Sunday, 28 June 2009

The difference five minutes can make.

Last Tuesday, we had an unexpected knock on the front door while we were having lunch.
It was actually a civilised cooked lunch, and William was asleep on the sofa after a very busy morning out on the bikes. Totally unheard of for him.
It was a lady from the LEA wanting to confirm that I was indeed Home Educating Jonathan and David. I know this isn't correct procedure, and I can only assume that the headmaster from the village school that she had been visiting, had said what a lovely lady I was and that he was sure I wouldn't mind!!! Actually, what she said was that she was just passing and hoped that I didn't mind! An unannounced intrusion from an Education Welfare Officer? Why should I mind?!!!!
I have nothing to hide. The boys are all happy and healthy and well. A bit dirty maybe but then they are boys!!!
But it was still an invasion of privacy and the principle of the thing. As a Home Educator I always feel very judged by outsiders as to what we do as a family. How the boys behave etc More than I did when they were at school.
It was quite amusing though, as she looked very uncomfortable about knocking on the door, and although I wasn't rude or unpleasant, I didn't exactly make it easy for her! She had my name wrong (I remarried 4 years ago) and didn't even know that I had anothe HE'd son, whom I had been in contact about before. She asked which school he had been REMOVED from.....I had to smile at that. She made it sound like I went in and took him from school by force!! Not that Tom had taken his de reg letter in to his form teacher by himself and said goodbye to everyone quite happily! She said that they would send an information pack and a Programme of work form and that once that had been completed, that would be us ticked of the list for another year. So not just a numbers thing then, eh? There was me thinking they didn't care....obviously wrong about that!! ;-)
I managed to converse with her for a good few minutes, totally by myself, with no kids hanging on, or trying to earwig, join in or drown me out!!!!

She picked a good time...had she knocked just five minutes earlier she would have found this.......

The boys had been using sledgehammers and angle grinders, drills, hammer and chisels and saws to remove a section of wall of the brick shed, from outside the back door. We are creating a boot room. Wonder what the LEA would make of that!!!

In a way, despite feeling that I had brought it upon myself by crowing far too loudly recently about the LEA not being able to keep track of the HE children they do know about, it has actually had a positive effect. Initially, I thought, ugh far too much effort to have to write about the boys HE stuff for the LEA, then I thought about how awful it would be if they did want to visit...our house is such a mess, then I thought I could 'use' it as a tool to get the boys to pull their socks up in various areas that they have become lazy.....
I asked the boys to spend some time thinking about all the things they have been doing this last year and to write some things down to help me write a report for the LEA. Then one evening I sat down to make a few notes of my own. Now its not really in my nature to put a positive spin on such a thing as this. I hate following rules, jumping through hoops for the pleasure of other people for no valid purpose, but I actually found it quite a positive experience in the end.
I re read the letter I did last year for Tom, when they contacted me, and then I read through their guidance notes they sent through this time. I had covered every angle of every suggestion so felt quite pleased with myself. There were no loose ends.
Then I started my list of activities for David....I used 4 sides of an A5 notebook and still could have written more! Jonathan was slightly harder as his activities are very outdoor based but still I had 3 sides for him. Yet to do Tom's, but the point I am trying to make is that despite feeling like we don't do very much sometimes, it all adds up when you write it down in one place!!
We do loads....they have a varied life full of lots of different opportunities, and afterwards I felt good about the whole thing.
A shame that this educated person from the education authority still couldn't get all the names right on the letters, or the spelling of them for that matter!
They don't scare me.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Time for a change

I have been toying with the idea for a while now of a new photo for the blog. Rob tried to get an updated version of the original Survival family photo from the beach in Cornwall, but to no avail. In a way, that wasn't what I wanted anyway. It is, I feel, time for a change. A shift in emphasis perhaps. Not sure really.
Since that photo in Cornwall, taken over 18 months ago, they have all changed dramatically, except maybe, David. Will was only 18 months old there and is now quite a little boy. Tom is now a proper young man, looking far older than his 14 years. Jon has left the boyish looks behind...looking much broader these days and certainly on his way to join Tom in the ranks of young men. It is scary.
So Will gets pride of place on the blog for a while, with the photo of him washing his hands in the stream near HE camp, still wearing his pyjamas!! Joining in with the spirit of things...the older ones and Rob actually got undressed and washed!! Many of you will know the struggle I have had in the last couple of years having another little one. It has been, and still is, a difficult situation, but hey, we're ok!!
My wee man is a keen artist. He loves looking at books, 'reading' books, and being read to. He loves Bob (family pony) and the ducks and chickens in the garden. He likes to help me in the veg patch and loves anything to do with outdoors and nature.
We're doing ok xx
The summer solstice brings changes for us all.

