100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day Two (Butterscotch and Cognac)

Introduction

​We are a family of 5, with three boys aged (very nearly) 4, 5 and 6. We live just outside of the Peak District. We have always intended to home educate, and none of the boys have ever been to nursery or school. Now that my youngest is a little older, we plan to spend 2017 exploring the Peak District and getting outdoors as much as possible. 

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Hot soup on a cold day.

How long have you been home educating for and why did you decide to do it?
Initially we felt that the starting age for nursery/school was far too early and we’ve always maintained that ‘kids should be kids’. They shouldn’t be told they need to learn literacy skills at the age of 4 if it is not something that comes naturally. We wanted our children to enjoy getting outside and exploring their own interests and passions.

As the months passed we found ourselves more and more comfortable with home education and life-learning. While we’re not sitting here saying our boys will never go to school, currently it is not on the horizon. We’re enjoying how much the boys are learning about life and having so much time to spend as a family.

How would you describe your approach/ style of home educating?

We don’t have a particular learning style and generally take an autonomous approach to education. At the moment, my eldest son is crazy about fossils and will wax lyrical about Brachiopods and Crinoids if you give him the chance. My middle boy has spent today learning about the old railways that used to run along the High Peak Trail as he was begging to know more after we stumbled across an old wheel pit on one of our walks.

We do use Julia Donaldson’s ‘Songbirds’ books to help the boys learn to read, but there is no pressure. Sometimes they just want to be read to, other times they will shun the reading books in favour of Beano magazines or Argos catalogues!

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Fossil hunting

What was your home educating highlight last week?
The highlight of the last week was enjoying the freedom of home education, as it is most weeks. We’ve been swimming, spent time with friends, built boats to sail on the lake, built a dam in an overflow on the lake to stop the boats crashing down the waterfall, visited two different disused quarries while fossil hunting, visited Middleton Top where the boys learned about the railway, followed a map around the area and learned all about how the limestone rock was formed. We’ve cooked dinner together every night, spent time with family, visited the park, cleaned out the hens. The list is endless!

What is your favourite thing about home ed?

Our favourite thing about home education is the gentle rhythm of our days. There’s no stress or rushing around. We have the freedom to visit places throughout the week without feeling crowded or rushed by the sheer volume of other people that you often find on the weekends. My husband works 4 on/4 off so we have lots of time to go away for long weekends to the beach without having to worry about school attendance.

As well as that, the support network in Derby is phenomenal and about 90% of all the people we know (we moved here 4 years ago) are also home educating.

What do you find most difficult about home ed?

The thing I find most difficult is trying to find one on one time with each child. It can be a little stressful trying to sound out words with the youngest saying, ‘ ‘duh’ for ‘dog’ when you’re trying to form the word ‘little’.

What advice would you give to fellow home educators?

The advice I would give would be to not second-guess your decision to home educate. Sometimes you meet another home educating family and their approach is diametrically opposed to yours, leaving you feeling as if perhaps you’re doing it wrong. You’re not. You’re taking the route that suits you best as a family.

Read more about their adventures at butterscotchandcognac.wordpress.com

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day One (Katie)

This series kicks off with Katie from At Home With The Grays. Thanks for starting us off Katie! 

Introduction

I’m Katie, my children are Alana (15) Josh (12) Nick (2) and number 4 due in 8 weeks. We live with my husband also who works as an IT Manager, and I work part time as a Slimming world consultant.

How long have you been home educating and why did you decide to do it?

We have been home educating since July 2014. Nick was about 6 weeks old and had some health issues. Throughout my pregnancy we had had constant dealings with both the children’s schools. Alana had always done well and enjoyed school, she had been excited to start secondary school yet in her first month she got conjunctivitis and was not allowed to attend. She missed 2 weeks as antibiotics were not clearing it, friendship groups were formed and when Alana returned it was too bullying. 

Meanwhile a new head teacher had started at the primary school, she took a dislike to Josh and again endless problems followed. 

After an academic year of bullying, physical assaults, meetings and then an emergency GOSH admission with my baby we took the plunge and deregistered. It was originally a 6 month plan while I was on maternity leave. We planned to put them into new schools in the January after a 6 month period to de stress. But it didn’t happen. We didn’t look back. 

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Briefly describe your home ed style. Do you have a ‘typical’ week, and what does it include if so?
We take I suppose a semi structured approach. Alana opted to do her science igcse double award last year so she had a science tutor with a group every Monday.  She sat exams in may and had quite bad anxiety attacks so we decided she wasn’t going to focus on any more at this time. She was 14 when she sat her exams though. Both children are working on a photography course, they complete courses online via Alison and future learn. They use a combination of books,  websites and TV programs and documentaries. We attend various workshops and home ed meets as well as organising trips out to various places. They attend a youth connexions home ed teen group weekly where they are working through various AQAs as part of the unit award scheme. 

