reflections on our home learning journey 3

This has been one of those weeks that has had a whole feast of emotions and rollercoaster moments but the one moment that still makes my heart beat fast and makes me smile was when I had set Bob his grammer work while I nursed Kanga. This day’s lesson required Bob do do some copy work of two simple sentences to show the difference between common and proper nouns. It was the first time he would be doing any intentional free hand copy work using lined paper. Based on any previous experience with birthday cards and thank you cards the idea of these two whole sentences being copied caused an inital guilty moment as I was concerned at how many pieces of paper it would take to write two sentences. To my utter joy and pride Bob completeted this task using simply two lines on the A4 page and while space between words may not have been generous one could clearly read his writing and he had formed his letters evenely and within the lines which I had not required of him as I simply wanted him to get used to the idea of writing and not feel constrained.

The second high came today with reading as I moved Bob up a level with his reading and he protested saying he could not do it and I said that that was fine as I knew we were going up a level but we could do it together. Well aside from one or two new words it turns out he could do it by himself which gave him a massive boost of confidence. While I have been confident of teaching our children most subjects the very basic skills of mastering reading and writing have been the two that have caused me most fear and concern. Veteran homeschoolers have assured me that they will work it out when they are ready and it will come but I still had my doubts. So this week has provided both Bob and myself with extra confidence and hope for the journey. This has been doubly important to me as someone with dyslexia and so I have struggled to find resources to help me teach him these basic skills. We do not know if Bob also has dyslexia but I can already see in his learning style many of the same hurdles and obstacles that I faced and still battle with and I want to provide him with a framework that will serve him well throughout life whatever path he chooses.

After the bumps of last week and talking with another friend and remembering the wise words of another homeschooling mom; who once took a week off from ‘lessons’ as such and spent a week focusing on her children’s characters as those needed attention; I took Monday as a day off from the usual maths, writing, and reading and Bob and I made an emotions chart. DSCN1735This has been a great tool in our family this week and a served as a great springboard for conversations and a way of talking through situations without complete fall out happening at times. In the mornings we all clip our peg onto an emotion and as the day progresses we can move our peg around, sometimes talking about how some situations can leave us feeling a number of different ways all at once. It has been good for Bob and Zog to identify feelings and to see that Mummy and Daddy have them too, and how we can all feel different ways in the same sitaution depending on what is happening. It has been humbling to find oneself in God’s classroom right within your own home on how well one respond or rather how badly one responds to emotions. I have always had plenty of emotions but have never really paid attention to my emotions and my reactions in a constructive healthy way. This was not the place or way I would have imagined if I ever plucked up the courage to deal with my emotions but God has a way of providing a better way and while I have had to face some hard truths about myself and in turn regrets about reactions in the past I am thankful for the humbling journey of parenting an intelligent child with a deep sense of justice and another bright child who is very open about how he is feeling to make me face up to my own emotions and responses. I have been thankful for this article online this week in light of this learning curve I have found myself in. http://www.feminagirls.com/2014/09/16/funner-part-3-emotional-control/#more-6476

Again we have come to the end of another week of learning in the big and small moments of the day. We have adapted the times we do DSCN1736lessons to fit around appointments and time with friends. We have allowed the schedule to be our friend rather than our slave. It has been there quietly in the background to provide a framework but within which we have been able to move the pieces around. It has been a week when we have seen God bless our faithfulness when we had nothing left to offer the week but still stepped into it somehow. We spent time with friends practising our Egyptian writing. Its been a week when we have lived deeply within Ancient Egypt and grappled with Egyptian names and learnt more then a mother needs to know and simply scrapped the tip of the tip of the iceberg of the joy and inquistivness of a 5 year old boy of the process of mummification.