Post Script
I have just looked back at my first few posts in November 2007........where did all my grass go?!!!! *sigh* (shrugs shoulders and goes off to water the veg patch and shut in hens and ducks
;-) lol)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Writing, HE and autonomy

I feel a little ramble coming on.
I'm not sure that this post is going to make it to the publishing stage but we'll start and see how it goes!
I usually start a blog entry knowing what I want to write about and it is usually sparked by a certain event, activity or photo. But today it isn't like that at all.
I felt the need to write. I can remember feeling like that as a child. Sitting down at my desk (a heavy duty shelf at the right height, across the alcove in my room) with pencil or invariably fountain pen in one hand, with either a clean sheet of paper or a new little booklet I had just made from scrap paper on the desk in front of me. And I wouldn't know what to write about. Occaisionally I sat down because I had something I wanted to get down on the paper before I forgot it, but usually because I wanted to write. I enjoyed writing. Creative writing. Writing letters to penfriends in various countries, some English and some...not!! Writing thank you letters. Writing an informative and funny letter to bring a smile to a relative that spent a lot of her time living in hospital. And sometimes when the urge to write was so great, but the creative juices were simply not flowing, I copied things out of books. ( Incidentally, I hated writing essays for homework)
I realise now that had I been Home Educated, had I not spent so many of my days being forced or coerced into doing things I either did not want, or did not enjoy doing, had I been able to always sit down when I had the creative urge and write what I wanted to, I probably would have written a whole lot more and maybe would have learnt more about myself. Beatrix Potter springs to mind here.
Instead, I was at school like the majority of children and forced to think far too early about 'What you want to do with the rest of your life' and I made so many bad decisions.
Writing for me stopped in my teenage years when I felt writing down things could be providing evidence for my extra curricular activities, and that was not a wise move!!!
So here I am at 35 still learning about myself. Still working out what makes me tick. Trying to mend a broken part of me that just doesn't seem to want to heal. Looking back and remembering some of the things that I dreamt about when I was a child, and realising that they aren't so different to what I dream about now. Wanting to write and share our life stories with other people and not knowing where to start!! I have almost come full circle and what was it that made the the circle break, or distort somewhere in between? Not having the time to learn about myself whilst growing up. School.
So here I am, wanting for my boys the chance to learn about themselves and not to be forced into making decisions about their future until they are ready. Working out what makes you tick is so important and can save years of fumbling around in the dark so to speak.
Only an autonomous home educating life can give them that. Time and space to just be.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Pockets of time...

Now although this first photo is obviously a coconut, there is a method to my madness. The title will eventually make sense, so bear with me!
Jonathan won this today at the village fete....He threw 3 balls, the first one knocked this off it's little post, the second hit a post but not hard enough and the third missed. But he was pleased with his prize.
Now David had the choice of throwing soaked sponges at the head teacher of the village school that he attended for 8 days last year, or the coconut shy. The first choice was tempting because David LOVES slapstick comedy and he really liked the idea of soppy wet sponges being thrown at a man in stocks....what a sport that man is!!! The queue was a mile long and all of them children, obviously! But for David the idea of it being the head teacher was just a little too dangerous for him. I don't think he could quite get his head around the whole idea of doing it to a man that he had looked up to in school...... interesting eh?!
So he picked the coconut shy...threw the first two balls and hit the smae post but the coconut didn't fall. The old chap really felt it ought to have done so moved it so it balanced precariously and then David missed it on the last throw. Never mind, it was a lovely gesture and David did actually hit it twice so he was happy really.
Then Jonathan had a go at the throw the darts at the cards game to win a goldfish (like we have anywhere to put one right now!!) which wasn't run by a member of the village. He paid for two goes himself. The first time he got one card, but when he went back again later on, he got three darts on one card. The lady said then that he had to get the three darts on different cards. To which he replied, 'oh, I didn't realise' and she said ' hard luck'. What a lovely lady! ( I really must curb my sarcasm you know, it is getting rather out of hand) At what point did she think it was a good idea to tell him that? The sign said '3 darts on 3 cards wins a goldfish' and as I wasn't there to question it, she got away with it. Hmmm Jon felt itwas very unfair but wasn't brave enough to challenge her, as David or Tom would probably have done. I know I would have!!!!

