Category Archives: Home education

April, a round up of our month.

It seems an age since the beginning of the month, but it also feels odd to thing that it’s May 1st tomorrow. During April E had his first respite sessions. The 1st was a movie and pizza afternoon, E was quite nervous going in but when I went to collect him it was clear he’s had a great time. He was whizzing around the sensory room with his 1-2-1 key worker and laughing his head  off. I felt so relieved that he’d enjoyed himself. His 2nd session was the following week at Adventure Wonderland. Unfortunately the weather was a bit ropey, but nonetheless he enjoyed himself, going on a couple of rides and playing in the soft play. He’s signed up for another session in May and is looking forward to it.

Whilst E was at his 1st respite session, I took the girls out for a little shopping, cake and a play at the park. We went for a little walk and found a wonderful stream. Despite being rather nippy, the girls all went for a paddle. R decided to even sit down in the stream, she really is a water baby! They trudged back to the car all soaked through.

When E went to his 2nd session, the girls and I went for a walk with the dog. It was very wet and muddy, with huge puddles everywhere. S spotted some tadpoles in one of these puddles and decided we must rescue them. So we grabbed as many as we could and popped them into a doggy bag. On the way home we went to a pet shop and bought a small fish tank and some fish food. The tadpoles are now being cared for in our living room until they outgrow the tank and need to go into our pond. It’s a wonderful way to learning about the life cycle.

On the 10th of April, E had an appointment with his consultant. I booked the 2 little girls into a forest school day and R went to Avon Tyrell for the day. They all came home completely exhausted, R spent the day climbing and doing high ropes. She enjoyed it so much that she’s booked in for a water sports day there in the summer.  With the girls all having adventures , E and I planned a fun afternoon after he’d been to the hospital. He opted for lunch at KFC and a cinema trip. It was lovely having time with just him.

We spent an afternoon in Swanage learning about dolphins organised by another home educating mum. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon so we went for a walk along the cliff top, unfortunately we didn’t spot any dolphins although we did see lots of other wildlife. We were also able to see some of our friends.

We’re determined to make the most of every sunny moment. We met Daddy after work and had a barbeque in the New Forest. We’ve eaten chips at the beach, leaving just before an almighty thunder and lightening storm set in. We’ve also met with friends and found frogs at Avon Heath Country Park.

April has also seen R get another certificate in snorkelling, and do a cookery lesson with Waitrose cookery school. S has enjoyed lots of baking after receiving a Mary Berry cook book from Nanny. Little S badly sprained her ankle playing on the trampoline, so needed x-rays. She was very brave, it’s still quite swollen and very bruised but she’s back to her bouncy self.

We’ve had busy month and May isn’t looking much quieter with trips to LEGOLAND and the circus already booked.  If you want to see more regular updates pop along to our Instagram page @happyhandley

 

Spring or Winter: what’s with all the snow?

March has been a funny old month. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going! Is it spring or winter? I don’t even think the weather can decide, snow, sun, rain, snow… Many of our plans have been changed or cancelled this month due to the unpredictable weather. And of course with the cold weather come the sniffles and poorly children.

With the first “beast from the east” the children were all really excited about the snow. Going out early to play in it. Sledging down the hill with friends (and most of the village it seemed), having snow ball fights and more. By the time the second lot of snow came a week later the children were so over snow, full of colds and just wanted the warmth of spring to appear.

Little S has missed a few forest school sessions this month due to snow and having a nasty cough, but for the sessions she did manage to attend she thoroughly enjoyed herself. My washing machine is enjoying it less though, as she tends to come home covered head to toe in mud!

Poor R ended up with an overnight stay in hospital as her cold went to her chest and affected her asthma. An ambulance ride in the snow, 3 nebulizers and some steroids later and she was feeling much better.

Daddy went to Germany at the beginning of the month for a few days with work. He enjoyed it but missed the children lots and they him. He got home in the early hours of a Sunday morning, the first thing S did upon waking was call out for Daddy and run to find him. So sweet.

Yesterday Little S did a photoshoot for a new clothing company. She’ll be in the catalogue for their gender neutral children’s pyjamas. She had great fun posing and playing in front of the camera. I’m looking forward to seeing the final photographs.

Tomorrow, the girls and I are of to a clay pottery workshop. We’ll be making Japanese tea bowls. R loves all things oriental at the moment so will enjoy that aspect. Little S loves getting messy, so clay will be right up her street.

Next week we are heading to the New Forest Wildlife Park with a group of other home educators. I’m hoping for dry weather and no more snow! Although I’m sure it’ll be a fabulous day out regardless of the weather.

