It is that time of the year when I try to do some advance home-ed preparation. I do not create detailed plans (eg on day x do page 2-5 of book y). I find that does not work for us. Rather I create some very general plans of what the kids and I would like to learn about in the upcoming academic year. And I create subject files filled with ideas and activities for the kids to do. I find this works for us as it means some planning and organising now equals less work for me during the year and it still allows us to follow the kids interests and needs and take some time off when their SPD requires us to have a break (we do not stick to school term dates).
The two main sources for my files are the Twinkl website (I have been given their Platinum plus membership so I can access all of their goodies) and the Activity Village website (the Activity Village website have now introduced a membership package which is currently £12 for 12 months). I tend to print in large batches and then sort everything into themes – well I try to sort it but as often happens in my household whenever I am “organising” the kids often start selecting activities to do and end up doing a bunch all in one go (Not that I am complaining, I love it when the kids find something and decide to do it – in the photo below my daughter discovered the pile of word searches I had printed and completed the whole bunch.)
I find doing a printing / laminating / cutting batch easier that just doing one page today and one page tomorrow (just my personal preference). I tend to laminate in batches, well to be totally honest my kids do most of the laminating, they love it, not sure what it is but they beg to sit and feed the pages into my laminator and thankfully my laminator (Fellowes) is very kid friendly and does not get too hot for them.
Then I sit with my laminated pages and cut out the activities while I am watching TV in the evenings (this is probably my least favourite part).
I store our cards and other laminated activities in plastic pouches in old shoes boxes. Each child has a box with the activities that are currently applicable to what they are learning and I have a few bigger boxes packed with activities that I am keeping (my daughter is 2.5 years older than her brother so I keep all her old learning activities for him to use at a later stage).
While I am doing all my preparation I also like to go through our books and see if we have “gaps” in our books. I try to use our local library as much as I can but I do also find it useful to have reference books in the house bookshelf. The kids have started asking questions about the weather and how it works so I know this is going to be a theme for us in the coming months so as much as I can I get myself prepped now, a few planned activities (Pinterest is great for this) and a good book – I am loving the look of the book below How The Weather Works (How it Works).
Books are very important for our style of home-education. Lots of our learning happens because the kids find a book they love and they end up asking questions about what we have read, the questions lead to learning activities and more questions and more activities – all because we read one amazing book. So I try to make sure that the books in our house grow with the kids and their interests. One of our current favourites has to be the nature storybook range . My youngest loves having these books read to him, my oldest enjoys reading the books to her brother and they are informative and often spark lots of discussions and questions about the animals in the books.
Along with making sure we have some new and exciting books for the kids to read I also like to have a good think about our Home Education “tools of the trade” that we may need. I know my daughter wants to do more fraction work in September so I have been looking at lots of fraction activities for her and I wanted to find a Maths manipulative for her to use. The Learning Resources equivalent cubes looks perfect for her.
My son is wanting to do lots of addition and subtraction practice so he will probably use our Learning Resources Snap Cubes (Set of 100) and our Learning Resources Grooved Plastic Base Ten Starter Set set for that. It helps me to think ahead so that I can spend some time researching and finding the manipulatives that best suit our learning style. I do not buy lots of different manipulative for the kids to use so I like to make sure that when I do get something new it will be something that is good quality and will last for both kids. Both our snap cubes and Base 10 set have been items that I bought years ago and have been excellent value for money (we have honestly used them so many times and we are nowhere near finished with them). I have a feeling that our new equivalent fraction tower is also going to become one of our much-loved and much-used Maths items. A friend kindly gave us the Learning Resources Sentence Building Dominoes a few months ago and my kids have really been using them to play word games (they create their own word games). I am planning on using these with my son in the upcoming months as a fun way to encourage his reading.
One of the problem I do have with all my upfront preparation is I sometimes forget that I have printed out a certain page or activity as I file it under a different place – Volcanos – do I file this under the section all to do with land forms/ under History (Pompeii) or under book comprehension practice for my daughter ? I am not very good with this type of thing. Luckily for me my husband come up with a solution a simple spreadsheet. Down the rows we wrote the themes of what I am hoping to cover and in the columns at the top we wrote activities – like reading comprehension / maths activity / art etc with the last column being a note column where I make little notes to myself.
Very simple but I am hoping it will save me spending hours searching for the one missing activity that I just know I printed out but months later just cannot remember where I filed it.
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