Community Support

Making your way in the world today 
Takes everything you've got; 
Taking a break from all your worries 
Sure would help a lot. 
Wouldn't you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 
Where everybody knows your name, 
And they're always glad you came; 
You want to be where you can see, 
Our troubles are all the same; 
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of belonging and community lately.  Various conversations on and off line have made me realise how important it is to have a place that you are accepted and comfortable.  Where people sympathise, advise and help when there are problems and are genuinely pleased and celebrate alongside you your successes.

I know how lucky I am to live in an area with a huge thriving local home education community where pretty much any activity you want is on offer and you can go to something most days.  A big community though may make things harder.  When I joined the home ed social scene there were only a couple of local activities on offer and if you wanted to meet people that is what you had to do and new people were relatively rare, everyone knew you were new and made an effort to welcome you.  That isn’t so easy now, not that people are less welcoming but new people don’t stick out the same way as there are so many more groups in the area with so many more people. Unfortunately means people can get missed. I am often unsure if someone is new or just I’ve just never crossed paths with them. The emphasis is more on newcomers to say I’m new and need help which I imagine is very daunting.

It is interesting how many of us (not just new home educators) admit to finding the socialising part of home ed very, very hard.  For me personally I’m great on social media, and always the first to go and chat and welcome new people, I find that part easy.  I am not good at normal conversation though, slightly deaf and generally lacking the knack.  I struggle with the 75% of people at groups that fall between genuine friends (just clicked with, the inner circle 😉 ) and complete strangers.  I tend to avoid the large playmeets that go on for hours unless with friends as find them painful.  Luckily there is enough on that I am comfortable at to keep Sam happy as that is the important bit.

I think what I am trying to say is please don’t let anxiety and nervousness hold you back.  There will be plenty of other nervous people there. It isn’t just home ed children who need friends (actually some don’t) it is the parents who do.  We all need somewhere where we can moan about a bad day and not be told ‘well if they were in school…’ or get ideas on how to help with a problem and not get ‘well if they were at school..’ or just some adult company and a good laugh.  The support is often practical too, I am not the only one to babysit for hospital appointments, watch children in workshops, lend resources etc.

I think social media and the move to Facebook is wonderful.  It makes groups more chatty.  For the cripplingly shy like me it helps make acquaintances into friends as you recognise kindred spirits, identify common interests away from home ed and children and get to know people better than constantly interrupted conversations allow.  I’ve Facebook friends that I’ve never met but we’ve chatted online in various forums and followed each others blogs for years.  My advice is to embrace it, post on groups local and national, reply and share stories, send friend requests to people (I am rubbish at this, starting to try to be more proactive but please feel free to add me).  Even if you can’t get there physically that community support is there and when you do make it you’ll ‘know’ people.

I’ve heard a few people say lately that they’ve found home ed lonely and it breaks my heart as it really shouldn’t be, be brave come join the village 🙂

I will just add we have done stuff the last two days; trampolining, Maths, English, Latin, Spanish, history (including most of today on Civilisation 5) but not really interesting blog stuff.  We did do a lot of drawing this morning including this pretty butterfly by me (every blog needs a photo 😉 )- always learning with him.


Pure Gold

Some days are just like pure gold and Weds was one of them.  We were up in London yet again and the day started with an early morning trip to Sam’s favourite park in hazy sunshine and had it blissfully to ourselves.

20160922_2 A walk and a sit on some of the rather bizarre benches that now adorn the Southbank followed.  Paused to recall visit to St Paul’s earlier in the year and spot where we’d climbed to.

20160922_9 Then we got to our destination! Finally got in to see this, wanted to since it opened.  No photos of course but it was wonderful, never enjoyed an exhibition more and considering a trip back minus the boy before it finishes.  He enjoyed it too, I’d picked up the audio guide to keep him entertained which did the trick, he isn’t a bad companion for this sort of thing (much better than Pete or Jack would be anyway).

20160922_10 View from balcony of the Tate.  Spent quite a while out here musing on computer animation. 20160922_13 In other words how they made this?

Having had my big treat (of the year!) I set about making it up to Sam.  Lunch at Pizza Express did it.  I wasn’t impressed but he loved it.  Look less manic I said!

20160922_15 After lunch we walked into the City.  Sam has been asking loads of questions about money, interest rates, inflation and exchange rates so we decided to take a trip to the Bank of England Museum.

Fabulous place.  Lots to explore hands on about trying to keep a steady economy.   Sam was so excited to touch real gold and feel how heavy it was.  Even did the trail!  Highly recommend a visit.

