Home Education and 20 amazing learning opportunities I use to keep my children engaged!

Author: Nicola Braund – Follow Nicola’s Home Education journey on Instagram @theworldistheirclassroom

Home educating five children of different ages has its challenges but it’s not impossible. Some people ask me how I tackle this. They find that as their children grow up, and the responsibility of educating the older ones grows, they worry that the little ones will easily bore or they’re afraid that they may not be able to dedicate the time needed to teach the older ones. This often results in placing the younger ones in nursery which may not suit everyone.

Bird Seed Sensory Box and making bird feeders

From my own experience I would suggest having some structure as the older ones progress in their Education at home. Although it’s not ‘school at home’ a bit of planning is sometimes helpful. I plan suitable activities for the younger ones through themes so that I always have something educational prepared for them to spark their curiosity whilst I’m spending my time teaching the older ones. There are so many favourite childhood themes to choose from, from Oceans and Space to Minibeasts and Forests.

Sounding out words on Autumn leaves to stick onto an Autumn card tree

Paper Plate owl

The first thing to do is to identify a theme, seasons are always a good choice. Think about what you want the children to learn, do they already have some background knowledge of this topic and will it make them naturally curious?

Writing with twigs in coloured salt. Letters written on Autumn leaves to copy out. The salt was coloured by grating chalk into it.

Secondly, consider researching or creating your own related activities. For our Autumn theme we’ve used lots of natural resources such as leaves and at this time of year there are many local orchards where children can get involved and pick their own apples. I also look up keywords online such as ‘autumn leaf activities’ ‘Autumn sensory play’ etc. and view images on Google for ideas.

Chopping apples

Outdoor Autumn Art

Thirdly, implement your theme. Does your room or study area need to be rearranged? Maybe set up an ‘Autumn’ table with nature resources and add Autumn themed books. Think about resources on this theme to cover the different subjects such as Literacy, Maths, Art and Science that you teach. Perhaps make a ‘Storysack’ based around an Autumn themed book. See my storysacks blog post for ideas https://theworldistheirclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/story-sacks.html

Reading Autumn poems outdoors

Making Autumn Art with a bundle of cotton buds tied together

All children learn at different rates so once you have your theme and resources in place you can adapt it to the needs of your child. My 3 year old has learnt her letter sounds so we have been using Autumn trees with CVC words written on the leaves to sound out and stick onto her tree. This is an example of an activity that can be adapted to your child’s needs. Counting with pine cones is another example, whether your child is learning to count to 10 or in twos, it can be changed to suit their ability.

Ginger Salt Dough Leaves https://theworldistheirclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/ginger-salt-dough-autumn-leaves.html

Autumn Leaf Art with potatoes

During the Autumn season many people set off fireworks as soon as they’re available in the shops. It’s a great time to tie in the science topic of ‘colour and light’. We create lots of glitter art and use glow sticks to make learning fun. We also had a go at making our own light box to explore autumn leaves more closely using magnifying glasses.

Revising letter sounds using glow sticks

Firework Art

Sometimes the older ones will join in with the same theme at their own level. This month we’ve been writing Autumn Haiku and Firework acrostic poems.

Hedgehogs using Autumn leaves

Sometimes after planning a theme it may not necessarily interest the younger ones. One of the many benefits to Home Education is that you can follow your child’s interests. I go through the above 3 steps and organise activities around that particular subject they have shown an interest in. There are also many fun activity or sticker books from places like The Book People online which tie in nicely, I leave these books out for them to use as they feel.

Studying leaves close up with a magnifying glass using a Light box. The Light box is simple to make using a clear plastic container and shining a torch/mobile phone torch underneath

When my eldest was little, she became interested in Komodo dragons, which led onto a big project on Indonesia. By following her interests and planning her learning around it, she started to enjoy writing little stories and creating works of art. This was one of the main reasons my husband and I chose to Home Educate. It gives you the flexibility to teach when your child is ready and at the time that suits them through the topics and themes that they enjoy.

Playing with coloured rice to fill cardboard Autumn leaf shapes

Making Autumn crowns

Learning through themes is fun and has so many benefits. Today I came across an article in the teacher resource section of pbs.org stating:

‘Thematic units provide one of the best vehicles for integrating content areas in a way that makes sense to children and helps them make connections to transfer knowledge they learn and apply it in a meaningful way. Thematic units also address the diverse learning styles of the students we serve.’

Autumn ‘soup’ using coloured water and mixing in Autumn leaves. Using spoons, whisk and sieves

Making Autumn trees with dough and coloured buttons and beads

Going on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt and making a treasure box

By Nicola Braund: The World is Their Classroom

Follow us on our Home Education journey on Instagram @theworldistheirclassroom and please subscribe by email on our blog: https://theworldistheirclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/ and visit my website for more amazing opportunities: https://theworldistheirclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/

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