Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Garden fun

When we moved into our house there was a beautiful Magnolia tree in the front garden. Sadly we had to remove it to build an extension. I bought this one 2 years ago and it's finally flowered this year. I am so excited by it and just had to share a picture. My beautiful goats also got in on the action!

I decided to mow the lawn today. I am loving watching the buds appear on the trees.

Following on from a thread on LUTT yesterday about how we have made our gardens into useable spaces for our children, my children decided to show me how our garden can be used. The had broken up some old paving slabs and started to use them to build things. They had a lot of fun and I couldn't help but feel proud of them for using garden rubbish contructively.

George 1 made Avebury. We visited there yesterday.
George 2 made a sea picture. I shall talk you through it. On the right there are two sharks. Above are two meteorites that are crashing to earth. In the middle there is a ship and on the left is a volcano. I personally think it's brilliant!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Indiana George

I just had to publish this picture. The boys love listening to John Williams music while doing their things and this morning George 2 was listening to the Indiana Jones theme tune whilst playing some maths games on the iPad. The hat was very necessary. Yet another home ed perk, dress as you like, as long as you're learning it doesn't matter!

Sunny Days

I didn't get a chance to post last week. It was far too beautiful. We were out and about using the world as our classroom. On Friday we used the beach.
We found an amazing beach not a million miles away from us. It's a do as you please beach, cars, dogs, horses are all welcome. There are even sand dunes which the older boys adored. We took a geography workbook with us about sand which after a couple of hours hard playing, they were really interested in. George 1 even found the perfect place to study, a beautiful secluded sand dune. It was perfect.

It's been a long winter and choosing a hat proved too much!

Not sure how to rotate the image - sorry - Georgiana enjoyed the beach too

The beach was almost deserted. Another home ed perk!

This was their favourite dune. They must have gone up and down a hundred times. When we got home George 2 was pouring sand out of his pockets all over the dining room floor.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

HE fun

A few photographs from our week so far. It's been a bit chilled this week. The weather has been so amazing, we've just been out in the garden. I was also given an iPad for my birthday at the weekend and so we've been trying out all the apps. George 2 loves the telling the time app and George 1 has enjoyed doing some quick mental maths. They've also found a good number of games that they're enjoying. Another present I got was a National Trust membership. On Monday we went straight out to Prior Park in Bath. We passed the canals and talked about Brunel, then they learnt about the building of Bath and the part that Ralph Allen played. A short history of the postal service came into it of course. We then did a lot of walking and playing in the beautiful landscaped gardens.

George 2 just marches to his own drum beat. Orange shorts, red jumper, odd socks and an Indiana Jones hat. One of the best things about HE is that no one tells him it's wierd or wrong, because it's not. It's individualism.

Today we went to our lacal HE goup. It's becoming a lovely and quite busy little group. Today someone came from the local astronomers group to speak to us. This picture shows a scaled down version of the solar system. The lady in the blue coat representing the sun, then Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars (all quite close together). Then Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and the girl in pink in the distance is Neptune. It was to show the distances between the planets. The man was so enthusiastic and given the noisy and at times chaotic nature of a HE meet, even offered to come back another day. The older children were fascinated by his presentation and the younger ones enjoyed the presentation.

I just want to add that I love HE. I love it's crazy wackiness, I love it's individual nature, I love that everyone is different, everyone does things slightly differently, there are as many styles of HE as there are families doing it, and yet we all get on because we respect those differences. We celebrate those differences and learn something from everyone we meet. Life is about learning and HE helps me to learn things I never thought I would.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Baking Europe

Following on from the work the children did yesterday on where they live, we decided today to bake Europe. It's an idea that I got from the fabulous Almost Unschoolers blog. They really enjoyed the whole process, especially eating the various countries afterwards. The only problem was, that we forgot Italy - ooops!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A little bit of structure

I've decided to write myself a timetable. As I say it I chuckle quietly to myself as it's the loosest possible use for the word timetable. Basically, I've decided that on certain days, we will cover certain subjects. I found that in amongst trying to keep up with maths, English and science, we were missing some of the amazing other subjects like music, art, geography, philosophy etc. My timetable is there basically to remind me to think outside the box.

