Category Archives: family

Finding our rhythm

We are settling back into home ed (we never left but it did feel like we were in limbo for a while as R thought about going to school). It now feels like we are back, fully submerged in the wonderful world of Home education.

We are seeing other families at Sign language, environmental management, drama and a few other things too. Wednesday this week was lovely, R had her new home ed drama group which was lovely, and I sat and chatted with other home ed mums, then environmental management where I again sat and chatted with other mums, play in the park & more chatting. My wobbles have lessened considerably and how lovely it is to be at the stage of being able to chat. It doesn’t seem that long ago that conversations were hard to have as one or two little people would need me a lot.

R and I have settled into a more comfortable pace of doing a few things together and then spending time doing our own things. She’s good company and likes doing her own thing with me around in the background doing mine. She’s creating a drawing of a whole community at the moment, so she stops occasionally to fill me in on how things work in her invented world. Love it. So much imagination and it also leads to political and philosophical chat too!

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Old hands have Home ed Wobbles too!

This September would have been the start of Secondary school for R. L started school at the beginning of Secondary so it wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion that R might want to do the same. We went to the open evenings last year and applied for a place with a view to keeping options open and having a serious think about it all. This is how it had all gone previously with L too.

R went into a local primary school for a day to see what it was like and to meet a class full of kids who’d also be going to the same Secondary. It all went well, R was nervous but went in without any problems and enjoyed herself. Despite struggling with dyslexia she also had a good go at the work (I did speak with the teacher beforehand).

The next step was then going for a couple of hours at the Secondary school with other children who weren’t from local feeder schools, she made a couple of friends and was then excited about the whole trial day with everyone else going to start the school in September. She walked to school with L and friends and did a whole day in the tutor group she’d be in and doing various classes. We went to the meet the tutor evening afterwards. It all looked like we could be following the pattern that L went through.

R then pondered, and wondered and thought and talked and thought some more over the next couple of weeks. I did suggest that if she decided not to go that it would be good to let the school know before the end of term so that if someone on the waiting list got the place they’d still have time to go in and meet the tutor etc. It was totally R’s decision, we talked about the pros and cons and after a meeting with L’s teachers to talk about L, we asked about dyslexia and how the school would handle it… probably R’s main concern… and surprisingly the teacher actually suggested that R would be better off at home.

I had started to ready myself for R choosing school and have been spending time on other things http://www.redbubble.com/people/lahickmana/portfolio/by:LaHickmana

Where my art is now being made into some lovely gifts.. I’m so pleased with it all!! The bags and cushion covers are especially fabulous!!!

Now, R is still home ed, it has rather felt like starting home education again… I have actually felt daunted by it, but things are calming down and we are finding our way. Things have changed as R is changing and there is a bit of external pressure to do more formal work.. as well as feeling that a bit myself too. The options open to us are different now too as even the home ed world does divide a bit between primary and secondary ages. We still go to things with all ages, which I think is lovely and also valuable, but now there are also other things that we can join in because R is Secondary age. Shs has started an Environmental Management GCSE, one hour a week for two years as a taster of things to come, she’s enjoying it so far. We’ve started a sign language class together too, mixed age, and R is starting a drama class soon too. Other than that there are nice trips out, books read together, interesting documentaries, cooking, and so much more! R has even almost finished the Rome project she started in May!!

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Life when your home edding child is a bit older

Now that R is 11 and L is at school, time works differently for us. It is not as full-on as when they are younger. R is happy to disappear for a few hours to do her own thing, so I now have more time for myself than I have had for a long time.

R also seriously considered going to school for Secondary, so we went through the stages of applying, going for visits etc and after much thought R decided that unlike L, school was not for her. So, I had also started to think of what I would do if she did go to school!!

This has led to me really having more time for art, and most recently I have put some of my art work here: Redbubble LaHickmana

I am so pleased with how it is going and how lovely the products are!!! I’ve bought quite a lot and am really delighted with how good it makes my art look!!! Confidence builder! I’ve only just reached the point of feeling brave enough to show people my paintings and this is really helping!

