Caerleon

We couldn’t do the Romans and not take a trip to Caerleon, it is a great place and an easy drive (unless you get lost and trapped in Newport!) from my Father in Law’s.

Unfortunately it was bucketing down so we didn’t get to walk the walls or play in the amphitheatre.  Last time we went it was freezing, we will have to go one day it nice weather but unfortunately when you are only away for a few days you have to take what you get.  Although looking at the date, of last post perhaps not visiting at end of Jan would help (and how diddy and cute was Sam 😉 ).  It was also definitely better to visit on a weekend as school groups really got in the way and meant the play bit of the Legionary Museum was not accessible.

I bribed Sam into doing the worksheet in the Legionary museum to drag it out a bit.  Displays were quite interesting, particularly comparing the different ranks of soldier.

20160128_18 Legionary20160128_17 Standard bearer20160128_19 Centurion20160128_27 My favourite thing was these ivory carvings.20160128_25 Sam’s surprise, surprise was the coffin20160128_26 20160128_29 Museum was underwhelming but the toilet was impressive (first time I’ve ever tried to get a photo in a toilet and did feel daft).
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After the Legion museum we visited the bath house.  Where there was another school group but they quickly left so we had a more leisurely look about.

20160128_32 Some of the kit, such as folding pans and  knifes and spoons that looked swiss army knife like, really had a modern feel.20160128_33 20160128_34 20160128_38 Selfie with Caesar 🙂20160128_40 We both got all the questions right but he won :S  So next game we played in Welsh – advantage me 😉20160128_42

Windy wet Wales

We had a windy and wet trip back to Wales to stay with my Father in Law last week.  Despite the weather we did manage a few trips out but we also had some time to relax a bit away from the distractions of home.

A trip to the park.
20160128_9 Lego building.20160128_10 Chess, including lessons in forcing checkmates with rooks (not from me!)20160128_16 Sword play after we added to our rather large already armoury.20160128_45 Most children cuddle soft toys mine sits there cradling a wooden sword 🙂
20160128_44 Lots of reading.  I got talked into this on our travels and we spent most evenings staying up later than I wanted as we were enjoying The Eagle of the Ninth.20160128_47 One reason why the NHS is in trouble!  He found some crutches lying about and spent a lot of time practising on them.20160128_48 There was a trip to the Lego shop in Cardiff for some pick and mix Lego figures.  20160128_153 Plus lots of time working through the games cupboard.20160128_155 20160128_156

I spent my time working on newspaper puzzles and getting stuck in to a new sewing project.  Which I left the instructions for at home and have used the wrong number of threads for.  Oh well it looks okay as is.

Love Local

We’ve been spending time in local museums this week.  We have quite a few in this area and we love them.  They are comforting and cosy places to hang out on a wet January day.

I needed to go into Fareham on Friday to ask about hiring a room for an activity so we took the opportunity for an hour at the town museum.  We nipped into the temporary exhibition but it didn’t interest us at all, we had most fun counting how many of the activities on offer to entertain children had my input – quite a few, 10 out of 12 came from Activity Village.  We decided that would be too much like a busman’s holiday so went upstairs to the local displays.  We pottered around looking at the familiar displays.

Had a few games of the giant board game.

20160123_1 Spotted places we recognised on the model of the town in the 1900’s.20160123_4 Had an interesting chat about changes in costs and time to travel Gosport to Fareham over time.  It would have taken less time to drive in 1910 when the speed limit was 20 miles an hour and the bus fare has more than doubled since they put this display up 10 years ago!20160123_6 He’s not too old for train sets apparently 🙂  I never suggested he was I must add.20160123_9 Saturday and we had tickets for a talk at the Arts Centre in Havant.  Have mixed feelings on Havant, town centre is horrible but the Arts Centre is lovely and there are some interesting buildings on the walk.  One day we’ll do the heritage trail.  Plus of course there is Hobbycraft 😉

We went early and spent a while in the park.  20160123_10Then some time (and not ‘that’ much money really) in Hobbycraft and the pet shop next door.  We went over to the arts centre early so we could explore the museum areas and have tea and cake in the lovely cafe there.

20160123_14 20160123_19 20160123_1520160123_17 Roman stuff20160123_20 20160123_22 Exploring natural materials under the microscope – hand mainly!20160123_28 The talk we were attending was by one of the writers/historical consultants on the Horrible Histories TV show.  Was definitely worth the trip.20160123_31 Happy Sam.20160123_33 Sam trying, unsuccessfully, to master a Paddington Bear hard stare.

