A quiet week

Feel like we’ve had quite a quiet week. It’s been half term for school, which is nice for my children as they get to see their schooled friends a little more. Unfortunately though Daddy and R have had tummy bugs so we’ve had to spend more time at home. Earlier in the week we met up with friends and went to the park. We’ve seen Granma and Granpa. Our highlight of the week though was going to Bournemouth wheels festival on Saturday.

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E was particularly impressed with the monster trucks. The children enjoyed playing on the beach and having an ice cream.

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We’ve also iced biscuits and done lots of craft. The children have read books to me and I’ve read books to them.

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Today we went to home ed club and met up with our friends there. The children got to do a few activities and run around and play what’s the time Mr Wolf.

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As well as the children learning I too have been learning. I have been using an app on my tablet called Duolingo to learn Spanish. I’m getting on quite well although sometimes struggle with possession. It’s great because I can do just ten mins a day or longer if I have time. I’m also learning new recipes as I’m trying to eat healthier and have less added sugar. I made some scrumptious truffles using a recipes I found on Pinterest this week.

Just how does one home educate?

Many times I’ve been how I home educate. Do I need a teaching qualification? Do I have to follow the national curriculum? Do I stick to school hours? Are there a minimum number of hours I need to reach for? The answer to all these questions is no.
No, I don’t need to be a teacher to teach my child. From the moment they are born they learn. They learn to smile, talk, walk, and use a spoon. We spend time with our children and play and colour and read. That whole time they learn; so why when they turn 4 or 5 should I be “unqualified” to teach them? I’ve spent the last few years watching how they learn best, each of them different, who knows best how to teach them? Of course there are those that are qualified teachers that choose to home educate their children, but it’s not a requirement.
No, we don’t have to follow the national curriculum or any other curriculum. Some choose to follow a curriculum while others don’t. We can educate in a way that best suits the needs of our children and lifestyle. For us, at the moment, we are very child led. Just how we were before they were of school age. They learn at their own pace and in a way they feel comfortable. We also don’t have to do GCSE’s, but we can if we want to, or NVQ’s or apprenticeships or any other qualification. For us that is probably still a long way off, but should one of my children want to they can do their qualifications whenever they choose, should that be at 12, 16 or 18. The joy of home educating is that we are free to choose.

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No, we don’t stick to school hours. Learning doesn’t stop at 3pm, learning is all day long. You will often find us doing maths or reading at 7am, or history at 8pm. R is more of a night owl and often asks those all important questions just as she is getting into bed. Leading to conversations about Tudor Times or reading a book about the human body. S likes to get out of her bed, grab the iPad, hop into my bed for a cuddle and to do reading eggs or maths games at an unusually early hour.
No, there is no minimum number of hours we have to learn for. Or maximum for that matter. As I’ve already mentioned learning is all day long. We don’t plan to learn, we continue to learn. Some days we have a planned activity or trip, other days we learn through day to day activities.
We are also, contrary to what many believe, very social. For a start I have 4 children, they’re social from the moment they get out of bed. We also meet up with other home educating families regularly. There the children get to socialise not only with children of there own ages but children of all ages. The age range of just one of the groups we go to is 0-14. We also socialise with members of our extended family, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. We socialise when we go to the shops and talk to the little old lady that stops to say hello and we socialise when we go the park.
Home education is adaptable to suit the needs of our family, our children and our circumstances. I’m sure that how we educate will change as the children get older and their needs and abilities change. Home education may not be right for everyone but it is certainly right for us.

Plants, sleepovers and chickens

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We have had a really busy few days. R spent a couple of nights at Nannys getting lots of attention, shopping, baking, and being truly spoilt.

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We’ve made a crystal tree, we’ve coloured, we’ve cuddled and snuggled up with a film. We’ve talked about where electricity comes from after passing a power station. We saw freshly sheared sheep which lead to conversations about wool and what it’s used for. That lead to what else is used to make clothes and how we dye clothes using fruits and vegetables. We discussed where people used to get water from before they had taps and fresh water in their houses.

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We went to a garden centre and had a little horticulture lesson, learning which plants are in the same family, what type of soil they like and where best to plant them. Each of the children was able to choose a plant for the garden and then plant it when they got home. We then went to the little animal area at the back of the garden centre and saw pigs, goats, guinea pigs, ducks and chickens. The Chickens were a favourite of little S, she charged over shouting “chickens” a word she has never uttered before. She thought they were amazing and couldn’t stop laughing at them. The children got to play on the climbing frame and slides and we had a little picnic.

