Slow days and sunshine

Sorry for the long break. It’s been holidays here and I have been too busy enjoying life with my kids to sit down and write about it! Here is a snapshot of some of the things we got up to:

After I was hospitalised over Easter I decided to extend my planned break from school from a few days to a whole week. I needed the rest and the neighbourhood kids were all on holidays too so it was great for my kids to get out and scoot up and down the street with them, and play together in the woods on the edge of our street.

As is often the case when you create an environment rich in resources and a culture of learning and exploration, I kept happening upon lovely little moments of discovery. Like when I walked into the lounge a few days after watching this video of artist Pontus Jansson balancing rocks on each other to create art, to see this happening:

I love moments of quietly watching them take ideas further all on their own!

I fully intended to do school as normal the second week of the holidays (we school year round so I try to work when everywhere is crazy because school’s out and then take our breaks when it suits us and the world is sane again). But the siren call of kids playing on the street proved irresistible to my kids, and it was impossible to get them to focus on anything. We battled through with maths and writing, but it was a bit of a lost cause. My poor unsocialised home educated kids spent quite a lot of time out on the street socialising those two weeks!

Last week we finally got back into school proper, and I remembered another reason why I don’t like taking long breaks. I had all the battles all over again – “Why do we have to do school? It’s boring. Why can’t we go out and play? Why do you get to tell me what I have to do? Why do we need checkpoints? Can you write for me? It’s too hard”. Boy oh boy. I was single parenting that week as well while my husband was away, and it was pretty intense some days!

But we also had lovely moments. We did a lot of cooking. Snugglepot made a delicious coconut lemon syrup cake, and we tried our hand at homemade pasta and homemade tortillas. We made sushi, and after sampling some chestnut soup at our favourite National Trust property, and getting the recipe from the chef, Bookworm is very keen to try it out herself.

We watched lots of educational YouTube videos, read lots of good books, and had lots of good conversations. We planted seeds and watched eagerly to see which ones germinated first, and exclaimed over the differences between the tiny seedlings. We made ballerinas with paper snowflake skirts. We stayed up late to play Cluedo, and generally had a pretty good time.

I am looking forward to normal again, but every time we have weeks like that I ache to include more of that in our normal. Maybe one day I will work out how.



Weekly wrap-up: or why I love home educating

I was thinking today about how much I love home educating. Some days I think I don’t. Days when one child is yelling about how she doesn’t like maths, another child is telling me that she hates school, another child is scribbling all over her work, the baby is getting into everything she shouldn’t, and the dog is dragging her manky blanket over all the school books.

But those days are few and far between. Not the days when the baby gets into everything. That happens most days (She’s “helping” me type this right now). I mean the days when I just want to load everyone into the car and push them out at the nearest school gate, then drive like a mad woman to the airport.

Most days, I sit and watch the learning happening, and think “I’m so blessed to be able to do this”.

Today I saw Snugglepot draw a picture in her history journal of grave robbers robbing a beehive-shaped tomb of a Mycenaean king. I saw Bookworm drawing a picture of the birth of the Greek goddess Athena from Zeus’ head, and I saw her use the word “for” correctly in a sentence, then tell me that she’d used it because she was learning about coordinating conjunctions a few days ago and realised that she was joining two thoughts and needed to use one.

Confession: I had never heard of the Mycenaeans until we read about them this year in history. And I didn’t know what a coordinating conjunction was.

I am learning so much, right along with my kids. And. I. love. it.

I love seeing their eyes light up as they make connections. When they understand that the planet Mars is called that because it’s red like blood and Mars is the Roman name for Ares, the Greek god of war.

I love seeing them turn with excitement to tell me that four is a homophone. And that bow is a homonym. Just because they noticed.

I love seeing them watch, enraptured, a harp recital. Did you know that harps have pedals? Or that harp players don’t use their little fingers when playing? We do, now.

I love watching them spend ages playing a game inspired by Swallows and Amazons, drawing up ship’s papers, making a chart of their island, allocating roles of Captain, Mate and Able Seaman, and sailing off on adventures.

We discovered this week that the Hittites came from Turkey, and were famous for their iron. There was a knife with a Hittite blade discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

We have encountered the Psammead in Five Children and It. Read aloud time is a beloved part of our day, and it is so lovely to see my girls enjoying books as much as I do.

The two oldest girls and I have done some crochet, and Buttercup has surprised me with some very neat embroidery.

These are some of the things that we have learnt about this week. Lest you think our days are full of sunshine and happy learning, I have also been screamed at many times this week. I have had a headache most days. My house needs baby-proofing again because Rosebud is cruising along furniture and the living room is not set up for an active baby. One of the girls said today “I hate bookwork!”. I have a messy kitchen and I have had a Mount Everest of washing in the basket for most of the week. I haven’t had nearly enough sleep to function normally.

And yet, I love what I do. It’s great fun as well as being very very hard. I’m seeing my little people learn to love learning. I think I’ll keep my day job!

Have you learnt anything interesting this week? I’d love to hear it!