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.
People often ask us to tell about a typical home school day. So here we go. The main thing about home schooling, is that there is no such thing, as a typical day/week. You have the freedom to have a new plan everyday. But for us, there is a need to have a plan and the security of repetition.
Many years ago our oldest daughter asked to have a weekly schedule put up on the wall every week, so she would know what our plans were. So every week I make a new schedule and put up Sunday evening. Some things will continue to be on the schedule for a long time and others, are only one of events.
The subjects on the schedule is a mix of adult and child wishes. I have chosen that they do general subjects that keep their learning above public school level, so it would be easy academically to enter a public school, if we no longer are able to home school. But also to prepare them for high school or other later education of their choice. Then the children have chosen to have additional subjects, like Spanish, Latin and Chinese. Subjects and how often we have them can vary on our schedule. We can also have weeks where we do project work intensively.
Well, back to a typical day. Let’s start with today. Today we had a day at home. We try to ballance days out of the house and days at home. We often get to plan too much, especially trips and activities out of the house. That often leaves us exhausted and longing for a day at home to get back our energy and catch up on basic stuff. We also really like to get good food and to have time to eat. As a general rule, we try to stay at home in the daytime every second day.
We usually get up at around 7 am-8 am. Then we all do our chores, do our exercises and positive confirmations. The kids empty the dishwasher, they put away any clean dry laundry, they open the windows and air out the house to start of with a fresh oxygen filled house. In the evening I have put their books ready on the table, so they can start working when they are dressed and have done their personal hygiene. I hang up any wet laundry to dry and put on the washing machine with a new load. Then I do my exercises, while the kids do their individual schoolwork like math, Danish, English and German. I go to and from my exercises to help them when they get stuck and so goes the time until around 9 am-9:30. Then I usually get time to get dressed and get ready. I make breakfast, alone or with a kid who needs a break from school work. Then we sit down together and eat.
We usually then do our common school work. That is the rest of the subjects, mentioned above. Today we did biology, Latin and biology project.
For Latin we are currently using https://www.clc.cambridgescp.com/sites/www.cambridgescpcom/files/legacy_root_files/clc/webbooks/book1/index.html?p=1
I prepared bread in the kitchen while they worked on the Latin exercises, and then corrected them together with them.
Then the children worked on a movie for their youtube channel, while I prepared lunch together with the smallest child in the kitchen.
Then we watched their work on the computer while eating, and decided on redoing it after eating. So we shot another section of the movie, until we were happy with the result.
Then the youngest child and I made a beetroot chocolate cake in the kitchen, while the oldest child edited the movie together and worked on her musical as well. The two middle children sewed on their costumes for a dance show they are planning.
Then we were expecting two good friends to come over for a sleepover, but unfortunately they had gotten the flu, so we had to eat the cake on our own. Don’t worry friends, if you read this, we will make a new one for you.
The at 3 pm we have quiet time until 4 pm. At that time you can do what you want to do – play on the computer, watch movies, talk to your friends on the phone, read, play outside or go where your imagination takes you. I meditate and drink tea.
Today we have a quiet evening. No spare time activities or work. We all enjoy having our meals together and being able to talk and relax in the evening with a movie or game together. The kids often work on creative projects in the evening, writing, sewing, knitting or drawing. They often also just play and make lots of noise and play music and dance.
So how does a typical week look?
A general example of our weekly schedule could look like this:
The subjects at the bottom has stayed the same for a while, because it work well. We have a language a day, as the kids like languages. We have math and danish three days a week, because they got fed up with having it every day. We finish our books already in april every year anyway, so we manage to do enough work anyway, to be ahead of general curriculum. My work is on the schedule, so the kids know when I am not at home in the evening or daytime. The childrens newspaper route is also on the schedule, so we are able to make everything work out with the time we have available. Creative subjects are not on the schedule, as they are present in most things we do, and they infiltrate most other subjects. Project on thursday and friday is a new thing we are trying after the kids started a knowledge based youtube channel called : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ECOh462jxQraolPZ53evw
At the middle of the schedule you see events that vary from week to week, like playdates, trips, hobbies, meetings and so on. The kids attend different sparetime activities outside the house like physics and chemistry, drama and ballet. They figure on the schedule on and off, when they have their seasons.
The weekend is also included, as we often go on educational trips together as a family in the weekend or visit friends and family.
Next week will be the winter holiday. Originally, when starting out home schooling, we did not separate school and spare time, but we have found that we have a need to do this. So we now have the same holidays as schools. The difference is just that we do not do the usual subjects, but mostly do trips and project work. This winter holiday we will work intensively on costumes, painting the barrel and go pick branches for our fastelavn celebrations. We are so looking forward!
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.