What does Home Education look like in January?

I keep thinking we’re just ending the first week of January but it’s the end of the 2nd. How did that happen?! We have spent lots of time just the 5 of us at home, enjoying each others company. Lots of cuddles of the sofa, games, cooking together, and watching TV.  The weather has been very chilly and damp and not great for going out in.

We did manage to see friends last Friday though at Upton Country Park. Our visit was shorter than normal though, as we decided it would be best to leave before we all froze! We didn’t take Poppy with us this time as she has started her first season. This has lead to some interesting questions from the children.

S asked to do some “school work” this week and got out her Alphablocks workbooks. Little S sat with her and did some colouring. S sat on my knee eating Haribo, chatting away and laughing as she worked. Not at all how reading and writing lessons would be done at school, but I suspect a bit more fun.

We’ve spent time with Grandparents. Wednesday Granma and Granpa took us all to soft play. We all had fun burying Granpa under the balls in the ball pit. The children made them both go down the curly wurly slide, making Granma scream with fright!

Today we back to Winchester Science Centre for their home educators day. S loves the giant colon, printing off “tickets” to scan, feeling the poo and making farty noises! She made a new friend and we’ve arranged to meet up next week. Little S loved trying out lots of different experiments. I was amazed that she managed to work the rowing machine by herself.

E loved playing with the wibbly mirrors, making himself different shapes and sizes, making his head stretch and his body contort. He tested out theories on which truck would go fasted on which material. What happened when you added weight into them or in front of them. He tested his balance and agility and enjoyed playing the soft play area too.

I’ve seen a real change in R over the past few weeks, she’s really growing up. In the soft play area she chose to sit and read her book, not something I ever thought she’d do when we started home educating. Her reading is coming on in leaps and bounds, and she is totally self taught. She enjoyed trying her hand at wheelchair basket ball, and making an x-ray skeleton with her sister.

At the end of our visit we’d booked to go and see Polaris, the space submarine in the dome theatre. It was a really great end to our day. The film was really educational and very child friendly. The children have asking questions about the orbit of the earth, day and night, and seasons. These were all answered in the film with the aid of a talking Polar Bear called Vladimir and Penguin called Steve. I would highly recommend the film for anyone visiting the centre.

My Random Musings

Identifying signs of stress in your child (and helping them cope with it)

Today I have a  guest post from Zara Lewis, a designer, freelance writer, contributing blogger for High Style Life and full time mummy of two little ones. I hope your enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Identifying signs of stress in your child (and helping them cope with it)

According to the data provided by the American Psychology Association, there are a lot of factors that influence children’s well-being and unfortunately – different stress triggers go unnoticed by most of the parents. We are used to associating stress with adulthood but the truth is – kids have their own personal reasons for worrying. They usually fear not being good enough or failing in school, or they struggle with motivation to study, which may be one of the reasons why there is an increase of 62% in the last decade regarding parents who choose homeschooling. Other worries include maintaining relationships with their siblings, handling peer pressure, and parents’ financial state. Here’s how you can help your child cope with stress.

Learn to recognize a cry for help

sad

Too often we perceive everything from our own adult perspective. While objectively, we may think there’s really no reason for our children to worry about anything, it is wrong to disregard their feelings. Your child might approach you and complain about feeling sick or worried and you should never try to solve this situation simply by saying – you’re fine. You need to encourage your child to express their feelings, and formulate what exactly is the thing that’s bothering them. By learning this, your child will set a cornerstone for developing emotional intelligence which is extremely important for mental health. Initiate a conversation, validate their feelings, and make sure you’re not pushing too hard.

Embrace the benefits of art therapy

rainbow

There is a beautiful quote by the famous painter Pablo Picasso: Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life. Kids are naturally artistic and creative and surely – many find communicating via words exhausting or hard. Expressing thoughts and feelings is a lot easier with a white canvas to start with and the possibilities hidden behind highlighters, crayons, watercolors or ink. Art therapy is very efficient for children on the autism spectrum as they usually have different ways of interacting with people, in comparison to neurotypical persons. Children with autism have a specific sensor system which makes it hard to cope with the overwhelming sensations from the outer world. This can be rather stressful both for the child and the parent, but art has proven to be a great, gentle way for handling sensory processing issues and encouraging creative thinking.

