Wednesday, 13 September 2017

New School Year

Following on from my last blog post on my thoughts on learning to read and write, I've been thinking more about the different styles of education and why there are so many, which led to these thoughts. When you decide to home educate changing your mindset on what is education and how it can be implemented can be one of the hardest things to do. Once you start looking at home education you are introduced to so many different styles and philosophies, do you do unschooling, unstructered style, or follow a structured time table, do you like the philosophies of Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, or a more eclectic style.  Finding the right style/path that suits your child and your family's learning  style and lifestyle can be an education in itself, everyone brings different things to the table and they all affect how we live and learn, there is no rush, learning is not a race, it is something to fall in love with (well hopefully). Some will come to want structure and some will not, go with what works for you, if you and your child are happy, then you are on the right path. For us our path involves some structure and routine but not a set time table of we are doing maths at 9am, art at 10am etc but more we are doing x. y and z today and then time to see what else happens etc.

As I've said before L is happy to dip in out of phonics but is loving working through her Saxon maths book and I had been planning ahead, expecting to have more surgery so wanted something we could do together. Surgery isn't going ahead due to me developing an allergy to part of the treatment and need to wait till my appointment in January to find out what I might of reacted too. Anyway I came across Funschooling with thinking tree books and they seem to fit, what I was after, she is loving the variety and different drawing activities, without the need to write and read. Seeing her older siblings with their text books makes her want to have her own, so she is very pleased and proud of her book. They are kept in her work basket and it is up to her how much and when she does them, this week so far we have 2 pages, one on drawing anything and then she has been telling me about her picture and I have added her words to the page, at her request.

She has just started on the thinking time page and loved colouring all the pictures different ways.

A couple of times a week we get out one of our Eco Kids magazine and have a read through, today we learnt about the chimpanzee and a bit about giraffes along with a picture to colour in, we watched a short you tube video on chimpanzees. The articles raise many points of discussion, opportunities for crafts and documentary watching.

This afternoon we ended up with a walk to the park and round the woods, home to look at the different apples, some from the shop and some from the allotment, we talked about the different colours, their names and

then they drew them. Now I've always liked the idea of a nature journal but at the same time it's only sort of worked with the older two, so now trying it with L, it will be her nature/science/art journal. During the summer holidays, not that we really stop learning, L and I talked about what she wanted to learn about and one of these was about how plants grow, so as we are coming into autumn I thought we would look at trees and their seeds, starting with apples. 

We then cut them up and looked at how the varied inside and how they tasted they all had their favourites.

So for maths we are working our way through Saxon math , usually between 2 and 4 lessons a week, plus board games, its amazing how much maths can be done through games. Add in logic problems and puzzles to supplement this. Reading and writing we are using a mixture of Reading Eggs and Explode the Code books but have a feeling we will be dropping this for a while, though L wants to learn to read, it is a real struggle for her, so maybe concentrate on the speech therapy side and come back to it later, I'm not against hard work but there is hard work and frustration when it doesn't just come together and it is so important to enjoy reading. Add in what ever else we find that takes our fancy and of course lots and lots of story telling. Art and craft, goes without saying there will be plenty of this. Science/nature study we will be following the seasons and anything that grabs Ls attention, so this month we will look at apple trees and oak and horse chestnut trees and see were this leads, add in Eco Kids magazine for some interesting variety. She has also fallen in love with cosmic yoga and we are using this 2 or 3 times a week.

On an organising and sorting front, my bedroom is coming on well, we have a large wardrobe as in the cupboard that goes over the stairs, I swear this holds a room full of stuff in it, as well as clothes, there's books, crafts stuff, paperwork, shoes. So had a sort through and organise and will probably go back through everything in another week or so, it will give me a chance to read through a couple of the books and think about what craft bits to keep etc. Have in the meantime cleaned out all the drawers, behind cupboards and cleaned windows. We've also finally got round to replacing and doing up the bathroom, replacing toilet and bathroom floor is not an easy job when you only have one toilet and little ones around, we had a leak a while ago, so the floor needed to be replaced but the toilet cistern kept on leaking, not major but much to my husbands annoyance one he couldn't fix and a spur of the moment trip to Ikea meant we ended up replacing the basin with a vanity unit, its fantastic having some drawers in the bathroom, have somewhere to store the toilet rolls, cleaning cloths and spare hand towels, all in easy reach.

