We’ve had some challenging times this week, or rather E has. On Friday we went to a puppet show in the village. It was Jack and the Beanstalk with a slight twist, they had nits! The girls all enjoyed it, especially little S. E however, spent the entire time curled in a ball on my lap, hands over his ears, occasionally crying. It was busy and noisy and it was too much for him. Saturday he spent the day in his onesie recovering.
Sunday afternoon there was a Victorian fayre at Dorset County Museum, and as R loves history we thought we’d head down. It was great, lots of people in period dress, traditional music, dancing, and crafts. There was a whole room furnished as a working class Victorian house. R loved seeing the old pushchair, washboard, clothes press and more.
Again E found the whole experience too much. He was kicking, shouting, biting, pinching and lashing out. He tried a few times to run away. It the end Daddy sat in the lobby with him for a while, then we went to Costa for a drink and a break. Afterwards Daddy took E and little S back to the car and I took R and S back to the museum to do some craft.
Once we were home and calm I discussed with E the difficulties he had had and what I could do to help. We decided together to try some ear defenders, E chose a colour he liked and we ordered them on Amazon. I’m really hoping they help in busy places where E feels overwhelmed.
On Monday we went to a meet up at a park, but it was cold and wet so we didn’t last long! I bought E new coat afterwards, fleece lined so it’s warm but it’s also thin. Today he actually wore a coat… happily! I can’t remember the last time he was happy to put on a coat. Long may it last. We had a much better day today. We started with a farm trip, and followed it with a trip to the park. We all had lots a fun and came home happy.
It’s not easy having a child with extra needs but one way or another we work through it.
Long before I had children I always like the idea of home educating, but like many, I though I had to do school at home. So when R came along, all full of energy and mischief I began to doubt my ability to teach her. In reality though, before she even began school I had already taught her to walk, talk, use cutlery, write her name and much more. Over the years I often thought about home education but it was never much more than a fleeting thought or a casual mention of how lovely it might be.
Then in 2014 I started noticing how unhappy the children were. We had to fight to get E to school, often dragging him screaming. R would often complain of tummy pain before school or be in tears because something at school was upsetting her. I starting looking into home education more closely, joining Facebook groups, troweling through website after website.
What I learned changed our lives. I didn’t have to follow the National Curriculum or use workbooks, and we wouldn’t have to sit around the kitchen table for hours everyday doing Maths or English. In fact we could learn just as we had before we had started school, through life. In January 2016 I wrote the the Head teacher of the children’s school and informed her that the children would no longer be attending and instead would be educated at home.
I had planned on using a semi-structured method of educating the children. A little of the basics and a lot of fun but first we decided to take some time to de-school. Get school out of our system, mine included, and learn about each other, our interests and learn to relax again. Almost immediately the children began arguing less, sleeping better, eating better and laughing more. We were altogether a happier household.
As we de-schooled I started seeing how much the children were learning through play, YouTube, books, spending time with friends and family and by visiting places that interested them. Through a visit to Beaulieu R discovered her love of history and has spent a lot of time since with her head in a historical book and has recently joined a local Youth Archaeology club. She enjoys playing Minecraft in Ancient Greece and watching period dramas. Through her interest she is learning to socialise, read, write, do art, maths, science, and geography as well as the obvious history.
After seeing just how much they learn in a completely unschooled way we have decided to continue this way of learning and even expand it into other areas of our life too. We have spent a lot of time in the kitchen together learning about food, what is good for you, what is not so great, where food comes from and how to grow it. I have slowly begun letting the children have more control over what and when they eat. Allowing them to make choices about their own diets and needs. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by their choices, children are amazingly in tune with what their bodies need and how much. The majority of the time the stop eating when they are full, and although I encourage them eat whats on their plates as I don’t like waste, I don’t force them to clear their plates. We do have a family meal in the evening around the table where we can learn good manners, talk about day and discuss our interests. We all get a choice of the meals on the menu for the week and unlike what some may expect the children don’t choose chips everyday.
The way we learn work in this house isn’t about me teaching the children what I think they need to know, but about helping them to learn and teach themselves through what interests them. Once they know where they can find what they need to know they can continue to learn all through their lives, become self motivated learners, think for themselves and enjoy consuming knowledge and expanding their minds.