Just keep swimming

We have had a very wet week, and I don’t just mean the weather. (Although all the rain has created lots of muddy puddles, perfect for jumping in!) It seems that our lives have centred around the swimming pool this week. R went swimming Saturday on her own. She loves that little bit of independence, and I love watching her stride out in confidence. She makes new friends so easily, doting on smaller children and striking up conversations with older generations. As well as watching her ever improving swimming skills, she is far better than I.

Monday R had her weekly swimming lesson in the evening, and as we do most weeks, we popped over to see Nanny and Granddad beforehand. The little 2 and I took Poppy for a walk before R’s swimming. It was exceedingly muddy and shoes needed to go in the washing machine afterwards.

Wednesday R had a snorkelling lesson. Whilst she was there I took the younger 3 swimming in the small pool. Something I wouldn’t even have considered before E started his swimming lessons a few weeks ago. After we’d finished we got dressed and went up to the viewing room to wait for R to finish her lesson. She did really well completing levels 1-4. She already wants to do another lesson.

After swimming we drove to Granma and Granpa’s house and the children had some dinner and a play. Daddy picked the girls up on his way home from work and I headed back to the pool with E for his lesson. He asked for lessons a few weeks ago and we decided that private lessons would work best with his needs. He has completed 4 lessons out of a 5 week block and is really enjoying it. He has the whole pool to himself, just E and his teacher. They practice swimming for 20-25 minutes in a really gentle and relaxed way,  and then play for the remaining 5-10 minutes. It’s perfect for him.

So that’s our week. What has your week looked like? Has it had a “theme” like ours?

A New Year and New Adventures

It seems hard to believe that it’s now 2018 and we’re entering into our 4th year of home educating. We are only 2 weeks in and we already have so much planned and have already had some great days. First off we welcomed 2 new cousins when Aunty A and Uncle C had twins. T and C are just gorgeous and, although the children are yet to meet them, they are already smitten.

We’re just about back to our normal routine with Little S going to forest school on Mondays and Wednesday afternoons. She has great fun there, she loves being outdoors and getting muddy. R is back to her weekly swimming lessons. E has asked to give swimming another go so has a little taster session tomorrow.

We don’t start back at home ed group for another couple of weeks, but are looking forward to seeing all our friends there. We did meet up with some friends at Moors Valley last week, and played on the adventure trail. Despite being a little chilly the kids all had a wonderful time.

On Friday we went to Fleet Air Arm museum with some other home ed families. It is a fantastic museum with so much to see and do, lots of hands on learning too. The Aircraft Carrier experience was too noisy for E and Little S though. Even with his ear defenders E struggled and we left the museum a bit sooner than we had planned. We were able to play outside for a while though and eat a hot picnic of soup and hotdogs.

Each of the children have asked to learn about something that interests them. R will be starting a project on China, E wants to know more about Pandas, S would like to learn to tie her shoelaces and improve on her reading.

Little S has asked to find out about Rainbow Cheetahs! So I think we’ll look at real cheetahs and do some fun colouring. She has shown a keen interest in numbers and letters this week, doing lots of practice.

We have lots of exciting things to look forward to this year already. We’re planning a trip to Legoland , a marine day where we’ll hopefully spot some wild dolphins, cooking lessons, a day at The New Forest Wildlife park and much, much more.

A new year and hopefully lots of new experiences for us all.

 

 

A day in our life, Autism and Home Education

I’ve not done a “day in our life” post for quite some time. I thought some of you might enjoy reading about our day today, autism and all! I was awoken at 6:20am by Little S, thankfully she’s happy to come into bed for a cuddle and a cup of milk. Daddy left for work at 7:45, the children and I slowly rose and started our day.

I gave the children breakfast and made myself a cup of tea and a teacake. I heard the distant sound of water running so I went upstairs to turn it off. In the bathroom I found Little S covered in purple face paint. I ran her a bath and in she hopped. 2 seconds later she was covered in bright pink lipstick! I have no idea where she found it.

During this time E repeatedly comes in asking if I can watch him play a game. Yes, not play with him, just watch (gotta love Autism). Once Little S is out of the bath and dressed I go to spend some time with E. He is playing a game called Doodle God, where he has to mix different elements and objects to create new ones. It’s quite good and gets his brain thinking.

Next I try to do a bit of washing up and put a load of washing on. I get interrupted because the children want to use a cardboard box to make a slide on the stairs. Once it’s done we have a go, zooming down the stairs onto a pile of cushions.

Yummy

R decides she wants to do some baking so she goes to the village shop to get some ingredients. Little S is playing small world with my little ponies upstairs and spills water everywhere. When R gets back she finds the recipe she wants to try and we bake some caramel slices together.

