A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Friday

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Did you know that an aeroplane is only on its correct course for about two per cent of each flight?

The pilot knows where he needs to get the plane to. By regularly checking where the aircraft is, and making many tiny course-corrections along the way, the pilot successfully guides the plane to its destination.

Flying a homeschool

(Don’t worry, it’s not my latest adventure scheme, it’s a metaphor.)

As the “pilot” of our homeschool, I want my kids to reach adulthood well-educated and with the skills they need to be lifelong learners. Along the way I’d love for them to discover a few of their strengths and passions.

I’m accompanied by my 9 and 10-year-old “co-pilots”. Together, we reflect on our days, weeks and months, adjusting our routine often to help us stay on track over the long-term.

That’s why, once a year, I blog about a whole week in our homeschooling life.  If I told you about a single day, I’d probably choose one we spend at home doing a cool science experiment, poetry tea and a hands-on history project as well as maths,  English and perhaps a couple of languages thrown in. People might read it and wonder how we manage to do it all. They’d never know that we spent the whole of the next day walking in the woods, or just hanging out with friends.

This week has been busy (see Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).  We arrived home from the theatre at 9PM last night. Thanks to our flexible routine, I’m able to organise our day so that J(9) in particular gets the downtime he needs.


C(10) and I do some Spanish and maths.


Science. Over the last few weeks we’ve been investigating light using laser pens. {Note: laser pens can be dangerous. C(10) and J(9) know this, and they only handle the pens when I’m supervising. Handled responsibly, though, they are an awesome way to learn about light.}

The children know that light travels in a straight line. Today I give them the following equipment and challenge them to make it appear that the laser beam curves.

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Before we begin, I slip in some extra science. I show the children the bottle of water (see photo) with its lid on, and ask why no water is leaking out of the hole.

They come up with several creative suggestions before they remember what they know about atmospheric pressure!

Ready for science

C(10) and J(9) enjoy experimenting with the laser beams for some time before they hit upon the solution. (I’ll write a post at some point sharing the various light experiments and demonstrations we’ve done recently.)

Along the way we have interesting conversations about fibre optics, total internal reflection, and refraction. I don’t get too technical – at this age I just want my kids to find science fun and approach it with curiosity – but I’m grateful for my physics breakfasts, which help me answer some of their questions.

Total internal reflection of laser beams through water – or, how to make light “curve”


Poetry teatime. Over the last few weeks we’ve been listening to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place audiobook series. The eponymous Incorrigibles are three charming children who happen to have been  raised by wolves until they come to be looked after by plucky young governess Penelope Lumley.

Miss Lumley proceeds to educate the children in a manner homeschooling mums would heartily approve of. One of the many poems she reads to her charges is Longfellow’s The Wreck of the Hesperus.

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Poetry pancake time

Usually we all choose our own poems to read for poetry tea, but today everyone happily agrees to my suggestion that we take turns reading the twenty-two stanzas of The Wreck of the Hesperus.

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J(9) reading The Wreck of the Hesperus


On Friday afternoons we usually visit our local ice skating rink, where the children have group figure skating lessons.

Because of J(9)’s sensory issues, his skating teacher suggested he have a few private lessons to increase his confidence. I’m always looking for opportunities to exercise, learn and have fun alongside the children, so I asked J(9) if I might join him in his lessons, and he agreed (I’m loving it!).

But our teacher is on holiday this week and none of us minds having a free afternoon after our busy week.

I use the time to run a few errands. My husband is working from home today so J(9) is glad not to have to come out with me.  C(10) comes along so that we can hear the next chapter of Pride and Prejudice, the audiobook we’ve been listening to when it’s just us two in the car together.

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Waiting at the garage for a car bulb replacement.
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C(10) rides her bike while I walk the dogs

After our dog walk we head home. My husband texts to ask if we’re okay and we realise we’ve been sitting in the car on the driveway for ten minutes, listening to the end of Pride and Prejudice. We enter the house smiling.

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Listening to Pride and Prejudice in the car


J(9) has done copywork and handwriting while C(10) and I have been out.

He and I do maths together – a fun Ed Zaccaro chapter involving algebra and fractions.

J(9)’s favourite maths position

After maths I head upstairs with a box of hair dye. My sister-in-law is having a 1920’s fancy dress birthday party tomorrow and grey roots won’t complement my outfit. I’m delighted to discover that Sue Elvis has made a new unschooling podcast which I listen to in the bathroom.