 

 

DSCN1737And I am rediscovering a love for colouring in, it offers for Bob and myself and more often than not Zog, times of real connectedness and a space for conversation while everyone is working on their piece of art work. Sometimes they request we colour and other times when I know we need to reconnect or need to create a safe space or a place of peacemaking I get out the colours and and colouring pages and start colouring and soon I have companions at work alongside me talking about the deep things of life and faith, the funny moments and everything in between. So may I encourage you this week if you are looking for new ways to connect why not try getting out some colouring pages and colours and draw up a seat and see who joins you at the table.

 

reflections on our home learning journey 2

Where does one begin to reflect on the week just gone. It is certainly not one I want to see repeated as far as my parenting goes. I have failed, sinned, repented and been forgiven. I was not simply short tempered but without any fuse at all at points. Logically and in moments of calm I can identify all the triggers but that does not justify the level of anger and frustration I have shown this week.

Mark and I have often said this first year with three has been about survival. And this week has felt like it has been an edited version of the year.  Not because we have three and at times find ourselves out numbered and in need of more solid sleep, but because of lots of big and small factors which have woven their way into our lives over the year. It has felt like we are madly treading water and every time we raise our heads up we are pushed right back down again. We are running on empty spiritually and that has a massive impact on us as a couple and as we parent. I have thrown the lot at God and He has thankfully not fought back, a lesson I need to hold tighlty too in parenting. I have jumped 10 years down the road and thought that if things haven’t changed we are going to be dealing with juvenille detention centres. It turns out though when you dare be honest with other mums of boys they are thinking just the same thing too, so maybe there is hope in all this if I stay the course and keep on being faithful in the day to day acts of teaching, training and discipline and as our children grow too, that between God, their growing maturity and wise parental input we might just all make it to being grown ups who can make a postive difference in the world.

In the midst of that I have been thankful for Mark who stands firm in it all, he is a man with his heart and mind anchored firmly to the gospel but not detached from reality and not afraid of his, mine or the childrens emotions. Thankful for a week of frozen left over meals to keep us going. Thankful for two dear friends whose emails and texts have been gospel centred and truth filled and have offered us community even when that is not the norm here. The reminder of the need to teach our children not just the happy stories of the Bible but also the lament psalms. This was a timely read http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/teaching-our-children-to-lament

It has been a week when maths, history, spelling, reading, writing, grammar, and science have all happened and infact happily happened. It has been all the moments around them that have been fraught with emotion, anger, weariness, colds, coughs and tiredness. But they have been invitations to dig deeper, to challenge what our hearts and minds are like. To repent and offer repentance, to show grace. To see what it means to live mercifully toward one another. It has taken me all week to realise they were such invitations and not instant battles that I needed to be victorious in.

We have seen Bob grasp concepts in maths, we have seen his pencil work come on in leaps and bounds. We have seen him show courage when needed and the difference in him when others embrace him for who he is. We have seen depths of character in both boys. We have seen Zog take on awareness of others emotions and his desire to see healing and restoration, to carry the burden of another one in his tender 2 year old heart. We have witnessed Kanga’s adventurous spirit take her to all sorts of places that we thought were unreachable to 9 month olds.

It has been a week when I have read and re-read this adaption from Eugene Peterson in ‘ The Pastor’  that is on one of our kitchen cupboard doors and been reminded what a gift this season extends to us. In all this week has held there has been a beautiful mystery unfolding in God’s way in our home day in day out and will continue to do so as we journey onward.

“When I am with my congregation, (our children) I want to be a patient parent. I want to have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is doing and saying in their lives. I don’t want to judge them in terms of what I think they should be doing. I want to be a witness to what God is doing in their lives, not a school mistress handing out grades for how well they are doing something for God. I think I see something unique about being a parent that I had never noticed: the parent is the one person in the community who is free to take our children seriously as they are, appreciate them just as they are, give them the dignity that derives from being the ‘image of God’, a God created being who has eternal worth without having to prove usefulness or be good for anything… I don’t want to be so impatient with the mess that I am not around to see the miracle being formed. I don’t want to conceive of my life as a parent so functionally that the mystery gets squeezed out of both me and our children.”

reflections on our first week of learning

My hope is to take time each weekend to reflect and write about the week of learning; to stop and consider moments that might otherwise get missed. To provide myself with a map of where we have walked, climbed, sat and rest, splashed in streams of unfettered joy or much needed grace and mercy. To remind myself of the wonder of all that God has placed within our family, to see our children anew. And I write publicly because I believe it takes a village to raise a child and many of the villagers in our family’s life are scattered across the four corners of the world and I seek their wisdom and insight and voice in this journey, so please speak up our children need your voices too.

