Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Anniversary

It's our 1st anniversary of home ed today so it seemed appropriate that I get round to updating the blog. I'm in the process of making a year book and looking back on what we've achieved is great fun.

I thought I might take the chance to write down some of the things that I have learned during the past year. I know it should be about what the children are learning, but I think the two are intrinsically linked.

1) I've learned to trust myself.
This doesn't mean that I am without the occasional wobble. I have little moments of mild panic when we don't appear to have 'done' very much. I suddenly insist on sitting them down at the table and learning in a formal style for about an hour before I realise that they really do know their stuff after all.

2) I'm learning to trust the children
This is going to take a lot more work but I'm definitely getting there. I am in no way an unschooler, I don't want to be and the children prefer to be directed most of the time. However, I am learning to trust in their interests more and to think outside the box. For example, George 2 wanted to learn about duvets. I was a bit stumped until I discovered that I could in fact create my own lapbook which incorporated history, geography, science and maths all about the humble duvet.

3) I can relax and have all the children round me all the time
Please don't misunderstand, I'm not a particularly patient person and I was a bit worried about whether home ed would be right for me even though I knew it was right for the children. I am learning now, that 'me' time comes in lots of different forms and for me, doesn't need to be 6 hours a day during term time. In fact, I've found that because I don't get a break from them, I am becoming more patient as the noise, mess and mayhem is just a part of my life now.

4) Sometimes, they know more than me
George 1 asked me to look up liquid nitrogen on YouTube the other day. Unbeknown to me, he'd already done this and proceeded to tell me all about it's properties.

5) I love maths!!!!
This has probably been my most crucial breakthrough. I hated maths at school. Didn't understand it and although I passed my GCSE with a grade C, I vowed never to do long division again. Well.... That's all changed. Thanks to the The Khan Academy, I can now do long multiplication, subtraction and division. And that's not all, due to Murderous Maths, I know love looking for patterns in numbers and seeing how they all work. This has been quite a thing for me, I've had to change from saying "I hate maths" to "I love maths"

6) Time is irrelevant
I used to be tied to a clock. We would be rushing through breakfast, rushing through shoe finding, rushing through my jobs to get back to school on time, rushing through dinner, rushing through bedtime stories. The children had to rush through their learning so that the teacher could move on and they couldn't rush ahead even if they wanted to.
Since starting home ed, time has become irrelevant, most of the time. We still have odd moments of having to be somewhere on time, and we still have a daily routine. I feel that time discipline is very important. However, the fact that they're growing and developing in front of me scares me less than when they were away from me. The fact that they can read when they're in the mood at 2:26pm instead of at 10:00am means that they enjoy it. The fact that we have time to read 3 books if the mood takes them rather than rushing through 1, means that they get far more out of the experience.

7) There is value in learning anything and everything
Everyday, the children get out of be and learn. They learn about the seasons from looking out of the window, they learn about time by our routines, they learn about the world from looking at the BBC website etc etc etc. George 2 has learned the days of the week because on Sunday we go to church, on Monday their German teacher comes, on Wednesday we have home ed groups, on Friday we have chocolate spread sandwiches. He hasn't learned them because a teacher made him cant them endlessly. George 1 has learned to tell the time because we put a picture of a clock on his wall and he looked at it and studied it every night along with his watch. Not because everyday for weeks on end he was shown a picture and asked what time it represented. He knows what time the weather and news is on in the morning, what time Granny comes in from walking the dog and what time he has to go to bed. He's learned what time means in reality.
People so often ask if we have to follow a curriculum. We wouldn't have time if we did because life is full of endless learning opportunities and the curriculum that is used in schools is far too limiting.

I think it's clear that from these few examples, that I have by far learned the most. Although some days are very difficult and draining, I am glad everyday that I chose to do this.

So, now for some photos of some of the things that we've been doing over the past few months since I last wrote.

This is an apple free apple cake. It was a science experiment and is made using cheese biscuits, lemon juice and cream of tartar. It sound vile but was actually really really nice.

We went to Cardiff to join with other home educators in arguing against the Welsh Assembly proposals to bring in compulsory registration and monitoring. It was a good day and we met lots of people as well as getting our point across.

At one of the groups we go to, the boys had a chance to make Plasticine models. I was particularly impressed with the sheep

We had the great privilege of going to visit the Harry Potter studio tour. What an amazing and educational day that was. I was completely bowled over by the stunning model of Hogwarts castle used in filming various scenes,. A picture can never do it adequate justice.

Volcano making out of jelly. Enough said

We soaked an egg in vinegar to see what would happen. The shell was stripped of its colour and went all rubbery. This was part of the teeth lapbook to witness the effect of certain liquids on teeth

Some soap monsters. These were such fun to make. We're going to do it again for our next home ed group

A Halloween game of Sorry

Here are two of the lapbooks that have been made. Teeth and Volcanoes. They chose the topics themselves and really enjoyed putting all the parts together to create their books

Friday, 24 August 2012


We had a little planning meeting a week ago or so and one of the things that both George 1 and 2 wanted to look at was Blood. I did a bit of digging and found that you could make blood and then eat it! They thought this was wonderful. It incorporated some maths as well as there was a bit of weighing involved.

The ingeredients were:

Golden Syrup (plasma)
Silver balls (fat, amino acids, waste products)
Red sweets (Red blood cells)
Mini marshmallows (white blood cells) - there were just two in our mix but we talked about what infected blood would look like.

Once we'd made it they had a spoonful each but given the sugar intensity I drew the line at one spoonful!

Random Learning

It's been birthday season since I last wrote and I've only just got round to uploading the photos. George 3 turned 3 and then a week later George 1 turned 8. We had wonderful times with both of them but I've not done much else with the past 3 weeks.

