to write his own words however (he often uses the French phonemes - he is only learning to read in French so far - to form English words, which is quite fascinating) but I have very little to do with that, beyond deciphering them when he shows his work to me, and praising his efforts.

You get points if you work out what he was trying to write


Simultaneously we decided to go with the Singapore method for maths, and got this book and workbook, but although doing the operations was pretty easy for Jude, the language element - which is pretty essential with Singapore - was way over his head, so we dropped it, and got a different workbook (this one, which Jude LOVED and was begging to do "one more exercise" all the time). We finished it pretty swiftly and just started this one, which looks promising. 
Simon likes to do extra maths exercises with Jude, but that is a very ad hoc business, as his crazy schedule rarely allows for it.

Other Stuff:

We would like to introduce a bit more music, but Simon is the musician in the family, and we haven't yet worked out how to make it a regular thing.

Matmi is pretty keen though

We have also been learning some poems, as there is no such thing as too early to have beautiful language in your head, and the boys absolutely love reciting them standing on the table - or singing them. We take them one at a time, alternate one in French and one in English, and just go very slowly (as in, we've only just started our fourth this year). We've learnt:

The Friendly Cow - R.L Stevenson
La Grenouille Qui Voulait Se Faire Aussi Grosse que le Boeuf - J. de la Fontaine
I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud - W. Wordsworth

and we have started the last tirade from Act 5, scene 6 of Cyrano de Bergerac - E. Rostand.

We also have this fabulous book, from which I take requests during morning time (if someone fancies doing something similar for French poems, please! I could use one!).

Finally, as part of our rosary group, the children do weekly (more or less!) liturgical year activities, and you know, lead a normal life, drawing, cutting, pasting, riding bikes, running around, painting themselves with mud and taking long walks in the woods!

And how to help out around the house, obviously

Overall, I am glad we went for it, I am glad we started figuring things out, and Jude seems none the worse for it. I don't know whether we will start Gabriel on a similar course *quite* that early nonetheless. It does occasionally feel a bit unnecessary and we don't know yet how eager Gabriel will be to do formal learning. At the moment he is pretty keen to get involved but we shall see how things evolve.


  1. I couldn't figure out his second word until I said it aloud. Now I feel quite clever, so that's nice. :-) Glad you are posting again!

    1. Haha, took me a while too, although he was being pretty one-track-mind at the time!