It is all about the attitude.

We’ve had a wet and windy camping trip this last week. We went with friends, as we have done since the kids were small. When we first went ours were 1 and 3, theirs 2 and 4, now 10 and 12 and 11 and 13!

It is a different experience now that they are all older, we don’t have to be immediately involved in everything they do, and we now find that breakfast has been collected from the shop and often they are reminding us about ice-blocks and things like that. It is all rather chilled out.

This week it was very fortunate that things are so chilled out…..

The weather really wasn’t great, but we made the most of it… and went to the cinema to see ‘Minions’ which we all enjoyed, then out for a nice pub meal, happy to be inside while the wind and rain were lashing down.

We headed back to the camp site about 7.30pm to find a bath sized puddle in the centre of our friends’ sagging tent. 🙁

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The material had held and so, the whole thing had sagged down in the middle. We carried buckets of water out of the middle until we could get in underneath to the bedroom sections and rescue clothes and bedding, which were amazingly still mostly dry!!!

The kids were all a bit upset, but all the adults got on with rescuing the kit and getting the kids to help. We also had another couple with us, so luckily as we all have tents larger than we need, we were able to home our friends and all their stuff for the rest of the week (it happened on day 2!!!

Because everyone just mucked in, and the sense of humour really kicked in, what could have been really awful, turned out to be a brief blip in the holiday. Luckily our friends were going to replace that tent anyway for next year, so no great disaster. I was so proud of how everyone dealt with it. R cried quite a lot when it happened, and kept saying ‘it’s such a shock’ but with everyone else’s reactions she came round and was fine. The other kids were amazing.

I think the attitude may have slipped slightly if it had happened while they were asleep, or if all the bedding and clothing had got wet, but thankfully it was all manageable.

Not the driest holiday we’ve ever had, and it was pretty windy too, so some wakeful nights with the tent sounding like it would take off! But still a lovely break on the Isle of Wight, we went to Robin Hill, day time and for one of the evening lit up woodlands, illusionist, samba dancing and owl flights by twilight!!

Sandown pier for miniature golf, slot machines and hot chocolate!

Lazy days reading / swimming (even in the chilliness)!

Amazon World where there were some lovely penguins and we also liked the armadillos. Sad to see that the lovely Fairtrade shop that had been there was now shut.

Singsongs in the tent with L playing the Ukulele, a mix of Woodcraft, Scout, Guides and pop songs, while it was hammering down outside.

We also had a whole evening entertainment from the four kids, with advertising poster beforehand, program, and intervals. They wrote the script and rehearsed all week. It was not quite as long as some previous productions and was more comprehensible! Though our friend M struggled to keep up with the plot, but that may have been the Pimms.

So overall a mixed week but still a fun holiday with great friends. The Pimms and chocolate also helped!

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Why Weymouth Sand Almost isn’t Sand

What a lovely day out, we went to Weymouth, R, with me and my friend A. It’s a reasonable trip on the train, but it is a nice route, and it is always good to have chance to chat. We also all did some drawing and games too.

It was warm but cloudy with a bit of a breeze, which was actually just right for us. It was lovely being able to sit and build lots with the amazing sand at Weymouth.

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A guinea pig (of course!)

We went and saw some of the sand sculptures too, which were, despite having been vandalised 🙁 still excellent. My photos weren’t very good unfortunately. We’ll go to the Sand Sculpture place next time.. near the Sea life centre apparently.

We read that the sand at Weymouth is incredibly fine and if it was ever so slightly finer it would actually be classified as silt and not sand. That was definitely one of the good facts of the day!

We also saw quite a few jelly fish on the beach (dead), which were fascinating, and rather big! We’ll definitely be researching more about them soon.

Jellyfish on the beach
Jellyfish on the beach

Unfortunately our new friend K from Taiwan couldn’t come today… we’d invited her in the hope we could introduce her to some seriously British things… including fish and chips, but she wasn’t available … but the thought was already there, so fish and chips it was. Mmmm.

Also saw donkies on the beach. I didn’t realise Weymouth had them, so R had a ride as A’s treat…

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What a fantastic place, and a great day. We’ll be going back another time! And the train station is so near to the beach!!