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Today we headed to Shaftesbury to forage the hedgerow for plants with medicinal value. We met with other home educated families and a herbalist and talked about what common plants can be used, how and for what. Then we had lunch together and tried herbal tea, goose grass steeped water and played with homemade played infused with essential oils. In the afternoon we made bathbombs and in the case of little S, ate bathbombs! Her face was quite the picture when it fizzled in her mouth!

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We also had a look around Gold Hill Museum saw an almost 300year old fire engine (the oldest in Dorset), saw a very old camera, old fashioned school desk. We were amazed by the old computer a.k.a. typerwriter! Saw an old and very ornate shops till, looked at clothes that people used to wear. It’s only a little museum but for small children with a small attention span it is perfect. They all enjoyed looking round and didn’t have time to get restless. We learned so much and have lots of new things we can try and topics we can expand on. And in the process I think we’ve manage to educate and exhaust Granma too! We’re looking forward to a quiet weekend before another busy week.

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A rainy week

It’s been a bit soggy here this week but we have managed to get out between rain showers. We went to home ed club on Tuesday where the children did stone painting, Hama beads, made fairy bread and played with their friends. Then we all headed out to the park (about 30 children plus mums) and had a water balloon fight, ran around and laughed a lot. It’s great that the children get to really mix with children of all ages.

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Tuesday also saw us purchasing Minecraft. R is already a whizz on it and loves designing and building houses with swimming pools, farm land, balconies and rollercoasters! Tuesday is also swimming lessons day. S is doing really well and starting to use her arms as well as her legs. R, as always, loves swimming and managed a whole width underwater without coming up for air. They are also learning how to dive in.
Thursday we had a friend round for the day and headed to soft play for the afternoon as the rain was torrential. Unfortunately we had to leave early as E got toothache which turned out to be a tooth abscess. He has now been referred for an urgent tooth extraction under sedation and is on antibiotics. Poor little man has been in so much pain all weekend with it and we’re now all a little sleep deprived. He did have a little surprise this week though, last weekend I got him a new cabin bed (with hidey hole) but this meant that there wasn’t space for his train table so I sold that and replaced it with a big castle for his warhammer figures. He loves it.

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Friday little S turned 2 so Nanny and Granddad popped round for a cuppa. Then Saturday we all headed over there for a BBQ and to play with cousins. S and I spent time in the garden Sunday and made a bug house.

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S seems to be enjoying maths at the moment, she likes watching Monster Math and playing maths games especially subtraction ones. E decided to do some writing of his own accord, unfortunately this was on his bedroom door so we did discuss the best places to do writing. Little S is enjoying her spelling game and knows a-f well, so I may be buying the next few letters for her soon. R is trying to work out words for herself which is lovely to see.

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We’ve got lots to look forward to over the next few weeks

Having fun

We’ve been so busy having fun I’ve forgotten to blog! We’ve done lots of baking and gardening, R made salt dough, moulded it, baked it and painted it. It was, of course, a Minecraft Creeper. We have become Minecraft crazy in this house, especially R and E. We also spent a lot of time playing with Hama Beads which is great for improving fine motor skills. It kept the children busy for about 2 hours one afternoon.

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We’ve learned about Troy and the story of the Trojan horse. We’ve learned about magnetism, what magnets stick to and what they don’t stick to. (This led to Nanny finding magnets everywhere from the side of the toaster to the garden.) We’ve read lots of books and enjoyed playing with numbers. We went to home ed club last week and learned to spin yarn and got to play with a spinning wheel. The girls had their swimming lessons, we’ve ridden bikes, been to soft play and played in parks. We’ve had friends round to play and enjoyed lunch together.

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Daddy and I had our 9th wedding anniversary and enjoyed a meal out and a walk around the city, while Granma and Granpa babysat. S turned 4 today and had an early morning visit from Nanny and Granddad. She got a new bike, colouring books, a necklace, a water gun and a few pennies of her own to spend. E got a new cabin bed where he can store all his toys, write and paint at his desk and enjoy hiding underneath too.

Planting Seeds

Learning is a lot about planting seeds. Trying something new, seeing if it takes and grows. We’ve been collecting lots of resources, so on Saturday I had a jig around with the shelves, books and boxes of crafty bits, cards, learning toys and activities. I also mixed up the posters dotted around the house to keep the children interested and added some new ones. One of the new posters is about seed dispersal that I got free from the Royal Horticultural Society. R and I had already discussed, in brief ,seed dispersal after she blew on a Dandelion head. An activity I think most children love to do with no thought to what it actually is. So at dinner we were all chatting away about different plants and how they spread their seeds. We were amazed that some plants grow where naturally occurring fires happen as they need the seed pods to be heated in order to spread.

