When Pete asked Sam if he’d been playing games all day, he said yes, dumping me in it somewhat. He did clarify he’d been playing the metaphorical Game of Life, which made me laugh.  I’d hope life feels more like a game than work anyway.

This morning I let Sam sleep in.  Heat is not our friend he was pathering about until gone 1 am when he went to sleep in our bed, coincidentally helping end my sleep for the night (been a very long day!)  When he got up he did his maths and accidentally tomorrow’s too.  The extra activity involved laying a treasure hunt for Jack, unfortunately he told him the prize was an ice lolly which made the steps between start and freezer a bit pointless 😀 English, Latin and Science were polished off too.

Then we did some science. Sam made an arch dam.

We looked at water pressure, comparing the outflow from holes positioned at different heights. A small water fight followed.

Final bit of science was investigating tsunamis. The afternoon was a lovely home ed group session. I’d set up some story telling props to make. We’d made versions at home before though so Sam happily settled for an afternoon of comic strip drawing, some collaboratively before playing bulldog outside.

Finally at home it was games time. I missed the photo before the game started. He’d spent about 1/2 hr setting it up as a pretty faithful map of 1939 pre-WW2 Europe.

Nets, Dancing and Robots

The morning disappeared making nets in maths and then learning about Japanese holidays. We had some fun practising a dance outlined in our book.
After lunch we had a trial Lego robot session.  Lots of fun had 🙂

Walk in the Woods

We had a day in the woods today on a bushcraft course with our HE group.  Was a lovely relaxed day, learning about the woods around us, making fires and cooking over them and a bit of whittling.
Paying for it now on the allergy front but was worth it.

The Great Home Ed Bake Off 2017

Today was all about cake. 
Sam spent most of the morning decorating his cake while I made prizes and certificates and prepared crafts for the kids to ignore in favour of admiring cakes and asking when we could eat them.
Days like this really make the hassle of organising group activities worth it as lots of happy people, lots of fun and the cakes were really amazing.  We even had a croquembouche with spun sugar from an 11yo. 
Does cause much amusement in the run up as frayed parents unravel with stress of it all on Facebook 🙂 One of those real group bonding activities.
The top one is Sam’s. Theme was spring, didn’t they do well? 😀
P.s. Sam did manage maths, latin, Spanish and some of his English too 🙂

Fun and Games

I broke my usual rule of not working during the school day this morning as was trying to meet a deadline but Sam was able to get on with most things while I sat nearby anyway.  He doesn’t need me like he did, actually it is more a case that he needs the computer so I have to give way 🙂
Besides maths, English, Latin and Spanish the work of the day was mainly Chinese themed. 
Sam made a relief map from his Ancient China book while I read aloud from our Stories from the Silk Road and we watched an episode of Sam Willis’ Silk Road.

After lunch we had home ed group.  As it was an extra session to usual because we originally had a workshop booked we opted to have a parents afternoon.  Got the kids to bring board games, some of them set up a cake shop as they were fundraising for comic relief and left them to it.  Parents settled in the other room with coffee to have a chat about all things home ed and browse books people had bought along.  Very pleasant afternoon.

Architecture Workshop

I had a bit of a mess up with my diary for today.  I’d expressed interest in a workshop for Sam and then as details weren’t confirmed for a while forgot and booked something for our local group on the same day.  Oops! However as the event I’d booked for today was something for the younger ones and since I was planning to abandon Sam in town to entertain himself or leave him home with my dad while I went with other people’s kids I don’t feel too guilty about asking someone to deputise on the day.  Slightly sad as seeing photos of happy children on the trip makes me think I would have liked to be there. It was one Sam and I really enjoyed a few years ago so I knew the younger ones coming up would and I’d have liked to enjoy it again with them, no feeling like the one that comes from helping to bring a smile to a child’s face.  I love it 🙂

Anyway I wasn’t there.  I was off having fun with my own child!  Very rare that I find myself booking a workshop run by someone else and I can’t remember the last time we did a workshop without knowing anyone on it.  Might be 10 years ago in our first year or 2 of home ed.  I nearly found reasons not to go and with Sam ill all week and me waking up with the lurgy this morning it looked like a non-starter but I went in to Sam and he was up and getting dressed at 6.30 (my obsessively earlyness kicked in). The subject matter really appealed to both of us and meant that we ended up there and were really glad we went.  Actually not going with friends was probably an advantage as was wholely focussed on workshop content.