I love order, I love lists, I love new folders and pencils and sheets of paper waiting for all that creative potential. I crave plans, established consistent routines. Grace is unatural to me, set ways is the air I breathe. This might be one reason we are on this path; yes I can give a number of reasons why we have chosen to home educate our children; but they are not the only ones on the path and so along with them I am learning, being stretched, having my eyes opened and at the end of the week I think I am willing to say that is a good thing.

We have not reached the place my timetable had us by Friday, the laundry pile had become not just a mountain but an entire moutnain range. Though to be fair I suspect a small person who loves ‘hanging up clothes’ thanks to a Maisy mouse episode may have something to do with the number of clothes that keep finding themselves in the laundry basket. My menu plan has not run smoothly from one night to the next due to the fact that some days seemed to miss out entire nights of sleep and so freezer meals were essential. We have navigated the tail end of the two younger ones with colds and teething only for the eldest to go down with a cold and unless you have seen Bob with a cold this is no small matter. For Bob a cold means major sinus issues (too young for any medication), eyes that will only half open and the heaviest congestion I have come across. As he put it himself this morning when asked how he was doing his response was ‘I feel like a melting iceberg’.

But saying all of that we have covered maths, history, writing, spelling, grammar, reading. And we had a fantastic day with our home ed families together day on Tuesday, enjoying cave painting, music with lots of animal songs and a great time in the park. Taking Kanga in the sling and leaving the stroller at home and also wearing my new welIMAG0281homeschool pitville park sept 2014lingtons freed me up to wander off the beaten path and paddle in the stream. I was free to enjoy myself and have fun with our boys. It was a moment of grace that I was not anticpating but it meant I enjoyed an afternoon of pure small boy delight and see the park through their eyes. And Kanga was far happier too. I have learnt to teach subjects standing up, curled up on the sofa, to do jigsaws with my hands while teaching another subject in order to keep two boys going. I have learnt to let Bob take his worksheets to his new (to him) old fashioned school desk to do independent work and learn how to use his time. I am learning to get my head around all sorts of Egyptian names as we study Ancient Egypt. That in particular has been humbling to me as I long to see the light come on for Bob and his reading and there I am with all my dyslexic ways of seeing the world of print wrestle with names that make no sense to my understanding of sounds and want to just skip over them but cannot as I am reading aloud.

Humility has been my word for this week as I see Bob’s wrestle with flexibility when I suggest doing something differently or trying something new because i can see that that might help him, knowing full well that such a suggestion made to me would be met with absolute resilance with all of my inner most being. I have been reminded that the blessing of home education means you can adapt and tailor lessons to the individual child even when it means letting go of the plan I had made for DSCN1705how the lesson would be best learnt. I have rejoiced when Bob embraced the cave painting project for normally he is a boy who is hesitant with colour and paper and tends to do monotone minute pictures in one corner of the page but with this he filled the entire sheet.

I have been humbled by the deep sense of justice and injustice Bob sees in the world and how quick he is to spot it and that God has called us to parent him in that path. He keenly feels injustices beyond him, as well as his own, and that challenges me because while I can see injustices I only feel my own. He reacts deeply and intensely and I need to take a deep breath and consider when he is frustrated where the injustice he feels lies, and sadly too many times it is my own short fuse or ability to change the boundaries on them over often small inconsequential things but things that matter all the same.

It has not been the week my timetable and planner had but it has been a good week for which I am very thankful for and one day that timetable and planner will take their rightful place in my life as a means of grace rather than a rule to live by.

