reflections on our home learning journey 16/2




photos thanks to Emma and Bethan. ( I had left my camera in the car)


Winter weather has finally arrived with crisp blue skies and the need for layers and hats and scarves. We have made the most of the out door weather with den building at a friend’s small holding over looking the flooded River Severn and cooked toast and marshmallows on the campfire. We have learnt about the marine live off the Florida coast thanks to one of home ed group’s recent trips home to grandparents. We have spent hours at Pitville Park with friends enjoying the space to let physical and creative selfs run free. We have gazed at the stars thanks to the clear crisp skies at night at long last.

We have curled up with hot chocolate and good books. We have played lots of silly word games as Zog loves the sound of words. We have discovered that doing maths on a  white board removes the constraints workbooks have for requiring answers in small spaces and the need to work left to right which gets frustrating when left handed. We have discovered that in fact we do know lots of maths facts and can take on multiple digit addition and subtraction with ease and confidence and speed when the space to work it out is not restricted.

We have sat with tension watching the live space walk until the work was done and breathed a big breath of relief when the two astronauts were safely back inside the ISS again. Bob’s tension reduced when they got their task done, mine when they were safely back inside. We have learnt about the pressure our bodies endure when we push the boundaries of exploration up and down through the programmes ‘To Boldly Go’. I concluded if I was forced to go one way or the other that I was heading to space, diving seemed far more risky and unappealing when learning that the divers working in the rigs in the North Sea go down for a month at a time as it takes a week to decompress safely and that we can get folk back from space far quicker (a matter of hours) than we can from the bottom of the North Sea (minimum is 5 days).

We have not had enough sleep, we have played musical beds. We have explored new tastes and decided that some new things might in fact be quite edible and enjoyable. We had a day off lessons because it was my birthday on Tuesday and the joy of learning at home means that birthdays can count as days off lessons. Well that is what Bob told the lady at the shoe shop when buying Zog new fleece lined wellies and I saw no reason to disagree.

I am letting go once again of my completer finisher/ tick the box need within me to allow learning to be fun and explorative. To remind myself that one reason for learning at home is not so we simply re do school at home but that we are providing a different environment and way of learning. We don’t have to finish something just because that is the next chapter in a certain text book. We have considered lots about the Atlantic (another nod of thanks to the BBC and Iplayer) and worked out that as the ISS and the space walkers are going over the coast of Brazil that means they are looking down on the South Atlantic and what marine life might be there.

Its been a week when subjects have merged and life is learnt about. Its been a great week even if learning has felt at times like it is in free fall. Horizons have been expanded and new possibilities dreamt up. And nothing beats den building and toast fresh from the campfire with friends.







reflections on our home learning journey 15/2

Friends have kindly taken the children for the afternoon, the wind and rain have replaced the sunshine of this morning and just as the weather has changed so has my frame of mind. I woke eager with hope, of new possibilities only for them to be dashed in one brief phone call, not helped by the indifference of the estate agent on the other end. Clearly phoning as soon as the office opens is not acceptable, to check on a house which we saw advertised last night. Price, near friends, space, garden, all boxes ticked and it was gone. Unsurprisingly but still, it was the 2nd time this week that has happened to us.

It has been hard getting back into our rhythm of lessons and life and activities after a wonderful relaxed family Christmas season. Bob especially struggled as Mark was not only back to work but away at a conference this week so that was a big adjustment which was not overly welcomed. Bob has also been struggling with sinuses and it turns out a sore ear all week though he only admitted it all last night and though we thought something was up he kept denying it. And younger two have thought that the best place to sleep was with me as I had a big bed all to myself and while they might have slept beautifully I cannot say the same for myself. So all round patience has been less than abundant and dashed hopes have left us all reeling this weekend somewhat.

My highlight was getting out to our Thursday nature walk and all 3 children loving it despite it being our coldest day. I had worked hard on layers before we went out. Certainly for that day I seem to have found the winning combination as we were there for a full 3hours and had to convince them that we were going home. They would have happily kept going. And a new thermos for hot chocolate is sure to be a winner. We also had new friends from the village join us which was great fun. It is so exciting to see our group grow and more folk joining up with us.

I have learnt a lesson I have learnt before but all to easily forget that the more I am prepared each day the better the day flows. The battle comes when evenings do not run to plan and time to prepare seems to evaporate. I get frustrated with my sense of failure to be on top of everything. To not let circumstances and environment get me down. Three years of a drought means my roots are not firm and strong and steady. The littlest thing sends me flying.  The brick wall of silence in front, our attempts to change circumstances and environment ending in disappointment after disappointment. I trust God, I trust He knows me better than I do, but I struggle hearing right time/right place from others when right now is so hard, so dry.

