Things you can’t teach

Kindness, compassion, respect for and awareness of the needs for others, compromise…

This week has highlighted that so much on a national level. My facebook feed has been full of ‘look for the helpers’ quotes and memes and there was plenty to see.

On a much smaller scale my boys have given me plenty of encouragement that they are growing up in to fundamentally decent human beings who, ignoring the fact that they are my children so of course I love them, I can like as individuals because of who they are.

I’ve commented already on what a star Sam was earlier this week when I was struggling, immediate response was what could he do to help?  On Thursday we were out at a home meet and a new child Sam’s age came along, a quick wave of the hand was all it needed to get Sam out of a game to say hello and take new child off to join in with Sam and friends.

Friday was what really prompted this post.  We had a day out ‘for me’! Sometimes I can dress up a visit I really want to do as educational and interest him in it (art exhibitions in particular) but a trip to a couple of Jane Austen exhibitions held no interest for him and being selfish I wanted to join them myself without worrying about involving him. He was perfectly happy to accompany me though, made no complaints at all and we worked the day so there was stuff he’d enjoy too.

As the exhibitions were in a library Sam ended up taking himself off to read in the children’s library leaving me free to potter at leisure collecting him at the end to show him a few things of interest to him.

After we finished up there we went to a toy shop to get a present, Sam loves picking presents for boys a few years younger than him 🙂 We spent ages pottering in there.

Street market for a browse and collect lunch and then to the park we went. I think this is our second favourite park after Jubilee Gardens in London. Not sure why, I think it is the setting.

Sam played happily while I sat in the shade with my sewing. Overheard a pair of mums near me (who hadn’t connected him to me) commenting on how lovely Sam was. He was spinning their toddlers on the roundabout and I think they were relieved to not have to venture out of the shade.  It always makes me smile to see the chain of small children he seems to gather around him in a playground 🙂
We spent some time watching the eels and fish and playing ‘Pooh leaves’ (leaves in plentiful supply, sticks weren’t) on the bridge before leaving the park.  Ice cream on Cathedral green before heading home hot but happy.

Busy Days

We’ve had a hugely busy couple of days, good ones though and bits woefully short of photos with others perhaps over represented but hey ho.
We started Thurs with an early morning Tesco shop and a early start to Sam’s work as we were expecting someone round for coffee.
Again a no show but taking the deep breath and ‘be kind, you never know what others are going through” mind set.
We spent much of the morning getting frustrated with an origami set for making geometric shapes.
After lunch we decided to crash a home ed coffee afternoon in a local cafe.  Pleasant afternoon, Sam went to the park to play with others, I drank coffee and chatted.  It was gone 4pm by then so we caught a bus to Gosport for tea in KFC as a treat and then headed to the Submarine Museum for one of the twilight tours they are laying on for home educators. Was not what I expected, the tour was not of the big sub you see here but a smaller one and we didn’t really go into the museum it was all in the education suite. However, I suspect we had more fun as a result. We’ve toured the big sub many times and been in the museum many times. Plus we have passes and can go whenever we want so nice to do something different.
A couple of Sam’s friends came back for a sleepover after.

Friday was a morning of play before Sam’s friends were picked up about lunchtime.  We spent the afternoon finishing off the treasure trail of Gosport we’d started with friends a few weeks ago. Sun was out and it was a lovely afternoon and we’ve located a lovely picnic venue for one day.

Going with the Flow

We’re well and truly off the boil now and drifting towards the summer break.  Ideally we’d stop now and take ourselves off to beaches and cliffs of Pembrokeshire to clear the muzzy heads and cleanse the soul. Humidity and hayfever is no good for any of us. Unfortunately with one in school and sitting a combination of mocks and real GCSEs then escape is a distant dream at the moment.

Days are still passing pleasantly and productively if less follow the plan and more roll with it. Just crashing of an evening so expect blogging to get more erratic. We’re close to the end of what I’d planned for us any way as I know this dip is coming. I’d hoped to keep momentum up until half term but hey ho, lesson is that a nice day in the woods isn’t worth the week long headache after, need to try and persuade nature loving home eders that the beach is better, we can do that 😉

I say it a lot I know, but I think it is easy to take for granted the positives of home ed when you’ve been doing it a while but every now and again get a mental reminder that really do love it. 