 

(group photo taken by Bethan)

Creation praising God

Continuing from a previous post I’ve come across another couple of good quotes from Marsden’s biography of Edwards which provide good food for thought and fuel for praise.  The first is Marsden’s reflection:

Edwards believed that he could develop a  unified account of all knowledge, but it could not be discovered by experience and reason alone.  God might speak in all of nature and in all of life, but the only place where one could find  the key to unlock the whole system was in Scripture.  All knowledge must begin there. Scripture was not just a source of information, but the necessary guide to a radical life changing perspective.  As every New England child was taught: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).  The starting point for unravelling the mysteries of the universe must be the shattering revelation of one’s total inadequacy and a recognition of God’s love in Jesus Christ. One who was so changed could then experience how all creation was one harmonious hymn of praise to the glories of the creator and the mercies of Christ.  Without the grace that gave sinful and rebellious people ears to hear, they would never  hear the sublime  Christ-like choruses or see how the particular notes of reality all fit together.

I love that in the Regent library where I studied for 3 years other similar bible verses were written in beautiful calligraphy so that they could not be missed each day as you walked in – a beautiful reminder that all wisdom comes from God, and begins with humble dependance on Him.

The second is an Edwards quote, introduced by Marsden:

Edwards was captivated by the idea that God’s purpose in creating the universe is to bring harmonious communications  among minds, or spiritual beings, and  every detail of physical creation points to that loving reality, epitomized in Christ.  In this enthralling framework he continued his meditation:

“When we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are the emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and mumuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and beauty… That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively shadow of his spotless holiness and happiness, and delight in communicating himself.”

I love the ideas here, even if it needs reading a few times to catch the thread.  Essentially Edwards is celebrating the way in which God delights to share his goodness with us in the natural world.  All the good things we have in this life are because God loves to share his life with us.  God is holy and happy – and loves to share his goodness and grace with us.  The world was made, according to Edwards, for God to display his glory.  The reason that isn’t self centred of God is because the way God’s glory is displayed is by him sharing his life and goodness with us, his creatures.  The creation of the world is the overflow of the love that the Triune God has enjoyed for all eternity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God united in love, overflow in love to create a world to share that love with others.  God delights to show that love to us, and  draw us in to him – and the beauty we see all around us is one great reminder of that reality.

 

Death of a car

Yesterday our dead car was taken away on a car transporter.  The engine failed 2 weeks ago, at the start of our journey to London. DSCN0537 The friendly Toyota garage tried to see if anything could be done – but alas, the costs of fixing it would outweigh the value of the car, and our budget does not stretch to a replacement.

It makes me reflect on a car, and on all that driving means and has meant over the years.  At age 17 passing the test was a rite of passage. Over the previous year various friends had taken and passed, and failed, the test and were now driving various different small cars around the Guildford area.  In the youth group I attended (Guildford Crusaders) cars and transport featured higly – I remember 9 of us travelling around in Volvo estate for Friday evenings one  year.  I remember the minibus journeys in the Crus minibus (“Von”, after the registration plate) which had rust holes in the floor, but still rattled along at high speeds – especially downhill…  I remember car journeys on summer camps, being introduced to music – U2, Queen (my sister listened to Queen, but listening to it at Crus in a different car made all the difference!).  As a leader I remember escaping into co-leader’s cars to talk and plan and pray.

Having a March birthday meant I was ideally placed to learn and take the test in the summer – no night driving, no icy roads, very little rain.  Having briefly toyed with the idea of insuring me on my grandmothers old car (a real mini!) but realising how expensive that would be, my parents very kindly put me on their insurance, so I got to drive their Golf around – although since we grew up in wealthy Guildford the automatic assumption of friends at school and church was that I was driving Mum’s car (Dad presumably driving a company BMW or similar) – rather than the family car that it was.

