Category Archives: parenting

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?

Time to explore

Apologies for the quiet spell, I’ve had a few blog problems and have also been busy with the kiddies.  The cold, grey and often wet weather is somewhat stunting our ability to spend much time outside. Although we do take the opportunity to explore whenever possible, even if only for an hour or two.

Over the past few weeks we have been to Moors Valley, Upton Country Park, and Knowlton Church. The children do love to explore the outdoors, make dens and see friends. Poppy dog also enjoys or outside days when she is able to join us.

We have also enjoyed going to a café for breakfast after an early start dropping our car at the garage. We’ve spent time with Grandparents and baked cakes. We dissected our old and broken vacuum cleaner, to see what was inside. Our Dyson challenge cards came out one day and we tried a few experiments. Yesterday our National Trust membership card arrived so we will have many more places to explore this coming year.

E has had many appointments since the beginning of the year. He does find them very challenging but he does so well. We finally have an official diagnosis of Autism for him, and are hoping that this may provide us with some much needed support.


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


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


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


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


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


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.

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.


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.

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.


Joy is home education.





Me Becoming Mum

Blogtober – what’s in my handbag?

I have different bags for different occasions. My small “grown up” bag that I use when it’s just me. My “mum” bag, a big handbag for everyday outings with the kids, and I also have my home education handbag/backpack. They all have a few things in common. Each of my bags (and my car) has a first aid kit/plasters and some Calpol sachets. Essential for a busy family with 4 little explorers.

I have one purse that moves from bag to bag, it contains far too many loyalty cards and receipts and not enough money. Where ever I go I take a change of knickers, not for me of course, for my smallest who’s only recently toilet trained.


Being a woman my bag also has to contain sanitary wear. (Boo!) As a mother I take snacks everywhere. All totally healthy of course *coughs* right now there’s a half eaten box of Peppa Pig raisins, and half a packets of sweets.

A portable phone charger/torch is a handy little tool, especially if we’re out all day. I hate when my phone is low on charge. There’s always a pack of baby wipes in my bag for sticky little fingers. I also have one odd sock!

The Berry Saga!

My Goodness! What is it with children and the need to put things in places they really ought not to be? In this case, a berry.

BB (Before Berry)
BB (Before Berry)

Day 1
So Friday we thought it would be nice to enjoy the good weather and go along to a home ed meet up at Upton Country Park. The children enjoy going and having Nerf wars and exploring, whilst us parents drink tea and natter. We arrived at lunch time and I told the children that we could stay as long as they wanted as we had no further plans that day. Excited, they charged off, laden with various Nerf guns, in search of their friends.
All was going very well. After about 4 hours Little S walks up to me with her finger firmly wedged up her right nostril.

“Don’t put your finger up your nose, Poppet, it’s not nice” Says I.

“It’s sore” says she.

After a minute or two she takes me by the hand and walks me up to a berry bush and points at the berries.

“Do you have a berry up your nose?” I ask.

“Yes” she answers.

I have a good look and seeing no berry I send her on her way to play for a while longer before heading home.
At bedtime she complains that her nose is sore, so I have another look, this time with a torch. Still no sign of a foreign body. I know, I’ll do the “magic kiss”, I was taught it at the hospital when R put something up her nose. So I close off the good nostril and give a good blow into her mouth. Nothing pops out so I get the torch and have another look up her nose. This time though, I just glimpse something small and red up her nose. BLAST! What do I do?
Maybe another magic kiss will work, and blow that little berry out… Nope.
Hospital it is then. 9pm and we go off to A&E. It was completely empty. Great, get the berry and go home for a cuppa. Little S is good as gold, sits on the bed nicely and lets the nurse look up her nose. Nurse suggests one more magic kiss but it doesn’t work. Hmmmmm. It’s a bit high up for her to reach with tweezers. So we are sent home and told to return the next day to see a member of ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat.)