Had a good example of the benefits on Thursday. We were reading a book about Japan together and looking at a picture in the book with lots of different flags on. Sam started pointing out ones he knew and it turned out to be quite a lot more than me and this is something I pride myself on being good at.  So we decided to do a jigsaw that I’d bought on spec a few weeks before and we spent the rest of the morning on that and quizzing each other about it.  We did pause to consider where he’d gained this knowledge as not something we’ve really done formally or informally, not one of his pet subjects that he’s taken up him self either. We could only conclude it was all the hours playing military strategy games on the computer 🙂  Knowledge he’d probably still have gained if he was going to school but whether he’d have the same time for the hobby or the time and scope to spend the time demonstrating what he knows is questionable. Also to be honest whether he’d have the same pride in knowing these things or whether it would have been displaced by shame because he doesn’t know what a subordinate clause is, or kicked out of him on the playground for being geeky, I wonder.

Friday and I fancied a day out. Actually it was more I didn’t want a day in. Sam was very amenable, although he did point out that we’d been out Monday, Weds and Thurs to home ed activities.

We decided that the main aim was to get sushi for lunch as he was keen and we’d been reading about Japanese food this week. We were a bit flummoxed as I was sure there was one at Gunwharf but apparently not any more. So we headed to Southampton instead, quite happily as we quite like Southampton and really, really hate Portsmouth.

We spent an hour pottering in the art gallery. Quite pleased to find a Lowry and there was a very intriging Mounties and Geishas picture that we spent an awful long time discussing.

  Then lunch in Yo Sushi! Sam even had raw fish, I didn’t!

Finally a bit of shopping. We found an oriental shop that sold us some Japanese sweets and biscuits. Sam also found a man willing to teach him how to play Warhammer.  He’s teetering on the brink with this one as he could fall headlong into it as a hobby as ticks so many Sam boxes but he is seriously put off by the price (phew!)


Steam and Explosions

I’m angry, really bloody angry.

The last few days have shown the worst side of home ed, the flakiness and the lack of awareness of others that some home educators show. 

I am generally quite laid back about things now, I do get irritated by persistant unreliability and in particular lack of communication, it is so easy to head off potential worry and problems. Also a lot easier to be accommodating if you know there are issues such as social anxiety, chronic health problems.  Communication really does solve most things and avoid ruffled feathers.

Generally I can’t complain with trips I run. I jokingly say I scare people but maybe I do.  What has annoyed me is seeing over 50% of people cancel on the last minute on a friend. Definitely far, far more annoyed watching it happen to someone else.

It’s like people don’t consider that even though there might be no costs setting up the trip was still a lot of work to do in organising. They don’t seem aware that low numbers can put a trip at risk or make it not work as well for those who do show because some things do benefit from a critical mass of children or just frankly just be embarrassing. They seem blissfully unaware that we all contribute to the reputation home educators have and the effect that has on venues offering activities or the willingness of other home educators to organise activities.

Anyway it has also shown some of the best sides of home educators too as I do have a cracking bunch of friends to moan and grumble with.

And in the case of one to try and stop an explosion with!  Today’s Weds outing saw us near to home doing a town trail in local town solving clues. Great fun and really makes you look at things you don’t normally notice. We only managed half before rain and ill child (not mine) stopped play, so another hour or so still to do 🙂

At home we read and discussed growth of factories, steam powered machines and the effect on the growth of towns.
Looked at religions in Asia.
Finished a handwriting book and he was pleased to see the improvement.
Did some more on shapes; terminolgy and drawing regular polygons.

Geffrye Museum

A photo heavy blog, featuring lots of nice chairs. A lovely day at the Geffrye Museum in London.  It’s converted almshouses (which I now understand what they were at last) and the history of the home.  I loved the tour of the alms house, the pre 1900 rooms best and the beautiful gardens, very glad we waited until they were open. Sam was taken with the exhibition of teenage bedrooms and was talking about redecorating his.
Total gem of a place. 
Although better booking system for tours/activities and a ban on big buggies (or a one way system) would improve it.


To Be Or Not To Be

After a speedy morning’s work we spent yesterday at the theatre watching Hamlet.  Very glad it wasn’t our first introduction as was far from the best performance we’ve seen.  I kept falling asleep.  We had a hissed conversation that it wasn’t a patch on the David Tennant version (sadly only seen on DVD).  Come to the conclusion that Shakespeare in an indoor theatre isn’t right, especcially one that was mostly empty.  Very, very excited to have tickets for Othello at The Globe over Easter though 🙂
Hamlet did let Sam indulge in plenty of sarcasm about how cheerful it was.