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Awards and Film Watching at School

Awards and film watching plus drama and art

L has had a good week for awards. She had a presentation evening at school for being in the Netball team. S went and said there was a lot of high achieving sports, but also the yr 7 netball team, because although they hadn’t won any cups or awards… they had worked very hard and improved, and been reliable too. L was really pleased with her certificate and badge.

L also came home beaming yesterday with a green badge with G on it… which apparently you get if you are put forward by 3 different teachers as gifted in their subjects. She was put forward in Maths, Science and Spanish, and as talented in Metal work.

I am obviously very proud of her (though I don’t need a badge and certificate to make me proud of her.. or to tell me she’s doing very well), and I wasn’t sure about this whole gifted thing at school…. but apparently it is seen as something you work for each year (or term), it isn’t a permanent label, seen as unmoving, which did reassure me. L is certainly working hard, because she wants to and enjoys what she is doing… but she isn’t stressed, or over working… perhaps because she sees it less as work and more as something she has chosen to do.

I was labelled as gifted at school and personally it seemed like an unwelcome pressure. If you do well it is just expected, if you don’t do as well then it is a disappointment…. Not a pressure from parents particularly, just a general feeling.

Read this article recently: Pushing kids to be gifted

The wind down to the summer holidays is well truly under way at school, there are lots of nice things going on and L is having a fab time. The only thing that has bugged me this week is that some teachers are showing the first bit of a film in class as a treat (Ice Age) knowing that there won’t be time to watch the end, with no intention of letting the class see the end on another day. This would bug me! Wouldn’t it bug you? Other teachers have managed to show a whole film over two lessons, or have picked a shorter programme that fits into one lesson… makes more sense to me!!

R is having a good week too. I think she is pleased with the maths we have done this week, especially as L brought home her maths exam paper and R looked through and could do quite a lot of it. (Though she did say that she’d be worried about reading and understanding what the question says. If I read it to her then she totally understood the maths side of it. Such a shame exams don’t allow for this (I haven’t researched this enough… I know some people can get extra time if diagnosed with dyslexia, and possibly a scribe sometimes.. but I’m not sure if you can have someone read the question out loud… it isn’t something I’ve heard of.)

R had her drama performance of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. It was great, all the kids did really well, you could hear them all clearly, and they were all confident, even the usually more quiet and shy ones. It was on a proper stage, with lighting, back drop with pictures from the book and well chosen music too, with some groovy dancing to ‘Wild Thing’ R loved every minute of it. S came too and also our friend A, with lots of other parents too. Really enjoyed it.

We even did some more maths when we got home…. then R needed a nice break because her brain started melting!!! 🙂

I’ve done some painting today, good relaxation for me.

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R has been over to see Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J and Auntie M, she’s played badminton, running Granny round like a mad thing. Then she wrote out care instructions for Auntie M who is having R’s guinea pig when we go away soon.

 

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Learning in Chunks

A sociable Saturday with visitors and an anniversary party.

A chunk of gardening and woodwork

Then we had S’s parents and Auntie J round on Sunday to help clear a load of bits in the garden so we can move our old shed and put up a new one. We achieved loads, especially the clearance of a particularly large buddleia. L and R came out in the garden too and helped clip up the pieces into more manageable sizes. R decided that when the new shed is up, there will be room for a den behind it… so she is keen to build it. There were some pieces of wood with lots of nails in them, so Grandpa showed R the easiest way to remove them and L helped too, so they both spent ages sorting out the pieces of wood, ready for den building.

A chunk of games

The last library session of the term yesterday, with board games and card games, we had an excellent laser board brought it, with puzzles to solve of sending the laser round different ways using different mirrors. Someone else brought a Bakugan board which was popular, most of the kids played Tsuro,

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which is up to 8 players and most ages can cope with it. We also had Happy Families. So, a good session. There were also judges there looking at the library borders, which our group had planted some of the bulbs for.

Friends round in the afternoon to play playmobil, and out in the garden too.

 A chunk of Maths, Spanish, Art and Molecules.

Today has been a very constructive day with a huge chunk of maths, we looked at Straight line graphs, distance-time graphs and real life graphs. Videos on MathsWatch VLE.

Further Algebraic simplification… Multiplication and Division.Expanding brackets. Also videos and questions on MathsWatchVLE. R was really enjoying it, we only stopped when her numbers started to be written backwards which usually shows she needs a break.