Tucking Teddy into bed
Tucking Teddy into bed

Day 2
Saturday morning and a kind ENT doctor telephones me at 10am and asks me to go down to A&E to remove the berry. We arrive at the hospital and let the receptionist know we’re there and we get called through quite quickly, so far so good. Only today Little S has decided she doesn’t like doctors and no one is going anywhere near her nose! After about an hour the doctor is able to get a tiny glimpse of the berry but by then he has already decided that we’re going to need to have it removed under general anesthetic at Southampton hospital.

Phoning the Doctor
Phoning the Doctor

Day 3
Arriving at 8:30am at the hospital slightly frazzled, sleep deprived and hungry, we go looking for our ward. As soon as we walk in we are greeted by an anesthetist who asks what happened and talks us through what they’re going to do. Name bands are attached to both Little S’s wrists and we wait patiently in the play room. ENT doctors come along and try to look at the berry, Little S doesn’t want to cooperate. So we wait for a space in theatre. And we wait. And we wait. At midday we are told that Little S can carry on drinking until 2:30pm meaning that surgery will not be before 4pm. By 2 o’clock Little S is getting quite grouchy so we go for a walk downstairs, I buy her a clear Fruitshoot as she’s not touching her water, we get her a magazine, a new teddy and go for a walk outside. I get myself a Costa hot chocolate to try and fill my tummy as I can’t possibly eat in front of my nil-by-mouth 3 year old, that would just be cruel.
We go back up to ward and they move us round to a different ward where Little S will be going after her anesthetic. There is a different playroom and a different set of toys, so it keeps her occupied for a while longer. Little S keeps the nursing staff amused by playing hopscotch on the pattern on the floor, and by giggling at absolutely everything. She keeps running up the corridor in her little hospital gown with her tiny bare bum poking out and she just looks adorable.
Eventually, at just before 7pm a member of theatre comes up to get us. We walk down to theatre with Little S asking the whole way “What’s that?” and pointing to all the different types of bed she can see. In theatre she sits on my knee and is quickly put to sleep, I lift her onto the trolley and watch as everyone bustles around putting an oxygen mask on her, checking machines and covering her in a blanket. I go back up to wait for her, grabbing myself something to eat on the way. When I get back to ward I’m told she’s in recovery. I’m still hungry.
I go to collect her and laugh as she frowns at everyone in the very cute way that she always frowns. Back at the ward she is given some toast, 24 hours after she last ate anything! An hour after coming out of recovery we are free to go home. It has been a very, very long weekend and I am mentally and physically drained. I just hope that she never puts a berry up her nose again!


My Random Musings

Adventure Wonderland

At the beginning of September Adventure Wonderland had an offer on entry price so, as the children had been asking to visit, we went along for the day. Daddy was a little reluctant as he’s not a big theme park person but he was glad we went as the children had a fantastic day.

pirate boat

R must have gone on the pirate boat ride at least a dozen times, she loved it so much! I think we managed to go on just about every ride between us. (We even got Daddy on some rides too.) There was the giant bouncy slide, the flying elephants, the Yo-Yo’s, the teacups, and the runaway train. We had lunch by the outdoor adventure playground where the children enjoyed having a run around and a play on the swings.

Flying elephants

After lunch we went to explore the maze, the girls all ran off in different directions and we all managed to get thoroughly lost trying to find each other again. It felt like we would never get out and we kept meeting other families who were all lost too! It was R who finally managed to guide us out.

After getting lost in the Adventure Wonderland maze we needed a rest so we went indoors to the soft play area. Little S loved loading the canons and firing them. Next it was time for a well deserved ice cream and a few more rides. R once again went in search of  the pirate boat.

The heavens opened at this point and as we were already wet we went to try the water boats. E, not being keen on getting wet, didn’t want to go on the boats. Instead he went back on the Yo-yo’s by himself! I was so proud of him, it was the ride just next to where I was queuing with S, but it’s a big thing for him to do something like that.

Myself and the 4 children on the teacup ride taking a funny face selfie

After the boat ride we were all soaked to our knickers and getting quite chilly so we called it a day and went home to warm up with a hot chocolate.