We also take the children away visiting different locations, last year we cruised Italy with them enjoying Rome, pompii, naples, pisa etc…. 

But with pregnancy, and a toddler, and me being self employed, it is equally important for us to have down time. They see me doing admin, they handle money with me, they talked with me through my tax return etc…. and they are expected to help with household chores and cooking etc… 

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

My home ed highlight last week, a bit sad and not overly home ed related…. but my husbands nan, i.e. the childrens great nan, was in hospital. The drs handed over to palliative care and told us there was nothing they could do. 

Without the restraints of school we were able to work through this together.  We were able to take the children to visit the hospital in the evening, they had their chance to say goodbye, and we were able to spend our time with friends. She passed away Wednesday evening and my 12 yr old didn’t cope well, he was unable to sleep but he chose to learn how to edit his photography and use photoshop as a distraction, we were able to support this and he was at it till gone 11pm but no school the following day meant no worries. We have been able to grieve and support our children to grieve. 

What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?

My favourite thing is being there to see that spark, when a new interest or understanding clicks I love seeing it. I was there to witness my toddler playing “shop” for the first time. I am getting to enjoy so much more. When my older children were his age they were in preschool already and I was told new things they learnt by key workers. It’s great being able to observe it myself. 

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What do you find most difficult and why?
Difficulty, not much. There are moments when I doubt myself, think omw what have we been doing. But I can sit down and think and it passes. Other people’s judgements can be harsh, but usually I’m pretty good at ignoring them. I know my children are doing well. 

What advice would you give to other home educators?

To other home educators I would say don’t compare yourself. Everyone’s children and family needs are different. Everyone’s days will look different. We home ed because one package doesn’t fit everyone, so do your own. Respond to the needs and interests of your children and judge your success by their happiness and progress emotionally as well as academically. 

Learning takes place in many ways, with many appearances. There are times when academically we haven’t done much at all, these are the times when family situations have meant that we have focused on emotional wellbeing, resilience and coping strategies without even realising it at the time. These life lessons are just if not more important. 

To read more about Katie, check out her blog At Home With The Grays or her facebook page here.

Introducing 100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd

A fellow home educator has set up this brilliant idea of a 100 day photo challenge, starting tomorrow (6/2/17), for everyone to share our home ed adventures. To take part, simply use the hashtags #100DaysofHomeEd and #LoveHomeEd to share your home ed photos on the social media channels of your choice. 

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Feeling inspired by this challenge, I have decided to host a daily Q & A series with home educators. It will be great to read about a variety of home educating families and celebrate the diversity within our community. If possible, I aim to run this series for the full length of the photo challenge; so hopefully I will share a guest post daily for the next 100 days! Therefore if you home educate and would like to take part, please get in touch with me asap at livinglifeourway@outlook.com Thank you!

Lastly, if you have a blog post about your home ed adventures, please feel free to share it on the linky below so that we can all have a read! This linky will be open for the next 100 days too. 

Happy home edding!


Stay Wild: Bug Hunt

Last week, we went on a family bug hunt organised by Highfield Park Trust.

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It was a lovely morning; the hunt was well organised, fun, engaging and informative. We both learned lots of new things!

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There were 17 questions, which could be answered by finding the different information cards hidden around the park.

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For example, did you know ants use their head to block the entrance to their nest to keep intruders out?

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Squiggle found out that a male wasp is called a drone.

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I had no idea that a praying mantis only has one ear and Squiggle was very surprised that woodlice has 14 legs.

There were sweet prizes for everyone who completed the quiz, which Squiggle was very happy about! But not as excited as she was when she spotted that they had some of their delicious apple juice for sale, made locally from apples collected from the park orchard.

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She polished the bottle off very quickly!

The bug hunt also inspired her to create one of her own back at home, in the garden for her toys.

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Even a cat came to join in the fun and followed her around finding them all!
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Great family fun, big thumbs up from us.

Stay Wild everyone!

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 28: Favourite Instagram Photo(s)

I am quite selective over what goes in my IG gallery, so I really like pretty much all of the photos in my collection tbh. But of course for this post I am going to pick ones of Squiggle and not just use it as an excuse to showcase my photography lol 😉 So I do have five favourites that stand out as I scroll down my feed. Here they are in no particular order…

"Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time" ~ Katrina Mayer 🌳💚

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on

When it's 15°C and raining but you're so happy because you really love water… 😊💙 #bluemind #MakeASplash

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” — Edward Abbey

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 23: Favourite Time of Year and Why

When I first read this theme, my mind automatically jumped to seasons and I spent ages trying (unsuccessfully!) to pick my favourite. Then I re-read the title and realised it could be any time of year, for any reason, not specifically seasons. But then I figured my mind actually translated it into that for good reason; we spend alot of time outdoors in nature, absorbing our natural environment, observing the seasons and appreciating the ever-changing beauty of our natural world throughout the year. So for me personally, my favourite time of year would be based on that, rather than a special occasion or anything else. 