This relaxed way of life suits us well but I understand it may not be the right way for everyone. Its also quite possible that as the children grow and their needs change our style of educating may also change but isn’t that the great benefit of home educating? Being able to follow your child’s needs and adapt and change to suit them.
Giving your child one to one time can be really difficult, especially when you have more than one child. Whether it’s work, the house, other children or your spouse. Whether they’re in school or educated at home, life is busy. I always try and make sure each and everyone of my children gets plenty of one to one time with me.
Sometimes we’ll bake a cake together or read a story, sometimes we’ll play a game or walk to the shop. But its always really lovely to get a good couple of hours alone when we can chat and have fun together.
Today whilst R went to youth archaeology club I took S out for a hot chocolate and a little shopping. It was wonderful spending time talking whilst eating a cheeky slice of cake. Holding her hand on the walk round to the shoe shop and helping her choose her new, pink shoes with a bunny on them.
Walking around the market together and her getting a free otter teddy from the man at the RSPB stand when I signed up as a member.
Hearing her giggle with shyness when she was offered a free slice of pizza by the lovely staff at Prezzos. Her sweet little voice as she told me how lucky she was to be so spoiled by mummy today.
Before we went to pick R up from her club we went into Salisbury Cathedral for a look around. We enjoyed seeing the Magna Carta and talking about quills. We had a wander around the shop and smelled the soaps to guess what scent they were and S picked a pink, rose scented one that she wanted to buy. She also found some quills on sale and S asked to buy one (she chose pink again).
She took her £1.50 to the desk with her soap and her quill and paid the lady, who then gave her 25 pence change. She looked up at the lady, smiled her sweetest smile and said “Thank you very much, have a nice day”. The lady smiled at me and we said goodbye.
Again S told me how lucky she was to have had such a lovely day even though it was very, very windy.
In just under two hours I’d given her a great day, lots of memories, a free teddy, a free slice of pizza, a hot chocolate, some cake, a new pair of shoes (that she desperately needed) and most importantly my undivided attention.
On Tuesday we went to home ed club. We’ve recently changed venue and had a shuffle of leaders, not that it really has leaders but the mums who were organising the running of the group have stepped down. The group runs fortnightly and this Tuesday was our third 3rd session.
Although the group has moved, many of the old members moved with it and we’re getting some new members too. The age range is from birth to teens and most sessions we have at least 6 families.
This week we began the morning with a muddy walk through the fields.
We had some sensory activities, Aqua beads, and rice and pasta for the smaller children as well as a toy corner for tots. There was a craft table where the children made toilet roll bugs or minions, and there were loom bands too.
Some children played twister together wothers charged around in the big hall playing ball or performing a show of their own making on the stage.
At the end the children all headed to the park to play. The had so much fun they were still playing an hour and a half after the group had finished!
When we got home R asked me to add her friend on Skype so they could carry on talking.
We adore spending time with friends, learning together, having fun together and talking to each other and we love our club on Tuesday’s.
This weekend the children received a Mini Weekend Box to review. They loved the colourful box and fun characters.
They were very excited to see what was inside.
They decided to do one craft each. S did a little gardening project, which was absolutely perfect for her. She needed a little help cutting the bottle and reading the instructions but the rest she did on her own. We’re now waiting to see what will grow.
Little S had a mask to make. She loved colouring it in and gluing, and I helped with all the cutting.
It took about half an hour to complete the box and then the children coloured in the certificate in the bottom of the box.
The boxes normally cost £4.95 each and are definitely worth the money. They’re the perfect Sunday afternoon activity for creative children. Little S is still running around with her mask on 3 days later!
Weekend boxes were founded to deliver inspirational, creative activities to busy families who love to spend time together. All boxes come with free delivery and fit through your letter box.
All weekend boxes are themed around topical events and the activities fit into one of four four categories.
-Something to make (arts and crafts)
-Something to bake (cooking activities)
-Something to explore (sensory exploration activities) and
-Something green (things to plant or up-cycle).
If you would like to pick up your free box go to www.weekendboxclub.com and enter code TANYA305 at the checkout.
*I received the mini weekend box free for the purpose of reviewing. All thoughts are my own.