Big Day Out and the Aftermath

Wednesday was our third trip to Kidzania.  Here’s posts from trip 1 and trip 2, showing you how much we loved them. Trip 3 was a let down mainly as there was far to few staff on for the number of children in there (school groups so prebooked and known about) and the kids managed so few activities. They enjoyed themselves and it was a lovely social day. But bit of a let down after the other sessions.

As I’d lost Monday to hayfever brain fog, Tues to answering last minute queries and organisation for Kidzania and Weds we were out from 7 am until gone 9pm. Thurs and Fri were spent desperately scrabbling around trying to fit work in to hours I normally wouldn’t. Sometimes it’s needs must though.

Comfortable morning’s work achieved on Thurs before trampolining. I tried to get a photo but he was too quick and too many other children about.  So here he is bright red and sideways.

We had to run some errands after.  Which we didn’t actually manage thanks to poor show by others. We did cheer ourselves up with some charity shop bargains though.

Sam complained of feeling ill on Friday. Another day we’d have got on with it but I was more than happy to leave him to reading about Japanese warlords while I worked.  In the end we did do most of his day’s stuff just later in the day.  Another tick for flexibility.

Red House Museum

We needed a change of scene on Friday. While it is nice having regular groups, we do like to go places and don’t seem to have had the time lately. Well I like to go places and Sam enjoys it when he is there!

As we’re up in London twice in the next 10 days decided to go somewhere completely different. So we went to Christchurch.  The main motivation was that the museum (Red House) was an old workhouse. However there is also a ruined Norman Castle there which I expected Sam to enjoy more and I was expecting a quaint market town and we love those.

Mixed reactions.  The castle and Norman house were interesting and we should have loved them.  However there was graffiti and loads of litter that rather spoiled them and we moved on quickly. The back streets we walked down were definitely quaint and we even found a replica dunking stool.

The edges of the main area of town had quite a few interesting independent stores and we liked it.  The main town area though had an air of neglect and scummyness that I wasn’t expecting.

Negatives aside we really liked the museum.  Small, friendly and lots to do.  We focused on the Victorian area downstairs but did go up to the prehistory area too.  Spent a surprising amount of time in the fashion gallery too.  I suspect because it is something I know about I can tell hime stuff beyond the cards and in a way that builds links to things he knows.
The gardens would be lovely on a nicer day.  We were a bit taken aback to find dinosaurs among the trees.

We then wandered around the Priory.Before some lunch and window shopping.

A very good day.

Going with Moods

We had intended to go to London today, big plans.  Both of us were tired though this morning.  It was a hard call as often a day out shakes us out of the doldrums and reenergises us but at the end of the day Sam is a bit too wheezy for my peace of mind and I need to be on the ball for work this weekend so we opted to stay home.
We played solitaire card games, Sam stayed home and worked on his Art award while Pete gave me a lift to our local Range to pick up supplies for our HE group next week, then we pottered down to the beach (and arcade).
Afternoon was spent on playing WW2 strategy games on the computer if you were Sam, or sewing and catching up on a bit of tv if you were me.  We watched the last episode of The Silk Road and now he’s drawing flags to test Pete while we wait on pizza.

Science, Sun and Ships

The major job of yesterday morning was science as we are a week off schedule!
The topic how things work was far too wide a scope so have taken Sam’s current interest in structures and architecture and we are looking at civil engineering, starting with bridges and tunnels.
We were starting off with an introduction to engineering.  Last week he’d made a pyramid from wood offcuts and mud and we’d let it dry.  Now he was testing the strength.  It withstood a vigorous earthquake but not a hammer 🙂
The next job was to make a bungee cord for an egg from a safety pin, elastic bands and a leg from a pair of tights.  Did get smashed eventually.
Finally we were looking at shapes of structures and testing them.  Tent structures not so strong. But we could see why columns are popular.
We then headed in to Gosport to replenish hayfever treatments and pick up lunch before meeting friends at the dockyard for laser quest.  Parents escaped outside.
Friends were heading to the Mary Rose after so we gate crashed.  It is so much nicer in there now it is not so horribly, horribly hot.  The views of the ship are awe inspiring.  Back to loving it again 🙂