But which is my favourite season then? I genuinely love them all for different reasons. When (and if!) it snows in winter it is so much fun, plus I enjoy the peaceful silence on winter walks. Spring is beautiful, so filled with new life, and brings with it hope for our future. Summer fun, splashing around in water in warm sunshine, it so therapeutic; and the nature all around is so easy to spot too. And then there is autumn, with its beautiful colours and refreshing sense of change. Each is so important to me in its own unique way.

If I really had to pick one? I guess I would go for autumn. I love the changing of the season from summer to autumn, when some days it is warm and others there is a distinct chill in the air. I love the stunning autumn colours and the sound of crisp leaves underfoot. I love hunting for conkers, acorns and sweet chesnuts. And I love how nature teaches us about the beauty of change, to accept so easily when it is time to let go and get ready to embrace the new! 

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Autumn colours at the park

Aside from the seasonal aspect, I admit I do also love it when the schools go back and our favourite spots become peaceful again! But also, last but not least, I choose autumn because I try to live in the moment, and that is where we are at right now. Ask me at a different time of year and you may well get a different answer!

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Sylvanian Families Trail, Hatchlands Park (Guildford, Surrey)

Recently we visited Hatchlands Park, which is a beautiful National Trust site in Guildford, Surrey. Being a huge fan of Sylvanian families, Squiggle was keen to do the Sylvanian Families nature trail, open until the end of this year.

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There is a small charge to enter the park, including the Sylvanian Families Trail, of £6 per adult and £3 per child, or £15 for a family ticket (these prices are for park only, cost to enter whole site including house is extra. Prices are on the website here). National Trust members get in free.

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The trail has a series of signs as you walk through the wood, each with nature questions and clues from members of woodland Sylvanian families. There is a more difficult question at each stop, making it fun and informative for all ages.

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We did get abit confused when we reached the end because there was no obvious finishing point. We probably should have realised from the number of clues but even so, a clear indication, such as a finish sign or message from one of the Sylvanian families, would have been a nice additional touch.

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Regardless, we really enjoyed the trail and the wooden sculptures were lovely. Squiggle got so excited each time she spotted one and loved cuddling them!

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For more information see their website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park/features/sylvanian-families-trail-at-hatchlands-park

Whilst we were there, we also went to Hatchlands Park playground. It has lovely natural play features, including a wonderful treehouse. Squiggle really enjoyed playing here and it fitted in beautifully with the surrounding natural environment.

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Treehouse
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Balancing
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Den seating
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Climbing

All in all, it was a fun day out!

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 15: Timeline Of My Day

For most people this is probably a really straightforward one but our lifestyle is abit different due to Squiggle’s needs. We tend to have very loose routines, which can be easily adjusted as required, rather than a tight schedule. We enjoy the freedom and flexibility that home education allows, to do things at our own pace and go with the flow when needed. This really helps Squiggle feel able to actually do more, without too much pressure. 

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Squiggle does have a very simple but fairly rigid evening routine though. We have dinner, tidy up, bedtime snack, brush hair, strokes with one of our cats, clean teeth and goes to bed. This is a routine that she has developed herself, to help her to feel ready to sleep. 

I have blogged about our home ed week before so this theme ties in with that. You can read more here. We love our lifestyle! 

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 10: One Thing You Can’t Live Without

Ok, my daughter! She is the first and only thing on this list in reality. But that goes without saying, so I will try to pick something less obvious. The planet? Definitely cannot live without that! Friends and family? To be honest, I think that one is a given too. 

Sopwell nunnery. Exploring nature and outdoors. Freedom to learn. Childhood unplugged.

And I am assuming for the purpose of this question that essentials (food, water, clothes, shelter) are taken care of already. If not I would go for those. It reminds me of that show that was on recently, when the participants were stripped of literally all possessions including essentials (except shelter) and could choose one thing per day. What was it called? It was interesting viewing, quite thought provoking! But I don’t think that was the intention behind this topic. So I’ll keep thinking…

Freedom. To live life our own way, to travel, and even to educate my own daughter and for her to have that freedom to learn in her own way. That is the one thing that I couldn’t live without.

(That answer was cheating? Maybe! I really couldn’t think of one non essential material item though lol 😉 But if I HAD to pick, I think I would definitely go for my phone!)

 

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Stay Wild: Changing Seasons

The season is changing. This past week we have spent some days on the beach, swimming in the sea, whilst other days we have been hunting for conkers and looking for signs of autumn.

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Day out at Southend-on-Sea beach

I love this time of year. It has an air of peace and tranquility about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s like everything is shedding remains of the past and preparing to start afresh, hopeful for the future. Wonderful.

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Signs of autumn