It meant I got a taste of independance, and also the horrible feeling of fear of anything happened to the car (like when I drove half way across Guildford with the handbrake still on, wondering why pulling away was so hard…).  I drove to such exotic and dangerous locations as the Crusader (Christian youth organisation – in Guildford a slightly rowdy group of 11-18 year old “lads”) Hall on a Friday night – enjoying the chance to give lifts back to friends, especially those who lived in far flung villages such as Shalford (googlemap to spot the irony…).  I even got to be a “roadie” (spelling?) to my sister and her drum kit for band practice – a double advantage because it meant that I got to both drive the car and avoided listening to rehearsals of “Paint it Black”…

During my first spell back in Guildford I continued to drive my parents car when I needed it for Crusader purposes – with particularly fond memories of driving their Golf behind my co-leader’s red, rather battered old Polo, which had a bass box filling the entire boot, and which could be heard coming from several miles away (he graduated to a black Escort, and then on to BMW’s with age and income – and the bass speakers have shrunk slightly too).  Another driving memory from leading with that particular co-leader was the need to be careful when he slowed down just before the turning off the A3 for his parents house – for if an unwary friend tried to overtake, he would then speed up and leave the friend stuck on the A3 until the next turning (a good few miles up the road) – thankfully I avoided that fate…    The other vehicle I learnt to drive at this point was the Crusader minibus, and then other hired minibuses – earning something of a reputation somehow for “crashing” buses – I guess on one noteable summer camp I did manage to scrape the side of the bus down a stone bridge and on one journey scrape the roof 3 times on car park entrances…

My first car came with a job at a church in Harold Wood.  I was living in Upminister, only 4 miles away, but impossible to sensibly do by public transport – both locations on a train line to London, but nothing in between, so my parents graciously purchased a “salmon red” (according to the log book, although the untrained eye often said “pink”) Polo.  I owned the car for 6 years, in the period between then and getting married, and I have many good memories of it, and memories of significant times.  Late night drives with U2 blaring out of the radio between Upminster and Cockfosters, and back to Guidford at the end of the year, trips down to Cornwall to prepare summer camp series.  Driving around Guildford on a Friday for Crusaders, giving lifts back at the end of an evening with Stereophonics and other similar music of the era.  Driving then meant independance and ability to travel, and it also meant relationships and conversation.  Lifts in the car were good times for chats – I think for guys especially the car is a great place to talk – perhaps because there is minimal eye contact.

The car was also my main means of transport to work – a place of listening to Radio 4, or pehaps some music, or maybe a sermon series – St Helen’s Bishopsgate lunchtime talks being the perfect length for the 25 minute journey.  And towards the end of my time with the car it was also the way to get from Guildford to Leicester – 8am every other Saturday for a year up the M1 – driving to see Roz.  Then time in the car driving round Leicestershire during a lovely April in 2007.  My final trip in the car was Leicester-St David’s-Guildford, before inheriting my parents superior Polo for the start of married life.

This was the car for our honeymoon, and the car for our holidays of married life together, the first car in which we put a car seat. And then we said goodbye to that car and moved to a carless existance in Vancouver.  For the most part not having a car was fine – public transport was great, we used a car-coop for a few months, and for the most part never needed the car.  Sundays were hard, but we got used to the waits at the bus stop after church, and the limited options for afternoon entertainment (summer buses to the beach helped). I became aware of how good bus trips were for relationships in parenting.  One low point was, while feeling fairly unwell myself, trying to get my son to sleep to help his cold, taking the 33 bus out as far as Ontario Street (so half way across Vancouver), and then walking down to King Edwards Avenue to catch the 25 home.  The consolation, as ever in Vancouver, was the views and interest in analysing the different houses I walked past pushing a sleeping child.  The high points were the airport trips to Vancouver airport’s viewing platform – bus to Oakridge, Sky Train to the airport – hopefully with a front seat for best views as the train emerges from under Vancouver to go over the river – and then possibly, for a full day out, Sky Train back all the way to Downtown Vancouver (with sleeping boy in pram), and on to the library (with a stop at Blenz possibly), before walking across Downtown to catch the 44 bus back up with its spectacular views over the water.