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Walking on egg shells

It’s been that sort of day!

One of those days that I was reminded that I am, on the whole, not too bad at this parenting lark and am quite good at thinking on my feet, but also reminded that there are some things I am really not good at (tact and other people and not over analysing stuff that probably never crossed other peoples minds).  A day where we’ve really embraced the flexibility of home ed but have had a little reminder of some negatives.

Firstly the positives.  Think we had a good parenting of teenager moment this morning, that’s all I’ll say on that (teenagers are hard!).  As I mentioned in my last post Sam is under the weather, sounds a bit wheezy but more tired and emotional.  Quiet day was definitely a good call.  When I woke him at 9.30 he looked very sad and peaky.  So I told him to stay in bed and went downstairs, returning with crackers, fruit, milk and books.  We spent most of the rest of the morning snuggled up in bed reading firstly a book of nature rambles written over 100 years ago, then a long spell on the founding and expanding of the Roman Empire and finally a picture book about geology and the journey of a pebble through time.

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By then Sam seemed to be rallying so we did some Spanish while still in bed and then got up and quickly sped through Latin, Maths and English.  I think it took little more than 1/2 hour all in, I shudder to think how long it would have taken first thing.

Sam was very pleased to hear that it was Cheese Lovers Day so I made cheese wraps for him and he sat down in front of his new Richard Hammond dvd.  Never let it be said I don’t capitalise on interests 😉

Meanwhile I sat down and tried to work on pulling together a set of vague ideas into a workable plan very much hampered by internet signal wavering.  Sam has mentioned a few times in the last week about more social contact.  The trouble is I’m sick of travelling into Portsmouth and can’t afford to keep doing it in terms of time and money, even once a week is a push and I feel it shouldn’t be unnecessary – there really are LOADS of home educators locally, I’m just not that sure what they do?!  Although Sam did say earlier in the week he’d consider the group run tutorials, they just don’t feel right for us, it feels wrong to use them for social purposes when we actively don’t want the teaching side.  Not a criticism of the teachers, we’re just confident and happy with what works for us.  Plus we’ve discovered from other tutorials that it doesn’t matter how small the group if you don’t have similar ability and commitment things get frustrating.

We’re working towards a coding club but that will be in Portsmouth (they tend to have cheaper and available venues) and while on paper it is right up our street and Sam is really keen, I have my doubts whether it will work for us long term because of distance and I wonder if it might be a bit basic.  It’s a balance between the fun of doing it with others and the fact that going to the club will seriously cut into the time he currently has working on it at his own pace at home.  While he does use books, he needs persuasion to try the projects in them and once he’s done one tends to spend weeks going back and improving old projects with his new knowledge.  I think we definitely need to try it for a while anyway, plus it ties in to going to another activity after that we enjoy when we can face going.  Thinking neither on their own are enough but together… pity it’s Cub day though as does make it a long one :/

Anyway back to today; I’d managed a plan that I was feeling rather chuffed with.  Then I noticed that I’d replied to a group message when I could only see a bit of it and on my phone not really concentrating and started beating myself up that my reply was rather brusque and rude and I start fretting I might have caused offence.   Then a good friend posts in a group arranging one of the activities I have on my paper plan but somewhere and at a time I wouldn’t travel to.  Now my brain is in over analytical mode and I start thinking what does that mean for my plans… absolutely nothing numbers will be fine for both as suspect the ones that would come if I can get it going here share my ‘nice activity but not one to travel far for’ feeling… but stupid brain queries ‘will this make me sound interfering/controlling?’.  I have a dread of sounding bossy and controlling, mostly because I know I am bossy and controlling (and it can be a virtue) I just don’t want people to think that! I’d come up for a plan for a group which had been touted but I assumed forgotten, seem to have stirred up motivation again there.  Over analytic brain worries about stepping on toes but actually that is the one I am least convinced on for Sam and I’m very happy not to run (even if it was the one I’d sketched out a financial plan for 😉 ).  Where as he’d love it on paper, it will depend so very much on the other children there for it to work for him in practice.  I think he’ll be very sceptical of having too many little people around him when building Lego, experienced too much over keenness to join in resulting in breaks, frustration and frayed tempers all round, so the right age mix I think would be so vital to him.  So not sorry for someone else to be responsible from the start so we can bow out easily if needed.