A good night’s sleep is crucial

baby

Sleep is extremely important for your child’s physical and mental health. Stress can often disrupt sleep and you need to address this issue as quickly as possible. Insomnia is nerve-wracking and it makes every problem seem larger than it truly is. To ensure a good night’s sleep, try establishing a bedtime routine that will help your child unwind. Always provide clean and fresh sheets: use soothing scents such as vanilla or lavender to induce sleep. Air quality is also important: vent the room regularly to regulate humidity and temperature. A warm bath right before bed will calm your child and prepare their body for sleep. If insomnia stays persistent, your child might be struggling with melatonin deficiency and, therefore maybe needs supplements, but prior to taking any further steps on your own you should contact pediatrician, who might suggest some natural healing methods.

Try different ways of relaxation

nature-people-girl-forest-12165

Leisure time and light physical activity can help your child reach much-needed balance. Engage in a conversation with your little one in order to find a type of exercise that he will actually enjoy. It’s important to gradually build a healthy attitude towards these habits so that your child doesn’t perceive it as a boring duty. For example, cycling has multiple benefits and kids usually love it as a fun way to get to know the neighborhood or relax in nature. It triggers a healthy thirst for an adventure and helps with getting rid of any fears from the outer world. Also, encourage your child to enjoy quiet time and daydream. In this fast-paced world, we forget the importance of slowing down and just relaxing by doing nothing. Playtime is crucial for child’s healthy well-being as it helps kids develop their interests, discover new parts of their identities, build social skills, and handle emotions. It’s an irreplaceable source of happiness: humans are hardwired to enjoy playtime and it has proven to be a great way to reduce anxiety.

Encourage your child to find their own pace

children

From the earliest age, children are prone to comparing themselves to others. This may trigger anxiety, feelings of falling behind or not fitting in. Make sure your child understands the beauty of the diversity and that the only right tempo to follow in life is their own. Lead by the desire to belong to a certain group, your child might suppress their own identity that started forming, but it’s all part of growing up. Most children learn to value authenticity later in life.

Children are sensitive and they are like little sponges, soaking in everything around them and processing it in a very complex way. Support them in any way you can, as they have it harder than we may think.

Midway through December already!

 

I can’t quite believe we are halfway through December already! It seems only last week that it was summer. The weather is changing now, it’s much cooler and wetter and we’re entering a phase of relative hibernation. We are still enjoying our visits to Moors Valley and Upton Country Park though, as well as our Home ed. group meetings on Tuesdays. The children love to be outside when the weather and health permit. Making dens, seeing friends, playing and running. We’ve had a few coughs and colds over the last week or two, so have missed a few of our regular meet ups.

outdoor fun

 

Monday saw R turn 9, Daddy took the day and we spent time together unfortunately I was suffering from mild vertigo, and feeling rather dizzy. this meant that our day at Moors Valley had to be substituted for a trip the cinema, where I could sit down but the was still something for the children to enjoy. We went to see Moana, it was a great film full of Disney magic. Being a daytime viewing we had the cinema almost entirely to ourselves, which was lovely. Afterward we went home and had dinner chosen by R. Mexican wraps, her favourite.

December

 

Tuesday was home ed. group. It seems that no matter how many toys or electronics children have they love building forts, houses, cars and more out of cardboard boxes. The mud kitchen was also a hit, with a few requests for “more mud”! The children all enjoy helping to clear up afterwards too, sweeping and washing the floors. We’ve been up to lots of fun at home baking, painting, reading, and we even turned our front door into a snowman! How is your December so far?

cakes

A Perfect Day at Winchester Science Centre

Wednesday was one of those perfect home educating days. Daddy left for work at 7:30am, R was up so she went on the P.C. for an hour to play Roblox and chat to her friends online. The other 3 played quietly together. At half past 8 E had his turn on the P.C. whilst I cooked a full English breakfast. It was lovely eating breakfast together, with the children trying to guess where I was going to take them for the day.

softplay

Once we were all dressed and ready we set off just after 11am. We arrived at Winchester Science Centre around 12 noon to find it bustling with school children. At first glance it looked quite small and I wasn’t sure it would hold my children’s attention for very long. We had a little wander around, tried our hand at making an electrical circuit, and played with Cell Mountain. It was very busy and I could tell E was struggling, so we went to the soft play area as it was empty. The children played there, building a parkour course and dens. After a good play we went to the cafe for a drink and cake. The children went outside to the playground and R made friends with another home educated little girl.

Perfect

By the time we’d finished our drinks some of the school groups were starting to leave and our friends were arriving. The children were then able to really explore and learn. We bounced about in the giant colon, tested our flexibility, balance, speed and reflexes. R played on Google Earth looking for China, the South Pole, and finding our house.

