Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Exercise for Brain Power

Check it out! My baby can ride a bike!!

One of the great things about home education is being able to spend plenty of time doing stuff away from a desk. The kids get way more exercise because we spend a large portion of the day walking to and from shops, the library, the park - not to mention swimming and active play at those places.

I believe at this age school is very active too, with lots of playing and discovering in the classroom, and not too much sitting at desks, but I really value the fact that as my children get older, their activity levels don't have to drop. They won't lose afternoon recess, or be confined to 1.5 hours of sports timetabled in a week (that's what we had when I was at school).

Before you think I'm sports mad (I'm not - ask anyone. I managed to escape PE since 4th form by volunteering for  extra music lessons) there is a good reason I encourage my children to get plenty of exercise - it increases brain power and productivity.

This week I was sent this great infographic by a woman named Alison from Online Courses, which puts it so much more succinctly than I ever could.

If you want to see more from Online Courses you can click on the link below the picture. They are a great resource for further education and even have links to lots of free programs, such as the open courses at Yale, which are high quality educational materials made available through download. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Cosmo general update


Since we've been doing the GAPS diet we've seen massive improvements in Cosmo's behavior, temperament and ability to express emotion. It's sometimes a little heartbreaking, 'I will feel very lonely and sad if I play by myself', but not manipulative - he is just getting genuinely better at expressing what he is feeling, labelling emotions and telling us about them before they explode into rage. 

Last week we were on holiday up in Cumbria, and some friends had some lego that they got out for him to play with. Lego a few months back was a massive source of frustration for him. He just could not get the parts to click together and very quickly ended up in tears. 
However, thanks to improvements in his fine motor skill he was happily making all kinds of models, including police cars carrying flags - for the Olympic parade apparently (he went with his daddy to watch a few events and loved it. In fact we ended up hosting our own re-enactment of the medals ceremony several times back home).

I was super impressed with the development in his fine motor, but I hadn't realised the extent of it until we got home. My husband decided to work on an Octonauts magazine with him, and although he was mostly using stickers, he coloured in a picture of a 'crafty cuttlefish' so neatly that I nearly accused his daddy of doing it for him! Six months ago he couldn't hold a pen properly, now he writes, colours in the lines and colour specific details (like each leg a different colour - because he knows that cuttelfish can change colours to camouflage).

This may not sound like much to those of you with children who have been scribbling on everything since before they could talk, but for us it's a huge breakthrough; I'm just so excited for him. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Synonyms and the Book of Centuries

As with most homeschooling blogs we've been a little slow over the summer. One of the joys of home educating is being able to enjoy the sunshine whenever you like and not having to stick to a schedule.

With that in mind, we don't actually break for the whole summer like some other families do. Although we don't formally hand in registers to our co-op, we continue with a relaxed pace - nothing to strenuous, but a little now and then to ensure that we don't get completely out of the habit of learning.

One of the games we've been playing is called synonyms. I made it up, but it's really fun and Cosmo loves it. We basically wrote lots of words on lolly sticks (actually they're waxing spatula's from my old beauty business, but lolly sticks would work just as well) in categories. For example, ten of the sticks have words that are synonyms for 'big', such as huge, gigantic, enormous, massive etc... and ten have words for 'small', ten have words that mean 'delicious', ten have words that mean 'brave'...etc...

Then I flipped them over, shuffled them and continued to do the same with more categories.

The game is then to shout a word, such as 'small' and then everyone has to try and snatch as many sticks that contain a synonym for that word. The winner is the person with the most sticks. They then get to chose the next category.

I'm trying to introduce games that a) broaden Cosmo's vocabulary and b) make use of grammatical terms. Being an avid reader, he has already grasped many grammatical rules (such as where speech marks should go, that a capital letter should start a sentence etc...) but you can't absorb the vocabulary to diagram sentences from just reading. Someone has to explain to you the difference between a noun, adjective and a verb for you to understand what those words mean.

I've been reading a bit more about the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, and I've fallen in love with the idea of a Book of Centuries. It's the perfect accompaniment to the Mystery of History curriculum that we already use.

A Book of Centuries is basically a timeline in a notebook. You have a double page spread for each century, and as your child finds out about a person or an event, they can write about it, draw pictures, or create a lapbook in that double page spread. It's a fun way to record what they are learning, and keeps it accessible to flick through and revise. Everything is in order, so it helps the child to get an idea of what happened when.

I know that since we started our timeline in our hallway, I have a much better understanding of how different cultures evolved world wide, and how the pieces of history fit together. I'm obviously a visual learner, but this stuff has never sunk in for me before.

As great as our timeline is though, there is not a lot of space for information, just a small picture to remind us of an event. I think the book of centuries is a great accompaniment to go with it.

If you'd like to start your own book of centuries, you can find a template for it on Simply Charlotte Mason and the best part is that it's free to download. There's actually some other really great resources on that site so I'd encourage you have a look around whilst you are there.

I suspect we are going to have to do a section on the olympics soon as Cosmo and Daddy have and such a great time attending some of the events. I'll blog about that soon, but in the meantime you can see a couple of the photos on our travel blog.

Photo: 'olyimpics' medal ceremony. Complete with national anthem. August 06, 2012 at 02:13PM