Norfolk Home Learning

        From small beginnings to great success

Topic-Based Learning

When they start home ed, parents often draw up a timetable of what to study when: English at nine, maths at ten and science at eleven - that sort of thing.

Try saying goodbye to all this schoolish regimentation. It's so much better to pursue your child's existing interests. To see what can happen, take pencil and paper and do a quick sketch like the one on the right, which was drawn by a mother and daughter fired by their love of gardening. Just map out the possible ramifications if you and your child pursue your own interest.

I've added red labels ('Maths,' 'English' etc.) to show that this very unschoolish approach does cover school subjects! There's no need to add such labels yourself, but put them in if they reassure you. 

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'!)

A flow diagram of a possible leaching and learning project

Let's hear from Jenny, a local home-schooling mother with two girls and a boy aged from 7 to 9!

" I’m still wondering how we ended up doing bat science in August and not October, for Halloween, but then I didn’t think three bat origami chara​cters would lead us from Paston Great Hall to the Amazon rainforest, and Canadian Rockies.... all with aerodynamic engineering thrown in.

Home learning is hard work but the journey is amazing! "

A cartoon drawing of a student using a watering can

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.

A student in penguin costume singing a penguin-themed song
A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry


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 'Proud to be British' 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:

A student having 'a light bulb moment'


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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A schoolgirl playing a theremin

One of my pupils making the weirdest music with her home-made theremin. (See 3 above.)