For individual transport a decent bicycle helped no end – especially as going from campus across to Tenth Church’s building it was as quick as the bus – although not so much coming back…  I loved too the bike rides round the Pacific Forest Park and especially the fun of cycling down Marine Drive to Spanish Banks beach and along – back up was always hard work – whether via the slow pain of 4th or 8th, or the steep climb of 11th-15th. Vitally we benefited from others generously sharing their cars – some for a Christmas holiday period, others for evening trips to Superstore (with the soundtrack to Once playing on the car stero, as I geared up for the horror of organisation and customer service of a Vancouver supermarket), others for crisis hospital visits and some just so that we could go to the cinema in comfort.

Coming back to England we had the chance to get a car from friends moving overseas, and for 2 years it served our family well – as a means to go on holiday, for day trips, for shopping, for getting small children to sleep and us chance to talk – it has been great.  Now we say farewell. We are thankful that it died just before car tax was due.  We are thankful that two families at church have offered us use of their cars.  We said to our eldest at the Toyota/Lexus garage while we were waiting to see what could be done that he couldn’t expect to be in a Lexus any time soon – well, we have been offered use of a Lexus!

Personally I find it somewhat frustrating not to have a car – and it is constraining – but also a reminder not to be dependant on treasure here and now for satisfaction.  We lived 3 years without a car – it is possible.  I’m sure we will have a car at some point in the future.  But for now we figure out how to survive without it – grateful for the generosity of friends offering use of theirs and for supermarket online delivery so that at least I won’t have to do Wednesday evening supermarket trips.  Cheltenham buses are not quite as baby friendly as Vancouver ones, and neither is the pricing as good, but the D bus means we can get to Pitville Park, the town centre and the station easily enough, and from Cheltenham station we can get to most places easily enough by train.  The bike will get me into study into town – it is just a shame that a settlement the size of Bishops Cleeve has no decent cycle route into Cheltenham, and no safe footpath for a push chair and children.  In Vancouver we regularly walked to church (1hr 15mins) – but the same distance is just impossible here due to the lack of footpaths.

We have though now found a good park within a pleasant 30 minutes walk, which with the twin buggy/stroller means we can all get there to enjoy a tall slide, fun roundabout and good swings, all with a lovely view of Cleeve Hill.  Bigger trips will take more planning, and shatter the illusion of independance that a car gives.  I think this illusion is what is so good about a car.  Driving a car feels good because it makes me think I am independant and in control.  I go at my pace, and my choice.  Having a family somewhat changes this – now we stop because someone is crying or needs the toilet, but we can still set out when we choose, and take the route of our choice.

Not having a car makes me realise I need other people.  I might need to borrow their car.  I might need to get on a bus or a train driven by someone else, with other passengers.  I see others. I begin to appreciate something of their life.  At least I don’t need to be particularly awake. I might even doze off (if travelling on my own).  I can reappreciate the joys of bus travel with children – their excitement at sitting right at the back, or right at the front at the top of a double decker bus, and accept that I might not get somewhere quite as fast…

Our car may be dead, but life does indeed go on…

 

 

 

 

Rereading

I haven’t posted anything for a while, but I’ve just started re-reading George Marsden’s biography of Jonathan Edwards, and I thought I’d put up one of Marsden’s quotes regarding Edwards, and then one of Marsden on Edwards, so first the Edwards quote (reflecting on his experience  at around the age of 17):

And as I was walking there, and looked up on the sky and the clouds; there came into my mind, a sweet sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I knew not how to express… …in a sweet conjunction: majesty and meekness joined together: it was a sweet and gentle, and holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a high, and great, and holy gentleness.

Marsden comments a little later on

In fact, it was only when Jonathan’s vision expanded to appreciate that the triune God who controlled this vast universe must be ineffably good, beautiful and loving beyond human comprehension that he could lose himself in God.

