Out and About and Brotherly Bonding

Trying to shake off the maladies we’ve arrived home from holiday with, taking it in turns to bounce up and down healthwise. Moodwise though can really feel the difference a holiday and the change in weather has brought. Everyone can summon smiles and has stopped moaning about being hot 🙂

We’ve had two days out this week. First one was with my dad to our closest museum. It’s a replica 17th Century village run by volunteers who do it in character. One day when I manage to conjure up more hours in a week I’d love to volunteer there.  Sunday was a little different to their usual activities as it was their rural crafts day. Lots of external crafts folk around and far, far busier than normal. The highlight was watching the kiln being opened, my morning FB memories told me it was exactly a year to the day since we went to watch last year’s firing of the kiln.

They had a ‘trickster’ there who we’d not met and who Sam spent most of his time with, while my dad chatted with the potter and I wandered around enjoying the crafts and the setting.

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Monday we turned the need to drop off some books into a chance to get out and enjoy a walk I have been meaning to do for 16 years (I get to things in my own time) along the Titchfield Canal.  We’ll be back at some point but next time we won’t have errands to run in Fareham after so we can continue all the way down to the beach.

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Tues and Weds have been catching up on housework, admin and cracking on with work if you are me.  Reading and watching wrestling if you are the boys.

Review 16/17

Struggling to write this one as another very successful year so not a huge amount to say.

Did we stick to all I’d planned? No of course not but managed the majority.  I think the only thing that changed from the plan was dropping the computer science/programming and the art award for most of the year. Although we did pick both up again towards the end of the year when we finished off other stuff. 

One of the big goals for the year was to work on writing. Not so much creatively (although had lots of fun with that) but more working towards being able to answer essay questions. I started off by pushing it as a blogging/typing exercise thinking that would make it easier but it ended up falling by the wayside as felt a bit forced. We talked about answers to questions in books also it became obvious from English writing course that he has got the basic skills there to neatly handwrite and begin to structure answers. We’re not ready for essay level stuff yet but question and answer style paper is not as far off as I thought before this year. Having looked through a couple of GCSE papers this year for minor subjects (General Studies/Classical Civilization) I don’t think either would have been a mammoth ask of him now.

The other big goal was working on control and ‘ownership’. Breaking the work down into jobs he can move about on the planner was definitely a smart move, really helped with him being able to visualise what needed to be done.

We continue to rely heavily on a Charlotte Mason style of education for subjects, lots of reading and documentary watching and discussion. Spent an awful lot of time reading aloud this year which has been nice.

In terms of general knowledge he is thriving, continues to have an insatiable thirst for history of all types. The surprise hit of the year was a visit to a Russian Revolution exhibition at the British Library (we’d actually tried to find a day we could go without kids and failed so he was a tag along really), normally he quietly absorbs things and looks like he’s taken nothing from trips and then out it flows 6 months or so later, this one though has been a big topic of conversation. A year long Victorian project has convinced us both that Prince Albert was amazing in what he achieved for this country. I think the project and particularly our look at the slums and factory working conditions and many conversations about Chartism have fired a political animal in him.

Geography, he has a brilliant knowledge of where places are and flags (I’d love to take credit but suspect his love of military conquest strategy games is real reason). He’s loved looking at Asian culture this year, India and China didn’t excite him too much but Japan and Korea really did. 

Science we’ve had fun with a lot of handson learning how much of that translated to in depth understanding I am a little sceptical on but hopefully it will have sunk in a little.

The most positive thing though that comes from the year is that we’re both still really enjoying home ed. At the crossroads where many home ed kids talk about and consider school Sam is sure it isn’t for him. I have noticed him switch in conversation when discussing this from focusing on perceived negatives of school to actively stressing the good points of HE and that is rather gratifying.  I am happy to admit I’ve found the juggling it all hard over the last 8 months. Work has been pretty full on and I’ve gone from a small number of hours to work around to being able to work as much as I want. Sounds ideal but comes with a load of guilt.  I love my job and am relishing the opportunities to do stuff that time hasn’t allowed but HE is a big commitment and huge drain on time to do well, it is a full time job easily. I know though that I am lucky to love what I do so it’s worth the ridiculously early mornings (5.30am is a lie in!) and late nights and grey hair 🙂


Solva 17

Our family holiday posts are very low on activity content but high on lovely scenery photos. Mind and body relaxed and soul restored 🙂 We enjoyed lots of relaxed pottering at the cottage.
A meal or two out and a check to see if the very, very ancient doddery dog in the local pub was still going, the fact he was made Sam’s holiday.
A trip to Havorfordwest to buy books (lovely lady in Oxfam checks stockroom for Beano annuals for us) and a couple to St Davids for ice cream from the gorgous ice cream parlour, art gallery and a Treasure Trail.
Plus getting knocked about and submerged by over your head waves, bodyboarding and fort building at Newgale of course.  