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Long discussion about ‘con artists’ in particular people dressed as Buddist monks who corner you when you can’t get past them under Southwark bridge and demand a donation of £20 for plastic tat that says peace on it and why Mum is not her usual polite self to such people!

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Productive PJ Day

Tuesday’s PJ record is still standing! Go us!

It doesn’t seem to harm productivity. Just the opposite in fact. In maths we motored through the computer side and moved on to some investigations; designing a number system and looking at Goldbach’s Conjecture.  We did a bit of English too.

We finished reading My Royal Story Victoria and followed up with a quick read about the House of Hanover in our Usborne Kings and Queens book and tried to put the uncles we’d been reading about in the My Story book into Victoria’s family tree.


Over lunch we watched The Mystery of Van Gogh’s Ear. It’s a subject I’ve read quite a lot about but still found really interesting and Sam did too.

Argh. Lost the nice photos I was uploading to post.  Oh well somehow managed to use 4 cameras so have a couple.

The afternoon was spent on science.  We were looking at skin, hair and nails.  At a workshop earlier in the year we used a microscope that attached to the pc and I was very impressed.  As they were cheaper in bulk I’d hoped to organise a group purchase with some friends.  However, summer has left me rather short of cash so thought we’d have to go without, but Ebay came up trumps and I managed to get one for £5.  So we spent a lot of time looking at everything (not just skin, hair and nails ;))

s20160920_0011 s20160920_0013This was Sam’s favourite trick.  The microscope trained on the computer showing an image of what the microscope was trained on.  Bit sickness inducing.

We talked about the sebum layer on the skin and tried to see the effect of removing it (surgical spirit) and then getting the hand wet.  Tested the strength of hair by attaching the hair to a bag to which we kept adding marbles.

Finally we made a ‘skin layer cake’. The marshmallows are the fat layer.  The jelly (with laces for nerve endings) is the dermis. The apple leather is the epidermis and cola pencils for hair.



Where Squirrels…

…throw conkers at you like weapons!

We went conker hunting yesterday, turns out we didn’t have much hunting to do.  There were squirrels in the tree who were opening up the shells, throwing them down, taking a couple of bites from the conker and then throwing them down too.  They were coming down with a lot of force too, felt a bit under siege under there.

Seriously never seen anything like it!

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When the squirrels got bored (or full) we retired to the playground. We’d been joined by 3 other home ed families, it is lovely to see how children who have never met each other before and who are very different ages can play so happily.
Sam is starting to pick up a fan club from among the younger children, he is generally very good with them too.

20160920_6 At home we had a go at making fruit leather.  It was lovely before it was cooked.  Cooking was tricky we ended up with still sloppy, then burnt but did manage a very small amount of edible fruit leather.
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Lazy Day

Straight from the off Friday had the air of a day where not much would happen.  The foot I hurt on Thursday was (is) painful to walk on.  Then when writing a work email I noticed the date as being my mum’s birthday.  Realised I’ve lived over 1/3 of my life without her now. Anyway I definitely wasn’t on top form physically or mentally so was resigned to a gentle day.

When I woke Sam he was really struggling with getting up so I went and grabbed some of our reading books and we spent most of the day curled up in my bed reading about Queen Victoria (Sam was playing on Kindle for a lot of it too).

We did make it downstairs for an hour to finish off the week’s maths and English, do a bit of Latin, research the flag of India and upload his wildlife photos to his blog.

Sam eventually got dressed about 6.30pm so he could go and practice fire lighting at Scouts.

As much as I love all the busy, social days and the active, productive ones, there’s definitely a place for lazy, restorative days too.



Home Schooling?

I hate how this term has come in to common use (even Sam uses it for heavens sake) real nails on a blackboard thing.  It just creates an image in my head of families sitting around a table with piles of national curriculum workbooks and a big planner on the wall.  I don’t know what the correct term should be but what we do doesn’t feel like school and we seem to seldom be at home.

With no trampolining this week (it’s fortnightly) I was thinking we’d try and stay in the routine of doing something active by going swimming.  As it was hot seemed daft to pay to use the pool and we went to Hillhead instead to swim in the sea.  I went in too so only one photo 😉


While we were there Sam found some burnt driftwood and had a go at drawing.

20160916_30We’d stopped at Titchfield Haven on the way there to work on our art project – wildlife photography.


At home we covered maths, English, played a lot of story cubes, dismantled more of the computer, read some of our Children’s History of India and did a lot of drawing.

He’s been practising perspective and shadows and is getting on well and really enjoying it.  Took me a while to see that the dark triangle was the pyramid’s shadow.

