Tag Archives: home schooling

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.

 

 

DK’s Children Encyclopedia – A Review

As a home educator finding great resources is invaluable, so when we were offered the chance to review DK’s new Children’s Encyclopedia it sounded perfect. 240  topics and over 1500 facts, spread over 304 pages. Great for my children’s curious little minds. The book itself is beautiful. Bright, colourful and wonderfully presented. With everything in alphabetical order it makes it easy to find your subject. In an age when we all too often just say “let’s ask Google”, it’s easy to forget that books can be such a wonderful way of expanding our children’s knowledge.

I asked the children what they’d like to learn about. S thought that as we have an Elephant Hawk Moth cocoon in our kitchen, we should look at how a caterpillar becomes a moth. We found everything we needed to know under Metamorphosis, from the life cycle, to the meaning of the word. The “see also” box at the top of the page also refers you to other pages that may be of use, much like a link on a website but with the added fun of flicking through real pages.

We got out our moth cocoon and compared it to the chrysalis on the page. We used the information from the encyclopedia and combined it with internet research to find out more. Using the two together gave us a rounded view of our topic and enhanced our learning experience. The encyclopedia and the internet are the perfect combination for learning and complement each other well.

Flicking through the pages of the book we found lots of interesting ideas of what else we would like to learn more about. From the story of clothing, to the food chain, to how light works.  The DK Children’s Encyclopedia has it all. We love the double page ‘story’ spreads, investigating the subject from many different angles.

We love this book and it is a very welcome addition to our bookshelves. At £25 RRP, for a hardback book packed full of highly illustrated pages and 120’000 words, it really is “The book that explains everything”.

 

 

**We were given this book free of charge for the purpose of reviewing, all thoughts and opinions are our own.**

 

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.

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!

100 Days of Home Education

This post is a little different from normal in that it forms part of a blog hop. We are celebrating the diversity that is home education. I am one of many home educators taking part in this blog hop, in which we share a little about how home education works in our families. Yesterdays post came from RioLife, so pop over and see how they do things.

For us home education is an intricate part of our lives. It isn’t a separate part like it was when they were in mainstream school. We had school and we had home. Now it is all one, learning and living go hand in hand. From the moment we get up in the morning, the children are responsible for their own breakfasts (with supervision or help if needed), taking charge of their dietary needs. Many days it is toast or cereal, some times they like croissants or pastries. The younger two girls love a big plate of fresh salad and mixed meats and cheeses, whilst the older two prefer eggs.

Most days begin with a little screen time, whether that be Minecraft, YouTube, Roblox or Netflix. Often the children choose “educational” videos or games, but even when it’s not obviously educational they’re still learning. R has learnt to touch type by chatting to online friends, someone commented to me just a couple of days ago about the speed in which she types. Her spelling is almost perfect and what is best is that she is not afraid to ask how to spell a word if she is unsure.

We often head out to see friends, family or attend a group or visit somewhere special. We enjoy hours and hours of fun, team building, play, socialisation and learning in the forest. Mastering skills from balance to wood craft, and learning about nature in all seasons. We meet with children of all ages, various nationalities and from different backgrounds. We take part in national and international celebrations such as World Book Day, Burns Night, National Pizza Day or Comic Relief at our weekly groups.

We’re always on the look out for new and exciting ways to explore the world around us. With visits to museums, libraries, and historical places amongst our favourites. We also enjoy quiet days at home like yesterday, where we bake, do gardening and grow our own veggies. Yesterday Little S made a carrot cake, S made loom band bracelets using a repetitive pattern (a little maths there), and the girls did Hama beads too (perfect for enhancing fine motor skills). R learnt about the human body on MWorld, taking a quiz on the skeleton.

E learnt about reflections and mirrors on YouTube, played a banking game on Roblox and did some reading practice with me. He’s not keen on writing but he did sign his name in a card for Nanny. The smallest girls took the dog for a walk with me and my friend kept an eye on the older two. Two of the girls friends came for the walk too so they had lots of fun playing. S chose sausage, potatoes and veggies for dinner tonight, as we all take turns choosing our favourite meals.

Unfortunately our original plans for a group woodland day today have been cancelled due to poor weather forecast (Storm Doris). Perhaps we’ll spend the days baking, painting and reading or maybe we’ll go and burn some energy at a soft play, I’m not sure yet we may even fit all of that in! But for now I go and have a cuppa. Be sure to read EnglishWeather’s post tomorrow for another view of home education.

 

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