Revolution and Illustration

I may have used the words ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier’ yesterday and that was before we met Lucy Worsley :D. Looking down on original medieval documents and books will do that to me.  For a history geek with a love of books, yesterday was as good as it gets. Sam was very good natured and rustled up enough enthusiasm and interest to let me indulge.

The day started with a trip to the British Library for their Russian Revolution exhibition.  Was very well done, interesting, spacy and cool (BM could learn a lesson or two).

After a trip around the corner for lunch in what I think of as a proper London ‘caff’, the sort I’d have breakfast in to mop up the hangover 20 years ago, we went back to the British Library for a general look about.
We stayed about an hour exploring their Treasures of the British Library exhibition before deciding there was a real danger of never leaving. Bit like the Land of the Lotus Eaters that place 🙂  We’re back in October for the Harry Potter exhibition and can’t wait.  Need a general no agenda potter just to absorb the place too.

We walked over to Kings Cross to visit the House of Illustration instead. With a pause to goggle at the wonder of the St Pancras Hotel.
 Then a much, much longer pause to get very wet (no change of clothes this time – oops). House of Illustration, I would have been disappointed in if it had been our main agenda for the day. For a diversion while in the area it was enjoyed by all. I’ve spent years telling Sam he’d like anime, he’s finally convinced.

As an unexpected bonus the walk back to the bus took us past the Youtube offices and the very nice security guard let the kids go up and have a quick gander at the offices.  No guesses where they want to work now 🙂 There was a shop too full of ‘Youtuber’ tat.  I feel very, very old as I really don’t get the whole ‘youtuber’ thing :S

Summer Days

Blogging definite slipped way down list of priorities. Probably should be when I should try and make the effort to blog more really when we go more relaxed and unschooly as I miss recording exactly how much can be learnt this way. I no longer feel the need to though, I am happy with what we covered this year, he’s entitled to a rest and a holiday and if he was learning nothing for a month or so would it be an issue – no. In reality you can’t stop a child learning, he’s like a sponge, I just feel no inclination to analyse and document it.

What have we been up to practically since the last post?

We had a day’s home ed trip learning about Victorians and riding steam trains on the Watercress Line.
It was my Dad’s birthday last week so we spent some time with him on Thursday at Titchfield Abbey, playing with Nerf guns and treating him to lunch out. Sam very patiently spent a good deal of time helping a random toddler fire a small nerf gun (was scary to watch!) He is like the Pied Piper, collects small children about him whereever we go it seems.

Thurs afternoon was spent making vast quantities of playdough as Friday was the last under 10’s group of term.  Lovely session, 5 new families along and a lot of mess to clear up.  I do love playdough. 

Sam spent the time I was at the group shopping for a birthday present for my Dad and hiding out in Costa. We had lunch and shopping and a leisurely afternoon as Sam had bought Sim City for his DS.

Weekend was normal pottering (aka kindle/computer/ds play) with the exception of popping to see Grandad with cake and presents (birthday was Sat).

Plans for this week went by the wayside. We had a home ed session booked on bushcraft on Monday and plans to go geocaching yesterday.  Eczema flare up meant poorly cracked skin and swollen feet though and didn’t want to take risk of infection (we do get them).
Monday was spent finishing off cartoon strip for the HE comic we’re getting published, reading (History of the Russian Revolution in prep for tomorrow) and then computer play really.

Yesterday after starting off the day with a horrendous sick head ache I managed to make it out to see a hall for potential group meets with a friend and we followed up with tea and a chat while kids played Lego and Pokemon. Afternoon went in board games and then when Scratch wasn’t working he agreed to try a Python project. He ‘wants’ to do Python but wants to do it immediately and gets frustrated so needs coaxing. After a bit of a hiccup we did get it working to draw a robot though.

Today was my last Home Ed group session for rhe academic year. After an early morning BP check up Sam spent the morning programming a art project on Scratch based on Kandinsky’s Circles. Group was a  bit of a manic one (you can tell by the fact that my coffee was so cold I didn’t even attempt to drink it) but a lot of fun and messy children.

End of Term

Heat is severely curtailing blogging. Too hot to be downstairs of an evening and I have had quite a nasty cold type bug that I can’t shake (might well be hayfever back to try and finish me off just when I thought it was easing).
We had a lovely last ‘Social group’. Children ran fete style stalls and raised loads of money for the venue we hire (4 times more than I was hoping for!)  I have no photos from it although I think there are a fair few knocking about of me since Sam’s stall was charging people to throw wet sponges at me.
At home we have been finishing off our looking at the Industrial Revolution with a look at electricity, here’s an electromagnet.  We also got out the combustion engine kit that has been in the cupboard for about 5 years.  It was missing some parts so we are waiting on spares (a reply within 5 mins offering to order them and send them out from the company was impressive).We finished our look at Asia by reading about Korean holidays. He’s bowing!
We finished watching Full Steam Ahead, finished reading Street Child and working through the chapter in his history text book.  Trip tomorrow to round off ou Victorian project.
English (apart from our Summer Story Walk – we’ll fit it in somewhere) and Maths finished too and ceremoniously thrown in the recycling bin!