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Sounds a blissful day and if you ignore the pre going out tantrums, homework/state of bedroom arguments with teenager and the fact that I have either cut my foot or have something stuck in there and it really hurts and walking is a problem (wasn’t even on the beach, did it walking along prom with shoes on) I don’t suppose it was that bad 🙂

I’m a Royal Marine

Well I’m not obviously.  It was however the title of the workshop Sam did at the first Home Educator Day that was run by the RM museum.  We’ve done a few workshops here over the years and they have always been creative, engaging and informative.  This one was no exception.

The theme was surviving in the jungle.  Like all RM workshops we’ve done it started with ‘drill’ before moving inside having to cross stepping stones over the river as a nice touch.  A slide show, q&a sort of session followed.  Then they coloured maps to show areas of rainforest.

Back outside they had to assemble a mosquito tent.

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Inside they worked around 4 bases; making bugs, matching animal tracks, trying on uniform and looking at ration packs.

20160914_25 20160914_27 20160914_30 20160914_32 20160914_34 20160914_36 20160914_37 We ended the workshop with a trip into the museum to look at their jungle galleries.



We spent some time before and after on the assault course.  20160914_9 20160914_11 20160914_41

The Pokemon bug is still going strong and is proving a great way of keeping him happy when we’re out.

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After the museum we popped in to Southsea shops to take advantage of cheap embroidery threads and then went to Argos in Gosport to collect a broken computer for Sam to dismantle. I had to send him to have a bath before tea in order to stop him taking ‘just one more bit off’.  Let him go at after we’d eaten.



Tuesday was again our ‘home day’. Managed to keep two safe so far so doing well 😉

Trying to find our balance between embracing the moment and getting out and covering at least some of the ‘planned’ education side.  We’d done less than I was hoping for on Monday thanks to slowness and being out.  Tuesday saw pretty efficient levels though.

I’m letting Sam organise orders of doing stuff, so computer based stuff took priority.  Revision on Duolingo after slipping down a few bars over the summer and some games on Mathletics.  He also did some investigations in Maths; pattern spotting and a rubbish game.  Latin, bit of grammar, dictation and spelling followed.

We then started this term’s science project – the human body.  We read a large section of our book.  Measured Sam’s height, weight, hand span and foot length for him to create a factfile on his blog.

We talked about facial symmetry (or lack of it).  I took a photo of Sam’s face as straight on as I could. We printed out a copy and then used photo editing software to mirror image and printed that.  Cut the photos in half and put them together to see two symmetrical versions of his face and saw how different they were.

20160913_112644We were thinking about venturing out to the beach but the rain came so we settled for a carpet picnic in front of Michael Wood’s Story of India.

20160913_5 I had some work calling then and the hayfever was giving us headaches.  So while I worked Sam made a biocube (we’d been talking about biodomes and surviving in them) sort of thing in Minecraft.


Art in the Park

Yesterday we took a trip with friends to visit the Art in the Park exhibition at Harold Hillier Gardens.  I really love it there and so does Sam.  If I could drive I’d definitely get a pass as they seem to have some fabulous weekend activities.  Can get there by public transport but is a trek.

We were both expecting a quickish morning trip but ended up there for most of the day, rushing back as otherwise I’d have come home to a locked out cross teenager.  There is so much to see and explore even without the art trail.

It has to be said some of the sculptures were really not to my taste but there were some really lovely and interesting ones too. These are my favourites.

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There are more sculpture photos on the Facebook page. Sam did look at the sculptures but much more time was spent playing.  Although the gravity defying anvil intrigued him and he loved the man coming out of the ground.

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It’s also a fabulous place for watching wildlife.  The borders were teeming with bees and you could see tongues coming out! There’s something about robins, have to love a robin! 20160912_34 20160912_74



Friday saw us back in London.  This time with friends, we managed to nearly fill a carriage as there were 20 of us on our train (and to Sam’s delight, although vastly outnumbered he did have male company).
The venue this time was a video introduction to and a tour of Parliament.

We’d done a tour last year and it was completely different, I knew they varied depending on what was going on that day but it didn’t overlap at all.  The big difference was that the House’s weren’t sitting so we were able to go onto the floor of the Commons (might rank as one of the most exciting things ever for me 🙂 ).

We saw the old debating chamber full of statues of ex-prime ministers and the Members Library and one of the Division lobbys as well as the Commons chamber.  Not allowed to sit down or take photos in the chamber unfortunately. So here are a few in the debating chamber and Westminster hall.

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I had vague plans to try and go to the O’Keeffe exhibition after but we were a lot later out than I expected so it was picnic, park and catch the train home with friends.

A lovely end to a fabulous week.

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