On a crafting front, have done a small amount of dress making and some knitting, finally finished Granny Favourite and L loves it, there is growing room in it too. Reading, have just finished reading The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, really enjoyed it, the true story of one families life and how it changed after the Taliban came to Afghanistan. The changes in their lives, going from being able to study at university, to not being able to leave the house without wearing a chadri, having a chaperone and not talking to any males that aren't family. How financially they struggled with the loss of income when the women weren't able to work and the ways they overcame this and helped the women of their neighbourhood.  The other is Sane New World by Ruby Wax a lay persons guide to neuro science, mental health and mindfulness, as well as Ruby Wax's battle with depression. Taken from the book that was written in 2013, that mental illness accounts for nearly half the people on incapacity benefit, that in economic terms mental illness costs the UK £70 billion a year, this is in lost hours of work, treatment etc. mental illness affects people early, 50% of cases before the ages of 14. US statistics 1 in 5 children will be affected by mental health only 20% of those will have treatment, some will not want treatment, others can afford it. When mental illness affects so many people, why is their such a stigma about it? Why are budgets being cut? Why are we having an educational system that heaps on the academic pressure , while reducing the creative subjects that might actually give the students a relief from their studies and a chance to think in a different way?

A thought for the month.

Joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday  and Frontier Dreams for  Crafting On

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Feeling Good

We've had a busy couple of weeks, including routine hospital trips, Thai food festival, trip to Ikea, some ruthless decluttering, decorating, crafts and home education going on. So now feeling fairly organised as lots of things on that to do list have been ticked of.

Over the last few months I have been talking to lots of people with preschool children considering home education and interestingly the main concern is how to teach reading, followed by cost. As to cost home education can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be, cheaply you can use lots of free online resources, you tube, with some printables and lots of books from the library, to expensive buying in a complete years curriculum including all text books, readers, worksheets etc, or use one of the online schools like interhigh. So here are some resources I've used, this  website has a very good list of home ed resources by age and subject some free and some not, anyway that should give you lots to think about and try out. Ambleside Online is based on Charlotte Mason, lots of reading ideas for each school year. All in One Homeschool which is a free curriculum covering all ages but with lots of printables for learning letters ets,  they also have art, history sections too.  There are the alphablooks videos, plus the alphablooks games, starfall, teach your monster to read. There are loads more resources but I'll start with these. So plenty of resources,  its more a case of finding out what best suits you and your child's learning style, a structured approach or a more just see what happens or unschooling, not only are their lots of different resources, there are lots of different home ed styles too, we are rather eclectic here.