Don’t worry I can laugh at how stupid my brain is and how no one else would give any of it any thought but me, I don’t need you all to tell me.  I’d planned to drown the devil voices with a glass of wine with tea but my message asking for wine did not find it’s way to Pete.  I am sure I remember sending one but isn’t in out box 🙁  Wonder if I sent it to someone else.  IF so whoever it was didn’t bring me wine!  Writing it down did the job though as written down I can clearly see I’m a paranoid idiot and marvel at my own stupidity and therefore stop worrying 🙂

The laughable thing is after worrying the afternoon away I don’t know if
a) using the venue I want is an option and not sure I would pursue any of it any further if not
b) Sam is even keen!

I asked him expecting keenness, excitedness and instead got tears.  He liked the ideas but not sure he wanted to sign up to anything, he didn’t need friends and he’s happy indoors :S  Calmly told him not to worry, if he didn’t want to do it no problem but it was what he’d asked for and we’d dismissed other options. Then there were more tears as he didn’t know.  I apologised for asking when he was obviously under the weather and said lets talk about it another time when leaving the house doesn’t sound so bad.  After more tears worried that he’d missed the opportunity, and lots of reassurance that he hadn’t, the internet, thankfully, came back on and he cheered up very quickly when sat in front of the games on the BBC History website.  While I made a large coffee and proceeded to mentally beat myself up a bit.

Conclusions of the day:

I am not too bad at the parenting/home ed thing even if I say so myself
Home ed is fantastic when you have a sickly child
I can be an idiot
My plan is really quite a good one if I can pull it off.

And that might be one of my most self indulgent rambles yet! 😉

Clearing the head

If Monday was a cosy, family, at home, recovering strength after weekend’s illness sort of day.  Tuesday was the opposite; it was a get out and embrace life, feel the winter sun, have fun with friends, clear the muzzy head sort of day.

Morning was spent on Maths, English, Spanish, Latin and RE.

RE isn’t something that interests Sam particularly so I doubt it is something that would ever come up freely except in a reaction to news sort of way which isn’t always the best starting point.  But this is where my ‘you can’t make them learn’ and ‘I really want them to know’ opinions clash.  The compromise is to add reading about religions to our weekly reading list.  I find that he will happily listen and ask questions and form opinions this way.  What I want him to take from it is not specific information, more a level of awareness that will hopefully promote tolerance.  We have been using units from Planbee alongside as I think I doubted my knowledge but I think they’re more a hindrance (pointless worksheets) and we’ll just stick to reading and talking things over.

Afternoon was spent going for a walk in the woods with friends.  Icy puddles were a huge hit.

Asthma wheezes kicked in during the evening though and made a very last minute call not to go to Cubs.  He was snuggled in my bed rattling away when I got up this morning so a quietish keep an eye on him day in store.  We’ve a few Amazon parcels to explore.

P.S.  This is the 600th published post on this blog!  Crikey!  That’s a lot of self indulgent rambling 😉

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This is often what ‘school’ looks like 🙂

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String of pearls day

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
? L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

This is one of my favourite Anne quotes (there are many!) and a idea I completely subscribe to.  Our best days are full of little joys.  Yesterday was that sort of day.

A productive start meant everything of the ‘school work’ description was done by quarter past 10 so we had a day to fill.  The need for it to be a ‘recover from cold day’ meant there was no temptation to go far.  So we discussed our options which we narrowed down to

  1. a Winnie the Pooh themed baking session.  I’d discovered in the early hours of the morning it was Winnie the Pooh day and where as a walk and Pooh sticks would have been nice the cold hangover ruled it out.
  2. Computer focussed animation/coding sort of day
  3. Curl up in bed with book supply.

All had a lot going for them so we decided to just work down the list.  We had to go to the shop for ingredients so had a walk and a chat about lots of things, some important, most trivial quite surreal mind wandering drivel.  Seems our period of slight seclusion is over and Sam is keen to get back out socialising more so need to up my game there again.

A pleasant late morning/afternoon followed pottering in the kitchen, watching more Richard Hammond (run out of Blast Lab so back on Wild Weather), working on some of the animation course and making a stopframe motion video, (I got sent to clean the kitchen, know my place 😉  ), Scratch, computer play, family tea and an episode of People Like Us (some of it perhaps not entirely appropriate for Sam but hey ho), everyone else retired to bed about 7.30ish with books and I had a peaceful hour working before managing very early night with a book myself.