Motion

We looked at ourselves through a thermal imaging camera, and tried to shake our own hands in a concave mirror that made our reflection appear 3-dimensional. We discovered that it takes more energy to make materials such as glass, from scratch that from recycled resources. We tested theories on motion and weight distribution. E and his friend put together an X-ray skeleton, working out which bones went where. We looked at fossilised dinosaur poop and bones.

mirror mirror

There was so much to see and do, we didn’t get chance to do it all. The children had so much fun they want to go again next month. It’s given the children a few ideas of topics the want to delve deeper into. R is particularly keen to learn more about China.

ice cream

On the way home we stopped at a motorway service station and had McDonalds for dinner. We played tic-tac-toe whilst we ate and the children were all so good. Not far from our house a Barn Owl swooped over the front of our car, E and I got an amazing view of it. By the time we got home it was straight to bed for the little ones. They were an absolute delight the whole day. Being on my own, somewhere new and busy with 4 children can sometimes be a little daunting. They really were perfect, it’s a shame Daddy had to go to work.

A Perfect Day.

 

J is for Joy

For me joy is being with my children everyday. Watching them growing, learning and enjoying their childhoods. Having the freedom to spend whole days outside, exploring the wilderness, and being with friends.

wilderness

Joy is allowing my children to follow their dreams and interests. Learning at our own pace. Doing a maths workbook because they enjoy it, writing a story together or painting a picture. Learning about the stars and the moon by going out in the dark at looking up. Filling our minds with wonder, and asking question upon question. art

It’s baking a cake or making pancakes for breakfast. Staying up late to research Ancient Greece or finding out about The Tudors, knowing that we can have a lie in the next day.
baking

It is a complete joy to watch my children develop a love of learning, and a thirst for knowledge. They are discovering all about the world by being in the world, not solely by reading about it in a book. We surround ourselves with opportunities to expand our knowledge, push our limits, and learn new and exciting things.

play

Joy is home education.

Joy

 

 

 

Me Becoming Mum

Pottery Cool

A is for Activities!

As a mum of 4 children and a home educator, I am always on the look out for new and exciting activities to do with the children. I was recently asked if I would review Pottery Cool Studio Set. My girls in particular love doing all things crafty, so this was great for them.

When the parcel arrived in the post they couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get started straight away as it needed batteries. After much nagging we walked down to the corner shop to buy some.

Pottery Cool

The girls decided which of the projects from the instruction booklet they wanted to try first. R chose a little jewelry holder, which was nice and simple to make. S chose a dog shaped photo holder, that was a little trickier and more fiddly. The instructions would have been easier to follow with better pictures, but we got there in the end.

Little S loved the sensory element of playing with the wet clay as it spun round on the potters wheel. As she was a little young at 3 to follow the instructions, she used some leftover clay to make a little pen holder/vase.

clay

The clay was left to dry overnight as per the instructions, but the following day it still felt quite damp so we left it for another day before painting. While S was painting her dog, one of its ears did fall off which was a little disappointing but we have managed to stick it back on.

painting

We enjoyed painting our clay creations, and particularly loved the metallic paints. R (aged 8) says “It’s a great way to get creative and stop you getting bored” We are looking forward to see what else we can make and buying some extra Pottery Cool clay disks in the future.

 

**We were sent the Pottery Cool Studio Set for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.**

Me Becoming Mum

Blogtober16 – Day 31

OK, so, Blogtober16 started really well and I was able to write everyday for a couple of weeks. Then it all went a bit wrong! I missed a couple of days, then my page had technical problems and went offline for 2 days. (That was really horrible, I was emailing everyone I knew trying to get it fixed!) Since then I’ve not managed any more Blogtober16 posts, oops! I guess there’s always next year and Blogtober17.

alphablogbites
During November Hex Mum Plus One and Me Becoming Mum are running #AlphaBlogBites. Where a different letter prompt will be given for each day of the month, plus a couple of bonus prompts as November has more days than the alphabet has letters. I am hoping to join with some of those. I did enjoy writing more often during October and having a daily prompt was great.

I thought it might also be nice to ask you, my lovely readers, if you have any questions about home education or our unschooling life that you would like me to answer. I can answer them here on my blog in a special Q&A post. Please leave your questions in the comment section below or you can email them to me at happyhandley@outlook.com.

Our adventures as a home educating family