I can really relate to that initial worry about learning to read as that was my main concern when I decided to home educate O, the local experienced home educators all said not to worry it would happen! But how, having at that point a very school based view on learning to read, in which they seem to make it very complicated with lots of resources, resources we didn't have at home, anyway the home educators were right it does happen. Now I am that person and want to say don't worry but that is not enough, so here are my thoughts on the subject, don't rush it,it will happen and that could be anywhere between the ages of 4 years old and 10, maybe even older, reading and sharing stories is fun and the main key to wanting to learn to read. That being a home educated non reader isn't an issue as you adapt the environment to their ability, you can read the maths question to them, watch documentaries, do lots of hands on experiences, read books to them use, use audio books,  lots of discussions, questions to be answered, so actually being a non reader isn't a hindrance as it would be in school. The main thing is they see you reading and enjoying books, sharing stories with them etc. My oldest learnt to read fairly young, would of said a fluent reader by the time he was 6, we listened to stories, read books together, O asking what words meant, using some ladybird books and Bob books for some phonics. With M it was more complicated she has ASD and at 5 her verbal dyspraxia meant most of her speech was hard to decipher let alone the thought of teaching reading! She had intensive speech therapy for many years and alongside that we used Reading Eggs and Explode the Code to support her with her speech and reading, she now speaks clearly and reads fine, both took time and practise and learning to read helped her speech. L has just turned 5 and wanted to learn to read but then decided the basic phonic books weren't that interesting she would much rather listen to a more complicated stories, so we are dipping in and out of reading, if she asks we do some, she is enjoying Reading Eggs, which she has access to when she wants and we will just see what happens, there is no rush and she has an insatiable curiosity about the world. We play listening games, go for a listening walk,  seeing what we can hear, making rhythms and rhymes up, wanting to learn to write her name gave L an interest in letters, drawing letters in the sand pit, playing I-spy helps - listening for the first sound of the word, there are so many things that we do that are all help the early reading skill but we don't actually realise it. Writing happens through early mark making, painting, colouring, play dough, playing in cornflour gloop and making patterns, all develop the skills that are needed for later writing, developing the muscles in the hand, co-ordinations etc.

On a crafting front, I've finally finished the body of L's cardi and started on the sleeve, loving the fact that the only sewing at the end will be the sewing in of the ends and buttons. Joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday

Then couldn't resist starting another project, Sirdar 4810 making the v-neck jumper, with the ladder pattern, this is another Christmas present. Reading wise, I've just finished reading Wild Designs by Katie Fforde, an enjoyable light read which is what I needed as the rest of my reading has been biology text books and syllabuses, decision has been made, mainly by M deciding which text books she preferred, hopefully she will enjoy them. Biology was one of my favourite subjects when I was at school, so hoping this goes well, fingers are crossed, the IGCSE maths is going well but slowed down on the English at the moment.

The weather is all over the place one minute it feels like autumn and the next a hot sunny day! One very wet Monday we joined friends for a walk in the woods, children in waterproofs and wellies, adults with umbrellas and of course wellies. They had a fantastic time, exploring the stream, puddles and mud etc and yes my 14 year old has as much fun doing this as the younger ones. Then home to dry of and snuggle up under a blanket to watch a film, followed by the next day and a trip to the park with friends where we were trying find shade as it was rather hot. Not sure if my allotment knows what it is doing other than producing a lot of slugs!!! Have had some lovely rhubarb, lots of blackcurrants ripening and enjoyed a couple of windfall apples.

Last week O had his allergy appointment, no change in his allergies but he then mentioned he had had a reaction to banana the other week, so after a discussion and more tests that is now of the menu, along with a warning about the link to latex, so to be careful! L had her allergy appointment on Thursday, her tests showed she might of grown out of pea allergy, so we will be invited in for food challenge but that won't be till February next year. We've been here before with soya and she failed the challenge at the first mouthful, so while hopeful it's tinged with that result. Now if she passes her pea challenge then they might take her in for a peanut challenge as that is one food we have never given her, so only going on skin and blood tests, be nice to have a few less allergies in the house, to say the least.

The cupboard of doom, or the most unorganised, dump everything in there cupboard in the house, aka the cupboard on the landing is now decorated and sorted, lots more space, it's a deep cupboard so takes a bit of thought to what goes where but all children's craft bits are sorted and amazed at how many different containers of coloured rice I have, it's played with regularly but normally it's kept in a couple of different places! Seriously though just how many towels does one family need, even if I add in pets and towels for work. So below is the before photo top shelf is spare throw for the sofa, lace making board, more than one bag of toy stuffing, second shelf towels and behind that there are boxes of soap moulds, candle making and bath bomb ingredients. Next shelf is a mixture of den building and scene creating stuff for childminding, more toy stuffing, various toys and pile of exercise books. Bottom shelf is children' craft bits and anything that didn't fit in elsewhere!

