“You are a homeschooler if you learned to spell, playing scrabble” we heard Blimey Cow say, in one of his funny homeschooling youtube movies. Not far from the truth 🙂 Scrabble sure is a real fun way to learn to spell.
How does spare time activities work together with home schooling? Fine, actually. We see it as a kind of out-sourcing of areas, that we are not capable of teaching in ourselves. Areas that interest our kids.
Through the years, we have attended many different spare time activities. Mostly, a new activity has come around like this:”Mum, what is a scout?” (Watching a movie with scouts appearing in the story). “Mum, I want to be one”. Ok, so we started looking around, to see if we had any scout groups, near by. Non of us had ever been a scout, so we had no idea either, what it was going to be about. We then found a new concept starting, where you could attend a scout group with your family, even though, you were only 1 year old. That meant we could be scouts together as a family (our kids were 5, 2 and 1 year old at that time). That appealed to us. So we ended up being scouts for 5 years. We learned that being a scout involved learning about nature and being able to set up a fire and cook lots of food over the fire. Great fun. Loads of teamwork building stuff out of wood and learning how to use a knife and an ax. Learning morse signals has been very popular here too.
Another time, one of our children said:”I want to dance ballet!” When she had said it a few times, we started to ask into why she wanted to dance ballet. She was motivated by a friend who danced ballet and she had seen her dance. So we found a class that seemed good and she enrolled. That is 4 years ago now, and she is still very fond of dancing ballet.
One of our children have been fond of writing since she was 6 years old and have practiced and practiced on her own. When writing classes have popped up around us, she has taken part. Some has been good others not so fantastic. But it has been a learning process.
Another child has taken part in Break Dance classes.
Our oldest child has made her own writing group with another aspiring author, which she meets up with regularly to work together and exchange ideas and support each other.
One day two of our kids came to me and said:”We have found a drama school and we want to try to audition”. So I contacted the school and got them set up for auditions. It was fun for them to try, and one got in and the other child found out it was not for her to act.
We have also made use of the free offer of evening classes we have in Denmark, when the children are in 7th to 10th grade. One of our children have attended dance classes in musical dance and ended up taking part in a show. She also took part in an arts class and a physics and chemistry class through this free offer.
Recently, we have enrolled in karate classes where we can train together across all age groups and levels. Just in the homeschool spirit.
I keep a dairy of our home school activities. Mainly to document our progress in case of a a control visit from the State Supervisory Authority. But also for our own use, to help us keep an overview of our work and activities through the years. I now have diaries from the past 10 years and sometimes I go back to help myself find an activity or way we did things, to inspire us again, to think in a new way. I am used to documenting, so it really feels as a natural choice to me. It gives me an overview of our life. I have also often shared my dairies with new Home Schoolers, who wrote to me and asked for help to set up their own.
Our dairy looks different throughout the year, but has a rhythm. The year goes as follows in our Home School:
From August until November and from January until April, we work systematically from a classical weekly schedule, that covers the basic subjects like Math, Danish, Languages (English, German, Spanish, Latin and Chinese), Physical Exercise, History, Geography, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and so on. We spend from 1-6 hours a day on our classical School work. Often we will have field trips as well, so we try to do our classical school work around those trips.
Here is an example of a weeks dairy entries in that period of the year:
The 2 oldest children chose a book of their own choice, read it, took notes and made a 15 minute talk to the rest of us about the books subject. This week the chosen subjects were “Witches before and now” and “Leonardo da Vinci”. The oldest child made a math test with the subject potency, square roots and cubic roots, she also translated from an English book called “The lives of Einstein” into Danish and did one page in her Danish grammar book “Min niende danskbog”. The youngest girl completed one page in her English book “Let’s do it Step Four”, one page in her Math book “Sigma for femte” and one page in her Danish book “Min femte danskbog”. The second oldest child completed one page in her Danish book “Min sjette danskbog”, one page in her English book “Let’s do it step five” and did a Math test in the subject linear functions. The youngest child completed one page in his Danish book “Læs nu løs – opgavehæfte 1A”, two pages in his Math book “Sigma for første A” and read aloud for us from “Læs nu løs”. At 11 o’clock a friend came over to take part in our Arts classes, where live drawing was planned. We talked about colour circles and experimented with oil, pastel and charcoal.
The two oldest girls chopped the wood for our fireplace. My husband came home from work and made an experiment with static electricity – we charged a balloon with a wool cloth and then turned on the water and it bend in reaction to the static charge.