This week already we've done a variety of things that I hadn't thought of before and the children are really enjoying the structure. They know the routine and feel safer for knowing it. I feel more organised and better prepared each day.

We went and bought some fabulous material to make Harry Potter cloaks. The boys adored making them and picked up sewing machine skills really quickly. They love riding round on their brush broomsticks.  I love that their imaginations and quirky natures are free to to flow.

Today, they worked on these workbooks that I downloaded from Enchanted Learning. They really enjoyed it and it led to so many discussions. We talked about the continental plates, how land masses used to fit together before the continental drift, how addresses are formed, the fact that we live on an island. It was a wonderful discussion and great fun filling in our booklets.

Then we wrote postcards to some home educated children in Alberta and America. They were really excited about that and I really hope we get some responses soon.

It's been a fabulous week. We've learnt so much and had a lot of fun. The week isn't over yet either. We have plenty planned for Friday and Saturday with St Patrick's day coming up.

Monday, 12 March 2012

How do you teach them EVERYTHING?

As we're out and about doing or home ed thing, I often get comments from people about why I have school aged children out of school.

It usually starts with "day off today then?" which is answered with "we do home education" very proudly. There are then several common responses.

The first is "Oh, right" which obviously means that they think I'm completely mad/wrong/weird/abusive etc etc...

The second is "How does that work then? Do you have a curriculum to follow? Do 'they' check up on you? Are you checked by OFSTED? What do you do all day?"

No, we don't have a curriculum to follow. We can do what we like, when we like. We're definitely not checked by OFSTED and 'they' provide no useful form of support at all. In fact, the law states that I as a parent, have the responsibility to educate my children. Unlike the majority of the population, I have decided to take full responsibility, rather than choosing to delegate it to schools. I have to educate my children full time, however there is no legal definition of what full time is. However, today, George 2 spent two hours doing a maths investigation using rice. It turned into a science experiment and cookery lesson, then back to maths as he drew up a chart to show his findings. George 1 read three books to me (with a lot of help), ordered a story, played a maths board game and practised counting in 2s. This was all before 11am. I'm pretty sure that's as much, if not more than they would achieve in school in a day. This afternoon we went into town and bought some fabulous material to make Harry Potter invisibility cloaks.

The best responses, I think, are along the lines of "I wish I was clever like you" or better still "how do you teach them everything?" What exactly do people think children learn in school? Everything, clearly. This is the best one for me. I always want to ask "what did you learn in school?" but it sounds a bit rude and I know the basis of the question is genuine interest. I'm never quite sure what to say though. I have no intention of teaching my children EVERYTHING, I'd have a job given that I don't know everything. I'm pretty sure there isn't a teacher alive who knows EVERYTHING.

My primary goal is to raise happy, well rounded, well educated, confident children who are capable of doing anything that their heart desires. If they want to go to university and be a doctor, I'll help them get there. If they want to run a business I'll teach them how. If they want to travel round the world, I want them to have the confidence, skills and common sense to do it. That's my aim. If at any point I really feel that school can achieve that better than me, then they'll go back. I just hope that never becomes the case.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

What a terrible week

This was how these two spent their days this week.

So this week has been spent in a dark mist of illness. My youngest Georges spent at least 5 hours of every day asleep. I have felt so sad for them, but actually more sad for George 1 who has had a bit of a rubbish week as he didn't have the lurgy (I hope that makes sense!)

In the end, on Tuesday, I'd had enough and so we went to the beach. We spent just an hour there but it was what we needed. Just to get outside, somewhere where we couldn't infect anyone else and where they could be quiet or busy as they felt fit.