Now a rather organised cupboard and flannels and hand towels in baskets mean they don't topple over every time you try and get one. Also meant I now have room for all the paper that I was given, all A3 size or bigger perfect for painting on etc and the white basket is empty, now that makes me feel good, everything that hasn't gone back into the cupboard has been donated to other people or charities. Next step is my bedroom but that will be next week, hopefully, mind you we need to rip up the old bathroom floor as we will be having new bathroom floor, looking forward to this rather than rather worn tiles!

This weekend was the local Thai food and craft festival, it's now in it's 3rd year locally and hope they keep going, weather was great, I love Thai food and we all enjoy the entertainment.

A selection of Thai desserts and there was an amazing lady selling cakes, I don't think I have ever tasted such delicious, light fluffy cakes as these, must try and find a recipe for Thai coconut cake

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

First Christmas Present Made

First Christmas present completed, feeling very organised don't think it will last but will enjoy it while it does! My plan not to buy anymore wool till I had completed projects and used up some of my stash has gone well and truly out of the window. Have now 3 new lots of wool to make more presents with, rascal in marbles being one of them, the lady in our craft shop has knitted some beautiful items in this wool, couldn't resist, have started two already, will finish L's cardi soon! Anyway the finished silverleaf

Think we have had a quieter few days since birthday week, except the bit where I decided to sort out the cupboard on the landing aka the cupboard of doom, lovely deep cupboard that I can get lots in, so children's art supplies, towels, sheets for den building, some of my craft stuff etc etc, there are lots of etc in there. Anyway started to clean the walls and decided the old wall paper had to go, so ended up stripping wallpaper and painting, three shelves done so far, just the large bottom area to do this weekend, it is looking good and have had a major sort out,might share before and after photos when it is finished. L and I spent this morning at the allotment, trying to ignore the loads of weeds and just pick veg, came home with a lovely variety of veg. Stuffed marrow for dinner, mixture of cheese, onions, garlic, herbs and some slices of sausages, topped with a bit more cheese and breadcrumbs.

While browsing the internet for more marrow recipe ideas, L spotted these flat breads, so made them for lunch and then  batch of homemade crackers.

 A selection of colourful paintings from this week.

Busy building homes for the playmobil figures.

Sunday, 23 July 2017


Both girls have had their birthdays this week, M was 14 at the weekend, so grown up now, she decided that for her birthday she want to meet up with a friend in town, go shopping and have lunch out. I met her in town to take them home and was surprised they only had a bag each, M had written out a long list of things she would like and I mean long! But what I hadn't seen was she had marked the things she really needed/wanted and the rest were maybes, she ended up getting mainly the things she needed. I was really impressed with this, we have been talking a lot about whether we need something or just want it, is the want something that you will enjoy for a long time, or a one of want etc. That buying stuff can give you a lovely feeling but where are you going to put it when you get home, does it have a home or is it going to end up annoying you.

 L and I spent time painting some cardboard to create a scene for her horses.

I love a beautiful perennial flower, especially if they seem to be fairly slug/snail proof and drought proof, penstemon do well on both counts and phlox seem to be fairly slug proof. I had some purple phlox and our local hardware store has had a nice selection of colours this year, a friend really like my purple one and said she would love a white one, luckily  the store had both and I also picked up this pretty pink one.