My parents came round at the weekend and took the children to the park and popped into a local jumble sale where they picked a great book about natural herbal remedies. As a little girl I loved making potions from flowers, a hobby that once got me in trouble for destroying a prize winning gardens beautiful plants! I think my girls (and boy) will also love mixing up herbs, plants and leaves from our own garden to make ointments, tinctures, balms, scented oils and learning all about what they can be used for and they can help us. We can also learn what not to use as of course there are many plants than can be harmful to use. The book also talks about plants we can eat and what foods can aid good health and it has a recipe for stinging nettle soup and a dandelion salad recipe.

We all plant seeds we think may of interest to our children, some grow and flourish while others don’t. When the children turn 3 they start swimming lessons as we feel that it is an important life skill. E didn’t enjoy it particularly so has chosen not to continue, S enjoys her time there but it’s not her favourite activity but R loves it. At only 7 she is far better at butterfly than I am and her others strokes are excellent too. It was a seed that was planted in her and one that has grown and grown.

As a parent and an educator my role is to set up opportunities to try something, to plants seeds, and nourish those that need it. All the children have the same opportunities and activities available to them. They are all different and each one will focus on what they enjoy and what interests them, it gives them a chance to specialise in something that is important to them.

Daddy and E have taken up a new hobby together, collecting, building and painting Warhammer figures. While this may not seem educational to some it is fantastic for fine motor skills and therefore will help with handwriting. It is creative and a calming task for E to do, and it can lead to social activities as many people go on and get together to use their armies to battle tournaments.

Of course planting seeds can be just that, growing vegetables and fruits. We have been learning a lot about where our food comes from, growing our own, using it in cooking and trying new foods. We’ve looked at foods from around the world, been to farms and shops, with even more visits planned as the children all enjoy this topic. I except it will be ongoing throughout our education, even now as an adult I still enjoy growing food, watching it and tasting it.

 

Questions

Some days I think we don’t seem to have done much but then I look back at our week and see that we are always doing something. Even quiet days we talk a lot, which at this age is how they learn. They ask questions, so many questions! What’s this called? Why does that happen? What’s in there? Why? A lot of the time I know the answer but sometimes we have to look it up together. I’m learning all the time too.

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S and I went for a walk to the shop and every time we saw a plant she asked the name and I told her, the next time we saw it I’d ask her to see if she remembered. She loves being in the garden and helping, she loves plants and flowers. She enjoys sowing seeds and watching them grow, planting veggies that we can eat and putting new plants in the garden that she can watch turn into beautiful flowers.

 

E loves asking questions about cars and trucks, sharks and snakes, about things that go fast and things that are big. Every night Daddy or I read to E, non-fiction books full of facts because that’s what he loves. He loves finding things out, he soaks it all up and remembers every bit. How big is that Dad? How fast does it go? Is it poisonous?

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We’re always learning wherever we are. If we go for a walk, spend 4 hours running around in the woods or play in the park. When we’re at soft play with friends or out in the garden. When we go to the shops or visit grandparents, have a meal or bake cakes. When we look in a pond and ask “what’s that in there?”. When we’re painting, building with blocks or reading a book. All of these things and more we have done this past week. We love learning because learning is great.

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Easter holidays

The schools are all off for Easter and like many other home educators we’ve sort of gone into hibernation! Everywhere gets busy when the schools are closed so we haven’t done much out and about stuff. But this has given the children more chance to play with their schooled friends. We’ve all been struck with colds and I’m on antibiotics for an ear infection, a little rest is just what we all needed.

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Just before the holidays started E went for a sleepover at Nanny’s and then she took him to the Dinosaur Museum and Dorset County Museum. He thoroughly enjoyed his day and being spoiled my Nanny. Nanny said he whizzed round at top speed but despite this he seemed to learn loads as he came home and quizzed me on lots of dinosaur facts.

Daddy was off work for five days over the bank holiday weekend and we managed a little picnic in the park. We also had a lovely day at Nanny and Granddad’s playing in the garden in the sunshine with some of the cousins. Nanny treated the children to a McDonald’s too.