I’m looking forward to re-reading more.  I don’t think it is necessary to agree with every detail of how Edwards understood God’s sovereignty to appreciate his desire to relate everything back to God, and in particular God’s extravagent, overflowing love for his creation that means God is always seeking to share himself with his creatures and draw them into his life. 

Edwards has a God-centredness and God-saturatedness that we need in our day.  God has joined together majesty and meekness, gentleness and majesty, holiness and love.  We must not separate them out to fit our agendas – or anyone elses.  

Stepping into our 2nd year of homeschooling

DSCN1692 We are just over a week away from a new year of learning and discovery. Though to be honest as all of us who have any interaction with children especially young ones, know they are always learning, always questioning, always discovering. Steps in growing up do not stop for the summer.

I am both excited and daunted by the year ahead. How does one actually manage to homeschool a 5 1/2 year old (Bob) and keep a 2 almost 3 year old(Zog) busy and 9 month old(Kanga) cruiser out of trouble? What I do know is that friends have walked this road ahead of us and are still going and there will be great days, disastrous days, mundane days and the unexpected. This year I have gone with a new pattern of study and holidays, spreading the work over the full 12 months with week long breaks every 6 to 7 weeks which gives room for off days, unexpected turns of events and to keep routine throughout the year. It gives room for days like today when Kanga thinks cutting 4 teeth at once would be a good idea (not) and 2 year old hovers on the edge of another bout of tonsillitis (5th in as many months). Bob blossoms in the midst of routine and I also benefit and am calmer for it. It means we can take time out as a family avoiding ‘school breaks’ and so take advantage of many of the great offers places give to homeschooling families during term time. That was a great idea before the car died on us last week on our way to London but thanks to the kindness of friends at church adding us to their insurance I am sure we can still manage to have some great trips out as a family to places.

One of the highlights for the coming year I believe will be our Tuesday homeschool co-op with another couple of families. Two of the families will gather in the mornings (6 children) to do a craft project, for the most part tied into our history curriculum and for which I will be responsible for and music which the other mum will do. Then another family will join us for a nature walk come rain or sun at the park in the center of the town in the afternoons. After this week’s walk I think I need to get myself a fun pair of wellies to match the boys’.  This week as we have not yet got going with history I did this craft inspired by http://theimaginationtree.com/2014/06/bubble-wrap-print-fish-mobile.html to go along with a favourite book Tiddler by Julia Donaldson.

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Bob will be covering maths, history, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, science, art and music and possibly a french class if that works out and I will continue to use some of the great resources from http://confessionsofahomeschooler.com with Zog which he loves. One of the big challenges this year will be keeping the necessary basic steps in reading and spellings fun for Bob who wants to learn learn learn, especially all things History and Volcano related but finds the basic skills hard and inhibiting. It will be a great moment when the reading clicks into place and he can read at the pace he wants to which we cannot keep up with as things like preparing meal and laundry and errands need to take place let alone looking after Zog and Kanga. His writing has come on in leaps and bounds since we started using http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2014/06/kindergarten-bible-verse-handwriting-worksheets.html which he loves. It is amazing how learning and skills take off once you find an outlet for their engagement and thinking. We will carry on with these for the first few weeks before swtiching to the book ‘Writing with Ease’. What has encouraged me most though is that while the sheets have traceable letters it has made a big difference to his free style writing rather than slowing that down.

We are often asked why we homeschool and to be honest there are many reasons that join up to form that answer but in a nutshell it is the right thing in this season for Bob and for us as a family and so we press on in prayer and take each day as it comes. And be ready to adapt for Zog as he is a very different character who is very visual and artistic and sees the world through pictures. Between them both though their imaginations know no bounds. What has been an interesting observation though for me is that while the structure of words and sounds is Bob’s biggest hurdle at the moment he is our ‘wordy’ boy and Zog who is visual and artistic will not hold a pencil correctly and hates if we try and encourage him to hold his marker/paintbrush correctly.

Names given here are names they have given themselves and they use them interchangeably with their real names at home and out and about much to the confusion of other people who thought they knew our children’s names!