We then had a chunk of Art, R is designing mythical creatures and lands,

 

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and we had a Learning Spanish CD on while she was drawing. A Michel Thomas CD, who is absolutely brilliant for learning how to speak various languages. Worth getting out from the library if you can. R moved on to playing with the molecule kit we have, but still wanted the Spanish on, and must have listened for a couple of hours (in amongst chatting over some of it… ) not full concentration, but she was obviously getting something out of it. We also managed a chat about the structure of diamond.

This isn’t an average day, we have some much less ‘formal educational’ days, but when R is interested and chooses to she picks up an incredible amount…. and takes in far more than if we had a lot of days of forced learning without her being engaged. She is excited about Algebra, so we can carry it on as much as she likes… and she is really understanding it. We definitely work learning in chunks, and we can adapt the size of each chunk of each thing on each day to suit the circumstances. So sometimes a five minute chunk of maths is all that is needed, other times it is twenty minutes, today it was an hour and a half solid. Other days nothing. It is all valuable. 🙂

 

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New Forest

We went out with friends to visit other home ed friends who have moved out into the New Forest, their house and garden are lovely and the garden backs onto forest, so the 5 children went off to play in the forest, building dens and being free for hours and hours, so nice to give them chance to play without adults breathing down their necks (the rule being they stay together and within sight of the fence… so within shouting distance… but it is still right in the forest!)

They came back occasionally for drinks or food or to show us how muddy they were, or to show us the bite from a wasp type bug, but not a wasp… which we managed to google and find out is a deer fly, which is part of the horsefly family.

Deer Fly

We also had one of the children had a woodlouse on her hand and the kids all watched it ‘give birth’, we had to look up whether woodlice lay eggs… which they do, but they keep them in a pouch and when they hatch it does look like they are giving birth to little white woodlice babies, which is exactly what the children described.

Woodlouse

There was bike riding, paddling pool and general play, with boys and girls of mixed ages from 7-11, and a chance for parents to sit in the sunshine with cups of tea. What a fantastic home ed day!

I was so chilled out I didn’t even take any photos!!!

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Gentle days

We are enjoying having some gentle time at home more often recently. R and I have been making the most of sitting in the garden reading together, having water fights, doing art together and chatting. We’ve also carried on with more algebra related maths. It is a chilled out time and the days fly by. R has also been challenging herself to improve and gradually be able to do full chin-ups… she still can’t quite manage it yet, but she has improved with trying every day.

We had a student round this week. I met her at the library, she is here for a year from Taiwan to do a Masters degree and wanted to meet some non-students…. normal British people (I can’t help with the normal… but we are outside University life.) She came round for the afternoon and we chatted lots about all sorts of things, differences and similarities in culture, travel, families, education etc. R came and chatted with us for quite a while too. K has offered to cook some Taiwanese food for us another day, so we’ve got to decide on some English food to introduce her to as well.

Woodcraft was a walk around the old city walls, which the girls really enjoyed.

R had drama, which has one more rehearsal before the show next week and a play with friends here, they built another den in the front room.

L had a trip to Paulton’s Park with the school. She loved being able to go with her friends and not have to be with an adult.

Today has been a Granny and Grandpa day for R, which involved an hour of badminton and then a catch up with some Great Aunts.

I had some time to catch up on a few things and also do some painting in the garden which was lovely to lose myself in.

A twelfth birthday tea after school this evening with our “baby” group… we’ve met up pretty much every week since our oldest kids were babies and they’re all turning 12! Amazing. All so grown up and so lovely. 🙂

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Library, Tie-Dye and Parties.

At the weekend I had an event at our library which I supported… A repair cafe we’re trialling as a possible thing to run regularly to possibly help bring in some money (from us running the cafe part of it) to support our library which is under threat of closure. We’re waiting for a council decision in August after an impressive response to the consultation. The Repair cafe went very well, with a good attendance and lovely volunteers. We’re hopeful we can repeat it again soon.

R was still at a sleepover and L was tired, so wanted to just chill out at home. I love how her chilling often consists of baking something, or playing the ukulele or chatting with me.

L wanted to have a go at tie-dye, as R had in the week and Auntie M had left stuff for L to use too. I did some with her and we were pleased with the results.

tie dye
tie dye

R was gone most of the day as she then went to the swim party of her friend too… so two tired girls by the end of the day.

