Topic-Based Learning

When you start home educating it's easy to think you should imitate school, with a pre-set syllabus, timetabled lessons and all the rest!

A better idea is to build on your child's existing interests. Take pencil and paper and map out a wide-ranging project together. You should end up with a diagram like the one shown here, drawn by a mother and daughter as they planned a project based on their love of gardening.

I've added red labels ('Maths,' 'English' etc.) to show how their project embraced school subject areas! There's no need to add these rather schoolish labels yourself, but put them in if you think they help. 

Enjoy each project and go where it leads. Your diagram gives you confidence before you start but success will have its own twists and turns (You definitely won't stick to your 'map'!)


Two projects running side by side can be ideal. One may inspire you for several weeks while the other lasts years! 

I can guarantee that once you've tried the project method you won't be short of fresh ideas! The following four examples show the range of possibilities:


My personal links with the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha have got children keen on geography, vulcanology, pen friendships, poetry, music, conservation and penguins! In the words of Tristan's Kimmie Green:


Rockhopper penguins are red of beak and eye

But of course they cannot fly.

They live in flocks and they stand under rocks.

They lay eggs in their nests

And they slither along on their chests.

This home ed girl from Norfolk, singing Kimmie's words, is really enjoying life and learning.


My home educated grand-daughter and I focused on the Bayeux Tapestry, so we learned about weaponry, history, cartoon drawing, Latin and embroidery. 

We wondered which figure was Harold - the falling one or the spear-throwing one. We could see no sign of that famous arrow in anyone's eye.

Our critical look at the Tapestry led to a critical look at the modern press. ('Traffic Delayed' and 'London's Pride' showed very different attitudes to Trooping the Colour!)


A child with an interest in physics and music might like to build a theremin - the instrument that plays without being touched! It's an ideal bridge between science and the arts, and an excellent way to develop practical skills and understanding side by side. (Visit .)

And here's one to show that home-schooling families can laugh at themselves:


Q: How does a home-schooling family change a light bulb?

A: First, mum gets three library books on electricity and the kids make model bulbs. They research inventor Thomas Eddison and invent a song and dance routine about his life.

Next, they investigate the economics of oil-lamps, candles and modern bulbs, wondering how much change they'll get if they buy two £1.99 bulbs and pay with a £20 note?

On the way home they discuss the history of money and the role of Adam Smith, pictured on the £20 note. Finally, after building a ladder out of branches from the woods, they change the bulb.  

Please feel free to get in touch     Tony D Triggs

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