Image that you were given a huge new project at work and expected to show outstanding performance in your given field; you’d rightly expect that extra funding would be in place, additional time allocated and perhaps extra staff assigned to the project. In short, you’d expect additional resources to be able to carry out that project effectively.
additional yield ( extra project) = additional time + additional resources
Most families have just faced the biggest ‘project’ of their lives- suddenly educating their children at home, but they have had to carry it out with very few resources at their disposal- and certainly without extra time, or staff!
Effective education is an extremely resource-heavy undertaking. A school allocates a significant portion of its budget to equipping its classrooms, and learners, with all the the materials needed for great learning. It also has time allocated to planning, ordering and organising these materials, to ensure that they are used to the greatest benefit of all.
Equipping our homes for effective learning can be an enjoyable challenge, if we are prepared to approach it slowly and try to see every item in our homes as a possible learning material. Here I will share some of the things we have done to resource our Reception-age ( Elementary) child’s learning- I hope they are helpful if you are still faced with the challenge of homeschooling or are considering homeschooling in the future.
After picking some salad leaves I had grown in a pot, I spotted a tiny collection of butterfly eggs on the underside of a lettuce leaf. We were able to watch the eggs hatch, the busy caterpillars devouring leaves and then form their crysalises on the side of the jar. The butterflies hatched out and we then left the jar in the garden, when one emerged, to allow it to fly off. We simply placed a few branches in a water-filled container and placed it inside a large Kilner jar with a muslin cloth and rubber band to cover.
We make something in the kitchen at least twice a week, weighing and measuring together and reading both ingredients and recipes- this week we made gingerbread ( son number 1’s request) and learned how to make a small piping bag from grease-proof paper to ice the biscuits- great fine-motor work. He also washes up every time he bakes and this provides a great opportunity for my toddler to have his turn at baking- in this case, he was mixing muesli.
Reading and Writing
We read together often, and display books for the boys to choose, in lots of different areas of the house. Our toddler particularly loves his poetry book, at the moment, and a lovely set of illustrated books about Canada, sent from my mother-in-law. The artwork in these is so evocative of the work of the Group Of Seven artists landscape work, produced in Canada in the 20’s and 30’s.
Since we don’t own a printer, we have made some of the worksheets needed for identifying words and picture matching. We leave a tiny pot of glue and a brush for pasting the matching words.
Writing- using a movable alphabet
A movable alphabet is a wooden box of 26 letters and additional vowels used in Montessori learning to teach reading, spelling, and writing. We experimented with using our existing magnetic letters, but these were difficult to manipulate. We found them to be visually confusing, due to the high number of different colours, and a poor example of correct letter formation.
This is one of the areas where I feel that it is worthwhile investing in good quality equipment – we purchased our movable alphabet from Absorbent Minds – along with a set of sandpaper numerals and letters.
We have used an old set of shelves from the garden shed- reinforced with a large piece of timber at the back since they had lost their backing material. This week’s trays included:
- a set of old pennies and a balance
- a set of sandpaper numerals
- treasures collected from the garden with a great quality magnifier and reference books and cards
- a set of sandpaper letters – upper and lower case
- a compact version of the classic cylinder block puzzle
- wooden construction materials – the Matador Explorer Kit for planes – a Christmas gift request from Uncle M.
- a towel to provide a neutral mat for learning
- Lego classic
As we slowly transform our raised beds to make room for extra playspace, we are harvesting the first of our crops to enjoy – here the boys are tasting the first baby carrots of the season.
We are making the most of the existing art supplies we have- including my watercolour materials and several tubes of non-toxic finger paint, which I use with brushes for my toddler to experiment with. This week we’ve been looking at the 6 segment colour wheel and learning about primary and secondary colours and mixing.
Mostly we are making the most of what we already have and having fun finding new uses for objects in our home- it’s been quite a journey to transform ourselves into home-schoolers and we are still constantly learning together and transforming both our approach and our environment- it continues to be very much a work-in-progress!