New Shoes

Buying new shoes for your child can be stressful. Finding something they like, that are comfortable, durable and within budget sometimes feels impossible. Add in a child that dislikes any change can be very challenging. E had his last pair of shoes for over 18 months, by the end there was barely any sole left, there were holes in the fabric on top and the Velcro fastening was falling apart. If you had seen my son walking around in these tatty, too small, and falling apart shoes you’d probably have thought me a bad mother!

But all was not lost, I was given the opportunity to try out Brantano’s website. Browsing online took the stress out and we were able to find that perfect pair of shoes. I was impressed by the great selection of boys sandals online as often boys designs can be a bit limited.  (They have a lovely range of girls sandals online too.)

He chose these gorgeous Mountain Peak sandals. I love the bright orange.

New shoes

They arrived quickly and we were both really impressed with the shoes. What’s most important for me is that he finds them really comfortable and he is happy wearing them. After almost 3 weeks we’ve no complaints about them, an active boy using them as brakes on his bike, climbing, running, jumping and they’ve not worn at all.

Although we didn’t need his feet measuring this time as they had been done recently its worth noting that Brantano do run a free fitting service.  We have used this service in the past and always found staff very friendly and accommodating especially with E’s needs.


Ant World

We love all things creepy, crawly and wild. Bug hunting is often a big part of how we learn about the world. To be given the opportunity to learn about ants, see how they build their underground house and live their lives, when normally it is unseen, is amazing.
The Ant World arrived in the post for the children to unpack and assemble. The set included everything we needed, I particularly liked that it came with a little magnifier so we could a good look at the ants. Putting the world together was nice and simple, adding the sand, though, was very messy! We ended up with sand all over the kitchen. Releasing the ants into their new home was even more tricky, no matter which way we tried.ant world messAnts, it would seem, are great escape artists. No matter how many we put into the world more seemed to appear, scurrying about the table. We had them running up our arms, down the outside of the ant world, in every direction possible.
After many attempts and lots of giggling we managed to get all, or at least, most of the ants into their new home. (I have a feeling that one or two may still be roaming around my house!)
We are feeding them a small piece of fruit once a week, as per the instructions, we have found that even the smallest bit of fruit goes mouldy very quickly and can look unsightly. Watching the ants slowly build their little tunnels is really interesting, we expected the tunnels to appear quickly, but after 2 weeks there are still only a couple of small ones.

ant world tunnelWe are enjoying watching the ants working, they are never still, always scampering about, busy. If ever your children (or you) want a few new pets that are low maintenance, then Ant World could be the way to go.


*I was sent Ant World free to review, all thoughts are my own*

A Volcano, gardening and camp outs.

On Monday we finished off our volcano model ready to set of at group on Tuesday. We also just did some other painting together and E baked some cakes. Tuesday we had home ed group, we had toys set in blocks of coloured ice to excavate, we also erupted our volcano. The children really enjoyed watching it and playing with dinosaurs in the “lava”. Afterwards we went to enjoy the sunshine and play in the park with our friends.


Thursday we set off to meet some home educators at Avon Heath Country Park. It’s always nice to meet new people and we had a great day. E had a fantastic time playing Nerf with a couple of other boys. They disappeared off into the forest, popping back occasionally for a drink or a snack, I barely saw for over 2 hours. R made a friend too, they sat and did makeovers in the park and played together. S and Little S climbed, played, and explored.

Forest fun

On Saturday, the children spent the morning playing, colouring in the sun with friends, and enjoying games at the park. After lunch we invited to join some friends at Compton Abbas Airfield for an icecream and to watch the aeroplanes. On the way home we stopped at the park for a play, we then made the most of a very gorgeous sunny evening and had a BBQ.



On Sunday we spent time in the garden, I finished building the children’s fort, we discovered a little visitor in the pond and we filled the paddling pool up. Yesterday we went to Nanny and Granddad’s house, the girls had fun playing with playdoh, E played with his toy soldiers, we played basketball, tennis, golf/hockey and walked the dog. R decided to have a campout in the garden on the trampoline, she managed to stay out until 11 pm when it got quite windy so she came inside. She wants to try again in the summer with her siblings too.

Where my eldest plans to sleep tonight (I think she'll get cold/scared and come in) #camping #garden #trampoline #daughter #unschooling