The youngest child makes 2 pages in his book about knowing the time “Jeg lærer klokken” and his youngest sister helps him. The three oldest children complete one page in their Danish grammar book “Min femte, sjette and niende danskbog”. The two oldest children completes a math test from “Sigma”. I read aloud from our children’s bible “Børnenes illustrerede bibel” and the children drew an animated story that fit the bible storys content. We all practiced our Spanish, by working on Duolingo for 20 minutes. We then all went to a library where we met up with other Home Schoolers, and the children played together and read. In the evening the two oldest children, went together til an evening class, to learn about physics and chemistry.
All of us played mini-yatzy, an Alkalær card game with the most used 120 Danish words. The oldest child wrote a song for our musical project. The two youngest children made a movie featuring them making music on different objects around the house, inspired by our book “Skrammelmusik”. Two of our children practiced playing on our keyboard. The three oldest children made two pages in their German book “Gut Gemacht”. All the children made one page in their Math book “Sigma”. All the children made one page in their Danish grammar book “Min første, femte, sjette og niende danskbog”. The youngest child read aloud from his reading book “Læs nu løs”. The second oldest child went to her Drama School – Eventyr Teatret, and the oldest child followed her there. The two youngest children went to play with some friends at their house.
The three oldest children filmed and practiced the last part of our film about the Peacock mantis shrimp. Martha edited the film. The three oldest girls wrote sentences in Latin and mum read aloud about Pompeii and a family that had been found in the remnants from the volcano. Hjalmar practiced reading from the book “Læs nu løs”. The three oldest girls then made one page in “Biologi – Pirana” and the oldest child supplemented with knowledge from her book “Menneskekroppen – Politiken”.
The youngest child completed one page in his Math book “Sigma for første A” and one page in his Danish work book “Læs nu læs – opgavehæfte 1 A”. The youngest child helped mum make a chocolate/beetroot cake. The two middle children sewed on their costumes for the musical we are going to perform in our garden.
The three youngest children read aloud from the chemistry book “Fysikemi 1”. We wrote a chemistry report plan together. We watched a film about Benhams colour wheel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham%27s_top The youngest child read aloud from “Læs nu løs”, he also completed two pages in his Danish work book “Læs nu løs – opgavehæfte 1A”. Mum read aloud from the Science book “En meget kort historie om næsten alt” on the subject Einstein and his Relativity theory. While mum read, the three oldest children took notes. Together, we practiced writing, pronunciation and understanding of a number of Chinese signs.
The three youngest children tidied and cleaned their rooms. The oldest child edited the Peacock mantis shrimp film and put it out on our youtube channel Videnskanalen.
Mum went for a walk with the two youngest children. The two oldest children went on their newspaper round. In the evening mum went with the second oldest child to her ballet lesson. Later all the children played and build with Lego in their rooms.
The oldest child worked on her animation for her little brother – a birthday present.
The second oldest child worked on a card for her little brother. The second youngest child feed her snake and discovered he was about to change his skin.
The second oldest child went on her bike to the supermarket and mailed some letters. One of them a letter her little sister had written to a friend. The children all played together with Lego.
In the evening we watched “Hair” together and talked about the Vietnam war and read about it on the internet.
Early morning the second oldest child went with her mum to go swim in the ocean.
When they got back, she helped mum make dough for crispbread. The children build and played with Lego. The whole family went to the cinema and watched “The Lego Movie 2”.
The rest of the year, December and from May until July we have another rhythm.
December is a special month for us. It is the Christmas month. We love Christmas and all the traditions. So we have a goal every year, to get half way in our classical material work books, so we can focus completely on celebrating Christmas with gift making, singing, trips to see Santa, Santa Lucia, visiting Christmas show and exhibitions, making Christmas decorations and watching Christmas movies. We really love Christmas.
May until July we have our summer holiday. Mum is not working in this period of the year, so we have reclaimed all the evenings and can spend all day together every day. We spend most of this period of time swimming in the ocean, sewing, reading, writing, playing games, watching movies, going on trips, visiting friends and talk and talk. We also look at our wish list for the year and see which things has been on it for a while and we still all really would like to come to life. So now we often get time to realise those projects too.
That quite nicely sums up our standard year, and we love it. The best thing is, that we can change everything if we want to, from day to day. Home school is a flexible way of learning and you can always evaluate if your daily routines work for all of you.
All of our 4 children have learned to read with the system created by Erik V. Hansen – Alkalær. His books has become a happy part of their childhood now.