We started with a tour of the cathedral highlighting various architectural features.

After a lunch break we had a workshop looking at gargoyles and grotesques with time to make a clay model of one.

After the gargoyles we had time on our own in the Cathedral for sketching.
Or in the adult’s case asking questions of the numerous helpful guides hanging about, and googling the answer on one of the guide’s iPads 😉

Two random photos.  The Cathedral itself and Jane Austen’s grave which I have always loved for it’s simplicity and is something I can’t help returning to.

We missed the bus home from the station by about two minutes (we were on wrong side of the busy road) so managed a charity shop trip and a decent collection.  Meant in the end we left the house just after 7am and didn’t get back until 5pm. As Sam said a long day but a good one.

Changes of Plan

It has been a few days of having to adapt plans while battling a cold (Sam) or aches and pains (me).  We’ve done well though.

We’ve managed loads of sit down at the table stuff.  Great strides through maths.  Move to a new Latin curriculum is going well.

Tuesday morning was a peaceful work and reading and documentary watching.  My Dad popped by of the afternoon since we’re out on Thurs (usually Grandad day) and we chatted over structure building from natural resources.

Trying to kick start art again we have picked up Sketch Tuesday again. Today was a panic as the people running the afternoon’s group for us cancelled so it was trying to let people know what was happening, deal with Sam who was reluctant to go (until they finally cancelled completely he was happy enough with my plans). 

Anyway we did some teamworking games and challenges, made costumes from newspaper and held a fashion show and played games.  All good fun.

A Good Problem, But Still a Problem

That old chestnut, socialisation, is starting to rear it’s head as a problem again but not in the way outsiders might expect.  Actually been an issue in this way for some time just happens to be in my mind.

The problem in our local area is actually the sheer scale of numbers of people home educating.  Once upon a time I probably knew nearly everyone home educating with in a 30 mile radius of our house by face or at least by online presence (well on the mainland).  Now I am aware I almost certainly don’t know everyone in a 3 mile radius!  In fact there are probably similar numbers in that 3 mile radius now that there were in the 30 mile radius 12 years ago.

How can this possibly be a bad thing? Well obviously in many ways it is wonderful, there are many more people to gel with and many more activities to chose from.

I do worry about new members though.  As the groups have grown people understandably separate out into smaller groups (I hope not cliques although can see why people would say that).   People don’t see the same people so regularly so at events new people get missed as it’s not obvious they are new or just someone you don’t know. Plus people are often distracted, catching up with someone they have known for 3 years but haven’t managed to cross paths with in 6 months, and despite best intentions might not make it over to talk to that person on their second visit. 

Also where do you start?  When I started out the local HE group had 2 activities a week and if you wanted to meet home eders you went along to them.  I can only imagine what looking at this whole long list of stuff on offer does to people and how scary it is to try and find your way in.  Because there is so much on so easy to put it off to another day if you are nervous about going along.  Sadly for shy/anxious children, those with ASD, or those newly deregistered the scale of numbers must be off putting.  We regularly get at least 25 and can be 50+ children to social activities, the group that runs tutorials gets many, many more.  That many children even when actively engaged are noisy.

As an organiser the biggest problem is how do you cap numbers without guilt (lots of guilt)? I find myself frequently booking more than one workshop from the same people just so we can fit in more but that is still not enough.  In the middle of a set of two workshops where we will end up accommodating around 70 children. The same activity was offered on a drop on basis a very easy trip away only a month ago and still I ended up with a waiting list.  Not just me doing it either, virtually every local trip/activity fills really quickly.  I can imagine running a trip/activity is a scary prospect for many now.  The organising is a much bigger job than it was.  Invite only stuff makes me feel uncomfortable, we’ve been left out and hasn’t felt nice but when you can only accommodate a handful I get wanting to make sure it is your child’s friends.