Dorset honey cake, honey flapjacks and Winnie, Piglet and Eeyore biscuits.
Dorset honey cake, honey flapjacks and Winnie, Piglet and Eeyore biscuits.

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BTW if any one is looking for a Chinese New Year craft can I recommend our toilet roll monkey, he might be my favourite thing we’ve made for quite a while 🙂  Love Chinese New Year!

Sneezes and sleeplessness

Were the negative points of last week.  Sam’s sleep patterns seem all messed up, left to his own devices two days it was nearly 11am before he rose.  Means mornings are not starting as well as they should.  I’m of the mindset that pottering around at midnight is not healthy but on the other hand you can’t make someone sleep.  All I can do is encourage good habits and hope for the best.  That said I’m awake in the early hours most nights reading and seldom sleep beyond 5.30am whatever time I go to bed. so not exactly a role model in good sleep practices.

Boys have colds and are below par and I’ve a real streamer of a cold, really can’t stop sneezing.  As such it’s definitely been a quiet week, quite a few pj days.  I’ve discovered a flaw in my plan of a project based almost on reading – it requires me to have a voice!

But as ever there were lots of positives.  I’ve lost track of what we did do.  Photo checking time…

There was definitely length and perimeters maths work and we’ve been covering direct and indirect speech in English.

We had a quiet but enjoyable laser tag session.  Well Sam played laser tag, as usual I spent most of the time on a helicopter simulator with a very adorable 3 year old who never seems to get bored of crashing 🙂

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Tuesday seems to have got lost.  I think it was a lots of time on the computer day.  Scratch and animation are high on the current agenda.  We had a go with flipbooks.  Sam found the physical act of flipping hrd so we found an app for the kindle that worked the same way.  Evening was science at Cubs.

Weds we had Jack home ill.  I let Sam sleep in as long as it took to wake up naturally and spent the morning working on monkey crafts for Activity Village.  When Sam got up we walked to the village for a few bits and the Beano.

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We then spent the afternoon on the sofa watching the Wizard of Oz.  I don’t remember watching it with either boy although apparently it was one of Jack’s favourites and he had a very good recollection of what would happen next.  How soon we forget it seems.

A bit more work and then off to Jack’s school for options information evening.  Turns out he has hardly any and they really, really drag out the process.  I always thought that at least the range and ease of doing GCSEs was a plus for school.  I suspect that he’d probably have more choice from our local HE enxam centre as options are so tied by NC constraints.  It’s the amount of science he has to do which is the real negative for us and he’d prefer to drop all modern languages.  However at least one subject he wants would be difficult HE wise.   Anyway he has given it some thought and made sensible choices based on future career options and present enjoyment so I’m happy with him.

Thursday we had fun playing with photoshop trying to manipulate photos to represent ideas.  We started off from Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and melting clocks.  We talked about how he was trying to represent an idea about the nature of time.  We then ‘melted’ our own clock in photoshop.  Sam was inspired then to try different editing techniques. 20160114_15melting clock

staring daggers
staring daggers
the world
words can hurt

Then in the spirit of always learning, according to DIY.org this game is called ‘exquisite corpse’ who knew – we’ve always referred to it as ‘that thing like consequences but you draw’.
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We’ve discovered that DIY has surrealist, geologist and palaeontologist patches, so they’ve been added to the term’s plans.

We also baked brownies.  Perhaps the best legacy from my guiding years, a recipe for cheap, store cupboard, microwave brownies 🙂

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To burn of a tiny amount of the brownies off we played on Kinect Sports for a while with my Dad.

Friday, and the cold was hitting hard.  We did some exploring of the rock collection.

Scratching various rocks with fingernails, paperclips and pennies to see how they fared on the Mohs scale.

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Scratch test on the back of an old tile  to see the different colours of minerals in various rocks.

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Testing for magnetism.20160117_10 Observing the effects of vinegar.
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Then (because you may as well) we set up some shells and an egg in vinegar to observe.  By evening the smallest shell had a hole and 48 hrs there is little shell left.

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We also looked at specific gravity (density relative to water).

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There was more Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab DVD over lunch.  I’d planned to work during the afternoon but I was feeling full of cold and the internet went down.  So Sam played some empire building game on the computer (we’ll call that history 😉 ) and I had a bath.

We spent a fair amount of time playing with a balloon and cardboard tubes.