The photos I've uploaded though have reminded me of what we have actually achieved and it's a surprising amount!

 George 1 and I investigated carbon dioxide one day. We made a solution of lime water and then Blew into it. When it goes cloudy, it shows that there is carbon dioxide present. This showed that there is carbon dioxide present when we breathe out. This led onto a conversation about the importance of plants and rain forests and photosynthesis.

On another day we went to my Brother In Law's home so that the older boys could have a go at being DJ's for the day. Oh how they loved it!

Lime water is made from Calcium Hydroxide and water.

One morning I woke up to find all 4 of my lovlies in a box! They had already been to Madagascar, Germany (where they spoke German), America and Scotland! That was one busy morning and all before breakfast
 One thing I love about home ed is that they have access to food and drink whenever they need it. One one their favourite morning snacks is hot chocolate with dipping biscuits. They make it themselves and one of them makes one for George 3. On this particular day though, the thing that really impressed me was that George 2 made a repeating pattern with his biscuits! Proud Mummy

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Industrialisation vs Agriculture with relation to schools

I have spent a lovely day with my sisters in law and a friend of theirs today. We were chatting a lot about home ed because their friend is very interested and is quite dissolusioned with the education system. It reminded me of a quote I read recently by Sir Ken Robinson about the principles that the current education system is based on. Whenever I write things like this it always seems to turn into a school vs home debate. I am NOT anti-school. If it's right for your children, if they're happy and developing well, then school is just fine. I however, do not feel that school is the right place for us and the following quote sums up one of the many reasons why I feel this way.

I truly never enjoyed a single minute of my children being in an environment so far removed from family life. There were some advantages yes, a tidy house, a bit of quiet for a few hours a day, but I never felt comfortable with them experiencing that specific type of experience. Over the past 10 months I have seen the flourish. I've been a part of every aspect of their lives. I enjoyed (almost) every minute and I have definitely been more relaxed and comfortable. My little seeds are growing!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Harry Potter, diet coke and mentos

Here I'm including a few pictures of a couple of things we've been up to this week.

Firstly, I bought a quill, ink and parchment paper so that the boys could write like Harry Potter. They loved it, wrote loads and they've even been doing their daily maths using the quill and ink. These are the boys who hate writing! It's all about finding the thing that gives them the most motivation. Letters, poems and maths have all been willingly done with a quill. The power of Harry Potter!

Along different lines, we watched Volcano Live and they decided that we just HAD to do the coke and mentos volcano. It worked and was really quite magnificent. I think George 2nd's face says it all!

Some heat science

Like most people, I was slightly concerned about covering science with the children as part of home ed. I was fine with the 5 senses, but chemistry and physics? There was no way I could do that! It's one of the things that is mentioned a lot by people asking whether they might miss out on resources available in school. I even believed they might.

Then I came across An Ordinary Life? blog by a fellow home educator of younger children. Her science section is crammed full of fun, manageable experiments and has given me the confidence to get on and do some of them. So, I went shopping and this afternoon we've experimented with magnesium ribbon. I remember this experiment at school and how much I enjoyed it. We were never allowed to have a go of course, so doing it with my own little people was even more fun.

We read about magnesium and it's place in the periodic table in the brilliant book The Periodic Table Elements with Style and thoroughly enjoyed the light show.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

HE Olympics

Today at our local home ed group, we had an Olympic sports day. It was absolutely brilliant! Everybody chipped in and brought an event. We had a sprint, football goal shooting, hoopla, relay, apple bobbing, 3 legged race, strong man competition, throwing a ball onto hoops and long jump.

When we left, I asked George 1 if it was better than school sports day and the response was "Yeah! We never did apple bobbing at school!"

It was lots of fun, despite the driving rain, and I'm pretty sure all the children enjoyed it.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A holiday?

I thought I'd just do a quick photo catch up of our holiday. We went to Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire a few weeks ago. We had an amazing week but I wouldn't say it was a holiday as most people know it. For us it was more of an extension to our classroom for a week.

 This is the beach at Mablethorpe. Not sure if it gets busier than this but it was just perfect for us!
 George 3 enjoying feeling the sand flowing through his fingers
 Georgiana and MamaSmu. I am so blessed to have such a beautiful little daughter
 George 1 had a fencing lesson at the holiday park. He absolutely loved it.

 One of the best days out we had was at The Lincolnshire Aviation Centre
It was a fascinating, well planned out museum and really got the boys thinking about and feeling what WW2 was like. The Lancaster Bomber in the hangar was extraordinary and we spent a few hours really soaking up the atmosphere. We even met a lady who told us how her hose had been bombed during the war in London and she was thrown clear across the room.

 The absolutely stunning Lancaster Bomber
 A diagram of how the bouncing bomb worked. George 2 was particularly impressed by the precision flying that the pilots had to achieve.
 A real bouncing bomb. I was very excited by this as I loved watching The Dambusters as a child

 I think this picture captures how we all felt about this aircraft

 Playing with the telephone exchange in the home front exhibition

 This is Tattershall Castle aka Hogwarts in our family. I have never been so frightened as I was, watching te boys running up and down the spiral stone staircase inside. We got all the way to the top, then I had to watch as they went to the edge of the battlements to look over! A fascinating place but it added 10 years to my life!

 We met some wonderful home ed LDS friends of ours at The Deep in Hull. We love this family and had a fabulous day with them.
On our way home we were able to stop at Woolsthorpe Manor where Sir Isaac Newton had lived and achieved much of his most well known work. This the THE apple tree in the garden tat he was sitting under when he first realised what gravity is. George 1 has been doing a lot of physics lately so he really enjoyed it here and the little hands on science centre was excellent.