While the slices are cooling she sets upon a project she asked to do. She wants to learn how to prepare a whole fish and cook it for dinner. We had bought the fish yesterday after she chose the perfect one. First she learns to clean the fish, discovering that it’s a male fish. Next she beheads and bones the fish. She is very curious about the workings of the fish, taking time to examine the eyes and gills. Last she skins the fish, before poaching it and turning it into fish nuggets for dinner. S comes in to help make the fish nuggets too.

I prepare mine and daddy’s dinner and tidy the kitchen, then clean out the guinea pigs with help from S. The children eat their dinner, both E and R enjoy the fish nuggets but S isn’t so keen. Little is vegetarian so has Quorn nuggets instead. After dinner E gets upset and has a large meltdown. He turns his room upside-down, tossing the mattress off the bed. Neither he nor I seem to know what triggered it. Autism rarely makes sense.

Daddy gets home from work, but he doesn’t feel very well. Little S wets herself so needs cleaning up. All of a sudden the house plunges into darkness. We check the fuse boxes and see that they’ve tripped. Turning them on S exclaims that T.V. isn’t working. Little S pipes up “I put this (screwdriver) in back (of T.V.)!”

OH!

So now we have no T.V. as our 4 year old has blown it up.

I have my dinner then help E put his room back together. Poppy dog needs a walk, so torch in hand, we wander out into the darkness. When we get home it’s time to get everyone ready for bed. S complains of a tummy ache, then suddenly discovers why. Time for another clean up!

So now it’s 9pm and I’ve just sat down. I can’t remember the last time I had a cup of tea and I’m gasping. But no rest for me. E still needs settling which could take another 2 hours. I also need to tidy up before tomorrow, the children want to do some science experiements.

 

What is learning?

What is learning?

This is question that I have been thinking about a bit recently. R said to me, “I dont think I do any learning, should I go to school?”  E said that “learning is boring, it’s just sitting and writing.” So why do we have this view of learning. Are we only capable of learning whilst sat at a desk? Is school the only place that children can learn? I was recently approached by someone I know only in passing and was told that my children couldn’t read because they don’t go to school! (They can read. R actually taught herself once she came out of school,)

I am often asked by new home educators or people who do not home educate, “how do you get them to learn?” I find this rather odd. Learning is an in built need from the moment we are born. The need to learn to communicate, to walk, to feed ourselves. We don’t, at the age of 5, stop learning because we are not in a classroom. Learning happens all the time, and continues right through adulthood. Ever heard the phrase “you learn something new every day” ?

So how do my children learn?

We explore, constantly. We explore nature, playing outside, rummaging through woodlands, growing our own plants and food. We play with friends. Learning social skills is such an important part of growing up, especially for those on the Autistic spectrum like E. We read together, both fiction and non-fiction books are great learning tools.

Trips to museums are great fun and provide lots of hands on and on the go learning. Going swimming or to football lessons, climbing trees, playing at the park are all great for gross motor skills and fitness.

Learning about World War 2

We learn by going to the shops, learning about pricing, offers and money. Practicing all our maths skills. There is something to learn where ever we are.  R was recently admitted to hospital following a bad spell with her asthma. She found out lots about how our lungs work, and how asthmatics lungs are different. What medicines are used for asthma and why, as well as how a hospital runs, what nurses and doctors do and much, much more.

There are lots of opportunities to do “sit down” learning too if we wish. S recently renewed her subscription to Reading Eggs, adding Maths Seeds on too. She loves to practice, do the little tests and print off her certificates. Her reading age is where it “should” be and she went straight in at level 61 with her maths. This is despite never having been to school.

So how do your children learn? Do you take a more traditional route, are your children learning autonomously, or somewhere in between?

Following our interests, A visit to Sealife Weymouth

The way we home educate mostly involves us following the children’s interests. For E most of those interests revolve around fierce animals. Dinosaurs, Sharks, Monsters etc. We were given the opportunity to visit the Sealife Centre in Weymouth on Sunday. Sunday happened to coincide with the Ironman  competition, which did mean that Weymouth was very busy and the car park at the Sealife centre was closed. We were quite worried about how this would affect E, but he coped fantastically.

 

Hands on learning

On arrival we decided to have our picnic, E however, was so excited he didn’t want to eat. He rushed off to visit the seahorses, then the rock pool, then the seahorses, then the turtles! Are you beginning to see how our day went?! He must have visited every exhibit at least twice. Flitting between them, taking in all the sights, seeing all the different varieties of sea creature.

The girls enjoyed exploring and seeing everything, the also loved the play park with all it’s many twisty slides, and the splash area. Daddy and I had to take it in turns to follow E to his next target area. Occasionally we managed to visit an exhibit as a family, though we were rarely in one place for more than a couple of minutes. I liked that E had the space to roam and explore.