But Louis did us all proud! I entered him on a whim into the Dog Show, in the 'Dog the judge would most like to take home', and he came second!!!! I've neverdone anything like that before and my heart was pounding as I walked in to the ring. Anyone would've thought it was Crufts, not the village fete, the way I felt!!!!
Will walked the last half of it with me and was there when they handed us the rosette. He was really pleased and kept saying 'Louis got second place' all the way home.
Anyone spot the odd human smile on the dog there? Bizarre!
And this morning we made butter....from cream, by hand. The original instructions I found said use a jar and to speed it up add a marble, so knowing that my two have the attention span of a gnat, and David has the staying power of a chocolate fireguard, I opted to add the marble.
Mistake. The glass cracked!! It was a great big pickle jar too. So then Jonathan suggested the Tupperware milkshake ancient item from my childhood, but it worked brilliantly!!
Here it is on this morning's home baked bread...yummy!
And these are the pages of David's latest 'lapbook'. It's called Pockets of Time, because it is made up of little cards with the main parts of each chapter on them, which you are supposed to order correctly as a reading comprehension activity. One pocket for each chapter.It also has a master card at the end for easy checking. This one is a Spiderwick one, and now has a lovely cover too. I think we will do A little House in the Big Woods one too, as we have begun to read it and David is REALLY enjoying it. Thats where the butter making idea came from, today.
So my post title is sort of because of the last item here, but also because it also describes blogging in a way. Each post is like a Pocket of time... a chapter of our lives, quite often for me it is in the order that they happen and it is testing my memory of our recent days/weeks etc The chapters of a book can all blur into the one big story until you separate them into little bits.
And isn't that like education too?You think you haven't been doing a great deal until you look back at your postings and realise how busy and productive you have been. It kind of happens in little pockets....quite often the boys get hooked on a certain thing for a while and then all of a sudden they move on to something new, without hardly mentionning the old thing at all!
Sorry if I'm rambling and not making any sense!! I t did when I started writing it!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Just had to share this....

photo of Tom driving off road at the weekend!!! He was at an off roading weekend with friends (that are my age!!!) and one of them was very kind and let Tom have a go at the course in their car!!!! Are they great or what!! He camped and helped out. He is so lucky!! Thanks Phil!!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Completed Frog lapbook

Another lapbook that David and I made from Homeschoolshare. David enjoys the colouring in, and there is writing enough for him. He is keen to do more and this morning we bought a Pocket of Time for the first Spiderwick Chronicles book. It came from Currclick and it was a downloadable purchase, which meant we could get on with it there and then. Strike while the iron was hot, so to speak. I know we claim to be autonomous, but it is his choice. He enjoys doing them and so do I! Although my conscience is struggling slightly with the amount of paper we use for all these printable things. We still probably use less than they would at school.
I also had the bigger two boys sitting down with Maths workbooks today. It was quite amusing to see their faces drop! They dutifully sat there and worked through a few pages and completed a multipplication square each. David and Willie used the computer. Seussville and Numbertime. David realised yesterday that he could find Dino run and Bug on a wire from the long list on Mini clip. Hewas very pleased with himself.
Willie has been really joining in with things...he coloured in a Frog lapbook cover page too, colouring and drawing with a vengeance. In fact the other day Rob and I went to Compton Verney and Will was given a sketch pad by the receptionist. In one of the first rooms he was inspired to draw one of the figures from a big painting. It was a painting by Paolo Veronese of Diana and Actaeon. Naked ladies in a river basically!! His drawing was incredible, not because it was a fantastic drawing, but because he drew each part of her as he observed it it. Telling me what he was drawing as he was doing it. An artist, like his daddy!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Prairie inspired play on a wet Saturday

I remember posting a while back about the Little House on the Prairie dvds that i got for my birthday, but until today they remained unwatched.
This is mainly due to it being spring and we are always outside,and I have favoured The Waltons as family viewing in the daytime because after HE camp I wanted to read the books first.
Thanks Katy for the tip off !!!
So I found them all on Amazon and Ebay (Old copies from the 60's and 70's) and have been reading them as I have been too mentally drained or poorly to do much else. They are lovely. I really have enjoyed much more than the twee TV series. Looking to share the stories with David and Jon just as soon as we have finshed Swallows and Amazons.
But today I instigated the above themed play at an attempt to introduce the subject , and feeling a bit bleugh, I fancied a quiet day in the living room. Yeah right!!
So I made wigwams from paper, closely followed by origami canoes for the indians and a covered for the Pioneers.
Very well received and the two littlies have been playing with it all day. They found all the animals and accessories to go with them and David fetched the illustrated atlas to help.
So we are in recovery folks.
Tom is away camping this weekend at an Off roading event at which he is helping, and Jon is making the most of the computer in his absence! You tube will be getting a hammering tomorrow no doubt if the rain continues! LOL
I'm plotting Little house and Indian lapbooks, just as soon as we have put the Frog one together.
Best get off now to get Swallows and Amazons finished so I can start Little house in the Big Woods.