Thursday, 18 July 2013

Where has the time gone?

Wow it's been almost a year since I last posted here, blogging is something I will have to get used to, but writing is definitely not one of my strong points.

You will find plenty of spelling mistakes and lots of bad grammar in this blog, but hopefully it will improve in time, well I certainly hope so.

It is quite intimidating writing a blog for the first time, especially when I read so many great blogs.
My writing style has something to be desired, as putting thoughts onto paper is not an easy thing for me to do. I even avoid writing shopping lists, how people keep 'to do lists' is beyond me.

Writing is something I tend to avoid through fear, but have found over the past year with doing my degree, that it is something I cannot avoid, but having tutors to criticise my writing has helped me improve slightly, well I am back again so that tells me something even though it has taken almost a year.

What a year it has been, plenty of learning curves, happiness, laughter and tears along the way.

Home education is coming along nicely, we have experimented with the autonomous route and also the structured route, making connections with other home educators and generally having lots of fun preparing for our home education future, much of the time has been spent with me de-schooling myself.

It appears to have worked when I evaluate the past year, the kids are coming along and are beginning to shine.

They are both getting to grips with numbers Oliver is doing particularly well with adding up, only today he put a sum together himself with no prompting, adding 2 + 3 in a conversation about how many hats he would like (yes he is a boy with a hat fetish) and how many he already has, he said 'I already have two but if I get three more I will have five'.. I was a bit taken back because adding up is something we just do as part of everyday conversations and actions, 'like we all have six eyes how many would we have together if one of us covered over our eyes', or 'there are four apples how many would there be if two where taken away', we usually just have fun with things like that and the kids really enjoy it.

This is the autonomous route that is proving to be effective, we often expand on conversations, for example we where speaking about tomatoes and how things grow, so we popped off to the local garden center and bought some carrots and strawberries along with some tomatoes and started to grow our own, they have been able to see for themselves how food is made and where it comes from, before it hits the supermarket, they like to always point out where milk comes from or honey and take a keen interest in the food they are eating, Oliver is particularly interested in farmers shooting  or killing  things at the minute and we try to expand on this, it is my job to string things together for them like explaining the need for food and why farmers kill animals, explaining about the circle of life, expanding on this by watching nature programmes, we have visited blackpool zoo this year to see the animals up close, which leads us onto dinosaurs etc... planned visits out will include a working farm and maybe some cheese making lessons.

So yes the autonomous route is working for us but we also need some structure thrown in, which for me is unusual because I am one that normally hates structure or so I thought, but I obviously need it as much as I think the kids do. At the minute it isn't too important but over the next year I want to experiment with some structure as when they are five, it is really the start of our home ed journey as it will then be compulsory for them to have a full time education, which judging by the last year will be far more than a full time education than school can provide, as we never shut down, every second of the day is a learning opportunity in some form or other.

Our structured approach will consist of reading in an afternoon which is the time they usually want to start doing computer work, they love to watch the you tube videos or play on some educational learning site or read and listen to books on Oxford owl, amongst other great free e book sites.

Afternoons is usually the time they like to sit down with mum and have some computer time so it looks like computer time will be structured times for maths and english work on the computer, we have found oodles and oodles of great sites to utilise so finding resources will definately not be a problem, there is usually something that is interesting for them to do. I will share what we find in the home ed resources tab so check back often and you might find something useful to you.

Olivia is the harder one to please, she gets bored very easily, whereas Oliver has lots of patience, Olivia is the one who needs more coaching and encouragement, so computer work may require a different computer set up than the one we already have, and investing in something for each of them is probably a good idea. They both have innotabs with their own things on but unfortunately they are very limiting and something a bit more suitable will be needed, which will go on their xmas list.

They are both very interested in music so I purchased a keyboard for them and we tend to have bursts of interest on that, along with their drum kit, so I will make some structured time for music and probably upgrade to a piano in the next 12 months, I have been having a look and the digital pianos are a great option. It is just luck that I can read music from my days of playing in the brass band, I wasn't great but I can get by, and teaching the kids will improve my music skills too.

They have started at Stagecoach Theatre Arts School on a Saturday and they have both really enjoyed going, the difference in them is quite astounding in the short time they have been going, they had their first end of term play and both played munchkins, which did create some tension as Oliver wanted to be the tin man and Olivia wanted to be Dorothy but they both made fantastic munchkins in the end.

Oliver is showing an interest in football so I am on the look out for a football team for him to follow through with his interest, as it is something I have never been interested in I have some learning of my own to do in the football arena, he has mentioned it a couple of times, along with that we live near a great tennis court which we pass regularly so tennis is definitely on the agenda for future reference.

Saint Johns Ambulance is on the cards as soon as they reach five also, so I have no worries about socialisation for them, there will be plenty for them to join in with along with the home ed groups that are springing up in abundance in our area.

They are naturally learning about the world around them discovering not everyone is the same, they are starting to learn French and I have signed us all up for a Spanish course, which hasn't made it out of the box yet, but it will in time, they quite often greet me in the mornings with 'bonjour' and make up gobbleby gook and say they are speaking Spanish, we are currently learning how to count to ten in French and some basic words which is almost always done at the breakfast table, to their great delight, so they have an understanding now that people are different and speak different languages, they have even had a history lesson on Nelson Mandela and the importance he played in different colour and race, through their inquisitiveness in asking who Nelson Mandela is, I tend to seize the moment and turn it into a lesson.

I find explaining the best way I can in simple language they understand and showing examples and definitely you tube videos  and on-line resources re-enforces the lessons, and a few days of discussions when they are thinking about things and asking questions. I have to think quickly and find the best opportunity in the moment.

We are currently involved in collecting donations of clothing and brick a brack to sell on ebay to raise funds for Syria Relief and that has helped them to think about other children not being so lucky, they are gently being introduced to a world that is not so rosey, but with some small effort you can make a difference.

Life is interesting and fun and every day is packed with new experiences and I will try not to be so lazy and make sure I find some time to update this blog, we have all learnt so much and done so much in the past year and it is a shame I can only touch on a tiny bit of our adventures and learning exeriences from over the past year here in this post, but I will leave you with a lesson I learnt today which is.

When you buy something make sure it is what you actually think it is:-

I bought some modelling dough, well when I say I bought some modelling dough, I bought 25 tubs of it, not 25 small tubs of modelling dough as I thought, but 25 large tubs of modelling dough.

But look on the bright side it will take us a while to use it all up.

So I will leave you with a little song that keeps running round my head:-

Till next time peeps (which might be another year knowing me) - Always look on the bright side of life!..

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