When we arrived at the ocean tunnel, E’s face was a picture. He soon spotted the sharks, his eyes lit up and he gasped with excitement. SHARKS! We spent a while there, watching them swim around. We even went back a bit later for another look.

 

At the end of the day we stopped off at The Royal Oak pub outside Blandford for dinner. The children were all in a great mood after a fun day although a bit tired. We enjoyed a really tasty meal and the pub was so child friendly with board games to keep the children entertained and a play area outside. It’s a day we shall look back with great memories.

Medieval Jousting at Old Sarum

Yesterday we met up with some friends at Old Sarum in Salisbury for a medieval jousting event. Unlike most British bank holidays the weather was fantastic, gorgeous sunshine, warmth and blue skies. We arrived a little after midday and first visited the souvenir shop so the children could choose a weapon. E got a wooden sword, S chose a lance, the other 2 girls opted for squeezey balls instead of weapons.

We walked up to the castle remains for a play and explore. The children had battles, roamed about the castle and discussed history amongst themselves. Little S and R became knights, training with their noble steeds for a mighty jousting battle.

There was an “organised” war, the children were given foam swords, separated into teams and marched into battle. There were no winners, as at the end they were all instructed to do a big Shakespearean death!

There was a Jesters tent where the children could learn variuos circus skills such as juggling or walking on stilts. The stilts were much harder than they looked but great fun to try.

We loved looking around the castle and reading about the history of it, it’s a shame some of the plaques were quite old and difficult to read though. The views from the top were phenomenal. Over the course of the afternoon lots of small aircraft flew over with sky divers jumping out and floating over head.

After an ice cream to cool us down we wandered off to find the main attraction, the joust. Whilst we were waiting we somehow got enrolled into the fanfare for the joust. Little S, it seems, is very good at the trombone. Every time the knights and their horses entered the arena or scored a point in the joust we had to play our instruments.

We had a fantastic day and would definitely recommend it. I think Old Sarum is somewhere we shall visit again, maybe on a quieter day so we can explore all the bits we missed this time.

Been very busy

Apologies for being a little quiet on here, we’ve been quite busy. Throughout June we partook in the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild. You may have been following us on instagram as we shared daily “wild” photos. We had great fun exploring the outdoors, catching moths and insects, foraging for elderflower to make cordial with friends and spending lots of time playing in the sunshine.

always climbing trees

R also had a great surprise in June. she was picked up from Granma and Granpa’s house and driven to the airport for a surprise visit to Spain. She spent a week with Great Granny, Granma and Granpa enjoying Spanish culture and weather. She spent a lot of her time there in the pool having a whale of a time! at the end of her week I went over to collect her and spend a couple of night there too.

looking very Spanish

We’ve been doing a fair bit of baking the past few days, with S and E both baking sponge cakes on their own. E also decided to make some lemonade one day which was very tasty.

E’s cake

We found a very cute toad in Nanny’s garden, everyone gave him a little cuddle.

Little S has been enjoying going to Forest School once a week. This week one of the leaders brought along some baby chicks.

Little S and Bob

We spent a day in Portsmouth catching up with some friends I’ve not seen in years. We had a pub lunch and got to see a tall ship too. 

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to be a bit more active on here again.

A rare day of home educating at home!

It’s quite amusing that home education is so called as we are very rarely actually at home, and many others say the same. Monday we were at Moors Valley for a meet up, then went to Nanny’s house and R went swimming. Yesterday R was out for whole day at the Ancient Technology Centre with lots of home ed friends, whilst the rest of us went to our usual home ed group. So to have a whole day spent at home with no plans is quite novel.

The children were all awake between 7 and 8 and headed for their screen of choice to either play or watch something during breakfast. R spent the morning playing with online friends, listening to music and writing out song lyrics. The younger 3 played games and amused themselves which meant I was able to get on and do a bit of housework. The 2 littlest got out a maths set we were given yesterday and played with that for a while. At lunchtime a couple of my friends popped by for a cuppa and a chat.

After lunch we went to explore the field behind our house, the rape flowers are almost as tall as me. We took care to stay on the tractor tracks so as not to damage any plants, and a fab time. It was like a maze. The sun was shining and the children laughing.

After our walk we decided to do a little gardening, planting some foxgloves in the woodland and sowing some new seeds for the summer. The girls filled their own pots with compost and chose what seeds they wanted to sow from my seed box. By the time we had finished school had was over so the children wanted to play outside. We wandered up to the little park and played monsters/chase. S decided she wanted to do some more maths, and Little S helped me prepare dinner.

Once Daddy was home I went out for a nice quiet walk with Poppy and left the kiddies with him. Now it’s time for a cup of tea before crawling into bed. Tomorrow we are going Tomahawk throwing!