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We made a lightsaber and a gun (it’s a specific type of gun but I’m not good on these things) from cardboard tubes for the DIY cardboarder patch.

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Then with the internet still down I persuaded the now home teenager to watch Dr Who with me.  Early night and off to bed.  Where I have spent lots of the weekend.  On plus side I am 42% in to War and Peace and really enjoying it.  Not got round to watching last week’s episode though – rubbish at TV watching even when it’s something I want to see!

This is why I should try and blog daily.  I miss the small stuff, I’ve recollections of all sorts of things such as illegal logging in the rainforest, how and why people become homeless and practicalities behind running a charity being discussed.

Misconceptions

To be honest I am too old and too set in my ways to care too much what people think of me (beyond having the social conscience to try to avoid deliberately upsetting anyone obviously).  But sometimes someone says something, usually meant as a complement, that is at odds as how I see myself.  I think this blog is mostly to blame, I try and cover the bad times as well as good but it is difficult to do that when you’re trying to be very mindful of people close to you (inc the boys) reading this.

Anyway I think these are some of the misconceptions that I hear others suggest;

1.  I have some idea what I’m doing with the whole home ed thing in general.

I really, really don’t!

What I do have are:
a) Years of experience of things that don’t work, it’s over 10 years since we made decision to go down home ed path. Doesn’t mean I don’t still mess things up and make mistakes, sometimes inevitably but annoyingly repeating past ones. But I have got experience to draw on and do my best to learn from mistakes.
b) Experience of school setting as an adult. I did 18 months as a trainee teacher. I detest the National Curriculum with a passion. I have no doubt that simply not following the NC is a benefit.
c) Bit of knowledge of what is involved in teaching. This isn’t meant to be teacher bashing at all btw. When I went into primary teaching I needed two D’s at A’level, that is it. That was for a really well respected course too, I know people who needed less. As far as knowledge goes, teachers have to ‘learn’ the topics they are covering the same way we as home educators do. Over time they may build up a fair amount of knowledge if they are delivering the same topic year after year. However, schools like to move teachers about the school regularly and you know the government and it’s NC changes! Teachers are always having to learn same as HEers do. Most of my 18 months was learning about paperwork and classroom management, perhaps a bit about the current vogue in learning strategies (which is no doubt very outdated by now). Very little is applicable to home ed. Teaching is a hard job and I have a lot of respect for teachers, I don’t think for one moment I could walk into a classroom and manage to teach 30 children at once. I don’t have to though HE is very different and even the most experienced teacher has no experience with my child.
d) Experience of seeing my previously HE child (and the trial run 😉 ) go into school never having bothered with the NC and cope fine, actually better than fine. Having a child in school has not enhanced my respect for the education provided by state education at all!

What I suppose they give me is a bit of confidence to ride out the wobbles. Even if the confidence is not so much that I’m doing a good job but that I can’t be doing a worse job than the alternative.

2.  That I have some idea of what I’m doing day to day.

Again no.
Unless we have arrangements with someone or an appointment then every day is left to unfold.
Yes I like us to do an hour of maths and English regularly but even that is open for negotiation most days. We’ve fallen in to habits of when we do it but that is what it is habits that work for us.  Nothing set in stone.
Every day this week I’ve lain in bed in the morning and thought through what we’d do that day only for the day to go nowhere like that.  Tuesday in particular plans seem to change by the second.
In the summer with time on my hands I like to plan. But the plan is only ever an ideas list with lots of days/weeks off pencilled in to take account of the huge number of days we can’t be bothered/have a better offer. I find if we’ve got the right resource we just plod along every day turning the page together to find out what comes next.
Project wise they either grab him and they carry themselves or they don’t, sometimes we ditch an idea completely. We probably only do 2/3 of stuff I plan but we do lots of stuff I don’t. I plan so I have something to draw on to prevent the boredom. That is my dread, that is when I would doubt HE, if I had a bored child. I’d love to leave them to it but tbh mine have never been great at entertaining themselves without a screen (and don’t react well to unlimited screen time – believe me I tried) so having stuff to draw on and stuff that moves on from previous stuff is good to fill the gaps. Plus I love researching and brainstorming ideas even if they are never used, keeps me happy.

3.  That I ‘teach’.

No I can’t imagine anything more painful and forced than delivering lesson to my own son in a one to one set up.  Some of the resources we use do have lesson plans down to the level of scripts, makes me cringe and shudder.  I skim read and we pick out main activity/idea.