So this week BBC Iplayer has been a helpful teaching assistant and we have been learning all about The Great Barrier Reef and The Atlantic. Explorers’s maps of The Atlantic have been studied and coloured in. Tears have been shed by Zog because no one has yet come up with colouring in pictures for children of black smokers in The Atlantic. He now has photos on the wall of them and coloured over scientific diagrams of how they work to compensate.

We have been reminded of how each child is wired, eldest and youngest need full on listening attention from us as they talk non stop. If Bob knows he has been heard than he can occupy himself no problems but as as soon as he feels that his voice has not been heard he will push back hard. He thankfully  now can go stretches of time in between if I give him my full attention (120% at least) at certain points in the day. Kanga is the same as Bob was when he was 2, where that need to have someone listen fully to them lasts all day. Somehow I managed to give her that time yesterday and it was a delight.  In with all that listening we need to remember that Zog is all about contact. Which I think explains why he loves to still sleep in with us, as he will tank himself up at night and then he can roll through the day in his own world of colouring and all things visual. I have also learnt that he listens incredibly well while seemingly preoccupied. Ask him to be still and listen it is likely he will not hearing anything but while colouring away in another part of the room while I am reading aloud and he will suddenly pick up on a phrase and run with the humour of it, totally following the story.

Montessori styled learning would be welcomed with open arms by Zog and so my structured self needs to be ready to allow that as we move toward more formal learning in the next year with him. His love of colour, art and numbers means he is already a very confident pen holder and mathematical patterns fascinate him. Whereas for Bob his love of the big picture, of science, history, fact and narrative need much more direct support from us still at this point as his fine motor skills are not up to speed with all the thoughts and ideas stumbling around inside his head. And why we love BBC Iplayer science and nature programmes. And I need to trust that as his fine motor skills develop and his body and brain connect with each other he will find ways for himself to express all that he is thinking about.

We have had farm shop set ups, deep sea dives, laughed ourselves silly over chapters from Nurse Matilda which we are reading at lunch times. We have had time with friends, we have loved deeply, we have lost our rag, we have said sorry, we have dug deep to offer genuine forgiveness. We have shared meals, we have read books, we have longed for sunshine and a glimmer of hope. Hope is what we will hold onto as we head into a new week.




Light sightings Day 3 & 4

  1. The joy of eldest as he races his hand powered racing car around the track.
  2. The massive smiles and joy as children opened their presents for Epiphany in the morning.
  3. Middle son’s delight at being able to act out the entire story of the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s child as he got the last two animals for the complete set.
  4. Laughter around the dinner table.
  5. The 10 minutes the laundry basket was empty because Mark had been wonderful and taken all the bedding to the laundrette this weekend so the house was not overflowing with damp washing needing a space to dry.
  6. Youngest’s love of finding me out to help with whatever I am up to once she realises I am not in the room with them.

Light sightings Day 2

  1. Cuddles with my daughter as she falls asleep at the end of the day.
  2. The most amazing Sabbath Dinner cooked by Mark including home made stuffing and cranberry sauce as we celebrate Epiphany a few days early as he is away at conference on the 6th. It was incredible.
  3. The imagination and joy that comes from the children going to the Court Farm shop to get our weekly vegetable, fruit and meat. Spending an afternoon entering into the aforementioned imagination and making felt food for their own farm shop. They have plans for many more items….DSCN3506

Light sightings day 1

A friend has taken to taking photos of what she is calling ‘light sightings’ to help her give thanks rather than complain about the dark uncertain times. That thought resonated deep within me as we continue asking and wondering what and where is next for us as a family. A couple of years back I tried to post three things each day I was thankful for and so this year I want to continue cultivating a heart of thankfulness once more but in borrowing my friend’s term light sightings I hope to remind more of my senses to be open to God at work around me even if they are not always reflected here in a photo.

  1. The intentional or not gift of the 1st of January to a renewed sense of hope and possibilities. To holding onto God’s promises once more with anticipation rather than end of year weariness.
  2. A new two volume set of daily prayers for Mark and I to share as we look forward. Thanks to Kath and Kevin for the voucher that let us treat ourselves to this beautiful collection of daily prayers/readings.
  3. For the joy of colouring and for a new collection of grace moments to colour thanks to my mum in law. Both the joy of slowing down and reflecting and seeing something bright emerge but also the gift of time with our sons as they join me to colour. Moments of peace together.
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