Every year we make a wish list. Usually we update it half-annually. What does that mean? Well, we sit down on the first day of school (which is usually one week into August, when we decide to start the new formal year).
So we sit down together and the children can write their wishes for that year down on a piece of paper. The list could look something like this:
Go to the zoo.
Visit a friend.
Learn to juggle.
Play the guitar.
Learn to make your own clothes.
Go swim in a lake.
Learn a language.
Sleep in a forest.
Visit a museum of choice.
Make a website.
So we sit down, and go through the wishes, talk through what each one involves, and talk about when to do it. And if it is possible for us economically and other practical issues. We set dates and usually we manage to do around 75% of the things during the first part of the year. So after new year, we sit down again, and rewrite our list with what is left, if we still want to do those things left. Then add new ideas.
We are really fond of this idea and have used it for many years now. As a mother I get great inspiration. The children get their influence on our homeschool. The kids learn to feel deep down what they really would like to do.
It is also a practice in communication and negotiation. We do most things together, so sometimes one person really don’t find a thing interesting, and is resistant to come. But sometimes they get surprised that the activity actually was really fun anyway. They get more ready to try new things, and tolerant towards trying to understand other peoples wishes.
We love going to the library. We go to the library at least once a week. We visit different libraries. Have favorite ones. Our oldest daughter even has asked to have her birthday in one particular library a few times, which is her favorite. A library is a place with peace, where time stands still and you can indulge in all the knowledge available. Danish libraries often are just so much more than books, so if a child is more into playing with toys or at the playground, the libraries we go to even have those options. So everyone is happy. You can sit and read a book aloud for a child. Examine a subject together. Sit and write a story on your computer. Go listen to music. Often they also have plays, lectures and much more. Sometimes we meet up with friends in libraries and rest and talk together. We really love libraries.
Our oldest daughter loves to read and write. She has written stories ever since she learned to write as a 6 year old. Now she has taken up the challenge to complete a Christmas Calender. The story is called “Snow Storm”. She loves fairy tales and fantasy. She also loves mythology, chemistry, traditions and stories that ends well. So if you like traditional fairy tales that ends well, with lots of excitement and lovely characters this is for you. You can also read the story as text on our daughters own website: martha.schou.dk
We love traditions and keep on inventing new ones all the time. Particularly Christmas is a star of tradition and celebration. We celebrate Christmas all during December. Today, on the 1st of December, we started out with putting up our homemade Christmas Calender – 4 Santas holding bags with space for surprises. This year our youngest child had already written a letter to Santa 4 months ago, so he put that in the bag to get to Santa.
Our oldest daughter has been writing on a Christmas Story for the past month. A story with a chapter for each day until Christmas. So she had put that into her Santa bag.
The Santa dolls in the bags are for them to play with. They got them when they were really small and have made clothes and things for them during the years.
In the evening I prepare songbooks and today, a list to complete with the children tomorrow, listing and arranging the things they wish to do in December.
All the kids take turns on lighting the candle.
The kids open their presents one after each other. Afterwoods all children choose a song and we all join in.
Our oldest daughter has this year written a Christmas Calender, where she reads a chapter aloud for all of us every day up to Christmas.
Every evening my job is to reply to letters to Santa. It can be returned with corrections in spelling and new questions they then will reply to and practise their spelling and vocabulary.
This year I had also bought school tickets to the Royal Ballet, where we saw “Alice in Wonderland” together with a lot of other Home School friends in the afternoon.
We also choose 2 Christmas Calender series each year, and watch them before or after breakfast.
When we first started out homeschooling, we, talked about how to teach the children to read. There was so many methods, but one in particular stood out. A new company, Alkalær had just published a series of books, which worked with the idea, that all children can learn to read using phonics. Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent. Children can then start to read words by blending the sounds together to make a word. Alkalær had at that time an offer of a series of their books and we invested in that package. At first our oldest child was not that interested, but after a few months she started with them and soon learned to read phonic words. All the books were also in majuscule, which really made it easier for the very young children to focus on the reading and not struggling with different versions of minuscule. The children found the layout and stories very funny and crazy. As you can see on the film below our younger kids also learned to read through those books. At the moment our youngest child is also enjoying the system and we have invested in another new book from Alkalær “Læs nu løs” and a song book of the same title. There was also a song book in the first set we bought, and I have no idea how many times we have danced all together or in own space to those books. They are really wonderful. Reading is the beginning of all self learning. When you can read, you can read a math exercise and look up how to understand it. You can read your way to all the other subjects.