L's birthday was celebrated at home, she announced the day before her birthday that she would like a mermaid cake. She had for the weeks running up to her birthday been adamant that she did not want a birthday cake as she doesn't like cake. So I had planned to make cup cakes for them all to decorate as she loves to do this. Anyway change of plan but we didn't actually have a mermaid toy to decorate the cake and I wasn't going to have a lot of time to make cake in a mermaid shape, thought something with shells on might have to do. We have witches, fairies, princesses, pirates, dragons, unicorns, Pegasus but no fairy and nor did anyone locally, had shells and sea creatures to decorate but no mermaid and our cake shop is normally closed on a Monday. Anyway she had also requested to have the cornflour and water out, so thought we would take a walk, get the rest of the birthday food etc, walked past the cake shop to realise they were open, apparently they open once a month on Monday so she can do the paperwork, they only had one mermaid, one happy L and one relieved Mum! Anyway cake went well, it has to be dairy and egg free, well free from a lot of other things but they are the main cake ingredients we are allergic too

While waiting for her guests to arrive, L and minded child made some seahorse stain glass windows.

I decided to add some spray bottles with food colouring added to the water, to make the cornflour play more interesting. Well that has to be one of my better decisions and the easiest party activities ever! They had hours of fun with it all.

On Thursday we had decided to join a local home ed meet for a climbing session, M has been before and loves it, L wasn't so sure but thought if her sister was with her it would all be ok, that or they would both freak out together. Well L loved it , I took a couple of photos of M at the top of the wall but ended up with loads of L as I expected her to stop and come back down but she made her way up to the top, they loved the session and can't wait to go again. They were very tired and asked if they could watch a video, so thought I would have an extra birthday treat and watch the new Beauty and the Beast, it's lovely to see them both cuddled up on the sofa together.

We seem to have a bumper crop of kale this year and was asking O's girlfriend if she would like some to take home, anyway I then asked if she had ever had kale crisps, no but would like to try some, so we went up the allotment picked some and made some, the result was strangely weird but grows on you! L wants me to make some more, so they can't be that bad. We ripped up the kale discarding the main stalk, washed it and dried it, drizzled with some olive oil and mixed in some salt, baked int he oven for about 8 to 10 minutes at Gas Mark 6.

Silver leaf is coming on, finally reached the pretty leaf pattern.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Cogges Farm

Had a lovely day out and visited Cogges farm, the walled garden is wonderful to walk round, they have a variety of chickens and ducks to see, a few goats, two Shetland ponies and pigs. I will say we were rather disappointed with what we could see in the house, the only rooms set up are the kitchen and pantry which are interesting but that is it. We didn't realise that the farm scenes for Downton Abbey were filmed there, knew they filmed at Highclere Castle, the home of the Carnarvon family, which for those that know there ancient Egyptian history, will recognise the names Carter and Carnarvon for their discovery of Tutankhamum tomb.

They have a new greenhouse and I want one! I don't have space for one this size but loved the style and size of it!

Now M has been expressing an interest in photography and asked if she could us my camera, so the rest of the photos are hers, think she has done very well.

On our walk we came across this sign, when we got home we spent some time learning how flax was made, we watched this video on how they would of made linen fabric from flax seed and this  a shorter version. I always wonder when I see things like this just how did we come up with this process to start with, what were they doing that made them realise that they could produce some sort of thread from a plant. Since then we have looked at cotton production and talked about the conditions in  the mills in this country, the various work conditions in Victorian Britain. Perfect time to introduce M to North & South, so covering history, working conditions, Victorian life as well as introducing her to the works of Elizabeth Gaskell.

As well as photography M has asked to do some dressmaking, she has chosen rosari skirt, paper pattern cut out and pinned, will share photos as she starts to sew, she has chosen the jean style pockets.

So chatting with my wonderful Aunt about various bits and mentioned the shawl I had made for my friends birthday, turns out she would love something like that too, doesn't take a lot of encouragement to start a new project, so knitting silverleaf for her in a nice soft baby acrylic, doesn't do natural wool fibres as they are too itchy. Have also ordered some new wool from our local wool shop, she had some lovely new patterns in, so that should be 3 Christmas presents sorted, as long as I get round to knitting them in time. So joining in with Kat for Unraveled Wednesdays

As it's L's birthday next week, I have been busy making her doll some new outfits, using up some of my fabric stash.