We then had a barbeque at Auntie A’s for G’s 18th birthday with all the family. It was lovely. Can’t believe our ‘little’ nephew is now 18! Shows how quickly the time will go with our girls growing up too. I keep being surprised quite how grown up L is looking, real glimpses of her as an adult peeking through. Our nieces and nephews are all in late teens and early twenties and a really lovely lot of young adults, so lovely to have them around chatting with us and our kids.

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Choosing to stay at home

Today we had all sorts of nice possibilities …. I had researched a trip to the beach by train as it was yet another warm day. The Hat fair was on in Winchester which we do usually go to with the local home ed group, we could have met with friends, gone for a cycle ride, or many other options….

We talked for quite a while about it and R was adamant that she wanted to stay at home and have time in the garden.. Although I was up for going out it would probably have wiped me out for the weekend, so I was happy to chill at home too.

We had a lovely day. We sat and read together… I read some more of The King’s Curse by Phillipa Gregory out loud to R and she read some Secret Seven to me. She laid in the newly decorated hammock I was in my comfy camping chair… in our lovely shady garden, with the guinea pig in her run by us. It was great.

We had discussions about Henry Tudor and the goings on around 1500.

We then chatted more about elements and atoms and molecules and listened again to the Periodic Table song …The Periodic Table Song which we listened to ages ago and R remembered an impressive amount of! We talked about ionic bonding and covalent bonds. We then watched a couple of videos of the alkali metals reacting with water, and chatted about some science sessions R had been to quite a while ago and how they connected.

It was then time for some art, R started a minecraft style picture of herself, which is going well. I especially like the small squares that are her eyelashes.

R went off to play some minecraft and I got my paints out, sat with my feet in a bucket of water in the shade in the garden and got lost in some painting which was lovely.

R then went to a friend’s house and is staying for a sleepover, so some time with L this evening which was good too.

See also: What do you do when you are totally free to choose?

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True Tie Dye Home educators

R had Auntie M round for the day to do some tie dying… lots of tie dying in fact. Enough to firmly establish us as bona fide hippy type home edders 😉

tie dyed hammock
tie dyed hammock

Our hammock is now a lot prettier!

Having been to L’s information and Guidance day and had her report from school, R decided to write her own report, which she started but then found the writing too much of a slog and asked if she could dictate it to me instead… which I happily did. She showed Auntie M what I’d written and then with Auntie M decided to correct my ‘unclear’ writing and write it out more neatly ( 🙂 )

We then had a trip to L’s school for the summer fair…. which included lots of sweets, guessing the name of the teddy bear, guessing how many sweets in the jar, and teachers having wet sponges thrown at them in the stocks. Met some more of L’s school friends. R was a bit nervous at first as it was quite full on, but L seems very at home with it all.

school summer fair
school summer fair

We also had chance to have a look at a fire engine and chat about it all with some firemen and firewomen.

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Hot Wednesday

R went to drama this morning and carried on with rehearsals for ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, sounds like costumes are going to consist of dressing up in a mishmash of bright clothing…. the sort of costume that even I can cope with sourcing!!! (I wish I was the type of clever mum who quickly throws together some amazing creation… alas I am not!)

It was 25 degrees by 6am this morning, so apart from R going to drama, we stayed at home, with friends round to play in the afternoon. R and W and L got the water pistols out and J and I sat in the shade, though when it got really hot in the afternoon it was cooler in the house…  the advantage of a Victorian house. Sometimes I do wish it was lighter in the house, but it is perfect on hot summer days 🙂 we all moved into the house later in the afternoon and the kids played playmobil, we also got out the chemistry molecule set that J had brought round and had a go at building a few molecules, J and I also looked through some chemistry books, we regularly swap ideas of things to try. He has recently done some electrolysis experiments with W and L which have worked well… and would be worth a go at.

L came home very hot from school, though she said ICT and English had both been lovely and cool. Thankfully she didn’t have PE today. We got the bucket of water out to sit with feet in, which helped. S went out for a run! Bonkers!

We popped round to friends in the evening to deliver belated birthday presents, some of S’s photos on Canvas which our friend requested. Just took a while to sort. We bought some smaller ones for us too, which arrived today… one of London, one of the Golden Palace in Japan

Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji

 

and a Mount Fuji pic S took last year while we were on holiday in Japan and a Grand Canyon pic taken as we flew home from Los Angeles a few years ago. Now just to decide where to put them!!

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