Here are a few photos. George 1 built a stunning castle with a moat and a bridge. He worked really hard on it. They spoke to everyone about why they weren't in school and had lots of social experiences with the elderly people in their mobility scooters. One man even had a pipe which fascinated them.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

De Schooling

Everyone is sick here so there's a lot of lying on sofas and watching TV going on this weekend. It's given me a few quiet moments to reflect on our journey so far.

We've been Home educating for just four short months and yet, I feel that I am once again the expert on my children. I no longer feel the need to consult with a teacher to find out if they're learning and progressing. I've found the confidence to judge that for myself. It's a liberating feeling.

My thoughts tonight are on how I feel that the de schooling process has played a major part in this confidence boost. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about please use this link to learn more about the process. Home-Ed Info

I truly believe that de schooling is as valuable for the parent as it is the child. The recommended time is one month for every year the child was in school. As my son didn't suffer in school, we didn't think it really applied to us. So, we started out setting work each day and organising them the way we meant to go on. By the end of week two, it was apparent that this was not going to be popular with George 1. He learns very much through assimilation rather than sitting down and being taught. If you can catch him on the hop and spend 5 random minutes having a discussion with him, he'll learn more than in any number of hours sitting down and being talked at. George 2 is different. He likes to sit down for quite extended periods and through games and music, be taught. The beauty of HE is that I accommodate both their very different learning styles at any one time.

When de registration happened, George 1 firmly believed that all learning was boring. He had no interest at all in anything that I had to say. He rarely asked questions and definitely avoided being 'tricked' into learning. He even declared that he wants to be a magician because magicians don't need to study and learn. We found out about some magicians at that point. Most of them had in fact been to university and studied maths or sciences. We also talked about the need to be able to set a scene and maybe tell a story so some literacy skills would be useful. History could teach him a lot about how things were done in the past and how magic has changed from myth and legend, to court entertainers, through to our more daring and wow factor magicians. Understanding money would be useful for running a business, angles and reflections for use of mirrors etc etc. Suddenly, learning became a whole lot more interesting!

He will now regularly read the dictionary - just for fun! He got his WW2 book out because DadaSmu mentioned Hitler in passing. He brought his new protractor set out today and asked DadaSmu to teach him how to measure angles. His own thirst for learning is growing and my desire to 'teach' is dwindling.

Through singing and making up boardgames, George 2 has learnt his 2x table, how to count to 30 and odds and evens.

I am so proud of us! We're once again a family unit, me as the nurturer and carer and educational facilitator, them as the children, the learners, the growing force of the next generation. It's a true privilege to be such an integral part of helping the rising generation to grow and flourish.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

It's March - Again!

I am so excited that it's finally march. It's nice weather, I'm spring cleaning (something to do with not being pregnant anymore) and in the mood for learning.

This morning the children created a beautiful picture of The Tree of Life from Lehi's dream recorded in 1 Nephi. They had fun listening to the account and then using felt to make the picture.

Once we'd finished this, we decided to go and play crazy golf. There was a lot of laughing, an obscene amount of cheating and a lot of fun being had. The boys loved being out in just their t-shirts. There was no one there so they had at least 3 goes each. The lady at the kiosk asked the inevitable "day off today?" question. When I explained that we home educate she told me she wished she'd done it for hers. She also commented on how polite, well behaved and communicative the boys were. It was so lovely to receive a well deserved compliment. George 2nd came away saying "I don't want to do home ed anymore" and my heart nearly broke. He qualified it with "I want to play golf all day" Phew - what a releif. More golf I can do!

When we got home George 1st got out the mini greenhouse kit that he got for his birthday. He carefully read all the instructions and planted his little seeds. He was so excited to tell me how long it would take. He learned that .5 is also a half and remembered it the next time he read it. He wrote the date on the record sheet so we know when it was started. There's a lovely ruler that tells you how high they should be and a chart to record. I just hope they grow now!

Tomorrow: Study of the power of the number 3.