One real positive of the growth is after a few years where every activity was dominated by younger children and the only way to ‘socialise’ with over 1o’s was to attend tutorials is we do have a real thriving group of 11-14yo out and about at trips and social activities, which is very nice to see.

I am not sure where I was going with this (started it too long ago!) more a general observation and wondering what the next 5 years will bring. Already we see moves where organisations are taking responsibility and creating events for home educators to book with them. Wonder if that is the future? More organised with services provided professionally/semi-professionally? Is it the death of every one bringing an activity to do at a church hall table style of group? What will all this mean for the feeling of ‘community’?

For us personally we are happy, we get a good mix of big group socialising with lots of ages, time with friends, time with family and time just us. We don’t have anywhere near enough time to spend as much time with each friend as we’d like unfortunately, but have accepted that we can’t do it all.

So Many Biscuits

One of my primary aims of this year was for Sam to develop more independence over managing his ‘workload’. Evidence suggests that it is working.  We have routines and he knows where the tasks are noted so more often than not lately he’s just started getting on with stuff.
Which when you are running an activity for about 30 children and want 5 biscuits a child and spares for breakages is a bit of a godsend.
It was a hot morning!  In case anyone is interested this is the recipe I always use if I need biscuits to hold shape and they have the advantage of being quick to bake so good for mass production.  Do chill the dough for a couple of hours though – well worth it.

We were trying different icing techniques.  Sam got some quite impressive hearts and waves.  I gave up on techniques then as they wanted to do their own things.  Always go with the flow.

Mainly as I couldn’t face the cleaning of the floor that going outside would have entailed and it is much easier to tidy up if the children are otherwise engaged, I gave them a length of paper and pens to write ideas for future sessions.  Gave me some laughs but also interesting.  One thing that is becoming apparant is how much this monthly session is coalescing into a group mentality rather than a collection of families.  Children look and listen to me and apart from those supporting younger siblings, parents muck in to help the group as a whole as needed or gossip on the edge.

We spent the rest of the session on playing ‘chair football’.  Good evener out of height, speed and strength so fun for all 🙂  Surprised how many did immediately jump in to play.  Never sure of doing games at home ed groups as does scare some of the quieter ones but they all seem keen at the moment and I am on a quest to sort out a big enough parachute for a large number of older children before the summer.  Oh and reading their wish list balls for dodge ball.

Write Off Day

It is a long time since we have had one of those.  But hey ho they happen to us all. 
I woke up with a sick headache which was not a good start.  Took two coffees before I could move properly.  Then the printer really didn’t like the card I was using to print off stuff for the day’s home ed group session.  Sam’s work didn’t go well as instead of sitting with him calm and helpful I was sat on the floor ranting at the printer.
There came a point where we cut our losses and decided to follow the whim for new colouring pens for the HE group and nip into town to buy some, pay for a trip that was hanging over me (needed bank transfer and I’ve no idea what my online banking passcode is, never got in to using it) and get a birthday cake for a friend since I obviously wasn’t going to have time to make one.
Frustrations didn’t end there as we missed the bus by seconds and then mislayed bus ticket as I was getting on bus so had to pay again for the return journey.  Meant another meal eaten on the go while I packed up for the group.
Group was lovely.  No photos as I was busy constructing a dragon puppet, playing parachute games and worrying that there was no one about in the office so I had no way of locking the hall on departure.  
Stresses continued in a minor way at home, work and HE related – I so wish people would read messages properly! Oh and FB would have events where you can set it that people have to be approved before being registered as ‘going’, has to be a better system for limited numbers events. 

We did manage a bit of ‘work’ in the evening.  A Chinese take away, for Chinese New Year.  Sam did have a go with chopsticks!

This was the only photo I managed of the day.  Which sums it up neatly. Oh well “tomorrow (or today now) is another day”.