Clearing Out and Looking Forward

We really are on minimal level workload. I feel like I am scratching round for projects to engage with as we both need things to grab our attention or we can slip into habits which aren’t good for us.

I thought science would today but was thrown by the kits I’d bought (really at lazy level) needed a non standard battery. Amazon Prime to the rescue so that’s tomorrows project.

I was also under prepared when I had no lemon for a lemon clock kit. Fortunately I had a grapefruit so we made a grapefruit clock and I’ll have toast tomorrow 🙂 We got out some other bits to see if we could make a light work – no was the answer.

 We spent a lot of time working on comic ideas for our next home ed comic. Excellent plan in place 🙂

Then is was on to a big book clear out. We’ll list some for sale but aim is to get rid of most in a book sale at our ‘home ed fete’ on Weds.

Late afternoon went on a new card game ‘Love Letters’ we’re liking this one.I was going to mention more on the planning front but far too hot downstairs so bed by the fan for me.

Organised Chaos

Our plans for September seem an awful lot clearer than they did 3 days ago.
A venue has been found for a ‘potential’ activity so looking like that is now a definite on the diary, a pencilled in commitment looks like it can be penned in
Our trip to see the local home ed tutorial centre due an unequivocal no to joining in activities there.  Nothing to do with the centre, it’s amazing. More it’s a big commitment in our week and we can do so much more with our time when you consider the travelling. Left decision entirely up to Sam and he was definite that it was a no. I was on the fence so happy to get a decision. A pencilled in activity can be rubbed out, buying us precious time.
Still no idea how to fit in all we want to but at least I know what I’m fitting around. Now comes the fun bit 😀
I really had to buy this diary as so very, very me.

Westminster Abbey

The best thing about home ed from a selfish perspective is being able to explore and experience some amazing places that we just wouldn’t otherwise because of time, volume of people in holidays and cost. Got to love places that offer educational rate to home ed families – yesterday we spent the day exploring Westminster Abbey and it cost £10 for 2 adults and 3 children, amazing.
No photos from inside the Abbey not surprisingly but sufficient to say it was amazing. The children did a trail looking at the decoration and stained glass. While Rachel and I were very excitedly pointing out tomb after tomb of famous names (and we definitely missed a few). It definitely helped to have knowledge and context of history, wouldn’t like to go with children younger than ours, the more you know the more you appreciate what you are seeing. The guides were helpful and was easy to find people to ask questions of (we had quite a few).
I’m organising fewer larger structured trips in favour of self led trips like this. We were able to take our time and explore at our own pace. In the end (with the inclusion of a long picnic in the garden) we spent most of the day in the Abbey as although hot, it was decidedly cooler than outside.

 We were hit by a wall of heat when we came out, a quick discussion about whether we could be bothered to walk to Somerset House for a play in the fountains was a unanimous ‘No’ so we decided on an early train home. Until we spotted sprinklers across the road and spent an hour cooling off in them to the amusement of passers by 🙂It was an interesting day all round as our journey there was complicated by the State Opening of Parliament and the journey back to Waterloo took us past the anti-austerity protests.
Delays on the trains made it a long trip home but a brilliant (hot!) day.
Train daftness.

Boiling Alive

Is how I feel, pretty much.

On the home ed front things are going well. I have planned well and keeping up with what little I’ve allocated us isn’t proving hard.

Yesterday we’d easily finished by 11 so heading in to town, picked up lunch and a friend’s daughter and went over to laser quest. Despite the heat 18 children went in and had the usual fun. My plan on hiding out in the shade didn’t quite work out thanks to a cute 5yo who wanted to play – kickboxing in that heat was a mistake though.

Could have spent day on the top deck of the ferry, was nice and breezy. Sam had sun tan lotion in the eye hence the squint.

 Today started early as I went to view a hall with a friend for a group activity. Sam stayed home and got on with work. When I got back all that was needed was grammar, writing, science and some history reading.  
Telephones and telegraphs were the focus of science.
Sam made a circuit so we could do morse code with a bulb.
After that Sam experimented with the electical bits for a couple of hours with a quick detour into researching answers to questions I couldn’t answer.
At some point he decided to show me what a peg blutacked on to a motor felt like against your head. Unfortunately I had my back to him when I said yes to ‘can I show you something?’ so couldn’t point out the flaw with that. He quickly realised the problem and there was a lot of apologising as he spent 20 mins helping remove lots of knots, blutack and a motor from my hair. It was scissors job in the end.  Had to see funny side.