James kindly drives C(10) to her Stagecoach class, where she does three hours of singing, acting and dancing. Often I go to the gym at this time, but today I make frozen banana smoothies for J(9) and I, and I blog while he relaxes in his room.

* * *

Thank you so much for all your kind comments this week. I didn’t know if these posts would be of interest to anyone else but I wanted to record them for myself. I’m so appreciative that people have stopped by to reassure me that I’m not the only one who sometimes fails to live up to the high expectations I set myself!



See also Week in my Life 2013, when I was homeschooling an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


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24 thoughts on “A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Friday

  1. Very cool science experiment, as usual. I’m glad you’ve had a relatively slow day on Friday. I often find that we need to stay at home after a few days out, just to feel more grounded again. Hope you’ve had a fun party over the weekend!

    1. Thanks, Hwee. I do enjoy playing with the laser pens. The party was wonderful. Neither James nor I wanted to go in the least (partly because it involved trekking from Surrey to Camden) but – as sometimes happens when one isn’t looking forward to an event – it vastly exceeded our expectations!

  2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing how you spend your week. You are one busy mum! It seems like you have found just the right method of home schooling for you all. I really liked C’s poem and giggled my way through her video (I watched it earlier on in the week and googled her and watched a few more on youtube!). She comes across as a very self confident, fun loving girl!

    1. Ah bless you for watching C’s vids, Claire! She certainly is fun-loving and confident. She doesn’t like most of her old videos but she leaves them up as a testament to how much she’s learning, and because she’s so grateful that her favourite YouTubers leave all their early, embarrassing videos up so she can see how much better the’ve got with practice!

    1. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! As for energy, blogging every evening this week made me realise how much I require my quiet evenings to recuperate and recharge ready for another homeschooling day – I was exhausted by the end of the week!

  3. I love the Poetry Tea Time. I am using that idea for some fun for the kids. One day we’ll visit England. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

    1. Thanks, Nita. Do try poetry teatime. We had Halloween poetry tea today. We had a handyman doing some work in our kitchen at the time (it was one of those day… picture a team of guys trying to get a huge fridgefreezer through a narrow arched door). I bet that’s the first time he’s listened to poetry being recited as he’s removed a cupboard. 😀

  4. Lucinda,

    It has been so lovely sharing your week. I love the idea of a poetry tea. The audio book sounds very interesting. We’ve read and enjoyed the poem The Wreck of the Hesperus. Actually we had a ship phase where we read lots of ship/ ocean poems, a lot of them tragedies! The ocean is a dangerous place!

    Thank you so much for linking to my latest podcast. You are very encouraging. Thank you for listening even though my podcasts lack professionalism. I do like the thought of my voice travelling half the way around the world to England. That is so fascinating and adventurous! I can’t come over to see you but my voice can travel!

    1. Sue

      I love your podcasts. I’ve been wanting to come and express my appreciation on your blog or FB page for the last two weeks but we have had visitors and I evidently haven’t been very organised with my time! I listened to your most recent one today – your chat with Imogen and Sophie was very interesting.

      Thank you for making the time to read about our week, it’s always lovely to read your kind comments.

  5. You know – you’re right! A single day, one of many, doesn’t really give the most accurate picture of how we homeschool. I choose a random day, whether it’s a big errand day or special art or science day. Homeschooling varies from day-to-day!

    How nice to have tea time! We researched traditional English tea time and used to have them once a month with special foods and a huge choice of teas. We would all share some poetry, chosen sometimes during the month and practiced before reciting. The kids loved it! Perhaps I should think of doing it again…

    1. Jessy, I may do what you do in future and just choose to share a random day here and there. A whole week was hard work – I realised how much I rely on my evening downtime!

      Your tea times sound delightful. You might know more about English teas than me! We could benefit from following your lead and practising some poems in advance. Ours tend to be pulled together at the very last moment. But perhaps that’s just the way it works best in this house! 🙂

  6. I read about your week, and signed up for the e-mail subscription. You have an excellent blog! Thank you for sharing. I have a lot of reading to do!

    1. Thank you, Silvana. I’m looking forward to following your blog, too. I’ve now got my copy of the book your recommended – we’re looking forward to reading it after we’ve finished our current read-aloud, The Wheel on the School. And today we listened to the Michael Morpurgo one, Toro Toro. Perfect for the day after we returned from Andalucia!

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