I suggest activities, and sometimes even guide him through.  I ask questions and listen to the answer.  I talk to him about what I know and encourage him to share his knowledge. It isn’t unusual for him to know more about something than me.  I do lots and lots of research in order to provide him with resources that are right and engage him. I then help if/when required, join in if something is more fun with 2 and leave him be when not. Sometimes I’m wrong with the resources, often I’m right for a time but anything can become routine and boring eventually and he will grow and change.

I don’t see it as my role to teach, I see it as my role to provide resources and experiences that engage him in learning.
4.   That I control what he learns.

Of course I don’t. I don’t think it is possible to.  A child will only learn when they’re engaged.

Being rather trite and jargonistic, I see us as partners in learning.  As an adult I do feel I have more of a sense of external factors and the ‘bigger picture’.  Although the older they get the more aware they become, Sam has discovered for himself how important a role maths plays in things he’s interested in taking further.  We did have a discussion about the value of English, less convinced but he can see my point :).  Everything else is very much shaped by Sam both at the paper planning stage (always ask what he wants to do, discuss project choices) and at the nitty gritty business end.
I do make suggestions and we negotiate as otherwise we’d never do anything new (with out experience of something they can’t be interested in it) and he’s developed many new interests under prodding. Some things fall flat. One of the most important things I’ve had to learn as a HEer is not to flog a dead horse.

I am clear with him that I have a legal duty to provide him with an education and therefore some effort from him to engage is needed for home ed to remain an option.  Not in a ‘if you don’t work I’ll send you to school’ way but in a ‘this is what needs to happen lets work together to make it happen in a way that makes us both happy’ sort of way.  I think I’d be failing him if he didn’t have a decent grasp of maths and English so therefore I put huge amounts of effort into making sure I keep him engaged by varying approaches, reassessing resources and generally trying to make things fun.  My other criteria is that he engages in hobbies, interests, considers new ideas, thinks about the world and has some variety in the way he spends his time.  I’m very happy to be adaptable about what and how he learns and hands off here if he’s self-motivated.

5. That I’m very social.

Online I probably am.  Face to face I’m very socially awkward, all kinds of anxieties and neuroses.  I’m probably more so with people I’ve met a couple of times and even people I know well.  With strangers I have an act to play and that is easy.  I think it gives impression I’m moody and judgemental … which is only true some of the time 😉

6. That I’m some sort of well organised super-mum balancing it all

Ha, ha, ha, ha

My children have an appalling diet, I try but fail.  Weekends usually end up everyone sorting themselves out for most of the day.  I am rubbish at keeping up with basic appointments like dentist, optician; everything is always done at the last minute or several months late.  My house is never as clean and tidy as I’d like.  Rarely on top of work and admin, always something left undone.  May look reasonably calm and serene on the surface but paddling away just as hard as everyone else underneath.  Insomnia is very helpful in presenting an organised façade, amazing what can be achieved at 2 am, but really don’t recommend it.

 

I think I’m probably an odd mix as home eders go, I’m not religious or in any other way noticeably ‘alternative’.   I’m probably closer in mindset to an unschooler than a lesson planning NC follower but I suspect come across as a bit anti unschooling, which is a pity as I know a number of people who unschool very well and make me feel quite envious.

 

Goal Setting

At this time every year I try and encourage Sam to think about goals for the future.  I try not to get too bogged down in detail and instead give him some guided sheets from Activity Village.

We started by looking at something he could do to help the environment.  He sleeps with his light on a lot (fear of the dark I think) so we agreed that he’d use his lamp instead and when he was used to that move to the nightlights.

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Later in the week we looked at what he could do to help other people.  His idea was he wanted to help children in Africa who don’t have access to clean water.  We discussed what he could do, but have left the idea on the backburner for now, we’re thinking something for World Water Day in March but yet to decide.

While we were looking around we decided to sign up to sponsor a child in the developing world.  After a bit of discussion we opted to sponsor ‘where need is greatest’.

Sam is also quite taken with the idea of Postpals, sending letters and gifts through the post to sick children.  He spent a good while looking and selected a child similar age and mutual interests to him to write to.