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Over the last 2 weeks we have done lots of playing, and of course with playing comes learning. S has been playing with her flashcards, matching letters to pictures, practicing letter sounds and blending. R has been doing reading and practicing sentence structure. We’ve played with Playdoh, making shapes, models, aliens, and R made an “old fashioned man” complete with lawyer wig and admiral hat. We’ve done lots of gardening and seed sowing. S is growing her own peas and we have a little bit of growth on our potatoes.

We have been to a home ed meetup at Butchers Coppice where the children were able to do an agility trail, play on trampolines and meet other home educated children. We have 2 or 3 more meetups planned for next week.

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One excitement in our house this past week has been the emerging of our Painted Lady Butterflies, the final one hatching as I type this. We have been surprised at how quickly they emerge from their chrysalis. Releasing them was lovely as we got to hold them and take pictures. We have had many questions about the life cycle of butterflies, including “do they sleep?”. It is lovely learning alongside the children and finding the answers to their questions together. (In case you don’t know the answer is No, butterflies don’t sleep they become quiescent or restful.)

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Life without school

It is exactly two months since we began our home education journey. Overall we are a much calmer household and everyone gets along easier. These past two months for me have been about learning what makes the children tick, how they best learn and just getting to know them better.

Let me start with R. I have discovered she enjoys history and would like to visit more stately homes and old churches. She enjoys using the pc and her skills navigating the computer and typing are improving. She is very physically active, enjoying cycling, swimming, rollerskating, scooting and trampolining. She loves cooking and baking and has recently been asking to try new foods. Her love of books is returning and she often asks to be read to and will read to the younger children. Her imaginative play has developed massively and she gets bored a lot less often than when she was at school.

E is a lot different to R. He loves stratigic games and is quite mathematically minded. Even in his small world play. He learns at speed, quick facts and conversations; he retains what he has learnt well. He loves to be read to, mostly non-fiction. He is very interested in animals, the deadlier the better!

S is my little sunshine. She loves to help everyone, she is kind and thoughtful. She loves reading and writing, something I hope to encourage and develop with her. She is a house full on her own with her laughter and bubbly nature.

Two months ago Little S barely said a word, now her speech has developed such a lot I understand most of what she says. She adores having her older siblings around her and greatly benefits from them being at home. Although, at not quite 2, she is not officially home educated she is learning all the time. She is a feisty little girl who stands her ground and she loves giving everyone cuddles.

Although it can be tiring and there are times when I want to lock myself in the bathroom for 5 minutes peace. I know that this is the best thing I could do for my children. They are happy, relaxed, learning all the time and enjoying life just the way they should be.

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Daddy had the day off yesterday so after watching the end of the eclipse (we missed the beginning due to cloud) we packed a picnic and headed off to Beaulieu. We started with a tour of cars used on Top Gear, then looked at some cars that had been used in films and on TV. After a play in the park and a little lunch we were off for a ride on the mono rail which the kids all loved.

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Next we went to look in the museum, the 1st car we found was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The kids all love this film and even little S was excited to see it and kept saying “Bang Bang”. We all enjoyed seeing the old cars and motorbikes, E loved to find out how fast the cars could go. We went on a history tour of how the car has developed over the years, this was a favourite of R’s. There was a section on tyres and we learnt and talked about the difference between solid and pneumatic tyres. We were amazed to find out some of the uses for recycled tyres including shoes and flooring for play parks.

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Although Daddy could have spent hours in the museum the children had had their fill and were ready for a ride on the old bus. The clouds had cleared, the sky was blue and the sun warm so we headed up to the open top deck of the bus. The ride was a bit bumpy but thoroughly enjoyable and we had the whole bus to ourselves.

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R wanted to go and look around the palace house and gardens next, so off we trotted. Inside the house we were greeted by the maid in costume dress who was lovely and answered all our questions. We went through to the dining room where there was an open fire which smelled gorgeous. The children looked at the old toys and talked about which one was their favourite. We went upstairs and saw paintings, pianos, old chairs, and lots of interesting things. There were stuffed ducks in glass cases, to which R responded that she “thought it was not very nice to kill them if you’re not going to eat them”. R asked lots of questions about the history and the previous owners. She really enjoyed the house and thinks her Granma and Granpa might like to take her to other stately homes where she can learn more about the olden days.

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We then walked round to the abbey for a brief look. R found it very interesting but the smaller children were getting tired having been walking round for almost 4 hours, so Daddy took them on the monorail back to the other side and we met them there for icecream. It was then time for home and dinner, we all had achey feet but had an amazing day.