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To Wonderland and back again

Half term was a blur, the girls did a two day drama workshop with a performance at the end which was great. We caught up with friends, went to a birthday day in the forest, which was a good mix of old home ed friends, some who now have kids at school, others who are still home ed, and us with one of each!

Went to an Alice in Wonderland event which was fab,

The Red Queen and Alice
The Red Queen and Alice

Caught up with more friends, went out for a walk at Holly Hill.

Out trick or treating with my sister and her boys, what a treasure trove!!

The last day was spent in pj’s having a lazy day which we all needed I think!!

This week we started on Monday with an art session at the library, we made stain glass window pictures, which came out very well indeed. Using gold card and cutting out holes and sticky coloured see-through coloured sheets on the back.

Unicorn
Unicorn

We’ve done some reading. Having had a break R’s reading has yet again improved a lot. She has also had a go at some typing and her spelling is getting better… the attempts at words are much closer now.

More algebra, we both enjoy that using MathsWatchVLE videos. Today we covered Factorisation of some fairly tricky equations.

A local author has asked R to critique some of her new poems, which with the promise of a small recompense R is very excited about doing!! We had a look through, and commented on the first five poems today.

R also had a go at some 11+ Non verbal reasoning quizzes on Education Quizzes which is a great site with lots of different subjects and levels. Worth e-mailing them as they offer free access for teachers and also Home educators. You have to sign up for each subject separately, but well worth it.

I’ve been busy as ever with the local library … which looks like it may well end up closed by the end of March 2016, along with others in the city. We have now written to the Secretary of State asking for an inquiry, especially as all 5 libraries and the mobile library come out in the most deprived quartile of the poverty index. R challenged one of the Cllrs at the Alice in Wonderland event we went to at our local library. He actually blushed when she asked why certain options hadn’t been properly looked at!!

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The Reading Discussion

A lazy start, with R having a lovely long bath… a lovely thing to do when it is dark and pouring with rain outside on a Monday morning!

Today we watched some excellent Mathswatchvle videos on probability. There are some sample videos on YouTube. Otherwise you have to subscribe.

I find MathsWatchvle is a really excellent way of learning maths, and R seems to find that too. The clips aren’t too long and you can pause and have a go at questions as you go along, with full explanations after you’ve tried it.

We then had a Mario Kart game or two and lunch,  before a really good reading session.

We are now reading Wolf Princess, which so far seems pretty good. I read a chapter then R reads a page. Her reading is coming on so well, she still only wants to do a small amount and has an amazing way of arguing out of doing too much… I think we have covered human rights and the right to our own decisions rather too well sometimes!!

We usually reach some sort of compromise, else my throat really does give up if I read for so long! She has a total handle on the idea that she might be dyslexic though and I do genuinely think she tires very quickly if reading too much.

Instead of her reading some more of a chapter… which is not an easy book…. (though she does cope very well with it when she does read it) she agreed that she would look at the common word flash cards we haven’t used for ages. A year ago she would have got a fair number right but certainly not all. She breezed through them, which I think pleasantly surprised her…. I don’t think she always believes me when I say how well she is doing, and occasionally it is good to have it actually physically confirmed for her.

The girls both set up the train track yesterday and had a really lovely play together (which is happening slightly less now L especially is getting so grown up), R carried on with the game by herself today too. She talked about how her and L play less than they used to which she misses, but then it is harder now with L at school, and with them both changing as they get that much older. I am happy that they still do manage imagination play together at 12 and 10. I think it is getting less common in kids that age…. which is such a shame.

Poor L came in soaked after school, so a nice warm shower for her… ended up with two girls sat on the sofa watching ‘Friends’ and having their hair brushed through. Love family sofa time.

 

 

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Break from technology

We have been away in Tenerife for two weeks… sunshine and relaxation… and no gadgets, no television… no phone.. only a basic kindle & books…. great to have a break from so much technology!

Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Loro Parque
Loro Parque
Siam Park
Siam Park
Jardin Botanico
Jardin Botanico

It has been really lovely, and although we’ve now been back from holiday a while, it has left me wanting to not dive straight back in with computers. Not here on my website / blog particularly… I have been thinking about things I’d like to write about… the biggest joy to be away from has been Facebook! It has also been good not constantly seeing news all the time.

We have read so much and played card games and chatted and swam and lazed…. the first really relaxing holiday we’ve had since having kids…. not that we haven’t relaxed a bit before, but both girls really appreciated chilling out too.

So it is a gentle start to September, at least I’m trying for it to be…. I came back to over 400 e-mails and a council decision to close (unless community groups step forward) local libraries. So now it is back to campaigning. Not what I’d hoped for.

We had our Not-Back-To-School Picnic / Sports Day with our home ed group yesterday, it was lovely to catch up with so many people, and the weather was fairly kind, if slightly chilly… but good fun. L got to come too which was good… as she had an inset day.

 

L went back to school today.. she was excited about going.. unfortunately there was incredibly sad news about her friend’s sister, so there were tears after school.

R and I had a gentle day, we chatted a lot about things we want to do this term (it feels more term like with L at school!)

We created some weird and wacky Alice in Wonderland clocks for an event coming up….

We played with the guinea pig, and picked lots of blackberries. Rose made a blackberry smoothy with lunch.

Then we carried on reading ‘The Outsiders’ by Michelle Paver which is taking us a while but we are enjoying. We like the point of view of the dolphin and also bits about Ancient Greece. R read a page for every chapter I read…. it is a pretty wordy read and she did really well.

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Days out

More days out, which have been really lovely, despite the changeable weather!!!

We went to The New Forest Wildlife Park:

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We were having such a great time that I forgot to take many pictures!! Great play area there too. We decided our only criticism was the lack of toilet inside the park… and how easy it would be to open a bit of fence to make the toilets accessible from elsewhere in the park!! They did have a couple of porta loos at the play area but they were out of action. Great place to visit though.

The following day we went to Milford-On-Sea and took our new friend from Taiwan.

 

 

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We played a stone bouncing game and also went crabbing, which kept us all amused for hours and was very sociable with other holiday makers all comparing bait and catches!!

We caught larger crabs with dried Spanish ham we think. Smaller crabs went for the bacon!

A really great few days.

 

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Holiday recovery and campaign build up

Having had a wet and windy camp on the Isle of Wight, along with a lot of fun too, we have come back pretty tired, so we’ve had some friends round, but mostly stayed in… catching up on washing for a fair part of the last few days!

The girls spent a day with Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J, badminton and lego in the garden and lots of chattering about the holiday.

Then lots of play at home and with friends round.

I had a library meeting today, as we are heading towards the Council’s decision about the future of our local library and others in the city. The further I delve into politics, unfortunately the more cynical I become… and I am not a cynical person by nature. The decision has been put back to August… so lots of people will be away, also, it seems the council can make the decision in a Cabinet meeting, without bringing it to full council, which just seems wrong to me… for such an important decision. Especially as the consultation had the biggest response ever I think. It doesn’t bode well as it feels like they are trying to slip it under the radar.

A whole afternoon followed of the kids luckily having friends round to play happily… as I spent the whole afternoon writing up the meeting and then writing to Cllrs about the library decision. We have learned so much about the workings of politics as a family, through this campaign… R is so indignant and will be a force to be reckoned with if the decision goes against us… I wouldn’t like to be in the Council when R finds out!!! 🙂

R did some YouTube videos today, with her friend F appearing as a guest: Minecraft Tutorials with Guest

Aiming for a quiet day tomorrow to rest up (bloomin’ M.E. as usual) then we are catching up with other friends on Monday and Tuesday… hopefully to go out somewhere nice. I’ll aim for a quiet end of the week to recover!

The summer is going far too fast already. Really enjoying having L around full-time, and L and R seem to have settled back in to getting on much better again. They are more niggly when L is at school, so it is nice they have bonded back together again.

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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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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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