With school closed for lockdown and three children at home the prospect of a prolonged period of home learning was not something I was looking forward to. How was I going to get all three children's home learning done at the same time?
Little 3 is in Reception and just starting his learning journey focussing on learning through play, learning his phonics and to read as well as simple Maths and how to write his letters and numbers.
Little 2 is in Year three, the Romans and fractions being her current topics whilst Little 1 is in Year 5 and learning about the Geography of rivers and percentages.
With Little 3 in infant school and the girls in junior school the two schools approaches to home learning were very different and the provision for Little 3 was very basic. Little 3 is already a great reader and reading books aimed at the end of his school year despite us being a little over half way through, his mathematical mind is great too and he could already do very simple sums in his head, even to keep him on the level he was already at I was going to have to adapt what his school had set.
It was the start of the Easter holidays and lockdown, I knew that if home schooling was going to work we needed to get into a routine straight away and not wait until the end of the official holidays to start. We would get up and have breakfast, a bit of free time and then we started 'school' somewhere between half nine and ten.
The girls would happily get on with one using Daddy's computer and one on the tablet. Little 1 was pretty independent and just got on with it where ever she fancied, at the table, upstairs or often just sprawled out across the sofa. I did moan at her a bit to sit properly so that she could write neater but as the days went on I just let her get on with it, she was doing it willingly after all.
Little 1 is bright and flew through her school work in a short time, around an hour. She was hoping to sit the 11+ grammar school entrance test in September before all this and so she would then spend half an hour or so doing something from her 11+ practice books finishing around lunchtime.
Little 2 needs support with maths as she lacks confidence in her ability, she is perfectly able to do all the operations and knows what to do to get the answers but it takes her a little time to do the calculations and she gets frustrated that it takes so long. She needs to improve her rapid recall of number bonds and times tables to get quicker at this which is something I picked up on early and so we have been working on improving this in home schooling.
She would get on with her other subjects first and once I had finished helping Little 3 I would help her with maths.
Little 3, who turned 5 in March, worked with me on his phonics, practicing his sounds through things such as I spy where we looked for words containing 'ch' for instance, drawing letters in rice with our fingers, writing a list of things in his bedroom and a postcard to grandad as well as practicing his flash cards, reading and writing tricky words.
We also did maths, writing numbers, counting, number bonds and simple sums, he surprised me by being able to do simple addition and subtraction without a number line or his fingers, I hadn't known he could do that yet. To keep his interest we didn't just stick to paper though.
I used bathtime and varying sized jugs and pots to sneak in a lesson on volume, introducing various bits of vocabulary like millilitres, pints and guessing how many pots would fill the jug etc. I used food too, a friend sent us a box of different mini bags of jelly sweets- Little 3 was my willing helper and while he thought he was just dishing out sweets we estimated how many sweets were in each pack, counted them and decided if we could share them equally between the three little ones bowls.
Doing learning in this way kept his interest, he didn't want to sit at the table long but I could keep him going and do much more with him by thinking outside the box.
School sent through a couple of theme ideas like St George's Day, I went one further and printed off some activity sheets that used Maths and phonics rather than just the single task the school had set. The girls joined in with some printed off activity sheets at their level too even though it wasn't their set work, they enjoyed the change.
As the days went on we had our little routine Monday to Friday and it went well, the Little Ones did everything set by school though they didn't always do it to the best of their ability especially if one was left working and the other two had finished but on the whole they got on with it.
There was plenty of arts and craft in the afternoon, several family birthdays meant a lot of card making and things like playdough, Hama beads and aqua beads appeared daily. Daddy usually came home from work to an array of paintings, craft and exercise books thrust at him as they were keen to show him what they had been up to.
The little ones spent lots and lots of time in the garden, hours on the trampoline and doing gymnastics as well as bug hunting, making petal potions and creating their own picnic lunches all by themselves.
Little 3 got really interested in bees and we did a mini topic on those as well as how flowers pollinate and make their food through photosynthesis.
Everything was really tasty, the girls have begun cooking the odd simple meal now too and I taught Little 1 how to use the kettle and coffee machine, I even had a couple of coffees brought to me in bed in the mornings.
Homeschooling wasn't all plain sailing though, there was a day when Little 3 refused to write as he hates writing, it was so messy I rubbed it out and he had to do it again- he cried as apparently writing is really boring. Little 2 got frustrated with maths a lot and it took all my patience several times to get her to chill and realise that she could do it. She also had a tendency to get up ALL THE TIME instead of getting on with it which drove me bonkers.
There were more good days than bad but on occasion there were tears, frustration and shouting- not just from the children. By May half term I was ready to give it all up. Three children, three different school years, it was hard. Luckily I went back to work in June and the Little Ones were back in school. I think we all benefited from not having to do anymore homeschooling but we all agreed that they had learnt a lot, had lots of fun and freedom in their learning and that Mummy made a pretty good teacher.