20160108_11 We also had some discussion (we’d done enough writing) about ways to be a good friend.  Focussing on one particular relationship.  We’d spent Weds with a friend of mine and I’m sure she won’t mind me saying but Sam doesn’t always have the easiest relationship with her children.  Him and the eldest get on very well when it’s just the two of them, he’s a calming influence, she brings out a fun, mischievous side in him.  Plus they have a lot of interests in common.  He struggles with the younger one though, mostly down to Sam still being really quite protective of his personal space (and needing probably considerably more than most – he’s really not cuddly).  On reflection actually it’s younger children in general at the moment his tolerance levels have dropped for (apart from toddlers he likes those), he’s very sensitive to being ‘bossed about’ among other things.  He’s starting to get better at handling things though and will not get upset and just flatly refuse to see people who cross his boundaries any more instead he’ll speak to their adults and ask them to intervene.  Which I’m really pleased about, it’s a huge step forward for him.

On the way home though Sam wasn’t the nicest I’ve ever seen him, refusing to let the youngest have a turn on his kindle.  It was something I have never seen off him before,  hes always been generous to a fault.  But there is a bit of a recent back story there with a couple of other (now ex) friends in completely separate incidents which really upset Sam at the times, so I didn’t insist (just mentally kicked myself for not encouraging the older two to stay in the seats where it was just the two of them).    But the following day we talked about whether it was kind and he could see it wasn’t.  We discussed how it can’t be nice, usually being the youngest and on the edge and how over excitement at joining in could well play a part in over exuberance.  That Sam could perhaps help by helping younger one to join in, adapting game if necessary.  Credit to Sam, I think he got it, we discussed phrases and strategies he could use to help, ‘please don’t do that I don’t like it, why don’t we…’.  I did have to laugh when we were discussing how Sam could deal with things when he found himself in the middle of a sibling argument so he didn’t have to take sides. I suggested distraction.  So if you see Sam randomly point at an object and yell ‘look a distraction!’  that’s what he’s doing 🙂

We’ve also been looking at personal goals for him; things to learn, books to read, DIY patches to aim for etc.  Looks like we’re going beyond a bit of dabbling in Scratch this year.  I did get another laugh when he told me that a few people on Scratch forums said he could  fix a glitch in one of his games with maths, so he wants to ‘learn maths’.  Specific and helpful there!

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These are the goals set on the way to London.  Appears to be some torture, violence and destroying the world involved.  Elton John and Boris Johnson feature somewhere!  Hmm!

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Meant to add these to the last post.  My gratitude jar (I’m not allowed to share Sam’s apparently.

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Romans, Rainbows and Rocks

New term means new projects.

Romans are the humanities project of the half term.  Romans and ancient history has been a long time interest so it’s a good one for this time of year.  We’ve done a lot of the bigger days out and we’re not in the mood for anything too crafty as work is busy and we have a very hands on science project.  So basically we’re reading through the Usbourne Encyclopaedia of the Roman World.  Discussing ideas, reading things that tie in and following up some of the internet links as we go.  But basically keeping it very low key.  Might try and read the Eagle of the Ninth trilogy too.

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This week we’ve focussed on early pre-Empire Rome, the founding and the Republic.  Covered 3 of Sam’s favourite stories Romulus and Remus, Spartacus and Caesar (that Caesar book was the first book he ever read I think and he must have read it hundreds if not thousands of times since).

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Besides reading we’ve been researching Etruscans on the web, watching History of Ancient Britain; Celtic Britain (again 😉 ) and of course we visited the Celts exhibition at the British Museum.  I had hoped to make it to Butser Ancient Farm but weather, deliveries and the fact it was closed meant it didn’t happen!

We’re sticking with our ‘How the Earth Works’ theme in science but moving on to focus on rocks, fossils and soils this term.  The job for this week was to set up a rock collection.  I bought some samples using the list from this book as a guide (really good book btw).  We read about them and looked at the various samples with the magnifying glass.

20160108_6 20160108_7 20160108_8 20160108_9 It’s been a week for dodging some very heavy showers.  We have made it to the park a couple of times including the Adventure Playground for home ed session.  Where we saw a rainbow, got wet and muddy and made ‘relax bottles’ and ‘graditude jars/pots’.20160107_3 20160107_6 20160107_7 20160107_8

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We’re looking at length and measurement in Maths and had a bit of fun estimating the length of broken matchmakers before eating them.

We’ve also started an animation course on FutureLearn, the first that Sam has joined in with.  Not got far but looks fun.  He started playing with the stop frame app and there is a video on the Facebook page.

Full and busy first week back, a nice mix of days out/social time and time in pjs 🙂